ScienceOnline09 is sponsoring a blogging conversation among SF writers and science bloggers on Why We Write SF; they’ve posted questions, and here’s my answers. (Thanks to fellow scribe Kelly McCullough for the heads up.)
Why are you writing science fiction in particular? What does the science add?
I’m writing science fiction because it’s the only literature that addresses the issue of our long-term survival (or not) as a species. No other branch of writing out there gives an author a canvas broad enough to grapple with the question of Where All This Is Going—in fact, I’d go so far as to say that most contemporary mainstream “literature” could care less about anything that’s occurring outside the angst-ridden local coffeeshop where all the MFAs hang out (and I guess this is the part where you ask me how I really feel).
As to the science: it’s critical for me, but nonetheless it’s perhaps not as central as it is for many SF writers. My main focus is on the politics/geopolitics, and I’m interested in the science insofar as that creates parameters that shape/constrain the decisions of leaders at various levels of the military-industrial complex. That said, SF is all about the corruption (dilution?) of technology’s promise, so the science is by definition high in the mix. . . .
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?
I just find it all cool as #$#, but I have no professional standing in it whatsoever. I was trained as a historian, and I’m a recovering management consultant. So when it comes to science, I’m a generalist, and probably a dangerous one at that.
How important is it to you that the science be right? What kind of resources do you use for accuracy?
It’s vital that the science be right, and I research it exhaustively, all the more so as I’m not a professional scientist. Sometimes you get to the point where you just have to speculate, of course, but the question is how far you can inch your way forward before you have to take that leap. . . .
Are there any specific science or science fiction blogs you would recommend to interested readers or writers?
The one I’m addicted to is (inevitably) Pharyngula; the fact that this is one of the most popular blogs on the web is truly heartening. Peter Watts often posts on science as it relates to his novels, and unlike me, the guy’s not just bullshitting his way through it. I also follow a variety of space sites like www.space.com (though I realize that ain’t a blog) . . .