RS Classic: Setback for a Science Geek

>> Saturday, June 26, 2010

In the novel I’m working on, which is clearly percolating in the back of my mind because I keep bringing it up here, I started out with a space accident. Now, when it comes to science, I am mostly a dabbler in most of the heavier sciences: biology, chemistry, quantum physics, particle physics, electromagnetics, etc. I have an excellent grasp classical physics and orbital mechanics as well as a good understanding of most of the engineering fields. I don’t write really hard science fiction for the very good reason I’m not qualified to do more than try not to through the laws of physics, etc. out the window if I can help it. But, once in a while, something I write wanders into my bailiwick and I go to town.

Space accidents fit. I understand, as I mentioned, orbital mechanics and was kind of stoked about doing something really science-y after my sword and sorcery novel was completed.

I had a binary planet system (like Pluto and Charon, only larger, more earth sized), with some gravity fluctuations as a result and other wobbles and quirks. I played with a magnetic field and unusual radiation (which helped screw up the ship as it crash landed, solved some problems for me and accounted for missing on the landing by several km). Finally, a little candy for the geeks.

Only, when I had a few people read it in a forum, they all said the same thing: lose the prologue it sounds like Star Trek. Aside from the fact that my physics is better on any given day than Star Trek’s (OK, that hurt a little), I was using my mission control console as a guide, not a show. In fact, one reader decided to chastise me having the captain call out commands to positions not names (though this is standard practice for Mission Control and, according to my understanding the Navy, too). I still maintain, as much as I love Star Trek (not for its science), every space oriented story is not the same..

So, in the end, I had to excise it. Painfully. My geek moment, set aside. *Sigh*. I kept a quick blurb so people had some sense of what was happening and kept the original in a different file. I figured I could add it as an appendix for those wanting a geek fix.



  • Jeff King

    Write it the way it feels right to you, and people like you will love and enjoy your work.

    Last thing you want to do, is trying to appeal to a group of readers not like yourself. Writing true to who you are will give you the best produce and clearest most original voice.

    So my advice is don’t change to make other happy, write what makes you happy and in the end I am sure you will be successful.

  • Aron Sora

    You want to be unique, I bet there is an untapped community of scifi fans who want high, technical detail. And scifi fans love pointing out in accuracies, it is better to be technical. You can write really unique space scifi that is highly accurate.

    Remember, it is impossible to please the fanboys, they will always complain.

  • The Mother

    I think you should toss that advice that you know to be inaccurate in the bin. Permanently.

    And if you need biology help, I'll happily read through and tell you your blood is too dark. No prob.

  • Stephanie Barr

    Actually, the Mother, a medical look-see would be wonderfully useful to me. I'm putting a parasitic beastie (a la amoebic meningitis) in the second one and you can likely tell me what I'm doing wrong. I HATE to get the science wrong.

    If you're really willing to look the first installment over (where I have a healer, but some time frames and medical treatments that might stink heartily), I would be grateful, and am open to any suggestions. Just send me an email and let me know.

    I also have to say that your sons are my target audience.

    In case they're interested. :)

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