Sub-Log 8

What’s Your Sci-Fi Hardness?

2:24:52 PM Image by Marusja

There’s a lot of talk about science fiction at the moment.

It’s been revived all the more because of Star Wars.

Some break the genre into ‘hard’, ‘soft’, ‘space opera’, while others include a ‘medium’ and then there’s the ‘speculative’ science fiction.  I even found this where there is an actual scale of hardness for the sci-fi genre.

According to the scale of hardness, as far as I could tell, Star Wars sits at 1.6 to 2.5 Science Fiction In Name Only level. I found the scale of hardness interesting, a few times mildly scathing, and I want to add one thing. Most readers read to escape. The comments I guess might be because the author of the blog likes hard science fiction or is sick of being misled. It might be for another reason but I know many readers, and writers, who often are disappointed in how books are labelled. ‘Science Fiction’ is a broad genre and care should be taken when advertising your work.

Now 10 is the ultimate level of hardness:

’10. The real world. Science is explained, no handwavium. Also, Non-Fiction. As TV Tropes puts it: “The Apollo Program, World War II, and Woodstock fall in this class.”

9.6. to 9.9 Technothrillers and Futurology. Technothrillers take place only a few years in the future, with only a few plausible near future tech projections. This category overlaps with Futurology which includes, as explained in TV Tropes “stories which function almost like a prediction of the future, extrapolating from current technology but do not assume or invent any important new technologies or discoveries.”’ @akazlev

I know I won’t be able to escape properly, not in a book anyway. Movies are different for me because I am a visual person. There are many like me who like character and or plot driven sci-fi, yes, even suspending disbelief when ludicrous speed is introduced. I want to visit other worlds. I want to read about aliens and grand conflicts. I’m probably not going to question things too much. This is why the lower scale sci-fi novels and movies are often the most popular. But, if you like writing the hard sci-fi, and you accept you are writing to a smaller audience, then that’s your decision. I know a few people who only read the hard core sci-fi. I think the hard stuff often makes for great movies.

When a reader buys a sci-fi book and reads it, and it doesn’t meet their level of ‘sci-fi’ hardness, often it will be because they find it too hard or too jelly-like. So, this is a message for writers – take care when labelling your sci-fi story; slip your story into the correct sci-fi sub-genre. Strange as it sounds when I write sci-fi my attitude is a little more unforgiving. I want the science there. According to the scale, my story might fit into the 6.6 to 7.5 level because I base a lot of my research on real science but I tend to manipulate and sometimes even ignore it. So, maybe, 3.6 to 4.5 Token Science is closer, but I like to think of it as ‘Soft, Speculative Science Fiction’. The story is not science driven but hopefully science enhances it giving some reason for why my characters can and do travel around the universes (multi-universe theory, dimensional stuff). But I may be just kidding myself and I might be at level 0 ‘Cartoon’.

My story is character and plot driven and it has mythological parallels – a heroine who goes on a journey and fights for those she feels responsible for. So, does it work? Who knows but I will be clear what type of science fiction novel it is.

Anyway, take a look at the scale of hardness by M. Alan Kazlev it’s quite good.

Cheers, Selina

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