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Judith
Post  Post subject: Writing Science fiction is hard!  |  Posted: Thu Oct 20, 2016 4:54 pm
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Well, I didn't really think it was going to be easy, but I did think it would be interesting--and it is--trouble is, the amount of research I do. Even for describing factional worlds--fun but a lot of work.

So far, I have stayed with garden-variety humans. I have read a number of books with aliens but all have some aspect of humanoid--sort-of human shapes of a "different sort" (Banks' Consider Phlebas-- three-legged aliens described as looking like standing on a tripod; Hamilton's motiles, etc.) but so far, I am not sure how I would develop them and make them seem real to me. Funny, I can believe in a talking Jiminy Cricket, and I have no problem with androids, and other AIs.

Right now, my big thing is researching wormholes and a posted a question on the Physics forum--I would like to describe them somewhat is the range of possibilities--especially my 'hand held, person-sized' wormhole generator. Any ideas, gratefully excepted.


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Falconer360
Post  Post subject: Re: Writing Science fiction is hard!  |  Posted: Thu Oct 20, 2016 8:57 pm
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When thinking of alien species, you have to think of the conditions in which they would have evolved. Would tentacles be more useful to their survival or would many small grasping legs? Things like this. Is a symmetrical body style the most advantageous body style or would an asymmetrical one actually benefit them? Does their star emit more visible light or infrared light? If it emits more infrared light then they might see in that spectrum and not visible light.

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marnixR
Post  Post subject: Re: Writing Science fiction is hard!  |  Posted: Sat Oct 22, 2016 10:14 pm
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i wouldn't overthink it though - as long as it isn't too preposterous anything that might work is good enough
after all, evolution has evolved so many strange solutions for meeting their survival needs that there's quite a few templates available

i would concentrate on the story line and provide your intelligence(s) with properties needed to serve the story line, provided you don't task your readers too much for suspending their disbelief

i've always wondered what it would be like to be an intelligent sea lily - how would they be different from the sea lilies that we know, how would they develop a civilisation, how would they interact with other intelligent species ?

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Dywyddyr
Post  Post subject: Re: Writing Science fiction is hard!  |  Posted: Sun Oct 23, 2016 2:15 am
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The problem with most SF aliens is that - just like in films or on TV - they're humans in costumes: central casting syndrome.
It's not appearance that makes them alien, except superficially, it's motivations and psychology.
And that's where you run into real problems: if they are truly alien then the reader/ audience can't identify with or relate to them without massive amounts of exposition. (Hence even the good SF aliens tend to be simply human with exaggerated characteristics/ motivations).


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iNow
Post  Post subject: Re: Writing Science fiction is hard!  |  Posted: Sun Oct 23, 2016 3:33 am
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Indeed. I think of strange jellyfish combinations with plants, or rock-like beasts that communicate underground like mushrooms or massive forests that operate like a single organism.

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mmatt9876
Post  Post subject: Re: Writing Science fiction is hard!  |  Posted: Fri Oct 28, 2016 11:51 am

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One interesting path you could take in developing alien races and characters is to dream up an alien who's biology is not based on carbon, but maybe on silicon, or maybe even metal, and, as Falconer360 suggested, put the pieces together on how this alien organism evolved to suit it's environment, needs, and desires.


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iNow
Post  Post subject: Re: Writing Science fiction is hard!  |  Posted: Fri Oct 28, 2016 12:37 pm
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I think matt and falconer raise the single most important point here. The look and behavior of the organism will largely have evolved based on the environment(s) in which they exist. Better IMO to define the environment, it's chemistry, closeness to other celestial bodies, etc... first and then work backward from there to arrive at an explanation of how your organisms came about and an approximation about how we'd experience them visually.

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Macgyver1968
Post  Post subject: Re: Writing Science fiction is hard!  |  Posted: Fri Oct 28, 2016 2:27 pm
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The beauty of being a SF writer is that YOU ARE GOD! If you wish it to be, then it is. I've always liked time travel stories, and back in my 20's, I attempted to write one. I wanted my story to be a little different than other time travel stories. In most TT stories, the characters have to be careful of what they do, so they don't change the timeline. I wanted my character to be able to do whatever he wanted with no repercussions. So as "THE TIME GOD" , I came up with the idea that when my character traveled to the past, as soon as he got there, his mere presence would create a secondary alternate timeline that paralleled the existing timeline. As long as he existed in that past time, the secondary timeline would exist, as soon as he left, it would cease to exist, and all that would be left is the original timeline, and none of his actions would effect history.

In SF, it's good to try to keep things close to real science, but don't be afraid to create your own science. :)

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marnixR
Post  Post subject: Re: Writing Science fiction is hard!  |  Posted: Fri Oct 28, 2016 2:56 pm
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still, the difference between fantasy fiction and science fiction is that the latter tries to stick to things that at least on the surface appear to be feasible given a certain rationalisation of physics, maybe not as we know it now but as it may possibly be understood in the future

meaning the author as king is still bound by the limits of what is possible in this or another universe

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Pong
Post  Post subject: Re: Writing Science fiction is hard!  |  Posted: Wed Mar 29, 2017 10:54 am
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Two distinct approaches to creating "alien": Add stuff, or take stuff away. For first example Star Trek aliens are humans with accessories attached to their heads.

Conversely H.G. Wells removed things, first, then figured how to make it work: The creatures had three not four limbs; they moved by pivoting around. They had no digestive tract, so fed by injecting their victims' blood directly into their own veins. Moreover the technology of the wheel was unknown to them. Finally, they had nothing like Earth's bacteria on Mars... and no resistance to it.

I think it easier for readers to imagine and accept something omitted than something added. Like, an alien without eyes, vs. an alien with three. ANd for some reason making it work yields a more interesting alien.


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