Decide if each of the statements below is true (T) or false (F).
- Good sci-fi is ‘grounded’.
- A sci-fi novel must include future technology (AI, robots, spaceships, etc) or alien life.
- With sci-fi book sales at an all-time low, the genre is probably less relevant nowadays.
- With its laser guns and robots, sci-fi is all a bit silly.
- As Brian Aldiss said, we don’t really need to read about sci-fi anymore because we live in a world where new technology comes out every week and we don’t really understand how any of it works.
- With its sense of the alien ‘other’, sci-fi is just as important as any other genre.
- Dystopian fiction (e.g. The Hunger Games) satirises today’s society.
- Sci-fi doesn’t need strong characterisation or a particularly logical plot.
- ‘Realist sci-fi’ like The Martian (the Matt Damon movie) isn’t as progressive as other types of sci-fi.
Answers: 1T, 2T, 3F, 4F, 5T, 6T, 7T, 8F, 9F
The statements and answers above give us some particular insights about sci-fi. Firstly, although it’s less popular in terms of its literature than it once was, it’s as popular as ever in terms of TV and film. Therefore, if you’re going to write sci-fi, you probably want to be quite filmic in your style and composition.
Sci-fi is not just silly and made up. It captures the very real experience of today’s world (as Mr Aldiss pointed out), including its totalitarian regimes (The Hunger Games/Putin’s Russia), alien invasion (District 9/waves of immigrants) and its genetic plague scenarios (World War Z/Covid-19). It satirises society, it explores situations, it provides warnings (if we would but listen), and it implicitly suggests possible solutions.
Central to sci-fi, however, is the issue of technology. Fundamentally, all sci-fi is about using a new technology (or technological function) to change our lives or the wider world. That ‘vision’ of the future is invaluable to us. Why? How so? Isn’t it just made-up silliness? No, it’s not.
Think about Star Trek, the original series. Are phasers, communicators and nano-technology completely silly and made-up nowadays? Why do you think China banned all sci-fi for 100 years, but now hosts a global sci-fi conference every year? Think.
[If you would like to learn more about all of the above, I would recommend my new title: The Satanic in Science Fiction and Fantasy. Hey! It’s up to you.]
- Imagine you have arrived on a planet where the aliens (the majority) do not welcome humans (the minority). They think humans bring germs. All humans are put into a holding camp. Write the beginning of a story from the perspective of a human in one of the camps…
- Remember ‘the rule of 5’ for description of the setting… and ‘the rule of 5’ for describing a character… and the 6-step plot that requires a moral dilemma at the start (previous lessons)…
- Discuss or plan things for 5mins…
- And then write the opening paragraph or two… GO!
If you’d like me to look at your attempt, please do feel free to email me (Adam): adz_d2003 @ yahoo.co.uk – deleting the two spaces either side of the @ sign.
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