Gaia is the word for "unity-of-life-processes". The experiment here is to unify the various threads of voice and sense of self together into an undivided unity. Spirituality, economics, politics, science and ordinary life interleaved.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Science Fiction Research, and Getting The Reader To Build Their Own World.

I love it when I'm right about a good thing.

The Gaia project is naturally a series of short stories. Highly issues based segments that function as independent units, smaller work chunks, more indepth characterisation - the natural slide of best practice goes there.

So I'm hard at work on a story from the point of view of not knowing what direction it'll take, when I get up and go to a fellowship meeting. It's CHARGED, and as I leave I reflect how the awareness of lovingness peaks and troughs over time... aware too of how much love is moving in my life nowadays... aware, finally, how contact with spiritual principles feels SO GOOD that it affords a pleasure nothing less than orgasmic. And I have the key insight into Valery's character there, right there.

Val is three years old and highly intelligent by scientiific intervention... he hasn't suffered childhood apoptosis, the death of most of our brain cells in early childhood. So he's excruciatingly sensitive to the world around him... the passage through the end of infancy to the start of childhood for him is excruciating and isolating, just like adolescence, but WITHOUT THE SEX.

That is key... Valery is intelligent enough to be searching for it but not know what it is, because no-one human has ever had a puberty experience at the age of three before. So what naturally ensures is both good science fiction, since it would not ensue without Val's chemically altered brain, and good storytelling, since it is the necessary outcome of Val's torment and his relationship with his Dad and his problems.

I wrote til the pen ran out. I wrote as I walked in the dark. I wrote, and the pen died at the train station and I could only meditate happily til I got home just now.

So I hope and have faith that, by the grace of God, I may write a story which is riveting and full of life.

Now, though, to the subject of this BLOG: SF writing how-tos:

I've been reading, and promised, a piece on worldbuilding here from the top SF writers. I have a more pressing personal need.

I need to find out what it's like to live in Vermont. Do they have gated communities? What are they like to live in? I need to exchange email with someone who lives in one of these communities.

I need to know what it's actually like to DO genetics and microbiology, and infuse that sense of excitement and reality into my work to make it shine.

I need to know the mores of the field of microbio and genetics... what does EVERYONE know about these things... what kind of jokes do they say... what's it like between academia and business genetics, between the military and the self-startup businesses? Where's the 'silicon valley' of biotech?

What about the idea of the story for sensor genes, control sensor genes, and multisensor genes? How realistic and powerful can the ending be... what would happen if one injected these type of genes, if they exist, into one's body?

What about life in the University of the protagonist, Professor Cutter... which uni specifically? I know it's the Uni of California but which one specialises in biotech of this specific kind?

What about the America of the story... sliding unstoppably into totalitarianism, being torn to shred by the Christian Right, battling the Christian Left and the Catholic Reform Party while the Democrats and Republications quietly slide into nonexistence. What kind of political background do I need? Should I reread Tom Paine and then a short political history of the US? Should I involve the present election circus in the story's sensorium.

These are the practical aspect of world-building which I must tend to... they are not the main event, however, and that is learning how to facilitate the reader in building their own world... and quite another matter.

Here's a quote from a discussion on Orson Scott Card's How To Write Science Fiction:

"You don't get experience until after you need it."

I would adapt to research: You don't get the research you're seeking until after you need it."


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