With our newest endeavor, Circle Circle dot dot is exploring an unfamiliar territory: Science-Fiction. Our play currently titled “Terraforming Mars” will be based 30 years in the future and will follow some of the first humans to step foot on Mars. Doing justice to the genre is really important to us, however, we are not exactly what you would call experts on the topic so we have been doing our research. There are pages and pages on the Internet with opinions about what goes into a great Science-Fiction story. I found that 4 main qualities are consistently referenced through all articles. I have titled these qualities “The 4 Pillars of Science-Fiction Writing”.
Pillar 1) Real Scientific Research
Good Science-Fiction is based on the scientific knowledge of the time it was written. Mary Shelly is often referred to as the first Science-Fiction novelist. When she wrote Frankenstein, modern science had just discovered that when you shoot electricity into a dead body it can cause the body to move. Shelly took this discovery and used her imagination to explore what else might be possible with this technology in the future. Readers of her novel found the scientific possibility of creating life through electricity to be accurate and plausible according to their modern scientific research. Science-Fiction must be plausible and reasonable, if it is not, then it is more in the genre of Fantasy or Horror. That is why, now that we know life cannot be created through electricity, we categorize Frankenstein as a Horror story.
Pillar 2) Quality Writing
You may have exciting things like space-ships and laser-guns in your story but that is no cover for bad writing. A good Science-Fiction story has all the same qualities of any well-written piece of literature. You must have well developed characters with real goals and real obstacles so that your audience will root for them. Your antagonists must be developed just as carefully. All stories are really about human relationships weather they take place in the future or not.
Pillar 3) Visionary Ideas
Ray Bradbury said, “Anything you dream is fiction, and anything you accomplish is science, the whole history of mankind is nothing but Science-Fiction”. Consider any piece of technology we use today: TV’s, computers, cellphones, cars ect. All of these things, before they were invented, were conceived in a work of Science-Fiction. Good Science-Fiction pushes the boundaries of modern knowledge and challenges scientists to create new technologies that improve our standard of living.
Pillar 4) Phiosophical Issues
Good Science-Fiction addresses our modern philosophical issues and fears. Science-Fiction writers take problems they see in todays society and explore those problems in the extreme. This is why topics like overbearing government, artificial intelligence and environmental ruin come up in Science-Fiction all the time. Good Science-Fiction, like any good story, works out our needs, hopes and problems with the ultimate goal of making our world a better place.