Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Why Write Science Fiction?

Most readers have a strong reaction to science fiction--love it or leave it. Wikipedia has information on the science fiction genre far above and beyond what I could say here. I happen to love science fiction, so I was very interested in what all the contributing authors had to say. I hope you are, too. I've kept my comments short because there are so many authors here.

Julia Barrett
Amazon Page
Julia says:
Science fiction and fantasy are mother's milk to me.  I grew up reading comic books--yes--comic books.  I'm a big fan of Green Lantern, Aquaman, and The Legion of Superheroes--the original Legion with Sun Boy and Bouncing Boy and Shrinking Violet.  Yeah, I admit, I'm a big DC-er as opposed to a Marvel-er.  Of course, I live with a Fantastic Four and Spiderman fanatic, so I'm familiar with both.

Another love of mine is mythology.  Greek, Roman, Norse, Celtic, Native American, the Bhagavad Gita--you name it, I'll read it.  The ancient stories thrill me.  They explain, they teach, they enable the human mind to wrap itself around the numinous--the mystical, spiritual, supernatural, magical, holy.  Myths not only provide us with explanations for things that cannot be easily explained, but they also give us hope for the future.

Science fiction does exactly the same--provides us a glimpse into what might be.  No matter how dark the future may seem, for me, science fiction gives me hope.  It seems there is always a crack in the closed door and a light shines through.  In science fiction stories, characters rise above their circumstances to meet the unexpected challenges they face.  When I think of the quintessential science fiction novel, I think of Ringworld, by Larry Niven.

Science fiction romance is a new genre altogether.  Many works of science fiction involve a romantic relationship, but the relationship is not primary, the science is.  Science fiction romance tries to combine both the science and the romance, and in the case of my new series, Daughters of Persephone, futuristic politics.  Believe me, it's a challenge!
Nancy says:
I love combining science fiction with romance in my stories. Being an avid sci-fi TV/movie fan and genre reader, I'm familiar with genre conventions and expectations. I like to create strong female leads wherein I can imagine myself soaring toward new adventures among the stars.

When I write SFR, my imagination can go wild. For settings, I've created volcanic planets, futuristic worlds with crystal cities, space stations, planets shrouded in mystery, and more. My characters are mostly humanoid with emotions and issues like current times, which is another appeal of this genre. In Starlight Child, I deal with prejudice. In Silver Serenade, my characters address the issue of revenge versus justice. Keeper of the Rings addresses spirituality and belief systems. And at the heart of these stories is the romantic relationship developing between two special people. These characters are larger than life in a setting with no bounds to the imagination and yet with issues grounded in reality. And so I write these tales, partly to share my fantasies on paper, and hopefully, to lure you into my world.

Christine d'Abo
Ellora's Cave
Christine says:

I have been in love with science fiction since I was seven years old and saw Star Wars for the first time. There was something so amazing to me as I sat there are watched all of the crazy aliens running around, acting more human than the humans. Over the years I watched every show I could find--Star Trek, Doctor Who, Space 1999. I couldn't get enough.

As I got a bit older and discovered books, I knew this was something I wanted to do when I got older. I was a closet sci-fi writer for years. I would spend hours figuring out worlds but never was able to write anything close to a novel. I was intimidated by the caliber of the books out there. I wasn't a hard sci-fi fan, enjoying more the space opera variety.

Years later, I started reading futuristic romance novels and fell in love! This was what I'd been looking for as a reader for years. When I sat down to finally take a serious stab at my writing, I wanted so desperately to write a futuristic, but still felt a bit of intimidation. After a few false starts, I took a deep breath and dove in to write my first futuristic romance.

I love the action-adventure aspects of sci-fi. I love how anything is possible with your characters. You can put them into any situation you can imagine, without the limits placed on writers of historical or contemporary stories. I can make the rules, bend existing theories out there, or completely ignore them. Sci-fi is about exploring the question of "what if" and seeing where you can take that. I love the freedom.

Joanne Elder
MuseItUp Publishing
Joanne says:

The lure of Science Fiction: where does it get its momentum?  For decades, Science Fiction movies have been some of the biggest box office hits.  We live in a technologically advancing world; a world where science will continue to drive us into the unknown. Sadly, none of us will live to see the end of this movie.  Centuries and millennia will pass and so will we. All we have is our imagination to take us to where we can never go.

I have a passion for writing Science Fiction because it takes me to that future world.  Whether good or bad, it takes me there.  As an engineer by profession, I've gained a tremendous appreciation for all facets of science.  Everything is science: the universe, our world and every living thing in it.  It is the only thing that is truly real and stands above politics, the economy, culture, and even religion.  Without imagination, scientific development would be at a standstill.  In the heart of every science fiction writer is both a fascination with science and a great imagination.  I'm sure Gene Roddenberry would have agreed.

Ciara Gold
Champagne Books
Ciara says:

I initially did not start out wanting to write sci-fi. In fact, it was not my choice of genre to read at that time. (I've since changed my tune a bit.) My first book was born out of a challenge. I was in a critique group of serious minded writers whose main goal was getting published. We seemed to all be on about the same skill level and we all tended to make milestones at about the same pace. One of our members found a contest that she thought we should all try and enter. On the Far Side Contest was offered by the Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Chapter of RWA and only required ten pages. I have no idea where those ten pages came from, but my muse was with me. I entered and won first place. In fact, I entered that same chapter in two other contests and won first in one of them and third in another. I knew then I had something and with my critique group begging for more, I knew I had to finish that story.

I think world-building came naturally for me because I teach art and I'm a very visual person. With that first book, I made a lot of 'cliché' mistakes, but I think I did so in a fresh way. The end result was Celestial Dragon. Sales for this book surprised both me and my publisher. And the book became the best selling book for Champagne Books for two years in a row. This influenced me to write its sequel, and in 2008, A Noble Sacrifice won the Eppie for best in sci-fi futuristic romance. In April 2011, the third in the series will release. Dragon Hunter is an epic story that will be the catalyst for me to connect most of the books I have out so far. Since I write historical western, time-travel and fantasy as well, this will truly by an interesting endeavor.

As for writing hard science fiction, I have yet to decide, but I do have a few stories brewing, and I've had several suggest that I should. I enjoy the possibilities the genre generates, and I love those visions of our future from past sci-fi authors who have actually come to pass. I would love to be creative enough to visualize an item not yet in existence that scientists will eventually create. Now wouldn't that be a hoot?
Go to my website for the first chapters of all my books. (Be sure to check out her art, too!--Rhobin)

James Hartley
MuseItUp Publishing
You ask why I write Science Fiction? I have been immersed in sci-fi all my life. Once I more or less outgrew the Oz books, there was little Fantasy available. For my birthdays and Christmas, I would get books as presents ... Heinlein, Asimov, E. E. "Doc" Smith, and others. My father was a Sci-fi fan, too, and every month when the new issue of Astounding (now Analog) came out, we had a bit of a squabble about who got to read it first.

Halloween is coming up, and I can tell you without any hesitation what my favorite costume was ... Tom Corbett, Space Cadet.

Remember bubble gum cards? Most kids went for baseball or football players, but not me. I had a huge collection of Outer Space bubble gum cards ... spaceships, colonies on unlikely planets, all that sort of thing. Little six-inch figures (this was before the era of today's action figures) of spacemen with nice removable helmets, and any plastic spaceships that happened to show up on Woolworth's toy counter. With a background like this, what would you expect?

Of course, when I finally got seriously into writing, Fantasy had made a comeback, and I split my efforts between sci-fi and Fantasy. I keep telling myself Fantasy is easier, you don't have to get all the science details correct. And then I find myself writing "Magic is Faster Than Light" about a spaceship full of witches (due out next May from Muse), and I have to spend just as much time hunting for a class G star at the right distance (turned out to be 19 light-years) as if it were straight sci-fi instead of "SF-flavored fantasy." Nope, I just can't get away from sci-fi.

Kevin Hopson
MuseItUp Publishing
Kevin says:

I have always loved science fiction regardless of whether I am watching it, reading it or writing it. Though it is difficult to attribute my passion for this genre to one thing in particular, I believe it stems from my childhood. I was never a science wiz, especially when it came to subjects like Chemistry or Physics. However, I was--and continue to be--amazed at the possibilities of science and the many unknowns relating to the universe. When writing fiction, I cannot think of any better avenue to pursue. The author can tie the story to real science, making it believable, yet still have the freedom to roam an imaginary world or create a new type of technology. In my opinion, science fiction is the best of both worlds.
Book releases: World of Ash, November 2010; Earthly Forces, April 2011; Early Release for Bad Behavior, June 2011; The Vanishing, September 2011

Pauline Baird Jones 
L & L Dreamspell
Pauline says:
I didn't set out to write a science fiction anything. In my eyes, I was writing action-adventure romance. I've loved action-adventure type books since I was young and stumbled across Alastair Maclean, but while the action was great, the romance was a bit lacking. I'd been pushing the a/a bounds with each book I wrote (romantic suspense at the time) and then I got the idea for The Key. It was an action-adventure novel set in space because I didn't think I was smart enough to write or read SFR. Imagine my surprise when reviewers called it science fiction, science fiction romance and space opera. I even acquired a reader/fan who worked at NASA, a real physicist. Almost blew my mind.

My NASA friend helped me have the confidence to keep writing my a/a/SFR stories when she pointed out (with some force) that I'm writing fiction. I'm not writing for hard science fiction fans (though I have a few of those who have liked The Key, so we shouldn't underestimate any reader). My target reader is those who love over-the-top, high action, high energy adventure mixed into their romance, for those who love the possibilities inherent in science fiction. And let's face it, "high" doesn't get much higher than outer space. And let me add, science fiction isn't just for geeks or geniuses. It's inventive, imaginative and accessible. I'm living proof of that.

A.J. Maguire
Wings ePress
A.J. says:

To be honest, the book that is about to be published under my name is a fantasy romance. But I recently completed my very first science fiction so I thought I'd give a quick answer here. My original intention for Deviation was to make another fantasy novel, but someone challenged me to try something new so I decided to trade in my sword-swishing-thrones-and-prophesies style for a spaceship-time-travel-Martian-cyberpunk setting. Which was mind-boggling, and frightening and I sat at my computer with utter trepidation that first day of what I fondly call the Deviation project. There is just so much information. So much science. So many things that have been explored or, conversely, have not been explored, that the entire endeavor of writing a science fiction seemed overwhelming.

And then--after five days of research and listening to wonderful pod-casts like Astronomy Cast and How Stuff Works and Stuff from the Science Lab--I realized... there is so much science, so many possibilities, so many things that have barely been explored or have yet to even be touched that the opportunities are literally boundless. Deviation may be in my completed file, undergoing a third draft, but I can enthusiastically express that I love writing science fiction. It's an excellent excuse to research obscure information and there's just something fascinating about trying to apply what scientists today are dreaming up into fiction writing.

K M Tolan
Champagne Books

K.M. Says

I write Science Fiction, or to further qualify it -- 'space opera.' A space opera simply means that I am more interested in character development rather than explaining each bolt and whatnot that goes into a space ship's design. It doesn't mean I ignore the hardware as much as I consider such things as secondary to the impact of that hardware on people's lives. Fine and dandy, but why science fiction? What makes this different from say, regular fiction or Fantasy? Well, there are both practical and heart-felt reasons for my being with this genre.

The practical side you ask? Fewer folks are writing SF these days as compared to Fantasy or the other main genres. I can stick out just a little bit more as an author with an independent press. There is a commercial side to writing, and I cannot ignore the market. Sure, more people may be reading fantasy or romance, but that only means more authors flocking to those genres. I prefer a smaller pool for now.

Now on to the fun stuff--the things that rest in my heart. The first thing would be the boundless imagination one can exercise with science fiction. Did I say boundless? Actually, fantasy holds that department, but I do want some structure to my writing. Some basis of believability people can relate to a bit more than a wand or unicorn. Spaceships are real, as are other worlds. A good start as any, I say. Three moons rising over a steaming methane lake.  Plants that sing to each other as a means of pollination. A young alien girl staring at her first human through wide multifaceted eyes. Anyone of these scenes screams imagination to me.

I love the idea of first contact, incidentally.  My novels are all about how both humans and aliens blunder through their meetings, and the resulting effect as these two cultures meet. We're a very predatory species, you know. I would think that most alien cultures we meet would fall into the same category--making any contact fraught with the kind of drama I can write novels about.
I can write from an alien perspective and take a hard look at how we treat other societies today.

With SF come the possibility for exciting relationships between characters--even romantic entanglements. Who can resist that? I can also come up with cultural values and customs far removed and yet similar to our own, and play out the characters against these exotic backdrops. No, I don't shirk away from romance--in my opinion, it is telling experience in any person's life regardless of their species. Surely the attitudes and nuances of an alien civilization would, in part, be a direct result of the dance between males and females. Science fiction allows me to add so much color and possibilities to this rhythm of life.

Finally, there is my background to consider. I have a military background in the USAF where I was surrounded by all manner of aerial war machines and got to crawl around their innards. The lethal harmony of men and machines never fails to captivate my interest, and with science fiction, I can step aboard the 'what if' train and see where our technology is leading us based on what I've experienced myself.
Champagne Books
T.K. says:

First off, I love anything sci-fi, and if it involves a bit of adventure, even better. While my book The Lancaster Rule is my first in the trilogy and my first book, I chose this genre because it allows me to incorporate everything I love to read in a book: action, adventure, romance and great characters that help move the book along.

I always knew I'd want to write sci-fi, there is just so much you can do with a story. Mix in a few realistic aspects, throw in a whole bunch of made-up stuff, and there you go. For the book I wrote, I did just that...using the characters as the main focus. Essentially, basic human behavior remains relatively the same. We'll always hate, be jealous, love and be humans (I'm hoping that it would be so) and there's just so much you can write about right there. Throw in a few amazing scientific advancements, a spaceship, some cool weapons, and there you go.

Another aspect that motivated me, was that I wanted people to fall into another world, like how I fell into so many different worlds from all the books I'd read. I've read some books in the genre, but they were filled with so much technical stuff and too much world-building that it seemed to lose track of the story (I fell asleep) and lost complete interest. I didn't want that, but I didn't want my future/alternative world to be uninteresting either. It was very hard to keep it simple, yet interesting. The sequel was much easy to write since I'd already laid the groundwork down.

I have a couple more stories to tell, and they will definitely be set in the sci-fi genre--simply for the fact that I can do so much more with them. For instance, one that has been brewing for the last few months involves a cruise. But shift the cruise onto a spaceship, well now...

Larriane Wills
MuseItUp Publishing
Larriane says:

Why I like science fiction would be more the question. I love it. When SyFy plays the Star Gates, when my husband asked, what's on tonight, I'd just give him the look and tell him, it's Friday, it's Science Fiction Night. He groans, and I'd remind him of all the football games I sit through. He suffers. ;-)

Long ago and starting with the first ones, I was a Trekkie, I admit it. I never missed an episode if I could help it, even if it meant forfeiting a night out. I read every book of Robert Heinlein's I could find. I didn't care much for the giant bugs, but time travel fascinated me. My favorite of all of his was Door into Summer. I had a cat like that, looking for the door that leads to summer in the middle of winter, but I never ended up in the future arguing with myself. I do enough of that in my head. I think the biggest thing about science fiction that attracts me is it's out of the box.

The only thing that restricts what you can do with sci-fi is the limits of your own imagination and to make those probabilities believable. I know you can find that in other genres as well, but there is just something special about the possibilities of the future and advanced technology.

Even 10 years ago, the idea of a phone small enough to fit into your shirt pocket was science fiction. A computer in your phone that connected you to literally millions-through the air? Home computers you could hold in your lap? So why not space ships and wormholes, and lightsabers, and best of all, aliens? Do any of you know that the cell phone was a direct result of the communicator used in Star Trek as well as other advances? Honest. I watched a documentary on how the series inspired inventions. And look at all the things Jules Vern wrote about before we even had electricity that are commonplace now. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and his submarine for example. To quote, "Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve."

W. Clement Stone. He was a businessman and author, not a scientist, but the same thing applies. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Men love to wonder, and that is the seed of science," and "Science does not know its debt to imagination." What does a scientist think? "The process of scientific discovery is, in effect, a continual flight from wonder," Albert Einstein. Did Einstein read something and then wonder? I have no idea, but such wondrous possibilities are out there, and I like wondering, imagining, and writing about it.

When it comes right down to it, the story is the people (or things) and what they might be able to do. In Looking Glass Portal (Swimming Kangaroo Books) I have a little bit of it all filling in the background for the story. I can't think of a situation in the 'here and now' that I could have fit that story into. In The Eternal Search (XOXO Publishing) the story is based on time travel and the possibility of immortality. Again, in the here and now, that story wouldn't be possible, but in the future? That's what makes the difference. Do like minds reached out no matter this distance? Are legends on one world and reality in another? Those are questions I asked in Looking Glass Portal. Is it possible that is where we get some of our ideas as well as technology? Think about it. I have.

This genre is subdividing into new genres and expanding into different territories such as mystery, historical, and yes, even Western. It is also one of the few genre that has affected our lives. As Larrian points out, our cell phones have the look of the Star Trek communicators and the inventor of the first mobile phone jokes about the inspiration. As you may know, inspiration comes before invention, and sci-fi is certainly filled with imagination and inspiration.

A BIG Thank You to all the authors who took the time to contribute!


  1. This is one of the most interesting blog posts I've read in ages! I loved hearing what other authors of science fiction and SFR have to say about the genre. We are all a bunch of sci fi geeks! It's great! Thanks for putting this together.

  2. Gosh, I feel like all of these folks are channeling me tonight! I have been writing contemporary romance, but what I choose to read is usually sci-fi! Star Trek, in all of the movies and shows (I was only 11 when the first season was on!) Babylon 5, VR5, Firefly, and of course, Dr. Who (we own all of the incarnations' worth of episodes!), and Torchwood. When our first baby was born, the nurses were amused that the tag number for our boy was 2001! Sci-fi rules!

  3. That's an impressive post, and I enjoyed reading about everyone's love affair with sci-fi. Kudos to the blogger for putting it all together.

  4. does anyone other than me get the feeling it's a growing genre?

  5. Wow, what an impressive line up. I feel blessed to have been apart of this blog post. Everyone's answers were all so unique. Too fun. Thanks so much for including me, Rhobin.

  6. I hope SFR is a growing genre. It's been hard to market, with editors saying "too much sci fi" or "too much romance" without appreciated SFR for what it is and without realizing there's an avid audience out there craving more. The emergence of epubs really has opened doors for cross-blend genre stories, giving us readers more selections too. And I'm right there with you guys who love Star Trek, Babylon 5, Dr. Who, and all those shows!

  7. Thanks so much for including me in this line-up!

  8. Many thanks for including me, too. Robin. Wow, what a fun blog post and a fun idea!

  9. I thoroughly enjoyed reading all of the contributions here. It's funny how science fiction all too often gets typecast as the geeks' genre, when science fiction is the backbone to so much mainstream entertainment. Of course, I'm speaking strictly as a sci-fi lovin' geek here, so I might just be biased. ;-)

  10. Thank you, everyone, for your great comments.

  11. Thank you for having us, Rhobin! This was a fantastic thing to be a part of. :) I love reading everyone's stories.

  12. Science fiction and romance combine to create fabulous stories that really take the 'What if...' factor to new heights. It's an exciting and fresh genre with limitless possibilities. Then again I am biased lol.

  13. Glad I stopped over from SFRB! There are some fantastic opinions and ideas here about SF. I enjoyed reading every one! As a SFR author, I can relate to many of the authors here.


  14. Great blog, Rhobin. Julia Barrett is outstanding.