I hope all is going well! Today, as promised, we’re going to be talking about science fiction as a genre. I swear this has to do with world building. I wanted to separate science fiction from fantasy as there are some subtle differences between the two genres, even though they are, in a lot of ways, very similar. I’m also going to tell you that I am not an avid reader of fantasy or science fiction – though I do enjoy it when it’s mixed with other genres from time to time. So, if I miss something or got something wrong, please let me know! I like to make sure I’m presenting accurate information and that I learn something new everyday.
Let’s start off with our definition:
Science Fiction: fiction based on imagined future scientific or technological advances and major social or environmental changes, frequently portraying space or time travel and life on other planets.
~ Oxford English Dictionary
Science fiction is based on scientific principles! It’s taking what we already have and then taking it on step further.
History of Science Fiction as a Genre
So, I did find a pretty good video briefly explaining the history of the genre. It’s a little dry, but it does a good job going over the important bits.
I do want to point out that Mary Shelley is technically the first science fiction author, but a lot of people credit Isaac Asimov for being the founder of science fiction in novel form. I, honestly, will credit Mary Shelley because she has all the “proper” elements of science fiction in her work.
Tips for Writing Science Fiction
Things to keep in mind when writing Science fiction:
- Research! I will always harp on this. It is so important. My partner’s brother reads science fiction and he always finds that when things don’t apply to science or is thrown in there because it’s convenient for the author – it’ll take him out of the book. Now, this doesn’t mean that you need to devote yourself to learning molecular physics or something as equally specific and complicated, but you should research a little into some of your unique elements. For example, you have flying cars in your world. Look into some of the established feats in this area in science and what they’re looking into doing to fix current issues. Have a basic understanding of how this works and impose your own solutions to make your flying car more realistic.
- Have a thesis. You’re going to be arguing a point a lot of the time. Science fiction is questioning something and exploring the follies of it. So, in other words, have a theme that you’re going to be exploring. Margaret Atwood explores misogyny, slavery and war in her new book, and TV series, The Handmaid’s Tale in a lot of different ways. Passengers also had a lot of different themes that explored in the movie as well. It was questioning what happens to you if you’re alone, but with other people, what happens when technology fails us, etc.
An easy formula you can follow would be: reality + what if = ?
- Make your science fiction real for the reader. Why? You’re taking them out of everything that they know and you want them to believe and buy into this new world. If they can’t get into your book they’re going to put it down. This is one of the big reasons why you need to do your research. For Margaret Atwood and her new book, she pulled material from all around the world and used that in her novel. This is what made it real for thousands of readers and TV watchers.
- Don’t be afraid to try something new! When Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, it was the first book in the science fiction fantasy genre (yes, I know there’s debate on whether this is the first science fiction book), no one ever thought to do something like this. It was, and still is, a huge success. Go ahead and try something new.
- Be consistent. This goes without saying for any genre, but it’s especially important to science fiction and fantasy, is to keep your details strait and to keep them consistent. It annoys readers if you have a rule that says one thing and then you break it with no reason as to why it happened. For example, in The Hunger Games (book two), we previous tribute winners competing – not new tributes. The reason for the switch was given. President Snow wanted Katniss dead (she was sparking the idea of a rebellion in the districts and threatened Snow’s way of life and power) and pitting her against other winning tributes seemed like a good idea. However, if you’re going to change your characters hair to brown from blonde halfway through the book with no reason why – it’s going to irritate.
- Build your world. You’re essentially creating a new world in a scientific way. You’re going to need to know a bunch of things about this world. It also will depend whether you’re on a new planet or somewhere in the distant future. I did write a post with a huge list of questions a couple weeks back. Click here to be linked to that post. I will save more world building material for a different day though.
That’s it for me today! I hope this was helpful and if I missed anything please let me know!