Thursday, January 24, 2013

Science or Fiction?

Science Fiction. Those two words strung together define my "genre" of writing. Well, along with Young Adult, but that's an entirely different post. :)

As I work through revisions of my book, I find myself examining what it means for my manuscript to be labeled science fiction. It's definitely fiction, but does it really have enough science? I mean, how much science needs to be in science fiction - and does that science need to be sound? If I use wormholes for space travel, must I explain what a wormhole is - or just assume that people will take my device and run with it? (I am really hoping for the latter. After all, wormholes are still just theory, not an fact unless I'm completely out of touch with the scientific community).

I suppose one must find the fine line between wishful thinking and hard fact. I wish we could travel in spaceships across the galaxy without taking hundreds of years. Right now, that's not fact. But in my fiction, it is. I must take that ability and ensure it is not only logical, but possible. Well, maybe along with a dash of suspension of disbelief.

Now this is where those two other words Young Adult come in. Do teens care about the theory behind laser jet propulsion? Or do they just want their characters to get to the planet already? Perhaps it is my responsibility to present a world based on scientific probability and not fantasy - my responsibility to pepper in the science in  my fiction. Good thing my dad's a science nerd!

Anyone who's out there: What does science fiction mean to you and do you lean towards science or fiction?


  1. Hello! I found your blog via the Cupid Connection contest. I totally feel you on this! I'm working on what could best be described as super light YA sci-fi, and it's always tough. Do I have to get super mechanical/technical, or can I assume that the reader will go along with the timey-wimey stuff (I'm writing time travel elements) if the characters are strong enough?

    I think as long as you know in your brain how everything works, and pepper in little details, it's OK. I love how Beth Revis did it in ATU. She knew how the physics of everything was supposed to work, but didn't put too much of it in the book. She toed the line between character/emotion driven YA and a proper sci-fi novel. I think if you get too technical, it doesn't feel as much like YA.

    On the other hand, I have read YA with TERRIBLE SCIENCE and it makes me itchy. I am not a scientist by any stretch, but logic holes bug me terribly. I read one book with such a fundamental lack of understanding of virology, genetics and global warming/weather, that I almost threw it against the wall. There is a point where you do have to justify your set-up with sound science.

    Anyway! Your novel sounds really interesting! I loved your 250 and I saw you used ATU as a comp in your query which makes me happy :)

  2. Thanks! Yes, ATU definitely did it right. I guess it's one of those things where - when it's wrong, you notice and when it's right, you don't. I LOVE a good time travel story! Best of luck and thanks for the support :)