Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Science Fiction vs Fantasy

I'm loving my new book Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction (Writing Handbooks) by Lisa Tuttle. Unlike the reviewer on Amazon I'm finding it incredibly enlightening. I haven't read any Sci Fi (or SF as I'm supposed to call it according to the book) since I was at school and fell in love with Ray Bradbury's novels (particularly Farenheit 451) and I didn't realise how much the genre had explanded since then. I'm now enlightened about the different sub genres which are:
  • Hard SF
  • Space opera
  • Military SF
  • Cyberpink
  • Steampunk
  • Alternate realities
  • Thrillers
  • Utopias and dystopias (Farenheit 451 is the latter)

And I've finally understood what 'speculative fiction' means - it's basically another word for SF where your story or novel 'speculates' about the future of the world/mankind/universe. I've also realised what bloody hard work it is to write a SF novel - particularly if you plump for Hard SF. SF is grounded in fact and physics and you can't rewrite science's established rules to suit your novel - you need to know your stuff. I've never been into research (and I only got a C in Physics GCSE) so hard SF is definitely not for me!

Anyway, I'm not going to write a SF novel - I bought the book because I fancied writing a SF story and wanted to swat up and also get some inspiration. And I did! On the train home from work, book in one hand, pen in the other, I scribbled down an idea. Now I just have to write the thing. Sometimes I'm desperate for a short story idea and my mind is a blank, but it's the other way round at the moment. My notebook contains seven or eight short story ideas (just one for SF) but motivation to write them is low. My imagination is willing but my typing fingers are week. But there's no hurry - the ideas aren't going anywhere and it's somewhat reassuring to build up a little stockpile for 'later'.

The other good thing about the book is that it's split between sci fi (oops, SF) and fantasy and the idea for a children's book that I mentioned in my previous post is most definitely fantasy (and no, it doesn't involve a young wizard. I think that may already have been done ;o)). Actually my novel is partly based in fantasy too so I'll be interested to find out, as I continue reading the book, if I've broken any of the fantasy 'rules'.

So anyway - that's my book recommendation for anyone interested in SF or fantasy.


Bernadette said...

Hi Cally
Glad you're finding inspiration. The urge to write them will come back soon I'm sure. I've been the same with short stories while I've been working on the novel and I think something so big uses up a lot of the finger and brain power. Writing a story while the novel is unfinished also seems like 'cheating' at the moment. Having said that it might make a nice refresher, especially as (as previously posted) I can't face the book at the moment and so have been doing nothing very useful. (Apart from ordering the 2008 W&A yearbook!)
Good idea to move on from the unmentionable posts. Am I the only one who re-reads them in the delusion that something might change? (A bit like hoping that Steve McQueen will get over the fence if you watch the Great Escape again). Waterstones have now updated their website to tell us what we already know, so at least you no longer need to provide the info on that score.
Good luck with the SF/fantasy.

Lazy Perfectionista said...

I know it's a typo (and I would never normally point them out, it's just rude!) but I LOVE the idea of 'cyberpink'. I've just got images of very feminine robots and technological advancements to help you do your hair and nails or something...

I also have a steampunk reading recommendation - I've been working my way through the Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson (very chunky books, great for a long journey) and think they're fab!

CTaylor said...

Leather - Ha! Cyberpink! Well spotted. Am tempted to change it in my post but I love you reaction (and it wouldn't make sense if I changed it to cyberpunk).

Bernadette - I totally know what you mean by 'cheating' and writing a short story when you're working on a novel. I also don't like working on more than one thing at one time if it means that they'll drag on into the future. I'd rather get one thing finished before moving onto the next so I can give it my full concentration. It seems I'll have to change that way of thinking though because, apparently, when you're published you'll be mid-way through writing book two (if you're lucky enough to get a two book deal) when book 1 will come back to you for edits.

SallyQ said...

There's a new branch of sci-fi too, called Mundane sci-fi, which works on the basis that the science as we know it won't advance much further, so there won't be time travel or interstellar travel or brain swaps etc. It's something that's really interesting me lately and Jim Crace's novel, The Pesthouse, uses it to good effect.

Here's the wikipedia article on it, Cally

Graeme K Talboys said...

And not forgetting what became known (though not by its practitioners) as New Wave sf (lower case). Speculative fiction, but not in the Heinlein sense. Well worth investigating.

New Worlds to explore.