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  1. Metus

    Metus Senior Member

    Jul 29, 2011
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    Omega 4 Relay

    Sci Fi story starters

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Metus, Sep 10, 2011.

    I'm having a bit of trouble finding an idea for a sci fi story which will not be depressing. One of the reasons high fantasy is so popular now is that it is a form of escapism for its readers, whereas people are afraid of the future, and shy away from depressing stories in dreary times like these. (Which is one reason why sci fi is in decline in the literary medium.) I have a few ideas, but ultimately for a Sci Fi conflict in the real world, the only antagonists that could exist are either an alien government, or a human government, and those simply throw too vast a pool of resources against the protagonist to make victory or joy realistic. Thus, the book would be depressing.

    I don't want to plot or characters or anything. It would be lazy and pointless to ask the community for their hard work. I'd just like a couple lines of text or something which could give me inspiration for a conflict which wouldn't by definition have the protagonist fleeing for his life for the entirety of the book. It can be anything- near future, distant future, aliens, genetic engineering, a dream, etc. But it has to have room for happiness and/or victory.

    For example. . .

    The traditional roles of aliens and humans in sci fi are reversed, and humans are invading an alien world, either peacefully or otherwise.
  2. colorthemap

    colorthemap Contributing Member

    Nov 19, 2010
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    You seem to know what you want, so what's the problem?
  3. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

    Jul 5, 2010
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    California, US
    It is always a good idea to be well-read in a genre you want to work with. If you believe the only possible options for science fiction conflict are unrealistic and/or depressing storylines where the protag is going up against a human or alien government, you've missed out on a wealth of material already out there in the genre. Spend some time reading a diversity of science fiction and see if that sparks anything.
  4. mugen shiyo

    mugen shiyo Contributing Member

    Apr 8, 2011
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    New York, NY
    No way. You can have as much excitement as you want in your sci fi future. It's all up to you.
  5. shedpog329

    shedpog329 Active Member

    Aug 25, 2011
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    love love love michael crichton
  6. Raki

    Raki Contributing Member

    Jan 10, 2011
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    Why does it have to involve human or alien governments? Or be major factions clashing against one another? Couldn't it be something as simple as a lone space adventurer just trying to make ends meet and survive in a harsh and deteriorating environment, perhaps his space ship is falling apart and an employer failed to pay for a job (like Mal Reynolds from Firefly)? What about time travel? Lots of works have been done with that concept. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells and Connie Willis's Doomsday Book to name a few. Or maybe an alternate reality somewhat like Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle where the Nazis won World War II? Or perhaps you could go the route of humans vs. aliens or humans vs. humans? Joe Haldeman's The Forever War is one of my favorite sci-fi books. It includes human vs. aliens, but presents it in a very unique way. It also includes time travel, cybernetics (if I remember right), space ships, warp speed, and all the other stuff that screams science fiction. It's in the way he tells the story that makes me truly enjoy it though.

    I definitely agree with Steerpike on the reading. The above mentioned Doomsday Book takes place mostly in medieval Europe without a technological gadget or anything that says science fiction really, except for how the character got to medieval Europe. It's a story more on the plagues in Europe than some thrilling time travel adventure, but it is quite good. Science Fiction is definitely not all Star Wars, Star Trek, and Halo. It doesn't need to take place in the future or a faraway galaxy, though they normally do. It doesn't have to include space, aliens, etc. It's a very diverse genre. William Gibson's Pattern Recognition is a story that takes place a year after the 9/11 attacks and, if I remember correctly, doesn't include any fantastical elements or futuristic stuffs that would spell out science fiction to most people. Read some material by Isaac Asimov. Broaden your mind to what's out there and maybe that will help you narrow down on an idea to write about.
  7. Victoria Baye

    Victoria Baye Member

    Aug 28, 2011
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    Speculative fiction, even if written in a "depressing" context can really turn to hope and happiness, and make these emotions resonate more than in a nice, perfect future. For example, PD James' The Children of Men. Depressing setting, amazing book, happy ending; we don't know if the world will repopulate itself, but we don't care much because we're so dang happy.

    Also, viewing it as depressing/happy isn't going to spark much inspiration. Start thinking of it in terms of what's interesting and what isn't/what's original and what's been told a thousand times. Then, create characters who can cheered for despite the setting. If you want people to be happy, give them a reason to be happy, even it only involves your specific characters.

    I also agree with what's stated above. It could be in the future but simple, involving just a few characters who are people, just like us, and have the same problems as people always have but in a different setting. It doesn't have to involve the entire futuristic world.

  8. Yggy Sprout

    Yggy Sprout New Member

    Sep 6, 2011
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    Raki beat me on suggesting Asimov for scope.

    The factors that you are attaching to the genre are limiting you, Metus. Science fiction is an amazing medium in its freedoms from conventional setting and viewpoints. How about:

    - A handful of excerpts from the lifestyles of people living after currency becomes null by way of matter conversion.
    - To include your government theme, how about a story set in a ship or colony where the residents are in separate political factions and trying to establish a system?
    - MC writes virtual reality scapes for educating the public.

    Not my best, but the point is you are free of what is 'common sci-fi' and in no way does the world have to be in a depressing state to express your purpose.
  9. psychotick

    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

    Feb 10, 2011
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    Rotorua, New Zealand

    I just watched Battle LA a couple of weeks ago, and while it is aliens invading the Earth and the protagonists fighting a losing battle (big time), and in truth there isn't a lot of plot and its really just a war movie, it is actually quite uplifting.

    I also think that the reason sci fi seems to be doing less well these days and fantasy soaring, is much more complicated then simple escapism. In part though its just a fad, in part its a few massive series impacting on the world of books and theatre, Harry Potter, Twilight, LOTR etc and everyone else climbing on the bandwagon. And when you think about it, two of those are ongoing epic battles where the protagonist is on a hiding to nothing. Even if your book is a sci fi battle with humanity losing all the way, that doesn't mean your story has to be about losing hope. Battlestar Galactica is about the end of humanity (all but) and yet the story is entirely about hope.

    If you want a battle and don't want it to be hopeless and bleak, don't write it that way.


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