Lasers don’t have recoil

It’s a particular challenge, writing science fiction.

If you’re writing fantasy, you can make the rules. It is what you say it is. Stick to your own rules, and you’re good.

If you’re writing something set in the “real world”, then usually you’re good to go. Maybe research. Maybe a little, maybe a lot, depending on which setting you picked.

Science fiction blends these two in a sometimes unclear way.

You get to make stuff up, but only up to a certain point. Where that point is depends on you. On the one hand, it is science fiction, which means some of it has to be, well, fiction. Not true or not yet true. If you knew how to really make some of the things you posit in the story work, you would probably abandon writing at least long enough to invent whatever-it-is, make your millions, and retire comfortably. On the other hand, it’s science, which means it has to be at least somewhat plausible and agree with a basic scientific literacy.

And even then, it depends on the writer, and at least somewhat on the reader. Is the science part of the fiction believable (or does it at least not fracture the first law of thermodynamics)? Sometimes, this is a bit like sales – “No, really! The first law of thermodynamics has exceptions! Let me show you. Come on, haven’t you always suspected it? Just privately, to yourself?” *wink* “Very smart of you. Let me tell you all about it!”

And then twenty or thirty years passes and the story proves much more fiction than science.

Or, as my husband put it while we were watching the final scene in Star Wars, “Laser cannons wouldn’t have recoil.”

Comments are disabled for this post