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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Why I Read/Write Sci-Fi


 
I review most genres on http://cookinwithmisshavana.blogspot.com/, but my personal favorite is and always has been Sci-Fi. People are often surprised by that, so I thought I’d share the reasons.

First is imagination. I am not personally into fairies, vampires, dragons and monsters, but I do enjoy looking through a novel’s pages at other worlds, other cultures that should/could/might exist, and being exposed to new morphology that is decidedly not human. When these elements are brought together skillfully, the creative imagination of the author is the only limit to what can happen. When I wrote the Sci-Fi trilogy consisting of The Judge, Infinity Quest and The Empress of Tridon, I tried to deliver many new concepts of civilizations that had unique social structures and societal goals. Some societies were grown for the sole purpose of war, others for the development of technology, some for the preservation of history and the like. All were critical elements making up the larger plot—the relationship of man to God over the vastness of time.

Second is technology. Good Sci-Fi almost always puts forth new concepts of how to get from place to place over incredible distance. The most well-known are the “warp” drives used in the Star Trek, and the warping of space by the “Guild” in the Dune series. I enjoy new concepts of weaponry and communications as well. When I wrote my own trilogy, I presented a unique view of space and new ways to get around within the vastness of it. In my case, known space was 5.4 trillion light-years across, much bigger than currently defined. There was a reason for the sheer size, and I enjoyed developing it. The most powerful weapon in the series was also the most difficult to control—the mind itself.

Third is believability. Okay, this one could be a little far-fetched, but I like to see some relation to actual science in the Sci-Fi stories I read. For example, it’s not hard to imagine a sulfur-based life form on a world without oxygen, since similar life forms exist on earth near undersea volcano vents. It is also easy to conceptualize Star Trek’s “subspace communications” in light of conjoined particle revelations (although those concepts were not known when Star Trek was originally written). In my trilogy, the story begins on earth, and slowly expands to encompass the entirety of all known universes. I did not complete the fourth book in the series. If I had, unknown universes full of surprises, as well as how to get to them, were on the menu. Maybe I will complete that later. Where but in Sci-Fi novels can a person’s imagination run wild with such freedom?

Fourth is a link to some fundamental understanding of life itself, like Frank Herbert did in his novel Ship. I like books that address the “why” part of living, even though “why” questions are generally relegated to the realm of philosophy. A really good Sci-Fi novel, in my opinion, can even serve to help understand the reasons for our own existence. Many authors link Sci-Fi to an omnipotent and omnipresent being. Those stories are especially fun to read if they bring a new view of God as seen through the eyes of the author. A revealing view of God was vital to my trilogy as well, a view larger, and yet more human, than any I have seen in the past. The conflict between the desires of God and the desires of his subjects is a compelling component of the story line.

So there you have it. I am out of the closet. I enjoy reading Sci-Fi and I enjoy writing it. If any of you have compelling Sci-Fi books that need a solid review, I’m your man. Just let me know. And if any of you want to read Sci-Fi that goes well beyond the norm, my books are all listed at amazon.com/author/jameshatch.

Thanks for reading,

James L. Hatch    

7 comments:

Tina Donahue said...

I have to admit, I hated Star Trek, could not sit through one episode. Thought it was dumb.

That said, I believe some of the most thought provoking films I've seen have been sci-fi. Absolutely loved Blade Runner. The end where the android saves Harrison Ford and gives his speech about men playing god (creating androids with 'end' dates and then being cruel enough to give them feelings) was awesome.

I adored Gattaca. OMG, that was such a great story. I so felt for the Ethan Hawke character. The scene where he was scrubbing his skin so none of his cells would fall off and his DNA couldn't be detected was beyond sad.

I'm not into the techhie stuff - I thought Star Wars was beyond juvenile (yes, I'm the only person on Planet Earth to think so).

I love the sci fi stories with depth about social issues. I've heard a lot of good stuff about The Hunger Games. Don't know if it's true or not, but I really want to see it/read it.

Tina Donahue said...

I have to admit, I hated Star Trek, could not sit through one episode. Thought it was dumb.

That said, I believe some of the most thought provoking films I've seen have been sci-fi. Absolutely loved Blade Runner. The end where the android saves Harrison Ford and gives his speech about men playing god (creating androids with 'end' dates and then being cruel enough to give them feelings) was awesome.

I adored Gattaca. OMG, that was such a great story. I so felt for the Ethan Hawke character. The scene where he was scrubbing his skin so none of his cells would fall off and his DNA couldn't be detected was beyond sad.

I'm not into the techhie stuff - I thought Star Wars was beyond juvenile (yes, I'm the only person on Planet Earth to think so).

I love the sci fi stories with depth about social issues. I've heard a lot of good stuff about The Hunger Games. Don't know if it's true or not, but I really want to see it/read it.

jean hart stewart said...

Interesting blog, James. I'm not a sci-fi fan but you make it sound very tempting. I think I'm ready to delve a little deeper....

James L. Hatch said...

Hi Tina:

You'd probably guess but, yes, I own Blade Runner. Love that movie. I think one of my all time favorites is the original Stargate movie. I have that one too. Even the follow-on, Continuum, wasn't bad. I think I was hooked when I was a child. I always found the Sci-Fi section in the library ... and would stay there reading.

Thanks for the comment. I agree with your assessment. I'm not into monsters and the like. I like the thought-provoking stories that make you think about your relationship to the universe and, perhaps, to its creator.

Sincerely,
James

Fiona McGier said...

I like sci-fi because it gives us more credit than we deserve. It imagines a future in which we have survived past our current obstacles, and we are dealing with new, yet unimagined ones. Some are sanitized, like the Star Trek universe where Roddenberry dreamed of a future in which money had no allure anymore, and humans sought to discover and do new things for the sheer thrill of doing them. I'm afraid humans will be more like the Babylon 5 universe, where we take our poor, our unwanted, and our criminals out into space with us, because there will always be people we need to fear, along with greed that makes some think they can never have "enough", so they rob and cheat to get for themselves while denying basic rights to anyone else.

Sci-fi has always been at the vanguard of social issues, having females in positions of power, inter-racial differences becoming unimportant (the first black-white kiss on American TV was on Star Trek!), and people discussing the important ideas in life, ie, the good of the many outweighing the good of the few, or what is our purpose in living...while they are in the course of living their lives.

Anything invented was thought of first, and sometimes it takes many years to become reality. Leonardo drew plans for submarines, tanks and helicopters back in the 1500s...but it was many years before they became real. Remember Hal in 2001, a self-aware computer? Or Data (Star Trek) and David (recent movie Prometheus) who are totally independent androids? They harken back to Asimov's robots, yet we are only now beginning to be able to perfect such things.

And no one ever argues with the scientists about, just because we CAN do something, does that mean we SHOULD? Some inventions are better off not coming to fruition, but humans are so short-sighted and power/money-grubbing, that we always go for the immediate gain, without thinking through to the ultimate consequences.

Sci-fi gives me hope and encourages my mind to make new pathways. I like that in a genre!

James L. Hatch said...

Hi Jean. Don't just be tempted, jump in with both feet. But start with something good, like "Silver's Treason" by Clifford W. Dunbar. I reviewed that novel on my site at http://cookinwithmisshavana.blogspot.com/, so you can even get a glimpse of the plot if you like. Like every genre, you can get a lot of the bad with the good. If you like that one, then you might even be tempted to try "Infinity Quest" by ... me.
Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment.
James

James L. Hatch said...

Hi Fiona:
What a marvelous comment from you, well written and so right on. I think I enjoyed reading your comment as much as I enjoyed writing the blog. You are indeed a Sci-Fi junkie ... like me.
If you ever have the time, I think you would enjoy the Sci-Fi I've written -- and I suspect I would enjoy yours a lot too. What are your books in that Genre?
When I wrote "The Judge," I was trying to set up a plausible beginning for human beings. I see them as so infinitely complex they had to come from somewhere/something. I also see the universe as infinitely complex on the macro-scale, and living things infinitely complex on the micro-scale, with varying degrees of complexity in between. That's the reason the Universe is so massive in "Infinity Quest" and "The Empress of Tridon," where the heroes seek to find the edge of infinity. I let my imagination run rampant in those books, and I really enjoyed writing them. Unfortunately, not many people read Sci-Fi, and even fewer have found my novels. Bummer.
Thanks again for the great comment.
James