Today was a reading day, and boy are my eyes tired.
I finished Star Dragon, which seems to echo a lot of what Mr. Scalzi has been saying about the state of Sci-Fi lit. He says that it involves a lot of science and physics and astronomy, and all that takes away from making a good story, and from encouraging newcomers to read it. In short, "it's math".
Now clearly, Mr. Star Dragon did a butt load of research on his topic. It involves a space ship which generates acceleation through creating two singularities on each side and wobbling back and forth, then going to a binary star system where the scientists attempt to obtain a space being floating in the plasma of the accretion disk. On top of that there are body modifications, biomass, morphable rooms, Einstein's theory of relativity, and so on. You could make a college course based around this book ("The Science of Star Dragon"). Does any of this lend creedence to the plausibility of the story. Sure, but plausibility doesn't necessarily translate directly to shoving a bunch of true science in there. It also involves how people act, and what would likely happen. On top of all that, you have to make a good story. All these and more factors have to be in place, which is why the rejection rate is so high.
So he's got the science, yes. Does he have my interest? No. The book is 50% Carl Sagan, and 50% Carl Jung, and you can clearly tell when it jumps between the two. Star Trek this ain't. This goes back to what Stephen King said about research. It belongs where the back story belongs - in the back. It should not be pulled to the forefront. This is why I kept hoping I could make good progress every day so I could be done with the damn thing. Not a good thing for a story, should be the opposite, never want it to end.
And then I read a story on Critters that was much the same thing - all science, no plot. It's very frustrating, and it makes me crave for a good story. Is it just me? Am I reading wrong? Or are my expectations too high? Why do I have to cull through so many rocks before I find a diamond. Well, I guess because when you find a diamond, it makes it all worth it.
At least for all my stories, I can safely claim that I never make them into research papers.
Labels: Critters, John Scalzi, science fiction vs. science, Stephen King