New Horizons
A forum focused on reaching for new horizons in science fiction, trying to reinvent and reinvigorate a genre plagued by stale conventions. This is a place for writers who want to be creative with scifi and envision something extraordinary.
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dreamshell
I don't know if this is a poor excuse for a topic or not, but I'll give it a shot.

I'm sort of generalizing here, but in my estimation, science fiction writers (at least around here) tend to focus on the distant future, in a time of empires dominating the now multiple planets bearing life. While this is enjoyable enough to read (sometimes) as well as write, since this forum is about reaching "new horizons", maybe it's also come to a point where space operas have just hit the wall.

So, as a means of reaching this "new horizon", I propose that maybe the answer lies in the time inbetween the Here-and-Now and the Much, Much Later. The intermediate era(s) where people are just being thrust into new territories of technology and (metaphysical?) awareness. The drama of present- or psuedo-present-day people having to adapt to a world of science-fiction slowly becoming science-fact could open plenty of interesting doors. What happened to the stories that guessed at what was going to happen within our own lifetimes, instead of millenias later, after we're all dead? Science fiction seems to be going from 'A' to 'C' without any regards for 'B', and, in my opinion anyway, 'B' is argueably the most interesting. The half-familiar coupled with the half-exotic.

Also, to add to this idea, another possible dead weight of the sci-fi genre (or at least, so far as this site) is the desire to make everything seem bigger than life, hyperreal, too exciting, too dangerous, and, basically, too bogus. One part of my personal fascination with science fiction is making something incredible more commonplace, even mundane. Instead of overloading a reader with lots of gadgetry and wacky adventures, we could try the opposite approach; taking one idea that's semi-believable, semi-fantasy, and then bury it within a story that could be right out of any one of our own lives. I'm paraphrasing, but like Richard Matheson ("I Am Legend" and others) suggested, we could try using the concept of "1 percent fantasy, 99 percent reality".

All this being said, I'm the first to admit that I don't always--if ever, actually--follow through with what I've just proposed. But I'm interested in both trying and seeing a new(-ish) way of writing science fiction, so I've tried to put something out there to work with. I hope that A) it's something worth toying around with, and B) I haven't embarrassed myself in some way I've failed to foresee.

--dreamshell--

10/23/2006 #1
Edcrab
Yes, I'd quite like to see some "intermediate" sience-fiction myself- it's something I've always wanted to try, but I'm too stuck in this *really*-far-future rut of mine.

For example, one story I was involved with called the "Titan's Footprint", regarding a very-near-future research centre established in the crater formed by a weird asteroid, and the bizzare ecological changes it brings about. As you say, to deal with one issue in one setting, instead of having all these wonderful but long-established technologies that the characers of the setting aren't interested in.

I'd always wanted to see, say, a Blade Runner-esque television serial. We have tons of epic galaxy-spanning franchises (from Star Trek to Firefly) but nothing that's more limited in its approach- say a futuristic Earth setting that doesn't feel the need to bring in stellar intrigue or space travel as a plot device.

Hrrm, you've got me thinking of a NaNoWriMo idea now. Thanks!

10/23/2006 #2
dreamshell
Something I've been wanting to see for a while now is something like a 'behind the scenes' of budding technology. Not having the tech itself as the main attraction, but rather the lives of the people developing it. Their personal difficulties, the trials they face as they obsess over their project, the mistakes made, the moments when hard work pays off, dealing with the politics of marketing and mass-production. It'd be interesting to see a story like that. Maybe something about the creation of say, the missing link between A.I. and (eventual) computer consciousness? What would life be like for the creators of such a thing? I'd love to read about it.

--dreamshell--

10/24/2006 #3
Darwin
Oh my you are right up my alley here...

I too think that science fiction concentrates a great deal on the far future...

My recent works (with the exception of say Only Half and Curiosity Kills) have dealt with near future on Earth more realistic scenarios.

I find that I am a pessimist about the advancement of technology even several hundred years from now. My stories all still have cars, roads, disease, crime. And while there are advancements (such as cybernetics and or genetic mutation) they tend to be in infancy, rough looking, and not well melded into the current norm. The characters (my cyborgs or mutants) are not accepted in the society and deal with the social friction or internalized guilt and self conciousness that comes from their condition.

Don't get me wrong I love that far off science fiction, Some of my FAVE authors are Andre Norton, Joan Vinge and Anne McCafferey...but sometimes I long for a more grounded view of up and coming futures!

Great thread!

Darwin

www.fictionpress.com/~darwin

10/25/2006 #4
dreamshell
My stories all still have cars, roads, disease, crime. And while there are advancements (such as cybernetics and or genetic mutation) they tend to be in infancy, rough looking, and not well melded into the current norm. The characters (my cyborgs or mutants) are not accepted in the society and deal with the social friction or internalized guilt and self conciousness that comes from their condition.

That's exactly the kind of sci-fi I'm interested in seeing more of, yes. So many people tend to go with a "clean tech" sort of future, where all the bugs (both mechanical and sociological) are worked out, but, really, isn't it the bugs that make a sci-fi story worth reading?

Like I said, I want to see the half-familiar coupled with the half-exotic. Show me a world I can recognize, but throw a few oddities in there. Show me a world that still has political upheavel, problems with the environment, civil unrest, racism, domestic abuse, spousal betrayal, job-related troubles, mortgage problems, and *then* something strange like a personal computer in your head. It's only when those two things work together that we can have a really captivating sci-fi story. Or, that's my opinion, anyway.

So, anyone up for doing this, not just discussing it? I've got something in mind that I'm going to try. Anybody else?

Also, Darwin, Edcrab I'll do my best to read some of both your works. They look interesting.

--dreamshell--

10/25/2006 #5
Darwin
^_^ thanks!

I don't have Gemutations: Plague up at the moment (The mutant story...sequel to the book I published), its last incarnation didn't get a lot of attention...I mean like no reviews at all. The first time I put it out there is was VERY well recieved.

Starting Over and Forgotten Ties (the cyborg stories) are also in process of re edit, FT is actually in process of being totally rewritten with a different storyline.

I am considering doing a by invitation only posting on my website for serious reviewers only. I don't have it set up just yet, but I really need feedback on those, and FP isn't doing it right now.

You might like the Michael Anthologies...kind of a teen mutant story...my first attempt at something aimed for the 18 and under bunch, but still adult enough 18 and up will enjoy.

Only Half deals with an apocalypse and the supernatural all at the same time (The main character is a dhampir).

Hmmm...another collaboration? Unfortunately right now I am up to my ears in projects already, including a supernatural collaboration with Baditter Bunny Queen. Not that I am not interested, but I am letting writing projects languish now, and I don't want to drag anyone elses creativity down. Thank you so much for the invite though!

Good luck, I would love to see what you come up with!

Darwin

10/26/2006 #6
dreamshell
I'll look your stuff over, Darwin, definitely. Might be kind of slow in reviewing, though, since you've got chapter stories and all.

Oh, I wasn't talking about collaborations. I generally don't do those, or at least not with someone right off the spot (no offense). I was just curious to see if anyone would "take the torch", so to speak, and try to write a realistic, roughly present or pseudo-present day sci-fi story. Think of it as a common theme that can be shared by those who decide to give it a try.

If my personal idea for this prospers, I'll be sure to post it. I doubt it would be a "sooner than later" kind of thing, though. While it is on my "To Write" list, it's very far down on that list. I have my hands in many other things, as well. Although, you never know. Inspirations sometimes takes control.

Anyway, I'm thinking; the simpler the better. Let's tone down the techno mumbo-jumbo, the epic wars in space, the drama of galactic royalty and all that other stuff, I say, and make more humanistic science fiction. So, really, I don't think this kind of thing need take a long time. One could probably come up with a quick little story on the fly. Concerning myself, though, I know the idea I want to see through is a little more detailed.

Anyways, if anyone wants to try and write (not collaborate, or at least, not with me) their own "humanistic" sci-fi story, revolving more around people and their emotions and issues, set in something at least vaguely present-day instead of far off in the future, go right ahead. Just be sure to let me know. I'd love to read it.

--dreamshell--

10/26/2006 #7
Darwin
Ah okay I misunderstood that one! LOL! The power of words and misinterpretation eh?

LOL I would certainly love to see more "Down to earth" sci-fi myself. There is enough stuff just beyond the horizon to make a compelling story. I know I've used a lot of it from computer chip nerve splices to the current trend in communication. Looking at even Time or Life gives great ideas for extrapolation!

Anyway...Gotta bounce for now!

Darwin

10/26/2006 #8
ONETRACKMlND . 10/27/2006 . Edited 11/30/2006 #9
dreamshell
ONETRACKMIND;

Um...look, I hate to be this guy, but did you read any other post in this topic? It's about 'realistic', 'down-to-earth' sci-fi. What you're describing...it doesn't really fit into that. I'm not saying you shouldn't write it or write about it, I'm just saying maybe there's a better place to talk about it than in this particular post. Maybe you could start your own topic.

--dreamshell--

10/27/2006 #10
Darwin
Hey guys,

Where'd everyone go? LOL!

I know I've been busy...I got two webcomics plus my collab efforts plus work, plus writing my supernatural/science fiction sequel to Only Half...weeee!

what else we got going on?

Dariwn

11/1/2006 #11
Darwin
Hey guys,

Where'd everyone go? LOL!

I know I've been busy...I got two webcomics plus my collab efforts plus work, plus writing my supernatural/science fiction sequel to Only Half...weeee!

what else we got going on?

Dariwn

11/1/2006 #12
dreamshell
Well, right now I'm working on a sci-fi short. It's not exactly a "new horizon" sort of story, but it's closer than most, I think. Sort of like a tale about alienation with...yeah, aliens.

Still not ready yet to write the story I'm really looking forward to, that 'realistic portrayal of the creation of a new something-or-other' idea I put out. But I'll get to it some time, definitely. Incidentally, if anyone knows some good sites or has a fair amount of knowledge concerning genetics, let me know. I'll need some precise, scientist-y info.

Darwin: You've got two webcomics? I've checked out the Gemutations one, but what's the other?

--dreamshell--

11/2/2006 #13
Darwin
Heh, I've got a webcomic for Only Half: Sins of the Father (http://www.drunkduck.com/Only_Half). It is based on a pivotal chapter toward the end of that epic novel over there on my profile. It is the part of the story where after so long, Cabal finally catches up with Renate, a vampire he's been looking for for 550 some odd years.

I REALLY need to sit down and work on some of my other projects...hee...been letting Curiosity Kills slack off. The next chapter just needs to be polished and put together so I can get it up. THat is my attempt at "hard" science fiction. Heh, the first time I've tried to write a space epic. It was originally a collaboration between me and some buddies from college, but they moved on, and I was left with the storyline.

I also need to get moving on Seraphim and Onyx...I wrote the beginnings of chapter two, but I stalled cause I never really figured out EXACTLY how I want the storyline to go. Once I figure that out I will jump all over it. Right now its just Jasper and Jadxia interacting...not bad, give the idea of their characters...but I need to get to the plot and soon.

I need a vacation just to finish all the stuff I am trying to do! THat Plague webcomic is going to be epic! The story was 34 chapters long, and to draw a comic out of each chapter is going to get interesting!

Anyway...I've babbled off topic long enough...if you wanna, I have my own forum we could move this discussion to (Not so Run of the Mill Science Fiction)...just so we are not off topic on someone elses forum. THanks for your patience, Mod!

11/2/2006 #14
dreamshell
Darwin, you're published? O_O What's that like?

What are the things you're co-writing with people about? And let me know about this "Plague comic", too, when you get on it.

--dreamshell--

11/4/2006 #15
Darwin
It was a real thrill seeing my work in print, unfortunately like most new author's the audience is slow to pick up on the thing. It hasn't sold nearly as well as I would have liked, 'cause the story is really good, and I'm not the only one who thinks so!

HEE...Tiger is a baby of mine, the most sarcastic SOB I've ever written - kinda my inner Scorpio gone crazy. He's flippant, prone to cracking jokes, and hard to understand when he is being serious. The best part of him is that while he starts out as a villian in the first book (yes that's right...he's a hired killer.), he is still likable and deep...something else I see missing in a lot of books - depth of character.

And believe it or not (no matter how he talks) he is a smart guy - I mean college level intellegence...

I do have plans to get with a literary agent, talk to some major book companies and see about getting a multi-book deal with someone like Bantam or Tor. I have ***counts on fingers*** four or five completed novels ranging from 300-700 pages long! I'm a writin' fool!

HEE...

The collabs - "Common Ground" one is a supernatural story straight up...it is about vampires (and one dhampir and a couple humans for that matter) who are sucked into a time and power nexus in an effort to track down an Ancient vampire. Things are all kinds of wacked compared to the real world and they are just barely getting started on their adventure.

The other is called "After the Rain" and is also a supernatural/science fiction story. It revolves around a vampire named Raine, and a human girl named Kara. His mistake was to befriend her, now he is being sought by the vampire broods, the witches covens as well as the Association, a group of human supernatural hunters.

Oh the plague Webcomic can be found on drunk duck http://www.drunkduck.com/Gemutations__Plague/ it has twenty five going on twenty six pages...if I do end up doing the entire story...we're talking an epic effort mind you! Sins of the Father the other webcomic is also on drunk duck or you can see them both on my website http://www.darwinsdomain.net

Thanks for asking!

Kinda off subject...sorry!

Darwin

11/4/2006 . Edited 11/4/2006 #16
dreamshell
Thanks for the info. I'll give the 'mics and the stories a gander ASAP. ;)

Oh, and no biggie. I wouldn't have asked here if I hadn't wanted you to answer...here.

--dreamshell--

11/4/2006 #17
Frog Lord
Yes, yes, this is all good... I've been struggling to write a Sci Fi piece that doesn't necissarily focus on the distant future. The thing is, in my story, MATTEO, the main character is living a normal life but is thrust into this sort of situation involving other races that he doesn't really understand. So it's sort of more like Sci Fi of Today, really.

But your idea is intriguing... What is your idea so far? Would you mind sharing? Or is it already out and written?

I'd love to read it. :D

11/8/2006 #18
dreamshell
Thanks for the enthusiasm, Frog Lord. ;)

As far as the idea, the overall one (as described above) is basically something 'present day' that stresses people over anything else. Put simply, making a sci-fi story with the 'sci-fi' part in the background.

What I've been interested in seeing is what it would be like if we got a 'behind the scenes' look at the lives of people creating new tech or discovering new advances in science. I think that the people who are working every day to make improvements on our way of life are horribly undervalued and, well, I guess a story like this would be my tip of the hat to them.

Concerning the more specific aspects, i.e., my own take on this idea, I'm a little reserved about mentioning anything. Mostly because I don't want to burst my own bubble or spoil the surprise, but also because it's one of my favorites and I don't really want to risk someone, simply put, ripping me off. But if you have an interest, just keep reading this forum, since I'm sure I'll post something whenever I actually get the story done.

Again, thanks for reading.

--dreamshell--

11/9/2006 #19
Frog Lord
Yeah yeah! That was what I was wanting to really stress, is kinda how the stuff in the backround affects my "normal" guy. That would be a really cool little thing to stress in a Science Fiction story - how various people in society act around things that are abnormal. The characters, not the shiny spaceships, would be the center.

Yeah, getting behind the scenes would be klida cool, but I suppose one would have to keep the interest of the reader. Like, it would be good to look at that kinda stuff, because I totally agree thåt they're undervalued in our world, but it would have to be engaging, I'd think. I knøw personally that it would be hard for me to write, so I guess I'll leave it to better writers. :P

Oh, well I guess that's alright. I understand that authors have to be a little bit reserved sometimes. I'll just be patient to see how it turns out.

No problem! Keep me posted on what happens! :D

11/9/2006 #20
EnderWinner
Hmm... I feel like I'm interrupting an already highly developed train of thought, but as I've been reading, I've come to agree with you. It would be neat to see stories develope during those 'middle ages' of the future pre-starships, aliens or what have you. I've always enjoyed writing with story orientation leaning more toward the characters than the background.

I'm just curious if there isn't something that can move sci-fi as a genre out of the precedents set by things such as Star Trek, the Outer Limits, and Honor Harrington. Don't get me wrong, I love David Weber and shiny (or not so shiny) starships to bits. But sometimes it feels like if you attempt to write something that involves the far off future, it's hard to write with a new idea in mind.

Perhaps this is why the idea of a less distant future is appealing. I can't think of very many series that touch on it.

11/21/2006 #21
dreamshell
Not interrupting at all, EnderWinner. Join the fun.

And yes, I do think the inbetween of Now and Later is scarcely written about. This is good because it means there's a lot of territory to play around in. Plus, we get to tamper with the more volatile times where people are still adapting to whatever new tech or science they're creating. I'm with you about characters over story, too. I mean, the story and plot are definitely important, but without deep, interesting characters, you've basically just got a cool idea stretched out over many pages.

So, E.W., any ideas for this kind of sci-fi you'd like to discuss?

--dreamshell--

11/21/2006 #22
EnderWinner
I was thinking maybe something on early extra-earth orbit ventures. I suppose in theory that wouldn't be that far off in the future, but perhaps something involving a stationary base at Earth-sun-Jupiter LaGrange point. Some of the personal drama could involve people struggling to find new ways to survive in space. It's something that hasn't really been well thought out or toyed with. For the most part, authors have assumed that things would just be ok.

But if you think about it, there are constant dangers in space. Micro-meteorites, solar flares, radiation. It's always been assumed that the 'shields' will take care of these things. Well, what if you don't get the special shields yet? What then?

just something to tease the brain with.

-Ender

11/26/2006 #23
dreamshell
Interesting, E.W. So, essentially, a story that kind of links our current space program to the imagined high-techery of future space travel? The 'B' point between our 'A' and the later 'C'? I liiike. :)

--dreamshell--

11/27/2006 #24
Will Sachiksy
I enjoyed William Gibson's Cyberspace trilogy (Neuromancer, Count Zero, and Mona Lisa Overdrive) because of its near-future quality. Sure, some of the tech is a little more advanced than some of us might imagine when we think of "near-future," but Gibson's future is far closer to now, and far more real, than most space operas and alien planet stories I've seen.

The multimedia project ".hack" was another near-future (set in 2010) set of sci-fi works that seemed very plausible and believable.

12/2/2006 #25
dreamshell
Gibson is definitely in the vein of things I'm talking about. What's ".hack", though?

--dreamshell--

12/3/2006 #26
Will Sachiksy
.hack is a Japanese multimedia project (with iterations in videogames, television, manga, novels, Original Video Animations...) that focus on a fictional online game called "The World." This game has become the most popular in the project's universe, selling over 20 million copies, but for unknown reasons several players from around the world have fallen into comas while playing the game.

As a whole, the project ponders the nature of reality (e.g. one of the character's real body becomes comatose, but the player remains logged into the game), the future of AI technolgy, and how society would react if the Internet started breaking down ("The World" begins to malfunction, and problems with the system start to affect the World Wide Web).

The project isn't mainstream by any stretch of the imagination, so that's probably why you've never heard of it. Of all the parts of the project, I would recomend the television series .hack//SIGN the most.

12/3/2006 #27
dreamshell
Actually, I'm familiar with the show, which is why I was curious. Wasn't sure if maybe it was something else the show was based on. Guess it is.

It's a pretty neat idea, for sure, but I think maybe (I'm not certain, since I only just barely know about it) it's too outside reality to really, completely fit into the category we're discussing. What .hack seems to be is a futurist form of escapism, which is cool, but doesn't the story take place almost entirely (if not entirely) in "The World"? Where's the contrast of the *real* world? If you had something like that, possibly with a Gibsonian backdrop, that could work, but then again, has that idea been overused? I'm not sure. If someone could think of a new and interesting way to have a VR-type world in a pseudo-futuristic story, one that doesn't just seem like another .hack or The Matrix, then we've got something.

Maybe, for example, a "game" where people can create artificial "worlds" themselves? Only, they're all connected within the same game universe, so maybe the virtual civilizations start to interact? And maybe because of evolving AI or a type of computer virus, the virtual creations start to act out on their own, maybe warring with neighboring V-races? There's an idea. I don't know how good that one is, but I call dibs, regardless. If anyone cares to discuss it further or has some ideas of their own, go ahead.

--dreamshell--

12/4/2006 #28
Will Sachiksy
Point taken. There is a four-part Original Video Animation series released with the original four games that takes place entirely in the real world, but the OVAs don't show too much of the larger effect the world had on reality (although there is the incident in Yokohama in the 2hd OVA that was caused by "The World's" malfunction.

I thought that a global internet crash would make for an interesting sci-fi story. Or what if governments became increasingly regulatory of online games in their countries (e.g. taxing in-game transactions, controlling access to different areas based on real-life offences). That would be scary.

Your idea faces the danger of becoming just another creator versed creation story. I'm not saying you aren't capable of making the story original, but be careful about how you write your story.

12/4/2006 #29
dreamshell
A global Internet crash could be interesting, but I wonder if it's almost *too* real now. I mean, surely, that's not so realistic that we should worry over it, but there would have to be some kind of additional "oomph" to such a story to give it a sci-fi quality.

Actually, and not to seem defensive, but a "creator vs. creation" concept didn't really cross my mind. I was thinking it would be more interesting if the AI civilizations got out of control--within the context of the game--and their makers were simply left to watch. Maybe somehow the AI could cross over into other systems at most; VR refugees, AI civs beginning to mimic real life, etc., but I never really figured on having anyone be able to do anything.

--dreamshell--

12/5/2006 #30
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