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 09, 2004

technical detail in sci-fi novels

The technical details of sci-fi novels are overwhelming me at the moment. I intend it to be a bit easier than all this. It's quite frustrating.

The opening of this book, a long interview between a reclusive biochemist and a double-crossing reporter, is not simply starting 'in media res' - in the middle of the story - but also in the middle of some very challenging issues.

I start to write invented science and have to give background on subjects. Naturalistic extrapolation from present day science is much less easy than simple invention of far out shit.

"Jeepers, O alien Sir, the Jacuziwhat drive is boiling over!"

"Never mind," Lester Stalin cried, "the techno-doer thingy will blind the field double-effect the bling-wa doo-doo-ifyer."

I mean, it's SHAIT; true. But the key is that I have NO IDEA how to do sensible, practical, down-to-earth projections of modern science a few decades into the future.

There are a few approaches. There is the "There it is! Approach". So:

Detective Mach walked over the street, gliding on the smart bitumen on robot shoes as it propelled him towards the wailing blonde.

Then there is the "It's incredible!" approach to introducing new technology:

"Janie stared in angelic wonderment as her beautiful loving father opened the gift box: out sprang the electronic pixie, whose sensor whiskers immediately probed into her fertile brain and began to eat her SOUL!!!!"

Perhaps that's a little too incredible. Never mind.

Then there's the cool, classic approach: Simply make it seem like the world has always been full of smart bitumen and electronic vampire pixies. The plot proceeds while in the background a pixies crosses the smart street in robot boots, little girl in it's bewhiskered grasp... ... ...


My point is that there is no easy way to introduce detail into a novel. I feel frustrated; I want to say, "For God's sake, its a science fiction novel, why can't I just presume a little background knowledge in my readers on plant biochemisty, artificial intelligence, ecology, genetics, cell biology, and endocrinology?"

In a way, sci-fi writers play on the credulity and mysticism of sci-fi writers. It is not my place to pretend that humans 'should' be more scientifically literate or wider read; that's ridiculous. The point is do I completely want to make the story absolutely clear to the reader?


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