10 December 2013, Writing Ideas – Writing Science Fiction, part 47 more Cultural Shaping Reduces Extrapolation
Announcement: My novels Sister of Light and Sister of Darkness are about to be published. I write this blog about 2 months prior to publication. I just heard that the proofs will be here soon–likely before the end of the week. My publisher also wants to put the entire set of novels based on Aegypt on contract–that’s 5 more novels for 8 total. They also want to put my other novels on contract. The release schedule should be one novel every 2 months. I’ll keep you updated.
Introduction: I wrote the novel Aksinya: Enchantment and the Daemon. This was my 21st novel, and on this blog, I gave you the entire novel in installments that included commentary on the writing. In the commentary, in addition to other general information on writing, I explained, how the novel was constructed, the metaphors and symbols in it, the writing techniques and tricks I used, and the way I built the scenes. You can look back through this blog and read the entire novel–start with http://ldalford.wordpress.com/2010/12/12/daemon-installment-1-the-incantation/.
I’m using this novel as an example of how I produce, market, and eventually (we hope) get a novel published. I’ll keep you informed along the way. At this moment, I’m showing you the creative process I used to put together the novel.
Here are my four rules (plus one) of writing:
1. Don’t confuse your readers.
2. Entertain your readers.
3. Ground your readers in the writing.
4. Don’t show (or tell) everything.
5. Immerse yourself in the world of your writing.
I am writing about the extrapolation of science and technology to be able to write science fiction. I made the point that it is almost meaningless to try to fully extrapolate a universe (world) that is 10,000 years in the future (and maybe 1,000 years in the future) without applying some cultural and technological shaping.
By shaping the cultures of your science fiction universe, you can shape the science and technology that is extrapolated. Here is how I culturally shaped the universe of The Chronicles of the Dragon and the Fox to make the 10,000 year extrapolation work.
As I mentioned, even in the modern world, technology varies greatly from place to place. Therefore, in The Chronicles of the Dragon and the Fox: The Fox’s Honor we have Devon Rathenberg wearing leather clothing and a uniform from a planet in the sticks. I don’t tell you the modern fabrics, I make a comparison through the culture and technology displayed/worn by Devon Rathenberg to contrast with the culture and technology of the time. Likewise, the culture of the Human Galactic Empire is based in an Anglo-Saxon culture. There is a degree of expectation in my readers that the culture and the times are different from today, but that they should expect something very different technologically and culturally. With this setup, I have both expanded the universe of The Chronicles beyond the expectations of my readers and I have bounded that same universe within certain expectations.
In the universe of The Chronicles you have faster than light space travel. You have space ports and shuttles. You have all the trappings of the future you would expect 10,000 years from now, but at the same time, because the culture is Anglo-Saxon based, you expect a universe that is somewhat backward. This is a delicious tension I intentionally place in many of my science fiction novels. The expectation is ancient, but the reality is extra-modern.
When I wrote these novels back in the 1980s, there was even less expectation of the future technology. Unfortunately, when the novels were published in the 2000′s, the technology had caught up with the times and there was a little less wow factor. This is how science fiction authors sometimes get it and sometimes don’t.
All the technology was extrapolated from the basis of the modern era, but with some simple deviations. I’ll explain those tomorrow.
Also remember, I’m trying to show you and give you examples of how to write a science fiction theme statement and turn it into a plot.
A note from one of my readers: Speaking of which, I am awaiting for you to write a detailed installment on identifying, and targeting your audience, or audiences…ie, multi-layered story, for various audiences…like CS Lewis did. Just a thought.
I’ll repeat my published novel websites so you can see more examples: http://www.ldalford.com/, and the individual novel websites: http://www.aegyptnovel.com/, http://www.centurionnovel.com/, http://www.thesecondmission.com/, http://www.theendofhonor.com/, http://www.thefoxshonor.com/, and http://www.aseasonofhonor.com/.