I am responding to a post on sciencefictionbiology.blogspot.com/2008/11/science-and-fiction.html in which they are asking for input regarding science and fiction. I offer my opinion in answering the questions, from this science fiction writers point of view:
• Why are you writing science fiction in particular? What does the science add?
Why do I write science fiction? The answer is, at its most basic level very simple, to tell a story. Why do I use science fiction as the medium to tell a story? That answer requires a more involved and personal explanation. For me writing science fiction is an escape from the mundane affairs of everyday and a glimpse into a future; a chance to imagine what might be, whether it is scary or a paradise, and the opportunity to add my distinct and different voice to those that have already imagined a future, in order to tell others what I feel could happen.
What does science add? In some instances I use science fiction to explain a new technology that is real and founded in hard science, but in other cases I write stories that are more in the category of “Wouldn’t it be cool if…” and have none or very little basis in science. Science adds to stories by giving more credence to the setting of the world, moving the plot along, giving the characters an upper hand or occasionally it is the bane of their existence, but in all instances it is used as tool to help tell the story.
• What is your relationship to science? Have you studied or worked in it, or do you just find it cool? Do you have a favorite field?
My background is in business, computer and electronics. I do have a Bachelor of Science degree, and I have worked in the electric transmission and distribution field for many years and have a strong understanding of electrical engineering.
As far as studying, well I always do research, but I can’t say that I am a true student, since there are so many fields in science that not even the hard science stalwarts can be experts in all of them. What should not be forgotten, is that the story is the important part, and the science whether it is, real science or made up, I merely window dressing. My favorite fields in science are related to propulsion systems and space elevators.
• How important is it to you that the science be right? What kind of resources do you use for accuracy?
To me getting the science right is not that important, but a reasonable check should be done by any author wanting to right a science fiction story. But once again the story needs to dictate what and how things happen; for instance, if a character needs to travel to the asteroid belt in a certain amount of time, I’ll calculate if it’s possible to travel in the allotted time by a legitimate propulsion system, just to give credence to the story. But I’m not going to go into a lot of detail about the propulsion system, speeds, and artificial gravity or relativistic affects, unless they are important to the story.
My number one resource is the web in order to check the accuracy of my work. If I can’t prove what I want, and my assumption is turning in to being a science fantasy then I leave it at that. What those that are in the science and research fields need to take away from science fiction is the sense of imagination. Science fiction is not meant to be an easy to read text book for physics. It is to tell a story and initiate imagination.
• Are there any specific science or science fiction blogs you would recommend to interested readers or writers?
The science fiction blogs I follow most are www.I09.com, wotfblog.galaxypress.com, blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy, www.centauri-dreams.org, blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance, sfsignal.com/index.html, blogs.discovermagazine.com/sciencenotfiction/