Partridge India Writing Tips| Science-Fiction
Over the past few decades, we have witnessed a surge of science-fiction in mainstream media. It is hard to determine how old science-fiction is as a genre. Some would argue Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein, was one of the first science-fiction authors. Others might consider Jules Verne and H.G. Wells as the fathers of science fiction.
Later authors Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov are often regarded as the founders of modern science-fiction. The age of the science-fiction genre is further compounded by the shifting definition of said genre. Usually science-fiction is any form of fiction wherein speculative, imaginary, or as-of-yet invented science is involved, either as a focus of the story or as a factor shaping the setting of a story. Partridge India presents this article to give future authors advice on writing your own science-fiction.
There are two general approaches to science-fiction, hard sci-fi and soft sci-fi. Each tends to emphasize different aspects of the science-fiction genre. Hard science-fiction includes the likes of Isaac Asimov, author of I, Robot. In hard sci-fi stories, the speculative technology or the development of such technology is a critical focus of the story. Major decisions or actions tend to be limited or supported by the capabilities of technology within the story’s setting.
Technology key to the plot or setting tends to be well-defined in concept and mechanics, often heavily grounded in existing technologies or theories. Even if those theories are highly experimental or difficult to prove. Through this approach to technology, hard sci-fi tends to heavily resonate with readers because no matter how different or ‘futuristic’ your setting is, readers will be able to grasp it as if it were the real world. An excellent example of hard sci-fi would be the recent television series The Expanse.
Soft sci-fi includes such creations as Star Wars and Frank Herbert’s Dune. Soft sci-fi tends to downplay the details of technology and its mechanics, instead focusing on the characters, society, and conflicts. These stories can range from light-hearted adventures to in-depth political and military dramas, all set in a time, place, and technology level distinct if not impossible from our own.
For the most part, technology in soft sci-fi simply works as described and is primarily written as a tool for the characters to use. Intricacies of technology takes a backseat to characters, the setting, and conflicts, all without necessarily involving the technology or how it works.
Partridge India will return with part 2 of Science-Fiction.
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By Ian Smith