Monday, February 2, 2009

Writing Techniques: Science Fiction/Fantasy

(Gee, where did the time go? Friday was so hectic here, I never really got around to blogging. It's really like I started the weekend early-I don't blog on the weekend anymore mostly because I rarely have good opportunities to get on the computer...)

Any science fiction series worth more than a buck (of your money) has certain characteristics it internalizes when it is created.

Take Transformers.

(Not mine, get your own.)

While, in its early, low budget days, Transformers tended to just grab everything it could to hammer into the hapless Transformers toy line, even then they had a clear sense of what Transformers essentially was: A series about robots that turn into stuff and also beat the stuffing out of each other.

An actual note on some company memo about developing the story of Transformers (paraphrased significantly): Forget complex stories, we want action!

The vast majority of science fiction, even that which "aficionados" of science fiction dismiss as not being true science fiction (Transformers is in this category, as are 99.9% of ostensibly sci-fi comic books-and in the absolute strictest sense, I think they're right-more on this in just a bit), has some kind of internal consistency.

This might be no more than "everything must be unspeakably awesome," but that is a rule.

But the point is, there must be rules. (Some have suggested that the same is true of magic; certainly, it makes fantasy stories more dramatic if the main character's abilities are defined. The lines between this form of fantasy and the form of science fiction I'm talking about aren't razor-thin, they're imaginary. Only the genre trappings are different.)

"True" science fiction basically takes an idea having to do with science, and writes a story about it. The kind of science fiction I'm talking about, which I'll call "pop" science fiction, might use "real science" to create a plot twist, but no more than that. This form of scifi doesn't care about real science except as a cue to the reader that this is "science fiction" rather than "fantasy." I mean, the fact that some people regard the various Gundam series, or for that matter Star Wars, as actual science fiction is a clear sign of this. (Sorry, those of you who are fans of these series: The science is a lie!)

This fantasy/science fiction framework (the idea of a reality that follows set rules that aren't quite the same as our reality's) is actually my favorite framework for fiction. Pretty much everything I read, watch, or want to write for my own entertainment is in this unclassified genre. Why do I like it?

Because, while it's impossible, it feels real.

And that is all I have to say on the subject today. No actual advice on the rules themselves, since those are common but good ones are hard to come by. (I may feel more like it later.)

-Signing off.

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