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for Writing Speculative Fiction: A Nerd's Guide

3/15/2008 c12 12TorgoTheWhite
While I do appreciate your suggestions for alternatives to Directed Energy Weapons (a major cliche in most Sci-Si works), I still think that accurate portrayals of energy weapons could be relevant to Hard Sci-Fi and in someways, more difficult than circumventing their usage.

The fact that you recognize that lasers travel at the speed of light and are invisible due to their frequency demonstrates your superb understanding of physics. I would also like to add that lasers are invisible in a vacuum due to the fact that there isn't a medium in space to illuminate a beam of light. So it would be impossible for lasers of any frequency to be visible during a space battle.

Despite the high energy consumption associated with weapons utilizing electromagnetic radiation, they still possess one advantage over projectile weapons- they travel at the speed of light. When efficient superconductors and high energy storage devices come around in the future, I believe that laser-based weaponry could potentially allow spacecrafts to engage one another light-seconds apart. Since there isn't any atmospheric blooming in space, this could theoretically be possible.

You neglected to mention particle beam weapons in this chapter. Particle beams operate on a different principle in laser in the sense that damage is done by the kinetic energy transfer of charged particles colliding with the target.

With that said, I completely agree with your point on hand-held energy weapon. There is no advantage for a hand-held laser due to the limited range of close-in engagements.
3/12/2008 c1 TorgoTheWhite
I've just started on the Basics of Creativity and thought it was pretty informative and your instructions resonated with my philosophy on story writing. Great instructions!

I agree with your idea that Sci-Fi stories should take the laws of physics into account. While the "sufficiently advanced technology" argument has its merits, it is abused way too often and is the recipes for cliched Sci-Fi.
2/27/2008 c10 8Written
where might I find this 'Guide to Writing Fantasy'? I did a search for it on fp and didn't come up with it...
2/27/2008 c1 Written
wow, you have an awesome guide going! I don't write any scifi just yet, but I'll have to add this to my C2. It's very useful!
12/9/2007 c41 self-evident
Hey there,

Interesting guide. I'll be using this to help me with my science fiction story!

I have one question, though. Have you encountered Alastair Reynolds's Revelation Space series? If so, what do you think of it? You haven't mentioned it in any of the chapters, so I was wondering if you've read it. It's an excellent hard sci-fi/space opera and is consistent with physics (no FTL technology, though it comes close). I'm in love with the series!
11/28/2007 c41 Edcrab
Hey, you updated. Glad to see one of us manages to...!

Very interesting read, even though ultimately it can be summarised as another common-sense observation. Still, as blatantly obvious as the advice might be (i.e., making sure that engineering projects are viable in an economocial, functional, and even a believable sense) ... the fact that a lot of us totally fail to consider such aspects when we turn to SF proves that it's advice worth giving.

Hmm. Interesting when you think about what SF readers put up with compared to material outside of the genre...
8/10/2007 c40 Crownbreaker
So far so good. This does a nice job of helping with the problems of bad sci-fi. It would be cool if the next chapter you did was on a much abused group in military sci-fi, special operations.
8/5/2007 c40 Edcrab
Nice update! Glad to see you touching on one of the core staples of the fantasy genres (and also one of the core cliches, come to think of it).

As always, great selection of ideas and summaries and a choicy bit of analysis delving into *why* superheroes are such an endearing concept.
7/15/2007 c40 Monev
The clear solution for the "Experiment" one is to have a superhero use super-tumors.
5/21/2007 c31 AllanHollow
I find "Science Fiction for Dummies" very informing and some parts are just hilarious.

On a more serious note: you obviously are seeing things in black-and-white when it comes to the view-point of "The Lord of the Rings". Tolkien wrote LOTR when he was in the trenches during WWI, so he's not going to write in the antagonists POV. Tolkien's point in writing LOTR was to show the dangers of industry on the environment. He also wrote more books than just the LOTR trilogy that extend the history of some of the characters and their forerunners and give more background information about LOTR. From what you wrote, it sounds like you've only seen the movies. (And the movies leave out a lot of stuff and add totally put new stuff into it.) I would write more, but I am on a limited time schedule right now and cannot write anymore at this moment (the dismissal bell just rang).

My suggestion to you is to watch National Geographic's "The Making of The Lord of the Rings" for the full history behind the story.
4/12/2007 c38 3Le Creature
You know, you might want to start "Part Two" to this series after 30 chapters. Just saying you have so many chapters you have to scroll down through the list and that that's probably a bad thing.

Also, why do you even want dummies writing science fiction? Why do you want dummies doing *anything*?
4/12/2007 c39 Le Creature
What about "We have thingymajiiggies that can materialize gold instanteously therefore money is irrelevent" science fiction ala star trek?
4/12/2007 c30 Le Creature
There's no real good reason to presume the aliens can't travel faster than light. Even within the existing framework it's hypothetically possible through wormholes or somesuch. Also, physics already can't account for Dark Energy in any sort of coherent way, and it's entirely possible that physics as we know it will be completely undone within the next century, perhaps even within the next few decades. Ultimately, if we were up against a "technologically advanced" species, the only reason to presume that aliens couldn't instanteously completely annihilate humans completely would be because, if they had the capacity to do so, they probably would be so advanced that they a) wouldn't need to because they have the technology to sustain an infinitely large society for an infinite period of time and b) wouldn't even be remotely threatened by humanity. The only compelling reason for an alien invasion really comes down to the hitchhiker's guide version, where aliens don't really invade, earth or our solar system or perhaps our galaxy just happens to be in the way.
4/7/2007 c39 8KeytoExistence
Here's another joke about economists.

A physicist, a chemist and an economist were trapped on a deserted island. Strangely, they are able to find some old canned food, but have no conventional way of opening the cans. The physicist proposed a contraption made from rocks and sticks to open the cans. The chemist finds some berries and claims that if you mix them then their acidity can open the cans. They then ask the economist for his idea.

"Assume we have a can opener..."
4/7/2007 c39 15No Trust
Robert Hayek?

I counted more serious errors but I don't want to go into a lengthy point-by-point rebuttal. I will say that, while I'm not especially knowledgeable about other topics you might cover in this series, your evident sloppiness in covering economics robs you of some credibility one might otherwise assign you in other fields. You should probably research your topics more thoroughly.
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