Finger Food

I think that sometimes, when writing science fiction, it is not so important that you have the technical expertise to understand possible future technologies, or even modern ones. I think what’s important, when the scene calls for it, is that you sound like you do.

Science seems like it would be rigid and unbending, but you can be awfully vague in your delivery of it, and the intelligent reader conjures the practical application of what your touching upon themselves. Not every reader wants to be led through your story by the hand.

I’m not big on research, unless I have to do it. When I have the need for a faster-than-light solution, I’ll take the time to check out the frontiers of propulsion. When you tear my stories apart, to behold the reason why I choose this genre, it has nothing to do with gadgets, space exploration, aliens, or advanced science. I write about humans.

Chief Regan rubbed his thumb along the palm side of his middle finger, between the first and second knuckles.

“I think it safe to assume the incidents are related, starting with the first fatality five days ago” Director Jaynes declared with finality. “Down three techs, we don’t have the luxury of time to play detective.”

Doc Underwood zipped up the third body bag, and wheeled the gurney towards cold storage.

In the tight space of the medical examination room, the five figures that made up the decision-making authority for the Ulysses Mining presence on Asteroid EG37 eyed each other suspiciously.

Chief Regan dug a thumbnail into the flesh of his middle finger, tearing away a bit of dead skin.

“Psychotic episode?” the astrogeologist offered.

“I said no more detective work,” their director snapped. “We’ve got three days to get that hab-pocket ready for a permanent team. That’s three days of non-stop work, no breaks. Chief, I want you to get those mech units in there to start scanning for leaks and patch as they go. If we’ve got a space-crazy wrench in our crew, then we’ll handle it once we get off this rock. Until such time as Ulysses 3 blasts off from the surface with our happy asses on it, we watch ourselves and work like we’re getting paid for it. Understood?”

The five crew leaders nodded their understanding and left for their assigned areas.

Chief Regan walked absently away, still digging into his flesh, looking for the tiny alien that had burrowed into his finger five days earlier.

2 thoughts on “Finger Food

  1. I like how your first paragraph blurb about writing sci fi. It’s one of the struggles I come up with when writing. I sit there and mull over “How does that happen?” I feel like it has be believable, but only just. Basically saying what you mentioned: just sound like you know about it. I should try to take a more relaxed view, but I always feel like I need to write in depth explanations, Tom Clancy style, to prove that, “Yes, it really happened just like I said, and here is all the evidence and research I’ve done.”

    • There’s always going to be the readers that rip apart your science like they assume you’re writing a textbook. I think if your story has intangible depth beyond the tangible details, it doesn’t need to explain relativity in depth.

      Star Wars and Star Trek both are guilty of vague science. We’re not all Asimovs or Clarkes.

      There is a line that’s crossed, though. When the science is an integral part of the story, like a scientist discovering temporal or multiversal travel, instead of just using supposed existing technology to do so, you’ve got to at least make an attempt to give it substance. In a movie like Primer, its necessary. In Doctor Who, it’s not.

      It’s all in the presentation. I don’t claim to be good at it, I just make sure when I do it that I use the right colors on the palette.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s