November 16, 2017

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Values-Based Sci-Fi

November 16, 2017

I recently read an article about how hard it is to write sci-fi. To be accurate, writers have to keep up with the latest scientific discoveries and adhere to the laws of known physics and thermodynamics. I do research so my sci-fi readers won't say "Oh, come on." when they come to a part where the writer tries to toe the line on a scientific fact and instead stubs a toe on the line.

 

Science fiction is fiction. After all, in the 60's, writers postulated about common wireless communication and now it's a reality. So have sci-fi writers run out of new ideas since we see the universe in the light of wormholes, "warp drive" and other tangible examples of sci-fi? Doubtful. Because background and experience contributes to a writer's knowledge base and that is always changing.

 

When I decided to write sci-fi, I wanted my characters to be likable and relate with the reader. They must have a clear set of values. Most civilians don't understand the military's Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). It is a document which crosses all services, applies to all services, and outlines behavioral norms for all military personnel. It is an external application meant to result in an internal change. Most civilians don't know that military people give up certain rights when they join.

 

Just as I look at rules we all follow, such as regulatory speeds on highways, cities and towns, stop and go lights and parking laws, I consider values writing in a similar light. They are an external influence meant to result in and internal change in my characters. Another great example is "in" and "out" doors. The majority of people go in the 'in' and out the 'out.' To this day, we drive in lanes and take on-ramps with a metering light and off-ramps to a light or stop sign at the end. Did I mention I hate roundabouts? I call them "The Devil's Doughnuts."

 

So, we live with a set of values daily. Some we have internalized (or you get a ticket). I like my characters to have consistent behaviors and internalized values my readers may depend on. They always act with a base set of standards. Sometimes those standards involve protecting others and that protection saves one life at the expense of another. Not necessarily according to their ideals, but against them. Then, they must live with those choices which color their story. Unless that character feels justified and shows no remorse.

 

Though I write value-based novels, I'm a realist when it comes to conflict. Conflict comes, but values don't always have to be compromised to overcome them. I wrote a saying which is a truism. I like to write these sayings so my characters may remember something their mom or dad used to say. It goes like this, "The shallower a pool, the easier it is to pollute."

 

Is sci-fi hard to write? I'd say it is from the standpoint that not only do I have the world around me as an example, but now I have all of space and the discoveries that go with it. It's hard to invent new animals and visualize what they look like. Their behaviors, which are non-standard to earth animals. A new world, with new people and an alien social structure. What do the natives to that planet call the animals? Themselves? It's a difficult job, but not impossible. I hope at this point you're not thinking, "Oh, come on!" But in an ironic twist, I wouldn't blame you. <><

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© David Roebke 2018