In a science fiction romance group on Facebook someone posted a complaint that most science fiction romance is fantasy, not science, which I took to mean that the “science” violated laws of physics. She gave the example of space travelers taking 10 years to get someplace, but being able to engage in instantaneous conversation. Not possible.
I consider myself more of a science fiction writer than a fantasy writer. To me, Sci-fi means futuristic. Fantasy means magical. Space travel to other planets, sci-fi. Aliens, sci-fi. Cyborgs, sci-fi. Unicorns, fantasy. Wizards, fantasy. Magic stones, fantasy.
The Facebook poster based her definition on the accuracy of the science.
I’ve taken biology, chemistry and astronomy classes in college, and I used to cover the “medical beat” for a daily newspaper, so I probably have more of a science background than the average person, but I fall way short compared to someone with an actual science degree. I know little about physics.
I research and fact-check what I know I don’t know. So in writing the Cy-Ops Sci-fi Romance series I’ve read up on gravity, freefall, space shuttles, robot technology, stars, explosions in space, how a star “dies,” how long an unprotected body can survive in space. Many times I’ve nixed a plot point idea after discovering that in real life it didn’t work the way I envisioned –or the way I wanted it to.
But I admit I take creative license as do most other sci-fi writers. For instance, none of my space traveler characters have had to deal with weightlessness on spaceships or space stations. Nobody is floating around or bouncing off the walls. I operate under the assumption “science” has found a solution (i.e. a gravity simulator) in the future. As does nearly every other SF writer I’ve read.
Which leads to the collective creative license. Why are most alien main characters bipedal? Why do most of them look more or less human? Do you really think they would all have a verbal language? Or that a simple “translator” would enable them to speak/understand our languages they JUST encountered? Or that there would be a “standard” language that everyone understands? Why does no one on a long space flight suffer the muscle loss that our astronauts do?
If I tried to be dead-on accurate about all the science, the story would suffer, at least the types of stories I could write. We have yet to discover any life on any planet. How could I send my characters to a planet that science “knows” doesn’t exist?
The fact is, science changes anyway. Old theories are invalidated; new theories are postulated. Who’s to say that is scientifically impossible today may not be possible in 300 or 400 years? We keep searching for signs of water to indicate a planet supports or had supported life. Maybe it’s my ignorance speaking, but why do we assume life needs water? We need water, but maybe some alien insect doesn’t.
I find science fascinating—but only to the point where it exceeds my capacity to understand. Then my eyes start to glaze over, and I lose interest As a reader, I want to read an engaging story about characters I care about, not a science textbook.
We all know hunky 7-foot aliens looking for brides don’t exist, but we enjoy imaginative stories about them anyway. Once upon a time, traveling to the moon was pure fiction, but it’s not now. Maybe you can’t travel to the far side of the universe and send a message lickety split to earth. Does it matter?
I guess it does if you’re stickler for absolute accuracy.
How much hard science do you want in science fiction romance?
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Claimed by the Cyborg ~ Coming January 10, 2017 ~ Ebook & Paperback
March Fellows assumed he had all the time in the galaxy to pursue a relationship with Jules, an alien exchange student from Xenia, until she vanished without a trace. After years of searching, he finds his lost love on the eve of her arranged marriage.
The daughter of the Xenian emperor, Julietta never meant to fall in love with a Terran man while visiting Earth. Leaving to fulfill her responsibilities on her home planet opened up a hole in her heart that could never be filled. When March, now a cyborg, unexpectedly shows up just before she is to be bonded, she struggles to find the courage to turn him away a second time and follow through with her duty. Before she can act, the lovers are thrust into a political conspiracy that threatens the Xenian empire and their lives.