Hard Science in Science Fiction

Science Fiction is fiction, should it follow the science of today’s world or should it not? This is a question that you have to figure out if you are planning any type of science fiction project. There are problems that can arise by using real science when creating a science fiction story. Sometimes the rules as we know them just aren’t enough to make the story happen. You might have to fudge the science a little to get the story to work. A perfect example is the faster-than-light technologies that have been created to make space travel possible.

Do your readers get turned away be the fact that you had to create ideas and science to make your story work? I don’t believe that they do. In most science fiction works there are ideas and theories in place that could not be sustained in the “real” world, but readers tend to look past the actual facts behind the science for the overall story that is being presented. If people were set on the science, they could see the inherit flaws in the X-Wing design from Star Wars and how there is no noise in space. But time and time again these items are overlooked because of the entertainment value of the story.

There are some readers who enjoy the hard science behind a story. I know and follow author and astronomer Mike Brotherton, who has written books based on hard science, and they are popular. I am also a fan of the late Michael Crichton, who worked in some real science with his fiction ideas, and his books were popular. So is it the science that draws the readers or just the story tellers ability to write a great story? I believe it is the great writing skills of these authors that made them popular, not the fact that science was used.

Readers want realism in stories, but the facts can be overlooked as long as they fit into the realm of the story. Any scientific rule can be broken as long as it fits into the fiction world. We all try to keep our stories real, but it is the essence of the story that drives the readers to keep on reading and will keep them coming back, time and time again.

What do you think?

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4 thoughts on “Hard Science in Science Fiction

  1. I totally agree. People can overlook problems in the story if you can keep things flowing and keep people interested. Movies do it all the time. Thanks for the comment!

  2. I think it has to hold together as plausible. Even in fantasy as long as we have “rules” to guide the world based on what we all know and don’t stray from them, the reader can suspend disbelief. Basing the fiction off of known scientific principles isn’t a bad idea though as that lends credibility. Great post!

    1. Thanks for the response. I agree that even in fantasy, there are certain rules that must be followed to create a world. Even if it is hard sometimes.

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