1. AugustWilliams
    Offline

    AugustWilliams New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2010
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    UK

    Help with writing Science Fiction

    Discussion in 'Research' started by AugustWilliams, Sep 27, 2010.

    Was just wondering how much research into engines and propulsion etc you guys put into writing a believable sci-fi novel.
    Also how much research into military structure/protocol/Manoeuvres and terminology do I need to do?

    I'm in the planning stages of writing a sci-fi story and it features heavily inside a military spaceship.

    Do I need to know about physics/engineering etc to write a believable description of the inner workings of a spaceship?
    Same goes for writing dialogue between my military characters.

    Thanks for any help guys :)
     
  2. SashaMerideth
    Offline

    SashaMerideth Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2010
    Messages:
    310
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    California
    Depends on how hard you want your sci-fi. If you want soft and squishy, then just make it up and technobabble your way through it, or don't even explain it. The harder you want to be, the more research you will need to do.

    If you want to do military stuff, probably pick a Navy and check them for protocol and stuff. Ships - spaceships.. not spaceplanes or spacetanks.
     
  3. Northern Phil
    Offline

    Northern Phil Active Member

    Joined:
    May 29, 2009
    Messages:
    198
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    UK
    Technology wise it depends on how far you want to go with your story, but you will have to do a lot of research even if it is just a simple story.


    In terms of military protocols you will have to do a lot of research. This link gives you an overview of the military ranks which should be a starting point.
     
  4. AugustWilliams
    Offline

    AugustWilliams New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2010
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    UK
    Thanks for the help guys :)

    I've decided to not go to deep with the mechanics side of things and just keep it simple.
    The military ranks you linked me to will be really helpful and taking a lot of jumping off points from the navy is a great idea :)
     
  5. Mrt
    Offline

    Mrt New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2010
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    4
    also take a look at some TLC or History Channels they have some shows that is based on new beta testing military weapons for the future that could inspire you plus i am sure there are many forums and even magazines on this subject. Americans love there big bang toys :D
     
  6. Lothgar
    Offline

    Lothgar Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2010
    Messages:
    417
    Likes Received:
    37
    If you wish to make your military story actually sound like a plausible military story, you need to keep a few things in mind in addition to just learning the military ranks.

    Officer and Enlisted ranks are separated and do not mingle socially. Officers are always sir/ma'am or addressed by rank and last name. Enlisted personnel are addressed by last name or rank and last name only.

    Professional military people speak in a unique fashion. Military jargon is filled with acronyms, abbreviations and unique phrases/sayings.

    For example, when the CO of a SF Alpha Detachment, orders the RTO to get the FAC on the horn for TACAIR to cover the MEDEVAC of wounded EOD personnel, six CLICKS November Whiskey of hill seven, zero, six, niner...

    ...it means that the Commanding Officer of a Special Forces A-Team orders the Radio Telephone Operator to contact the Forward Air Controller for Tactical Air Support, to cover the Medical Evacuation of injured Explosive Ordinance Demolition team members, six kilometers northwest of Hill #7069

    Writing out a story about the military, using military jargon, will make it sound a lot more plausible. I'd suggest learning the military phonetic alphabet and number, as well as many of the commonly used acronyms.

    Just my two cents...and remember that incoming fire ALWAYS has the right of way :)
     
  7. Islander
    Offline

    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Messages:
    1,542
    Likes Received:
    59
    Location:
    Sweden
    Lol :D
     
  8. thecommabandit
    Offline

    thecommabandit Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2009
    Messages:
    35
    Likes Received:
    1
    This is a common misconception. Naval combat takes place on a two-dimensional plane, whereas space combat would take place in a three-dimensional space. If anything, you should be looking at aeroplanes. Though actually tactics for submarines might be more accurate given that it's the most analogous thing we have for spacecraft. Then again, submarines usually don't conduct all-out offensive battles, so it might not be the best place to look. Still, don't get stuck into thinking of spacecraft like ships. It couldn't be farther from the truth.
     
  9. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,837
    Likes Received:
    10,013
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    And just as an aside, though traditionally Science Fiction has chosen the Navy is the precursor to an arm of the military that concerns itself with space travel, the truth is that the Air Force is the arm of the military most closely related to the space programs of both the U.S. and the former USSR.
     
  10. Mrt
    Offline

    Mrt New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2010
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    4
    No spacecraft no fun :( look at that old story Starship Troopers and it won awards as a novel back in the 60's and showed how ranks did not get along.
     
  11. Marranda
    Offline

    Marranda Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2011
    Messages:
    143
    Likes Received:
    18
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    I know this is really late in giving my two-cents and may not help the OP in their route with the military aspect of their story/book, but I just want to point out that the US Navy has more aircraft than the US Air Force... Just sayin'...

    The Air Force may have more specific job criteria in that One Job is to Only repair This or That gauge or computer, whereas the Navy has people who can not only troubleshoot the aircraft right down to the main cause of the malfunction, but also troubleshoot that one component down to the smallest microchip, repair it, and reassemble the cockpit- Ready for Issue- Fit for Flight... Again, just sayin'....

    But since the OP is going for intergalactic travel by means of military spaceship, I agree that the Air Force is the way to go...(Grudgingly) They do have more variatations of aircraft than the Navy... The Navy (currently) wouldn't know what to do with outer space :redface:
     
  12. The Degenerate
    Offline

    The Degenerate Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2011
    Messages:
    197
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Anyone who wishes to write Sci-Fi should read Orson Scott Card's, How to Write Fantasy and Science Fiction. All of your questions are answered from a master in the field.

    There's not a whole lot of hard sci-fi stuff in it because Card doesn't write hard sci-fi, but he outlines some of the basic rules you should pay attention to keep your story believable. As for writing hard sci-fi, it might help to read some Stephen Hawking if astro-physics doesn't give you a headache.

    Military sci-fi, try reading Steakley's Armor.
     
    1 person likes this.
  13. Ellipse
    Offline

    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2010
    Messages:
    714
    Likes Received:
    32
    Assuming your novel is in the far future with new technology, as long as you understand the basics of how an engine works, you should be fine. The fundamental principles that explain how a steam engine works also apply to a diesel engine. You have your fuel. Fuel goes into the engine. Internal combustion occurs, which pushes the values/pistons/etc that give power to the engine.

    As far as you think you need. I know as far as ranks go, you could change the name of some. In my current fantasy story, every captain has a secondus. From the name secondus, it is pretty clear the rank is basically the same as a lieutenant.

    Have you ever seen the Evil Overlord's List of Things Not To Do? Try googling it. It is good for a laugh, but it also points out a lot of things commonly seen in bad novels and movies that you should avoid, like having henchment patrol areas in groups of two rather than alone, especially if they hear a suspiscious noise.
     

Share This Page