1. blackstar21595
    Offline

    blackstar21595 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2013
    Messages:
    598
    Likes Received:
    34
    Location:
    Brooklyn,NY

    Sci-Fi setting and Clarity

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by blackstar21595, Apr 5, 2013.

    I'm working on a Sci-Fi story, and I want to know the best ways to assimilate and show the reader how advanced the world is. In the first paragraph, I said my MC has a metal bracelet which shows the time. Then I say it is her Terminal--a portable computer. Do you think that is sufficient to show right off that it is a futuristic setting? Or should I explain how futuristic the MC's environment is?
     
  2. Nee
    Offline

    Nee Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2013
    Messages:
    713
    Likes Received:
    23
    The easiest way for us to understand what you are talking about is to post the first scene so we can see if you are introducing your character and setting in a way readers can relate to.
     
  3. Darkhorse
    Offline

    Darkhorse Member

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2013
    Messages:
    45
    Likes Received:
    3
    Some more context would be helpful. However, you probably realise this, but just in case: you should think twice about posting anything you hope to get published one day (read the publishing forum for more details).
     
  4. Nee
    Offline

    Nee Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2013
    Messages:
    713
    Likes Received:
    23
    Posting excerpts from a work in progress for peer review on a forum for that purpose where you have to be a member to read them. will not effect the first publishing rights.
     
  5. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,929
    Likes Received:
    5,463
    Not to be flippant, but that sounds like a watch. :)

    I wouldn't explain, no; I'd just let the nature of the environment make itself apparent gradually. I'm also dubious about the term "terminal"--it feels rather old-fashioned to me, because it makes me think of a mainframe-and-terminal architecture. You might want to search for a different word.
     
  6. iolair
    Offline

    iolair Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2009
    Messages:
    265
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Exeter, UK
    R.U.E.
    (Resist the Urge to Explain)

    Something like this would establish it as futuristic.
    Becky flipped up the screen on her wrist terminal. Almost time for the opera. "Termy," she said, "where the hell is that theatre?" A second later an arrow flashed on the transparent screen.

    A whole block of text with these kind of details would get wearing quickly, but a sentence or two like that early on to establish the scene should be plenty.
     
  7. Quille
    Offline

    Quille Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2013
    Messages:
    111
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Toronto
    These days, most people are comfortable with tech. I don't think it's a large leap for a 'smartphone' to have evolved so that it can be worn on the wrist. Long explanations on something like this may alienate the reader.

    If the tech is different and important to the plot you need to find a way to show that, if it's background then you could probably get away with having the characters use their 'toys'.
     
  8. Xatron
    Offline

    Xatron Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2013
    Messages:
    576
    Likes Received:
    6
    As Quille said, there are already smartphones that can be worn on the wrist. You should give evidence as to the setting in which your story takes place, but in a way that they seem integral to the plot.
     
  9. blackstar21595
    Offline

    blackstar21595 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2013
    Messages:
    598
    Likes Received:
    34
    Location:
    Brooklyn,NY
    Thank you. Iora. This example answered my question. I'll post the excerpt once I read the short stories of sci-fi authors and revise my story to the best of my ability.
     
  10. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,602
    Likes Received:
    5,875
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    This and/or this is more likely to be the computer interface of the future. :D
     
  11. TerraIncognita
    Offline

    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

    Joined:
    May 28, 2010
    Messages:
    1,339
    Likes Received:
    40
    Location:
    Texas
    Definitely avoid info dumps. Write on a need to know basis. Introduce things gradually as the character encounters them. I think the reader will be able to figure out it's a futuristic setting pretty quickly. Give your readers some credit. Hope that helps. :)
     
  12. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    The reader doesn't need to know how it works. The reader only needs to understand how it behaves in relation to the story.

    Trying to explain how it works will inevitably make you look foolish, unless you are, in fact, an accomplished scientist. Even Arthur C. Clarke, with his solid scientific background, knew when to NOT explain (Clarke was the scientist who proposed the idea of communications satellites).
     
  13. AVCortez
    Offline

    AVCortez Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2013
    Messages:
    391
    Likes Received:
    22
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    I'd go a step further and say it is bordering on the definition of a watch.

    Wearing a computer on your wrist feels very 90's. In a super-advanced civilisation I'd imagine we would have completely done away with holding or wearing tech, instead integrating it into our bodies, perhaps even our minds. With a role of duct tape I can turn my half-broken iphone into the super advanced technology you are describing.
     
  14. KaTrian
    Offline

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2013
    Messages:
    5,564
    Likes Received:
    3,561
    Location:
    The Great Swamp
    This reminded me: when one comes up with some hi-tech idea for a sci-fi story, it's a good idea to ponder how that invention and the technology affect other aspects of life.
    Also, I would imagine that the look of the setting could be affected by the channelling of funds in that society. Where do they pour the money? to which "branch(es) of innovation"?
     
  15. blackstar21595
    Offline

    blackstar21595 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2013
    Messages:
    598
    Likes Received:
    34
    Location:
    Brooklyn,NY
    It does other things besides show the time. And those "other things" are important to the story.
     
  16. blackstar21595
    Offline

    blackstar21595 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2013
    Messages:
    598
    Likes Received:
    34
    Location:
    Brooklyn,NY
    Thank you. Recently, I've been trying to read more of Clarke's and Henry Harrison's works. Been learning a lot from their writing. I've even decided to rewatch some sci-fi shows (Cowboy Bebop,Ghost In The Shell,etc) and see how they didn't confuse me when they introduced some hi-tech concept.
     
  17. Nee
    Offline

    Nee Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2013
    Messages:
    713
    Likes Received:
    23
    Read, Robert Heinlein, Frank Herbert, Ray Bradbury, Philip Dick, Arthur C. Clarke, Stanislaw Lem, Isaac Asimov, Douglas Adams, Theodore Sturgeon, Frederick Pohl, Ursula K. Le Guin, Harry Harrison, Margret Atwood.
     
  18. Quille
    Offline

    Quille Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2013
    Messages:
    111
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Toronto
    These are all excellent authors and will go a long way to help you learn how to write Science Fiction. I'd also suggest that you read magazines such as Clarkesworld, Fantasy and Science Fiction and the many others available online. The free Fantasy and Science Fiction on Amazon does not include any of the short stories but I think a full version is 99 cents.

    Have fun and good luck :)
     
  19. Mal-Madrake
    Offline

    Mal-Madrake Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2013
    Messages:
    36
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Somewhere far away (Central Europe)
    This object resembling an smartphone of today won't exactly scream "this is the future" at me. Try something more futuristic like teleports or fusion reactors or maybe even androids (all of these technologies are scientifically feasible at the moment but due to constraints of energy consumption or engineering issues are still in that sweet sci-fi spot (we can imagine it existing but can't build it (yet)))
     
  20. captain kate
    Offline

    captain kate Active Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2008
    Messages:
    876
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    Cruising through space.
    Technology is so ubiquitous in Science Fiction that readers are used to seeing 'new' things. What you'd describing sounds like a 'wrist computer' like my characters have. A simple 'she used her wrist computer' or 'checked her chronograph' is all that would be needed to get the point across. After that I'd say 95% of your actions with it won't need to be said. Only if it's a specific action needed to make sure a scene makes sense, then it'd be mentioned.

    No need to infodump, etc etc. Science fiction readers are savvy, they know more about technology at lot of times then we the writer do.
     
  21. Jared Carter
    Offline

    Jared Carter Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2013
    Messages:
    53
    Likes Received:
    8
    You could take it a step higher and make it that the device not only has the usual features of an iPhone, but also has superior graphics, terabytes of storage, holographic features, controls for nanomites within the wielders body. The possibilities are nearly endless.
     
  22. maskedhero
    Offline

    maskedhero Active Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2013
    Messages:
    365
    Likes Received:
    32
    Location:
    America
    Strangely enough, our own technology may be at this point rather soon. If this is read in fifteen years they may just think the name is a bit off. :)

    Science Fiction is strengthened by the presence of technology, and explanations that make it fit and seem real. I would suggest making the Terminal seem to be rather advanced somehow, by having it do something that our present technology cannot achieve.
     
  23. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,836
    Likes Received:
    10,013
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    This is the direction I would go. Less tech-manual, more how does this change or affect our daily lives. What if it were an implant or something tied to your DNA so that it only functions when worn by you and only you. It could serve as your bank card. You walk into a store or some other venue where goods and services are up for offer and you just walk out with the item you want, the store communicating directly with your device. Not enough credit to afford what you want? On your way out, you're stopped at the door by a repulser field.

    Worry less about its screen and look and gigabytes (in my opinion) and more on how it opens plot venues for you to move your story forward.
     

Share This Page