Love in the Afterglow of Hyperspace

Fellow SFR author Jessica Subject has a blog post titled, Science Fiction Romance: How do you "do" aliens? She talks about the different humanoids we authors create as our alien characters, among other things. She also shares several enticing passages from her books that highlight her ideas. Her post made me think about other aspects we as SF/R authors need to explore.
Everyone who knows me knows I write way out imaginative alien characters bar none. But really, writing Sci Fi and Sci Fi Romance is so much more than creating way out characters.

It is my belief the world building of an alien culture/character is the most important thing you can do. You really have to do your studying for this. For me it takes a tremendous amount of research. 

Sure, it's still fiction, but if I can't lace my stories with plausible scientific theories it just won't work for me. Now that's not to say I drone on and on about quantum physics. No way, that would bore even me.  But alien cultures can be very complex and difficult to execute. I do have to know what I'm trying to relate to a reader. Yet I also give myself lots of flexibility while creating imaginative possible worlds and realities. 

Take that awesome theory of traveling faster than light speed--one of my favorites by the way.

Think about this— from my understanding, in Star Trek, the characters travel at warp speed. (Warp 1,2 3 4, etc.) Technically the speed of light is approximately 186,282 miles per second. According to Star Trek, calculating warp speed goes by the warp-cubed method. (X^3) X to the third power. So warp-1 would be speed of light. Warp-2 would be 8 times the speed of light and so on. 

Fast yes, but did they ever even leave the Milky Way Galaxy? Remember when Voyager got lost in the Delta quadrant— still in our own galaxy. According to the Trek idea, our own galaxy is teaming with intelligent life. Thousands upon thousands of planets with advanced cultures. Science fiction, yes. But based on theories and technology we are verging on now. Still that's a lot of fodder for a writer's imagination!

Okay- moving on to FTL hyperspace and event horizons. Though traveling at FTL (faster than light) varies, speeds could actually reach billions of miles per second. Now we can travel to distant-- Galaxies. Find more life—as much as we know now about quantum physics—there are thousands of galaxies with billions of stars, millions of planets and possible advanced life and cultures. Kind of boggles the mind doesn’t it? 

Take the ancient starship in Stargate Universe (SGU) It is traveling at FTL. Faster than light speed – like millions of times faster or else they couldn’t be jumping past all those galaxies. Whoa!

So in reality, we mere earthlings will have to master and amass so much technology and knowledge before we can even explore our own galaxy, much less others. Well hey, that’s why I love Science Fiction. It lets me live outside the normal realm of present day knowledge and reality as we know it. And I can create imagined worlds, aliens and cultures that could possibly exist somewhere out there.

And those sexy encounters between alien characters from totally different evolutionary backgrounds? I love exploring how they would interact and relate to each other. Here's a line from my SFR story, An Alien Presence: 

'...In his star travels, he adored meeting humanoid females. Sensual, hot mammalian women heated his cooled blood to a fevered pitch...'

So what is your take? Do you like to watch read or write SF/R? If so, what level of technology do you like to see? Do you like aliens that are super sexy and very different from us?



Amber Skyze said...

I'm sure it's a lot research to write your stories. I believe it makes the story stronger adding in real elements. Great post today. :)

Jessica Subject said...

I would have to agree that world building is also very important, especially when characters are that much different then humans.

Thanks for the shout out!

Kaye Manro said...

Thanks Amber! It can be fun to do research for SF but it also takes extra time for me.

Hi Jessica! You are so right. And you are welcome for the shout out!

A.R. Norris said...

I love reading SFR that uses outside-the-box technology and civilizations. It's a lot of research, yes, but if done right, it really makes an interesting read.

For me, if a SFR author is going to use standard concepts, it's important for the story and characters to be unique, otherwise I get bored. This is where I like to see the cool and unusual aliens and cultural quirks come in to play.

TKToppin said...

A good alien is a convincing alien. I have not introduced aliens from other planets, yet, into my writing but the option remains open to explore. For me, they'd have to be realistic, with a solid background, culture, beliefs, language (think Klingons and how convincing they are). Great post!

Kaye Manro said...

I agree. Thanks for bringing that up. I think in SF/R there is a need for more books with unique characters and cultures. Yet the standard concepts are great if executed well.

Thanks -- The Klingon example is a great one to use for understanding what we are saying here. I'd love to see you explore other aliens and cultures in your writing!

Allie Ritch said...

For SFR writers, I think it's always a delicate balance between keeping things relatable while also adding some out-there elements. The reader has to be able to relate with the characters, world, tech, etc. enough to follow everything and go along for the ride. On the other hand, there is the risk of boredom and unoriginality if only staple, tried-and-true sci-fi elements are used.

Loved your warp calculations, by the way. Awesome!

Kaye Manro said...

Thanks for stopping by Allie!

You are so right about the balance. We want enough techie stuff to make it interesting and set our SF stage, but not too much tech. Readers need to be entertained, not bored.

Good insight.

Sarah Shade said...

Writing YA SciFi Romance, I really have to be careful how much techie stuff I include or else risk losing my reader. On the other hand, I feel strongly that SciFi is just that - SCIENCE fiction - and must be based on plausible science. So any alien world or culture must have elements we humans (and in my case, teenagers) can relate too. Yet it is that very thing that can make a SciFi story great - the possibility of learning something about ourselves through the eyes or plight of another.

Melisse Aires said...

I write soft scifi romance and veer into sci fantasy without a blink. My stories are character driven romances, not plot driven or tech driven. I know my readers won't be the hard sci fi crowd. I've read scifi with lots of tech info (sometimes info dumps!) and generally skip over that to get to the story about the peeples.Hahaha

Research I do usually just gives me ideas, since there is no actual research for adapting humans to underwater life. I researched whales and dolphins for Urloon, gas clouds for Starlander... but most of what I write is pure speculation, what if...ockl

Kaye Manro said...

Sarah, thanks for the input on SFYA!
I can see that too. I'm working on kind of a YA now with a teen. (A military type SF story for guys) So I know what you mean. Still I like to have as much knowledge on certain subjects as I can, even though I only take bits from it. It kind of makes the background more real for me, and I hope that comes through to the readers too.

Thanks for stopping by!

Kaye Manro said...

Hi Mel-

Boy do I agree with you! I may go on and on about doing so much research, because I believe it is an important part. But when it comes to writing, esp. SFR well, you have to be very into the character development, because it is so important in any genre romance. So science fantasy? Yes. And with all those sexy aliens we create? It's all speculation, and so much fun to do.

I'd say many of the SFR authors I know write more toward spec fiction, and I include myself in that as well. I do like to lace my background with science fact as often as I can though. But on the other hand it is really important not to overuse those facts. A SF balance and keeping it simple appeals more to readers who like SFR, I think. They are seeking the creative emotional/sensual aspect of the characters rather than a text book on science facts!

A big *Thanks* to everyone who stopped by and added such fantastic comments!

Your ideas are so valuable.

Christina Phillips said...

Kaye, I've watched Star Trek since I was a child but had never grasped the calculations behind their warp speed - thank you for clearing that up for me!

Kaye Manro said...

Hi Christina! Thanks for stopping by. Well, it's just from all that research.