Write Big or Go Home!

If there’s one thing in science fiction I have trouble stomaching it is weak and lazy foresight. In a genre that is strongly influenced by imagination, there are just too many authors with a lack thereof. Forgive me in advance, I may step on some toes. I don’t claim to be a genius or a legend of any sort but that certainly doesn’t mean I can’t see the forest for the trees.

Let’s start with positive examples of brilliant science fiction vision in pop culture. The Jetsons. Aside from the fact that they totally missed it they had some crazy awesome foresight.

The Jetsons takes place in the year 2000 and needless to say, little to none of the things found on the Hanna Barbara cartoon exist and we are 16 years past their prophetic timeline.
It’s a reminder of the famous line from Back to the Future regarding the year 2015: “where we are going, we don’t need roads.”

Although these examples missed the mark, I would take that over the alternative. The only true mistake they made was setting a date in the first place.

Let’s take one of my co-writer’s favorite books as a negative example. I’m reading Starship Troopers for the first time ever— I know, for shame. In my defense, the movie was so terrible I didn’t see the point in reading it until I found out the great Aaron Hall was a huge fan.

So, I’m 30 pages into the book, written in 1959, and I am holding a copy printed in 1968. Heinlein begins a compelling story about a young man enlisting in the military. They talk a lot about vacations to Mars and survival tactics on Titan. All this in the first 30 pages, yet the recruiter warns the kids that joining the army might result in their parents receiving a regret-filled telegram. Telegram?? We are careening through space and vacationing on other planets and the best he could envision was a telegram??

Now, before you jump to his defense, I have a little bit of grace. I know 1959 was many moons ago and they didn’t exactly understand what was coming in just a few short decades.

But, let’s look at Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game—written in 1985. He practically invented the iPad. I don’t know how he hasn’t received royalties. His whole story revolves around this handheld desk that runs computer applications. He had tremendous foresight and vision for what was to come. The best defense for Robert A. Heinlein is simply that Card had base knowledge of computers and their limited abilities and was able to hypothesize their future capabilities. But, I’d still say that anyone can come up with something better than telegrams for a future where we are space traveling and fighting aliens. After all, just seven years later Ursula K. Le Guin created the Ansible; a technology that allowed interaction between persons and races interstellarly.

In the end, it’s all about vision. Do you have the necessary foresight to write compelling science fiction? Don’t be a lazy writer. Take some time to sit down and invent something. You don’t have to know exactly how it works. It just has to conceivably work. It has to be believable, but you don’t need to have the blueprints.

Have anything to add? I’d love to hear your comments below!

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8 thoughts on “Write Big or Go Home!

  1. Science Fiction is often called SPECULATIVE Fiction for the very reason you state, the author sees what IS and carries it out to its ‘logical’ end point. Or they take existing tech and combine it in a way that is unique. We’ve had robots, aquaponics and indoor farming for awhile, but now in Japan they’ve combined in robots for a fully autonomous farming structure that can make small quantities of food. Heck, even little ole me predicted the BREXIT in 2014 when I was world building for my next set of novels. It is about seeing what IS and hopping down a logical ‘if then’ chain that you weave into a story.

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  2. I believe the word telegram was used to convey the
    Process of communication
    To the average reader
    NOT YOU
    if he had written the communication was done by
    /—///// fill in the blank
    A strange unknown knew name
    Example
    Nuero message
    Or
    Numess for short
    He would have had to write a fewparagraphs explaining the new technology
    He was either lazy
    Or didn’t feel it was pertinent to the story
    I understand you completely
    I have read heinlim before you were born
    But truth be told
    You can dispute or find vague discrepancy in any novel
    Even the bible
    You are not walking in any authors shoes
    As I do not walk in yours
    I guarantee I can find a word in your book to debate over
    Story fiction writing is telling a broad spectrum of
    Beliefs and imagination
    Nobody is perfect
    And the random AVERAGE READER IS JUST LOOKING TO LOSE HIMSELF IN YOUR IMAGINATION
    I could care less about the word telegram
    I’m way more interested in the complete story then picking apart a word or two
    RELAX
    STEEVE
    DONT judge
    Be OPENMINDED
    I know you are
    Can’t wait to read your book
    I admire your courage and imagination
    I’m kind of working on a book myself
    Takes a lot of guts
    I salute you for your endeavors
    And can’t wait to bust your balls after finding a discrepancy in your tale
    Lol
    Blessings to you and family
    Your bro
    Dean

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    1. That’s the point of science fiction though, isn’t it? We want to know about the writers idea of technology. A few paragraphs, or even a sentence. The Ansible is a great example that I stick to. Years later, it is still being used in numerous books as an interstellar communications device that has no basis in reality. As a matter of fact, the name is just a derivative of the word “answerable”.

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