Broadly, I classify my writing as speculative fiction, which includes the genres that are typically shelves under both the fantasy, and science fiction categories. Yet, you will notice that the majority of my works, both published so far on the site, and in progress, fall in the fantasy genre. Considering that my “real” job involves working with advanced, experimental satellites, that might seem somewhat counter-intuitive, and indeed I’ve gotten a lot of questions recently about why I don’t write more science fiction. So, I’ve decided to try to provide an answer, other than the fact that I’m not nearly as skilled or imaginative, to why I’m not the next Isaac Asimov.
First of all, we need to establish what separates science fiction from fantasy, and to do that, it is useful to bear in mind the two major classifications of science fiction, what I refer to as “hard” and “soft” science fiction. “Hard” science fiction is driven primarily by some new technology or idea or concept about the future, and the story will revolve around that thing’s impact and effects. “Soft” science fiction is more about the culture and society of the future, perhaps strongly influenced by technology, but that technology is not the driving force of the story – the interaction with the society or culture pushes the story along. I’ve gone over that differentiation in detail in previous posts, so I won’t belabor it further here. There is also a higher expectation of a certain degree of realism in science fiction.
In a way, science fiction can almost be seen as a sub-genre of fantasy, with fantasy comprising everything in speculative fiction that doesn’t fall into one of the two science fiction categories, but I suspect that if I ran with that I would be insulting a lot of people, so we’ll just gloss over that for now.
To be perfectly honest, the main reason I don’t write more science fiction is simply that science fiction is harder. Which I’ll admit is a horrible reason for not doing something, but that’s the truth of the matter. Writing fantasy is easier and requires less mental effort from me, and with writing still being a hobby for me at this point, I’m typically inclined to go with stories that are a little more relaxing to write. When I write science fiction, I almost always find myself needing to pull out a calculator, and not to double check my basic arithmetic. I’ll admit that’s something of a deterrent.
More significantly, though, I find it harder to write science fiction in a way that someone else would want to read. I inevitably end up spending way too many words on expository portions going over the principles of relativity, time dilation, singularities, and the difficulties of a genuine interstellar civilization in a speed of light limited universe. Since most people are not actually interested in reading an astrophysics text book when they pick up a science fiction novel, I usually end up scrapping what I’m working on before too long. On the other extreme, I’ll write about technologies and concepts and assume that my reader is far more familiar with theoretical astrophysics and the vagaries of the quantum realm than I can reasonably expect.
That being said, as my writing has improved, and I’ve gained more experience, I have begun to work more with science fiction. Although I don’t have anything in that genre that I can even give a timeline for publication on, I have been able to start writing some science fiction stories that I’ve long wanted to write but could never manage to get right. I’ve gone ahead and outlined them here. Hopefully, you will see some form of these works at some point in the future. Otherwise, this might all just be fantasy, after all.
Dreams: this short story is science fiction, although an initial read-through might lead you to think it’s more of a fantasy. Essentially, aliens have invaded humanity’s dreams and need them as a breeding ground, but this drives the dreamers insane.
Computer Consciousness: this piece straddles the border between hard and soft science fiction. The primary driver is arguably the idea of a sentient computer, but it’s definitely held up in no small part by the social and cultural dimensions. This is a concept that I’ve wanted to write since I was in middle school, but was only able to come up with a good story for a few years ago. The first part of the novel has actually already gone through a review and revision process, but I still need to write parts two and three. This one is, quite frankly, probably the hardest piece I’m working on at the moment. It’s a near-future science fiction, which makes it far, far more challenging than even a more conventional science fiction. Needless to say, movement on this one is slow.
A Long Journey: I don’t do a lot of writing in the first person, but this story is an exception, mostly because it’s not actually written like a normal story. Instead, it consists of journal entries, as if the narrator is actually sending them back to Earth for people to read. The whole concept is that a disillusioned, older engineer builds himself an interstellar capable spacecraft and launches off alone into the solar system. It’s all based on technologies that are currently under development, and is perhaps the most realistic science fiction I could conceive. This is also perhaps my most deeply personal story, which can make it a little uncomfortable to write, at times. Progress on this one comes in spurts.
Space Pirate: think Pirates of the Caribbean meets Star Wars, with a little Star Trek thrown in for good measure. I know the concept is a little over-used, but I’d like to think my take is somewhat unique. The story starts with an astrophysics professor having just been kidnapped by a pirate captain who is obsessed with getting into the space version of the Bermuda Triangle. There’s a sentient ship, dramatic poetry, and all sorts of adventure. I actually only recently started this one, but I’m hoping that it will be the first book set in a larger science fiction universe that will play host to other novels, since I’m using it to introduce a lot of the major science fiction concepts that I’ve developed over the years.