Realism in Speculative Fiction

As a reader of speculative fiction, I get to discover what life is like in worlds that aren’t yet possible or can never be possible.  Science fiction and fantasy are two of the main genres of speculative fiction, and while they’re both looking at life that’s different than what we know, they are very different from each other.

When looking at realism in speculative fiction, you have to think about what is possible and what is impossible.  For what is possible, you’re likely looking at future technology and science that we haven’t quite figured out yet.  For what is impossible, you’d be looking at magic and wildly alien life that we can’t imagine would ever exist.

In science fiction, it’s easier to rely on realism, especially if you have a solid knowledge or background in science.  Or maybe you’re just really good at winging it.  But for people like me, realism in science fiction is quite important.  I feel like it could be real.  I want silence in a vacuum, I want accurately described motion in a spacecraft, I want well-described conditions on planets.  Books that screw around with the science and make it rather unrealistic turn me off.  I read a book that got artificial gravity generation all wrong with a spinning space station.  Unfortunately, the gravity was toward the centre of the station, rather than away from centre.  It was backwards.

In fantasy, realism is less of a concern, especially when magic is a major factor.  However, there are a lot fantasy novels that rely on realism, and in this case, it’s the realism of battle, tactics, politics, and human nature.  There are some great books out there that do this, and as a result, they tend to be quite gritty and dark.  This pulls me into the story so strongly, I feel like I am really there, can smell the air, feel the wind, and see the trees, sand, or sea.  I love that level of realism.

How do you feel about realism in speculative fiction?

Authors Answer 21 – The Ultimate Goal

We’re in it for the money, right?  Or is it to become famous?  Or do we want a bunch of fans chasing us down to our book signings?  Or nothing like that?  We all have a goal in mind for our writing.  This week’s question comes from H. Anthe Davis.

154px-Billets_de_5000Question 21: What is your ultimate goal with your writing?  Fame, fortune, changing the world?

Linda G. Hill

Again, I don’t seem to have a choice in the matter: I’m a novelist. I have a hard time writing anything between 500 and 50,000 words. Being a novelist I suppose if any of it’s going to be read, and read widely (which is what I hope) fame and fortune are the consequence. I want neither. What I would like is to be able to write, to be read, and to be financially comfortable… and have at least enough money to travel. Okay, so I guess you could say book signings all over the globe wouldn’t be a bad thing… 😀

Paul B. Spence

I was corrupt before I had power, and rich is better.

Caren Rich

To tell a good story that makes the reader cry, laugh, and think.

D. T. Nova

It would sound presumptious to speak of this on a large scale, but I do like the idea that my stories might change the world to the extent that they are read.

To me, fame would just be a means to reaching more readers.

Elizabeth Rhodes

I want to get my name out there and see what happens.  Much like the “one-day” writer mentioned in NaNoWriMo’s manifesto, I want to “have written” something.  I want to “have written” several somethings.  I don’t expect, nor do I need, to become the next J.K. Rowling, but I like the idea of it.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

Mostly, I write simply because I love it, it’s cathartic, and it excites me. It’s one of my favorite things to do, even if I’m writing something that I know no one is ever going to read.

That said, if we’re going to talk about “ultimate” goals, I would love to reach a point in my life in which I can just write…with no day job. Right now I work as an industrial instrumentation technician, traveling to and from the Alberta oil sands while working hard to pay off the last of our debts: the house. When that hurdle is crossed our day-to-day costs reduce significantly, and my husband and I aren’t the kind of people who spend a ton of money on frivolous things. Therefore, when the day comes that our house is paid off and we have a little money set aside for emergencies, I would love to take some time off to just work on my writing, build my readership, and get to the point that I can actually make a decent wage from doing what I love to do best.

So, ultimate goal? Being able to actually write as my living, without worrying that it’s going to push my family into financial ruin.

Jean Davis

Ultimate goal makes it sound so intentional. I like to put the stories in my head onto the page and share them with others. While I do like to get paid, I don’t expect to make a lot of money or create any big world changing movements. Both are welcome, but I’m caught somewhere between realistic and pessimism. If I have to claim a goal it would be to find people who enjoy my writing and keep the bad reviews to a minimum.

Amy Morris-Jones

My goals seem to change regularly. Up to recently, I’ve been writing just for myself and a few select audience members. I’ve started to send out some short stories and am starting to think seriously about publishing one of my novels. My ultimate goal is to feel comfortable calling myself a writer… but I’m yet to decide precisely what that looks like!

S. R. Carrillo

I would like to say I wanna change the world, but I’m far too frightened to do such a thing. I just wanna entertain. I wanna read the books I don’t get to read by reading other writers’ works. I wanna change my world. Keep it dirty and nummy and twisted. And, honestly, I wanna keep my sanity. Have you ever tried to keep a true writer from writing? It’s torture…

H. Anthe Davis

Frankly, the thing I want most in the world is fanfiction.  Even if it’s bad.  I want someone else to love my characters enough that they want to throw them into ridiculous, dramatic, romantic or alternate-universe situations just so they can have fun writing them.  I have fun writing them; why wouldn’t I want that for others?  And I would read the fanfiction and laugh maniacally and then go sink some ‘ships.

Jay Dee Archer

I have two answers to this.  My dream answer and my realistic answer.

I dream to sell a lot of books.  Not to become famous, not to get rich, but to have my stories read.  I want to have people enjoy what I read.  Of course, I’d like to make enough money to live on writing alone, and have extra for things like travel.

My realistic answer is very similar, to be honest.  I just want to entertain people and hopefully make some money to supplement my main job income.  I don’t plan on this replacing my job entirely.  It’s rare for any author to be able to write full time.

But I guess my real ultimate goal is to write full time.  Why?  Because I enjoy it.

How about you?

If you write, or you want to write, what is your ultimate goal?  Leave your answers in the comments below.