1. JennaPeterson88
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    JennaPeterson88 Member

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    Am I Writing a Sci Fi, or Not?

    Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by JennaPeterson88, Jun 2, 2016.

    I'm only on my first draft, and I realize now is the time to be just focussing on writing and not worrying about queries and such, but I can't help it. That's not how my brain works. For the purpose of identifying agents/editors that may or may not be interested in this story, which genre is it? I've been thinking Sci Fi (Space Opera), but the more I think about it the more I wonder if it's some sub-genre of Fantasy with a few Sci Fi elements thrown in.

    My main characters are evolved from their planet's equivalent of the sugar glider, living on the only landmass on an ocean planet. Reincarnation is confirmed, as most individuals recall past lives clearly. Their culture revolves around this fact, and they address one another by name and soul status. (Old Soul, etc.) They are newly spacefaring and the main characters form the crew of the first mission beyond their own solar system. There's concern that travelling so far from the planet may loosen the soul's ties to their home world and that their souls may not be reborn, especially if they die in space.

    They will meet other species, there is space travel and typical space-based story technology, but the story isn't about the technology. It's about the discoveries this species is making about their reincarnation/souls through space travel. There's no "magic" or mythical creatures, so it's not overtly fantasy, but there's also no emphasis on technology, so not overtly sci fi.

    So, is it a "Space Opera" or a "Fantasy in Space" type genre?
     
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  2. Senko
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    Senko Member

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    I guess it's Sci. Fi .
    But Im not really the right person to tell that.
    Could that be a mix ?
    Anyway, looking at your post really made me think. What happens to the works that just can not fit in a pre -defined genre?
    I don' t know if they might have some kind of disadvantage. I have the idea that many people just don't like that. Or maybe it's just that the marketing is way too more difficult.
     
  3. newjerseyrunner
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    newjerseyrunner Contributing Member

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    I'd call it soft sci-fi. I tend to include things in sci-fi that only make minor changes to the universe as we understand it. Things like warp travel, teleportation... have basis in science, just with minor tweaks or choosing to ignore certain parts of it.

    To me, anything with magic is fantasy though. Previous lives to me is purely in the realm of fantasy and religion, it's not possible to slightly tweak the laws of the universe to allow for such things. You'd have to dramatically change what consciousness is and the purpose of life. Such a thing could not evolve from natural selection and random genetic mutations. Consciousness of a mind also doesn't just happen all at once, its an emergent process of our neurobiology and is dependent on the environment in which it's raised.

    If the reincarnation thing is purely a sociological concept and not integral to the plot, you could make the species think they've lived previous lives. That's very easy and lots of human cultures have done that. Christians believe that Jesus will live a second life, Buddists believe that Buddha has been reborn many times, many leaders in Greece claimed to be reincarnations of previous leaders or demigods.
     
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  4. JennaPeterson88
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    JennaPeterson88 Member

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    I'm actually going to reveal to the characters that reincarnation is common (one might even say rampant) throughout the galaxy, and their planet is odd not because they have reincarnation, but because their souls are tied to tightly to that one planet and don't roam. I'm not sure how much handwaving or explaining I'll end up doing, but basically their planet's magnetic field interacts with non-corporeal souls and either attracts or repells them, and also alters the memories that a soul caries. A soul coming to the planet from somewhere else will be born without memories of a past life, because it's incompatible with the planet (or perhaps with the physiology of this species' brains), but a soul that leaves this planet and is reborn elsewhere might remember their life on this planet. Most souls are in a constant cycle of death and rebirth on this planet and don't leave.

    I have definitely planned out in my "world building" that each new being has a unique personality and such, and is influenced by the memories of their past life/lives as the memories begin to surface. It takes a mature mind to recall past lives, so all small children are new, unique individuals. By the time they've reached physical maturity, they know whether or not they are a reincarnated being, and have a grasp on who they "used to be." They may have skills and talents from past life education, etc., and they may share preferences with their past selves, but the same soul can be born into both a saint and a murderer over the generations. It's almost like a merger of two beings in one body.
     
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  5. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    I'd call it speculative fiction, probably.
     
  6. newjerseyrunner
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    newjerseyrunner Contributing Member

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    Sounds like it's one of those weird crosses between science fiction and religion/fantasy. Scientology is based around a story sort of like that, and I would consider those stories to be a mix of both.

    There is no way to provide a scientifically valid reason for this, and I would not include well understood concepts like the magnetic field. Magnets are very very well understood and work mostly at short ranges. You want a force that works over the length of a galaxy, the only forces that operate at such range are gravity and dark energy, neither of which are well understood.
     
  7. newjerseyrunner
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    newjerseyrunner Contributing Member

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    I was thinking about this on my drive home because I found it very interesting. I would avoid anything that humans are already familiar with, while the average person probably couldn't explain how magnets work, most know that there are a few of us who can. Quantum Electrodynamics is our single most accurate theory. We also know that the magnetic field between the stars is essentially empty and even matter is barely polluted with electromagnetism compared to the other fields.

    So if I understand you correctly, you want the minds of individuals to be mostly free floating, but also enters and lives inside the heads of compatible creatures? I treated it like a thought experiment, if I were to encounter that as a scientist, what would I hypothesize about it?

    Such complexity would require complex building blocks such as matter, but in order to be free floating and invisible, it would have to not interact with electromagnetism at all. That fits the bill for dark matter. 70% of the weight of the galaxy is made up of this stuff that we can't see and currently don't have any working theories for. We can deduce a lot of properties about it (it does interact with gravity, and it does not collide with itself.) Gravity would explain why entities that exist in dark matter would conglomerate near planets and stars.

    They could be the remains of a long dead civilization that changed itself, or evolved naturally. Either way, they'd probably have to be pretty old to have covered the galaxy. Actually sounds like a sort of parasite.

    Anyway, sorry for the long post, but I was quite taken by the idea of how to make reincarnation sciencey.
     
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  8. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Well it's pushing it, but if it's done in a more explained way anything could be real, and if you're tying it to real scientifically understood forces I would say it is sci-fi.
     
  9. JennaPeterson88
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    JennaPeterson88 Member

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    I like your dark matter / parasite thoughts, @newjerseyrunner, thanks for sharing! I agree, magnetic field isn't the best theory. I just need some sort of reason for the souls to be so strongly attracted to this planet (and a handful of others), while they float so freely around the galaxy in most cases. It could be a biological reason. Perhaps the "souls" are attracted to this species, but the brain chemistry of this species isn't the best for processing memories formed by the brains of other species.
     
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  10. newjerseyrunner
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    newjerseyrunner Contributing Member

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    Well, those planets would have existed for billions of years before space-faring civilizations evolved, what were those planets doing two or three billion years ago? Perhaps the "souls" species colonized these planets long ago. In Earth terms, even the dinosaurs are fairly recent, that long ago there would have been nothing on the land, the atmosphere of Earth was toxic, and life was confined to single cells in the ocean. An alien species could easily have colonized the land and left when life started to trickle onto the land without a trace.
     
  11. JennaPeterson88
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    JennaPeterson88 Member

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    I don't think I want to actually answer where the "souls" came from / how they spread throughout the galaxy in this story, because it's not about the souls but rather about how going out into space and meeting other species that also experience reincarnation is going to change their culture. I can get around "where did the souls come from" by saying that even the most compatible species with detailed memories from multiple worlds can't remember that far back.
     
  12. newjerseyrunner
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    newjerseyrunner Contributing Member

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    That'd be a more interesting story I think, if they predate any civilizations in the area, nobody would know where they came from.
     
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  13. K McIntyre
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    K McIntyre New Member

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    I don't see why you have to call your story any particular type. It is what it is. Sounds like fantasy, with some science thrown in - sounds like life.
     
  14. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    If it exists it can be explained scientifically. Science is the study of existence. If it exists, it can be explained. The chief quality of fantasy is not what it deals in but the lack of detailed explanation or explanation relevant to pre-existing knowledge.
     
  15. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Definitely science fiction.

    As for the reincarnation part, that's not a fantasy thing, it's a supernatural thing. And from what I've been reading over the last ten years or so, theoretical physicists are getting closer and closer to admitting it's worth looking into.

    Just because science hasn't ratified something yet is no reason to leave it out of a story. Reincarnation is no more far-fetched than traveling through wormholes, faster-than-light ships, or transporter beams.
     
  16. JennaPeterson88
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    JennaPeterson88 Member

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    So you can figure out which agents & editors might read past the first page.
     
  17. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I vote fantasy.
     
  18. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's definitely space opera. And you see elements like this in SciFi a lot. Not "Hard SF", but definitely in Space Opera. There's plenty of occasional spiritual or quasi-spiritual stuff in everything from Star Trek to Dune.

    So, you're writing SciFi, just not "Hard SciFi".
     
  19. Auger
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    Auger Senior Member

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    I usually categorize science-fiction and fantasy based on how much the author deconstructs and analyzes a speculative mechanic rather than the plausibility of the mechanic. For example, if your plot discussed the gritty dynamics of how immortality affects this species's global politics, culture, and warfare, I'd say it's sci-fi. If development doesn't extend beyond a simple change to distinguish their culture from our own, I'd say it's more on the fantasy side of the sliding scale.
     
  20. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    I heard people refer to this type of situation as Science fantasy. I wouldn't worry too much about the agent thing. Almost every agent I've run across who lists sci-fi also lists fantasy.
     
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  21. ToBeInspired
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    ToBeInspired Contributing Member

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    Jane came first to mind, but the most common name is Mary.
     
  22. JennaPeterson88
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    JennaPeterson88 Member

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    I think you meant to reply to the "most boring woman's name" thread ;)
     
  23. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd say scifi, but I agree with @doggiedude that it probably doesn't matter too much - I don't think I've seen many (any?) agents who only represent one or the other.
     
  24. Lyrical
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    Lyrical Frumious Bandersnatch

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    My first thought was sci-fi when I read your explanation. Star Trek: TOS was not about the technology and science as much as it was the new planets and civilzations they discovered, the morality of such civilizations, and the greater lessons to be learned from them. It isn't "Hard Sci-Fi" but it is definitely Sci-Fi. To me, yours sounds like it follows in the same vein. The reincarnation aspect doesn't seem fantastical to me, it sounds like an ability of an alien species, which they are.
     
  25. ToBeInspired
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    ToBeInspired Contributing Member

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    Hah, oops. I had multiple tabs up at the same time.
     

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