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bear by san

March 2017

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bear by san

Science fiction is scary to write, for me, because it doesn't put genies back in bottles. It just keeps asking, "And then what's the consequence?" "And then what's the consequence?" "And then what's the consequence of that?"

The repercussions are the story. And I swear I always run out of imagination long before the world runs out of consequences.

It's the literature of testing to destruction.

Asimov's rejection today; revised the story and sent it back out. Printed out Worldwired and stuck it in a manuscript box to take to Comicon with me. Also put all my scribbled revision notes onto a narrow-ruled white pad. Only two handwritten pages of Things To Fix. They all look like expansions, though. Must tighten the narrative as much as possible on my way through, because I want to keep it as close to 110K as I can, and it stands just a little under right now.

Excelsior!

Comments

(Anonymous)

Repercussions and consequences

But isn't that true of all fiction, whether speculative or mainstream? It's initiated by a "what if?" situation, or series of "what ifs" and the resulting story delineates the consequences?

--Dot Imm (long-time lurker, second-time poster)

Re: Repercussions and consequences

Indeed.
---L.

Re: Repercussions and consequences

Hi, Dot!

Well, I think most mainstream fiction--and I think this is one reason why Crichton has a bigger audience than Greg Bear, for example--does as "what if" (of course it asks "what if" --I mean, in writing a story, I think most writers keep asking themselves, "And then what? And then so what?") is that science fiction tends to break bigger things, and put them back very differently than they started.

All stories are based around change, or the refusal/opposition to change. In Western tradition, at least. It's how our (Western) brains have been programmed to percieve "story".

This isn't a value judgement thing, and it's a qualitative rather than a binary thing... in other words, it ties into the old saw about science fiction being the literature of ideas. Well of course science fiction isn't the literature of ideas. All fiction is about ideas.

But to give an example of what I mean, I think of Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars books, and how thoroughly he *breaks* stuff over the course of them (societies, planets, people) and how he puts them back completely different from how they started. Meanwhile, say, in a Crichton novel, they would have been put back more or less the same--reset to baseline.

This is more about why I find science fiction intimidating to write than any attempt to define science fiction.

Because it tends to expand in scope on me, to assume a shape more like a cornucopia than a watermelon, as one stir of a butterfly's wing dopplers off in strange directions. And it's *thinking* of all those repercussions that hurts. my. brain.

And then trying to resolve a segment of an SFnal world into a story, when the repercussion isn't "Genie into bottle?"

Dang.
Literature testing to destruction. I like it.
I think my imagination is far, far too little.

Yeah.

I never feel that way writing mysteries or historicals. It makes my head hurt.
It's scary for me because it's so damn easy to miss one of those obvious consequences when you're trying to get them all down.

Plus, I'm convinced that if it ever does go to print, some over-educated tut-tutter will find more holes in my theory and execution than there are stars in the galaxy lol.
*g* Heck, I don't need publication to get the tut-tutters going.
"I always run out of imagination long before the world runs out of consequences."

I think you've just put your finger on what is wrong with most efforts to make deliberate social or political or scientific or economic changes. Politicians, in particular, seem to often suffer from the illusion that it is possible to change just one thing. (See, e.g., California energy deregulation.)
Well, I wouldn't say it's *wrong.*

But philosophies never encompass reality. Chaos math and thermodynamics=finagle's constant. "The perversity of the universe tends towards a maximum." *g*

(Anonymous)

SF Repercussions

"Because it tends to expand in scope on me, to assume a shape more like a cornucopia than a watermelon, as one stir of a butterfly's wing dopplers off in strange directions. And it's *thinking* of all those repercussions that hurts. my. brain."

Ahhhhh, I get it. Thanks for elaborating. And I can see why that would be brain-hurting. Or at least very brain-wearying.

As for SF being more idea-driven (or commonly perceived as more idea-driven), I've been wondering lately if that's not one of the reasons the lit. mainstream often sniffs at it. That sometimes in SF a story will get published 'cause it's built on such a kewl idea, even if the writing is mediocre. Whereas when I read a story in, say, the NY'er, the ideas driving it might strike me as ho-hum, but the writing itself is always very fine.

--Dot