Monday, March 7, 2016

3 Common Qualities for Science Fiction Lovers

Today's guest, Carrie Bailey, shares some tips about writing Science Fiction:

Science fiction might have elements that exceed normal life in their relative strangeness, but in double slit experiment?
Does it matter how a Dalek would interpret Schrodinger's cat?
Well, yes, yes it does.
general, it seems to hold true that truth is stranger than fiction. Example: what is as weird as the

I think everything else is tame in comparison to the implications that matter itself might change to a particle or wave based on whether or not its being observed. By humans. With cameras.

Just let that sink in.

It changes with human observation. I admit that I act differently around different people. I avoid saying things that people might find offense on some occasions. I tend to increase or reduce my vocabulary depending on who I'm speaking with. I have a professional persona and a more relaxed, emotionally engaged, vulnerable mode. If I change, it's because I care about making people comfortable.

Do tiny bits of matter care about us? Like... Eeek! Shut that door! I'm changing.

Throughout history the world has continued to present phenomena that appears in direct contradiction to logic like the double slit experiment and other equally interesting happenings. And when faced with evidence that something is real yet without explanation, we tend to reject it or push it under the bed until we know what to do with it. Or we go all funny and immediately attempt to rewrite our philosophical framework to fit it.

This is why I love science fiction and the community of writers and readers who enjoy exploring the edges of knowledge. Awesome people. After a few years of writing and sharing my passion with others, I've common to notice some common qualities.

1. Curiosity as a normal reaction to new information

Science fiction lovers can explore ideas without spitting the dummy. That's kiwi for losing their shit. All forms of toddler behavior, really. They can suspend judgement and engage logically with ideas. Contradictions and the unknown do not frighten or overwhelm most science fiction lovers. They inspire curiosity and increase a sense of wonder and awe about the world. Child-like wonder. But, that's child-like in a good way.

2. Can place ideas in a historical context

Most science fiction lovers maintain their comfort levels with new information by reasoning that the future resembles the past. It changes. It's unpredictable. It's full of challenging wonders and new developments in how we live and experience our lives.

Without an understanding of history, it seems plausible that what we know now is the truth. Many people love science, but don't love science fiction. They love the certainty of ideas already discovered and err on the side of skepticism at all new information. When considering the past, they seem strangely unaware of how bizarre new technologies must have been or what it was like to have lived without cars, telephones, electricity, modern medicines.

Induction. Science fiction lovers combine a little knowledge and a little induction and enjoy work that shows people reacting to new ideas as they always have in the past.

3. Skillful abstraction of ideas from nebulous content

Yeah, seriously, this is probably the most beautiful skill of the science fiction lover. They don't just extrapolate data or draw conclusions based on what is presented. They identify patterns. I know this doesn't sound obvious. But, it's important to remove details and observe the interaction of core elements when enjoying science. Yes, science. And then also, science fiction.

What we take away from a good science fiction story or film typically hinges on whether the general ideas presented hold together under examination by the logical mind. If the details are flawed, it can be forgiven and obsessed over, but the underlying patterns need cohesion in this respect.

For writers, this means that we create worlds unrecognizable to our current experience as long as we have explanations for why these things exist. We don't have to explain them within the text of the story as long as the answers are established. The details point to the answer whether or not it is stated.

Characters must react to new fictional phenomena the way people have always reacted to new real phenomena. For example again, the double slit experiment.

 Get emotional about big ideas? Or some
get patriotic, I guess.
Some people go all Cosmos on the idea. Wonder. Imagination. Curiosity. Others secretly suspect that it will be explained as a fluke or assume it's a conspiracy or generally just shut down. It's popular to say that we can't explore the ideas it inspires like the other world theories. We, especially if we're not physicists, cannot get carried away. It is an observation. It means nothing until we know what it means.

When I was studying philosophy in college, a professor told me that we were not allowed to reference or consider unexplained phenomena in our arguments. We could worship at the alter of already discovered scientific truths, but not take to the unknown like an exploring adventurer.


Maybe that's why I turned to writing science fiction.

There are no rules, but there are a lot of people just as curious about this world as I am. Whether we write or read or just watch science fiction, we share that wonder and awe. And that's what makes us awesome.

We stay curious.
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