Putting the Fiction in Science-Fiction (+ Book Haul!)

Okay, so as you might know, one of my current WIPs (among many) is a YA sci-fi. Space opera, to be exact. Right now it’s currently untitled and that’s bugging the hell out of me, although I’ve been kicking around a few ideas (The Omega Cycle, Among the Dark Sky, This Infinite World… although nothing seems to fit). So today, dear readers, I wanted to pose a question to you: just how much does fact matter in science-fiction (and fantasy, for that matter)? Does it have to be realistic for you to like it?

I am not an astrophysicist or astronomer. I know very, very little about astronomy. In fact, my extent of understanding is limited to what I take off Google and the four week’s worth of astronomy lectures I had. I’m not writing “hard” sci-fi; I care more about the worlds and the characters and the plot rather than the scientific mechanisms. And I’m aware that, as I’m editing it, there are probably things (such as space travel and weaponry) that are physically impossible. But having a focus on plot, world, and character means that inevitably, scientific fact is pushed to the side.

To you, as a reader—does that matter?

For me, it doesn’t. It’s fiction. It’s not a manual on space; it’s a book that I’ve created because I felt like I/my characters had a story to tell. And… this story. I love it. I love the characters, the world, and I hope that one day I’ll be able to share it with you all. I’m have an insane amount of fun revising it, too. (And hopefully I’ll be able to find that perfect title soon.)

I wrote this novel because, after epic fantasies, sci-fi is another one of my genre loves. It wasn’t uncommon at all in my childhood to see Star Wars playing on the TV (I grew up with an older brother… so a LOT of my influences have come from him), and I just loved the infinity of the world. The endless stars, the galactic battles, and the fact there’s SO much to explore with sci-fi. So many ideas to play around with. And, with this novel, I much wanted to create a sci-fi world for myself, a cutthroat, corrupt world that so far, has been a lot of fun to write about.

When you take a lot at the science fiction “greats” out there, most of them will have inaccuracies in order for the plot to work. Take The Martian for example. I LOVED this book—it was witty, hilarious, engaging, and for the most part, it was scientifically accurate. But one thing that was pointed out by my astronomy lecturer was the beginning: because Mars’s atmosphere is so thin, the storm that appeared in the beginning of the book/film was not very plausible. But… does that matter? That needed to happen for the story to progress. It was the crux of the story. And if you research it, you can find LOTS of articles that poke holes in Star Wars’s astrophysics. At the end of the day, though, when it comes to fiction, rules are often bent to suit the direction of the novel… and honestly—I think that’s fine.

What I’m reading: Not much lately… but I did binge-read the entire SAGA graphic novel series by Brian K. Vaughn & Fiona Staples in one evening. Seriously guys, these. Books. Are. Amazing. They’re sexy and fun and exhilarating at the same time. So if you’re looking for a good adult graphic novel (note: there is some nudity/violence, so if that’s not your thing, maybe give SAGA a miss) I will ENDLESSLY recommend them. And if you’ve never read a graphic novel before, then this is a FANTASTIC place to start. I need the sixth one, like, yesterday. I also plan on diving into Jennifer L. Armentrout’s The Problem with Forever. I LOVE her writing so much (especially her NA)—so I’m super excited to dive into this one.

What I’m writing: YA sci-fi novel revision aside, I’m gearing up to edit THE EMPIRE OF STARS (high fantasy) again and also playing around with a few other concepts that I’d love to write soon. (I have SO many WIPs it’s insane.)

What I’m listening to: I’ll have some more posts on this in the coming weeks, as well as playlists, but right now I’ve been listening to a lot of classical. Especially Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” and “Valse Sentimentale” (which is heartbreakingly gorgeous). But again, more in music/what I listen to coming soon!

Annnnnd to end this post, here’s my recent book haul. There’s been a book sale close to where I live, so naturally, I had to go.

DSC_0142

And… yes, I love Tolkien. I’m thrilled to finally have my own copy of THE CHILDREN OF HURIN.

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12 thoughts on “Putting the Fiction in Science-Fiction (+ Book Haul!)

  1. Personally, I think fact is overrated. I loved The Martian, but most of the maths and science went completely over my head. If it works in the story’s universe, then I don’t really care if it works in real life. ;)

  2. This is such an interesting discussion topic Kara! Putting science in science fiction is definitely about the balance. Too much science and it feels like you’re drowning in facts, but too little science and the story seems unrealistic and not well researched. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous post! <3

  3. I think it’s totally okay to bend the rules! As a reader it doesn’t really matter to me how realistic it is, my science knowledge is small so I wouldn’t know if it’a realistic or not anyway haha. The examples you poined out that have some unrealistic plot points are very popular, so I really don’t see why you wouldn’t be able to add some unrealistic things! Like you said it’s fiction 😊 and great haul!

  4. I mean, I don’t think it has to be ENTIRELY possible, but it can come across as amateur-ish if it’s not researched enough (which doesn’t just apply to sci-fi…researching how teens speak is also important, for example). I mean, if even I – the least scientific person ever – can poke holes in it, there’s probably some work to be done :’) But at the end of the day I like a good story over anything else.

  5. For Sci-Fi to “work”, for me it just needs to be plausible within the realms of that world, for an average un-science-educated reader. So while I won’t be looking for something to be realistic according to modern science, if you as the author have explained a “rule” within the world you’re building, I don’t expect you to then break it a few chapters later. Does that make sense? R xx

  6. Interesting post! I love fantasy and sci-books that go outside of the norm, actually. The more original/unique/refreshing the idea is, the better. I’m game for just about anything, as long as there is sufficient world building or explanation to back it up, if that makes sense.

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