Big Daddy Scifi

Did you know George R. R. Martin wrote a space opera?

Science fiction has always been that intimidating cool kid who, no matter how nice they have been to me, I always fear and resent. Today, I’m going to try and talk about it, especially since I’m suddenly writing scifi.

Before that, though, a few updates!

The Genre Hustle - Season two is finished and it was awesome. Lots of great support, fantastic audience, and tons of fun. If you missed any of season two, you can find it in its bingeable playlist form HERE and if you haven’t listened to season one, you can do so HERE.

Rat - I am continuing to get beta feedback on my novel. I’m starting to feel cautiously optimistic because people seem to be enjoying it. There are issues, for sure, but I knew that going in and having them pointed out is the point of the whole exercise. I have to nudge a couple of betas to see if they’re going to read and give feedback, but the final round will come from my writing group on June 9th. Fingers crossed.

Other Works - I’ve been working in this cyberpunk noir world I’ve cooked up and I’m about 20k words into this… let’s call it a novella and hope it has the legs to make it all the way to novel. It’s first person (weird for me) and scifi (the real oddity) and after outlining a ton of different story lines, I’m writing out some exploratory stuff. So far it’s cohesive.

Which brings me to today’s topic. Science fiction.

Do you find that you read mostly one type of genre? That you write only one genre? That you stick to one audience, POV, and tense?

That was me. The only exploration I did outside of grimdark fantasy with a splash of horror (Rat) was in my short stories, which have leaned further into horror, added in some scifi, and let me play with POV and tense.

This cyberpunk dystopia piece I’m working on is completely different than that, and I’m feeling a little out of sorts. Especially in the face of my writer friends who actually write scifi and have read way more of it than me. Makes me feel pretentious when I say I’m writing scifi, all of a sudden. Like I haven’t earned my stripes. I also feel icky telling people I write speculative fiction, so I can encompass all the genres I write in a nonspecific, totally inoffensive way. What am I to do? Do I have to choose one and stick to it? Or do I get to explore what ever I want?

I certainly consume more scifi than fantasy, at least in terms of TV shows and movies. That could be because there just aren’t as many fantasy examples of those. Or good ones. Star Wars, Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, Alien… I could go on forever. The fantasy list is way shorter.

I find, however, the opposite has been true with books. It’s only recently that I’ve really started to dive into science fiction, exploring the works of John Scalzi, Alastair Reynolds, the Leviathan Wakes series. Sure, I’d read some scifi in the past, like Starship Troopers and Ender’s Game, but fantasy was always the one I gravitated towards. I blame my father reading Lord of the Rings to me when I was a child.

Now that I’m on a break from working on Rat, though, I started to dive into what my next piece was going to be, and I couldn’t resist all the inspiration coming at me from the scifi side of speculative fiction. Neon dystopias, electrowave, Cyberpunk 2077, dark synths, and stuff like Love Death + Robots on Netflix (which is amazing and you should watch it, by the way).

It made me wonder about the two sides of the coin that is scifi and fantasy. Magic vs. technology, and all that. I always envisioned fantasy as escapism and scifi as futurism (probably incorrectly). I even had a bit of a personal stigma about writing fantasy, thinking it was somehow less respected than science fiction. Writing about dragons and magic always seemed less serious than galaxy spanning space operas or robotics or dystopian futures based off our sociopolitical failings. I don’t think I’ve grown out of that notion, either.

I suppose part of my hesitation comes from my lack of having read in the genre. At least with fantasy, when I say I write it, I can spout off a bunch of works that I love and have inspired me. There’s something a lot less appealing about saying I remember liking the Halo novels.

So, here I am, writing science fiction, ashamed to admit it, and desperately trying to read more of it. When I’m finished with this piece, I’ll be curious to see what my scifi writing friends are going to say about it.

I feel like I’m walking through a minefield. Space mines. Laser mines? Plasma mines. Something.

What about you? Are you sticking to a single genre? What do you think about the difference between fantasy and scifi? Do you only get ideas in one? Do you feel like you can only write within one? Let me know.

And as always, keep yourself healthy, place importance into self care, and keep achieving those small goals.

Until next time.

P.S. In the battle between “sci-fi” and “scifi”, I’m going to go with Benjamin Dreyer and agree that hyphenated words are a thing of the past.