Monday, November 8, 2010

Writing Near-Future Science Fiction


Today I welcome author Stephen Tremp on tour for the re-release of his novel, Breakthrough. Take it, Stephen!

The Information Age is moving at breakneck speed. Discoveries in areas of science that were once fodder for science fiction are now becoming part of our everyday life. Due to the explosion of technology, access to real-time information, and an ever-changing geo-political landscape, our immediate future is unforeseen. We live in an exciting and certainly unpredictable world. There is no shortage of inspiration for near-future science fiction.

What is Near-Future Science Fiction: Near-future science fiction is set in the present day or in the next few years. Elements of the setting should be familiar to the reader, and the technology may be current or in development. Stories about theoretical physics, nanotechnology or genetics often fall into this category.

Is it any wonder weaving elements of sci-fi into a present day action thrillers is so popular with mainstream America? Perhaps, sci-fi writers are merely prophets, proclaiming in advance what we will see and use in the future, or the very near future.

Problem: Science fiction is fun, but often unrealistic. Solution: Near future sci-fi can use theoretical physics, what some physicists believe may be reality, but have yet to confirm through rigorous testing. To write a realistic near sci-fi story, it’s as important to identify and eliminate certain elements as it is to include them. Example: light sabres used in Star Wars. Cool, but not very realistic. In reality, the laser would beam for miles and slice through the spaceship or building the fighters may be in and everything else in their path.

Where Can A Writer Gain Inspiration: one way to gain inspiration is to follow what the government is doing. According to an article by David Montgomery in The Washington Post titled U.S. Mission for Sci-Fi Writers , Homeland Security is boldly going where few government bureaucracies have gone before and is enlisting the expertise of science-fiction writers.

What I Follow And Research: as a writer, I doesn’t have to build a particle accelerator in my garage or my Mom’s basement in order to perform research in physics. Rather, there is so much free, real time information available at our finger tips. The Internet and the Science, Discovery, and History channels all give us a more information, in layman’s terms, that we can ever hope to use. One can also follow leading physicists who make information readily available like Dr. Brian Cox , Prof. Stephen W. Hawking , Dr. Michio Kaku , and Prof. Brian Greene among many others. Even YouTube has hundreds of informative and interesting clips.

I also follow events coming out of CERN and Fermilab . What else could be exciting is a breakthrough someone discovers in their garage or their mom’s basement. Think of revolutionary ideas and companies started this way. Hewlitt Packard, Apple, and Atari among others.



Please join me tomorrow as I visit Arlee Bird at Tossing It Out as we talk a little about Hyperspace and Hyperbings.

Stephen Tremp is author of the action thriller Breakthrough . You can visit Stephen at Breakthrough Blogs .


And Diane had asked me some questions about my blog tour - my answers are up today at her site, Spunk on a Stick’s Tips

73 comments:

Pk Hrezo said...

Awesome! Thanks for the great links, Stephen! This stuff always fascinates me.

The Golden Eagle said...

Great post on near science fiction! What makes this sort of fiction even more interesting is that a lot of the things happening in science are happening right now! Thanks for the links, too.

Mary said...

Thanks for the interview and all the links.
You guys are a great way for me to get back into reading different forms of sci-fi.

Jemi Fraser said...

It's all so interesting - wondering and imagining what will happen next! Great post gentlemen!

Gail said...

Great post!

Following what the government is doing is very scary...

Mason Canyon said...

You mention the government enlisting the expertise of science-fiction writers. I've always found it amazing that some of the things they use and did in sci-fi movies, we use now. Just goes to show, science fiction not only entertains us with reading material but does have an effect on our daily lives. Best of luck on your tour Stephen.

Alex, thanks for hosting Stephen.

Mason
Thoughts in Progress

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Mary, that's good to hear!

Vicki Rocho said...

I think I tend to lean towards this kind of SF because it feels a little more 'grounded' to me. I don't have to learn a whole new world, just need to incorporate new elements into my own.

Great post, gentlemen!

Ellie said...

Thank you, Stephen and Alex. A fascinating blog post. Off course you had me when you listed Dr. Brian Cox. . .sigh.

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

Interesting stuff. Although SF that is 'new' can be exciting, sometimes SF grounded in reality is just as cool...and possible. :)

Laura Eno said...

Great post! Thanks, Stephen and Alex.

ediFanoB said...

Interesting thoughts about near-future science fiction.

Never heard of BREAKTHROUGH before.
Therefore I read the synopsis over at Breakthrough Blogs. And now the book is on my list :)

Thank you Alex for hosting Stephen and for one more book on my list :))

Susanne Drazic said...

Great post! This near future sci-fi stuff is interesting.

DEZMOND said...

CERN got us really worried earlier this year, but no black holes happened in the end!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You're welcome, Edi!

Dezz, it would 'suck' to be sucked in, wouldn't it?

lbdiamond said...

Hey, this is pretty cool! Great post! :D

Stephen Tremp said...

Wow! I set the alarm for 5:00 a.m., get a pot of coffee going, check in and there are alreadt 16 comments. Thanks everyone for stoppinbg by!

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Wonderful post on your book Stephen. sounds very interesting.

Thank you Alex for hosting Stephen.
Have a good day.

Yvonne.

Old Kitty said...

It's kind of scarier than horror!! Cos it's technology/theories that are in use now or are being tested now that may or may not spell doom to life as we know it if it's not addressed or if it's misused or misunderstood. Yikes!!!

Thanks for a very thought provoking post Stephen Tremp and thanks Alex J Cavanaugh for hosting!! I'm going to read my Winnie the Pooh books now to regain my pretty happy thoughts...!

Take care
x

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Surprise, Stephen!

Kitty, you just enjoy your Pooh books.

Lydia Kang said...

I am working on a near-future sci-fi novel so this post was perfect timing for me! Thanks Alex and Stephen!

Bossy Betty said...

Nice meeting you, Stephen!!

Clarissa Draper said...

This is great! I'm currently writing a sci-fi novel for NaNo and this is so handy.
CD

Stephen Tremp said...

Alex, you have a great group of followers. I'm meeting lots of interesting people today. Nice to meet you too Bossy Betty.

Falen (Sarah Ahiers) said...

ooh i love Near Future science fiction. Bear and Crichton are good examples of this mini genre

Budd said...

Thanks Stephen and Alex. I enjoy near future stuff better when it is Hard sci-fi.

Stephen, do you ever run into the problem of the work being dated and not being relevent in a couple of years?

Matthew Rush said...

Awesome post. It's really cool to see two of the best blog tour authors getting together!

Stephen Tremp said...

Sarah, Michael Crichton was great. I've read much of his stuff. I think Near Future SciFi rocks. I love this genre.

Bud,that's always a concern. Who know what 2012 will hold. The disocveries and breakthrough we make in the meantime can rewrite physics.

Matthew, I used to read Marvel comics as a kid and they had a series where they would team up two characters each month who would normally never interact. like Spiderman and Daredevil. I think of teaming up with Alex as something similar. Its a specail treat. Thanks again Alex for hosting me and introducing me to really terrific people.

Holly Ruggiero said...

Hi Stephen, the ride over on the wormhole made me woozy, but I kept my breakfast down. Good post.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Thanks, everyone! Stephen it appears this is something everyone needed to hear.

Charles Gramlich said...

It's sometimes hard for me to differentiate between near future SF and the thriller. A lot of modern techno thrillers have elements of near future sf.

Carolyn V. said...

It's so awesome to see more sci-fi out there! Great advice too! =D

Colene Murphy said...

Wow I never thought of the concept of Near future stuff. Good idea, and great way to keep it believable! (I always had that issue with the lightsabers. How did it know where to stop!?) Awesome post!

Arlee Bird said...

Good stuff today. I was always a big fan of futuristic scifi when I was young and now so much of that seems dated in our age. Maybe that's partly the explanation for the popularity of the Steampunk movement.
I prefer contemporary stories with Scifi elements, which is why I liked Breakthrough so much. This type of story is something more tangible that I can easily relate to.

Lee
Tossing It Out

Shallee said...

Great information! As a near-future SF writer myself, this is so helpful! Thanks. :)

Jai Joshi said...

Great interview, Alex, on near future science fiction. It's so true that many thing we used to think of as futuristic are now commonplace. There are many other ideas with this genre that can be explored.

Jai

Stephen Tremp said...

Every time I check in there are a handful of new comments. I'm going to stop by the blogs of people I'm meeting for the first time and visit you.

Near Future Scifi is fascinating stuff. We can relate to it just because of the major advances we see each year. I think that's why this genre is gaining such a fan base.

Karen Lange said...

Alex and Stephen - thanks for sharing this. Great info, and these ideas are helpful for writing in any genre, I think. I'm slightly disappointed to hear you don't have a particle accelerator in your garage, though. Oh well. :P

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Great post! So much wonderful info and so many useful links! Thanks. :-0

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I recently heard that several things from the movie Minority Report are no longer science fiction, they are now doable. This whole science thing is fascinating and mind-boggling at the same time.

SFDaddy - Bryan said...

I wanted to get my "me, too" in also. I'm also doing a somewhat near future novel as a writing exercise for nanowrimo.
Great article and it looks like your book is really well-loved by the reader comments at bn and amazon.

I'll be adding some new sources to my lists.

Stephen Tremp said...

Karen, I'm disappointed too, although my neighbors are probably happy that I don't have one.

Shannon, glad you like the links. These guys beat TV any day.

Jane, I should rent Minority Report again. Been a while since I seen it.

SFDaddy, best wishes with your Nano project. And glad you liked today's blog.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Charles, very true! Like James Bond.

Jai, just think of where we'll go next!

Touche, Karen! After all, I do have a Cassan Teleporter in mine.

Glynis said...

Stephen and Alex on one blog. What a treat! Thanks for an interesting post, guys.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Alex .. good to see Steve here ..you both on one blog ..

So down to earth actually! I love Brian Cox and Stephen Hawking .. but the other two professors I must check up on ..

Thanks - enjoyed how you acquired your information .. the next major breakthrough is in our neighbour's yard ..

Have great weeks .. Hilary

Martin Kozicki said...

This post reminded me a lot about Jules Verne. He was such a forward thinker, predicting things like space travel and the fax machine decades before they became reality. What's ironic, however, is that the people in charge of those breakthrough's credited Verne as an inspiration.

In a way, it makes me think that life imitates art when it comes to science fiction. Look at tablet devices like the iPad, which were very accurately portrayed in the Star Trek television series decades ago. I think it's not so much a matter of prophesying as it is writers envisioning ways that our future selves would make life easier/more convenient. Then, as technology matures, it becomes self-fulfilling.

Whatever the case, I am glad to live in this era. At the same time, I am conflicted, because I often wish I could cast off all my technology and go keep my bees in peace and quiet.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Near sci-fi must be tough, as the future approaches so fast.

Lynda Young said...

When I write scifi I never go high tech, or if I do it's never about the tech, it's about the characters. I'm just not tech savvy enough to make it realistic (even for near future stories).

N. R. Williams said...

I love watching those programs you mentioned. That said, I am sure I will love reading your book Stephen. And Alex's book too.
Nancy
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Glynis and Hilary, we're not quite the Dynamic Duo but we try.

Martin you are so right with the iPad - Start Trek comparison!

Lynda, even though my book is set on another world, I didn't go high tech either. Not my style.

Thanks, Nancy!

The Old Silly said...

Excellent guest post Stephen! Your tour is going great guns - best wishes for MANY 'Breakthrough' sales!

L'Aussie said...

Great Sci-fi post. Thanks for the links. I'm amazed at how easy the research is, yet I'm sure putting it all together would be damn hard..:)

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Stephen, you don't have a particle accelerator in your garage? And I guess you're telling us light sabres will never really exist. Thanks for all the great ideas of where to look for science info.

Terry Stonecrop said...

Near future Sci-fi sounds fascinating. I'm a big fan of the physicists you named. Great tour!

WritingNut said...

Very interesting - thanks so much for the links! :)

LTM said...

fun stuff--this is awesome, Yay, Stephen! I never really thought about "near" SF, but you're right. That's what MIB is! And using the gov't for inspiration sounds like a winning idea. X-Files, anyone~ ;p

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

L'Aussie, you got that right!

LTM, I'm all for the X-Files and government conspiracy.

Stephen Tremp said...

Men in Black is not only a great movie (I heard Will Smith signed on for a third installment). A great example of Near Future SciFi and government conspiracy and cover ups.

Nicki Elson said...

Get out of here! I can see Fermilab from my house!! So, because I always seem to have an 80s reference for everything...would War Games have been Near Future Science Fiction in its day?

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Nicki, I would think so! Wow, that takes me back...

L'Aussie said...

Message to Alex. Your CassaStar just arrived from Amazon! Can't wait to read it. You need to open a page for comments just for your novel..:)

Susan Fields said...

Great advice, Stephen! That's one reason I love sci fi - the possibilities are endless.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

L'Aussie - all right!! Maybe I should...

Dani Greer said...

Yay, gang! You all are doing a great job. I left a comment about Alex at the blog book tours blog. Har!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Stephen -

Fascinating article! I'm writing some near-future stuff, but with a different slant. I'd give too much away if I went into further detail. :)

More and more, I'm thinking I need to pick up your book. It's now on my Wish List.

Blessings,
Susan

Sheila Deeth said...

Great links and fun post. My husband keeps telling me to write near-future sci-fi but so far I'm just reading it.

Stephen Tremp said...

Just got back from watching Megamind, That could be considered near future scifi as it was set in the present, just not realistic near future sci fi as the science and weapons were, well, unrealistic. But two thumbs up for the movie. Wormholes too!

Nicki, War Games would be considered as such. And very cool you are so close to Fermilab. Just keep an eye out for three-eyed wildlife.

L'Aussie, I have CassaStar too. I just need to finish a few books first.

Susan, how right you are. As a writer you have to love the endless possibilities.

Dani, thanks for stopping by and giving your support!

Susan, good luck with your writing. Can't wait to hear more of what you're up to.

Sheila, I bet you'd be good at it. And you're husband is already there for your support!

SAMUEL PARK said...

This is really fascinating. I had never heard of near-future science fiction before, but as you explained it, it seems to make a lot of sense!

Thanks for this post. Very instructional and useful to know.

Rachael Harrie said...

I do love sci-fi. It's always interesting to see what authors do with the near-future type - I imagine it would be harder to write with the need to stick as closely as possible to science as it's currently understood :)

Rach

Enid Wilson said...

It's good to know that the govt takes science fiction writers seriously. They sure need some creative people to help them come up with innovative solutions.

My Darcy Mutates

Stephen Tremp said...

Thanks to Alex for hosting me and for everyone stopping by. This blog is prime real estate in the world of Blogdom, situated on the very busy intersection of Very Cool Bloggers Boulevard and High Traffic Parkway. 70 comments from awesome people ... who could ask for more? Not me.

Ellen aka Ella said...

Great job; Stephen I loved your explanation and insight! I really look forward to your book and have it on my Christmas list~
Seems if we pay attention there is news every day that can fit in this genre!~

Jamie Gibbs (Mithril Wisdom) said...

Very nice :D I love how sci-fi elements end up becoming sci-fact, and sci-fi writers push the bar further and further in response. I wish fantasy writers had a similar thing :P