Daily Archives: January 28, 2011

I’m an English Major! You Think of the Names of All that Technology and Stuff Found in Science Fiction Novels.

Ok so here is the deal.  I am trying my hand at science fiction.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I am not new to the world of science fiction.  I think the first movie I remember sneaking down the stairs to watch when I was supposed to be in bed was either Star Wars or Star Trek.  At this point in time it doesn’t matter which; all that matters is that I have had a long history with science fiction.  I have spent hours watching the original Star Trek and Next Generation and I own all of the Stargate SG-1 seasons.  Though I don’t read as much science fiction as I watch, I have read the classics:  H. G. Wells (click the link to read some of his best works for free), Asimov, and Orson Scott Card.

Yet with all my experience and years of learning the nerd language to fit in with the Trekkies, I don’t have an ear for tech-speak in stories.  This is because there is a difference in seeing the technology and writing the technology.  Seeing does not require description.  You can see someone talking on a glowing stone thing with weird runes on it and know that it is a piece of Asgard technology.  You can see how it works; you don’t need someone like Samantha Carter to try and explain it. All those years of watching shows, movies and NOVA documentaries that deal with tech and innovation did nothing to help prepare me to write tech-speak.  The cardinal rule about writing – write what you know – does not necessarily help a person like me who knows and loves the world of science fiction, but lacks the knack for speaking the tech lingo.

Some of you may be wondering what exactly I am talking about.  Let me give some examples:

  • What do  you call a futuristic device that does things like the iPad but better?
  • What do you call something that is like the worldwide web but  is now intergalactic and not governed by Earth?
  • How do you come up with names that are not clichés or just plain stupid?  Fortunately, there are some things in the science fiction ‘verse that are standard.  Hyperspace is not a cliché any more than having a knight ride a horse.  Hyperspace is the standard form/name for interstellar and intergalactic travel.  This does make the process easier — you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time — but the naming process is challenging.
  • How do you describe neurological technology that uses the sensitive nerves in your hands and fingertips and make it believable and probable?

I could blame my struggle on the fact that I am more comfortable with myth and fairytale and that I can always rely on some sort of history to give credibility to my story and descriptions, but my non-innovative, science-liking mind has trouble coping with creating new technology.  I suppose the solution to this problem would be more research or perhaps taking more science classes but my cheap and easy way out is . . . find a sci-fi consultant. You know who they are; they are the people that have that gift for understanding technology.  They love science fiction books and can actually discuss the nuances of hyperdrives and other FTL space flight methods (oh yes, you people know who you are).

These people are a great writing aid.  I was going to say use them because they need social interaction, but then I realized that more of my friends fit into this category than I care to comment on.  So . . . feed your writing aids in exchange for their kind and indispensable service.

Where would we be without our Trekkies . . .

And the crazy prayer request for today is . . . *Pray for more gods.*