Putting The Science In Fiction – A Book Review

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

 

This compilation of articles from various authors/experts has the lofty goal of helping authors create more realistic stories. It includes advice and information on medicine, the human body, wildlife, computers, planet earth, rocket science, and space travel.

This volume would serve most authors well as a reference tool and even as an idea generator. Writing a whodunit? Check out chapter seven on toxins and poisoning (my favorite). How about an apocalyptic story? There’re a couple chapters on pathogens and plagues on how to wipe out the population. Need an alien with tentacles, a hologram, or faster than light travel? This book covers it!

While “Putting The Science In Fiction” fulfills its purpose and is worth purchasing, I have two main criticisms:

  1. Since the chapters are coming from various experts, their writing styles range from boring to delightful, creating an unpleasant mental whiplash. I’m not sure how much editing Koboldt actually did with the book contents, but it would have been helpful to have more consistency
  2. Despite the title of the book, some of the contributing authors were too vocal in their disdain for fiction. “You can probably get away with a lot of stuff, but you want your novel to be authentic, don’t you?” Along with the hardliners were some who simply chided authors to be more accurate, while a few encouraged creativity and suggested story possibilities.

The reason this book initially got my attention was its possible ties to the SciFi genre. I wanted to see where it stood in the hard science fiction vs. soft science fiction debate. The answer? It was a mixed bag of playful “do what you want” and “get it right or don’t bother”. As far as I’m concerned, if I’m writing fictional stories about space, space travel, or aliens, I can do whatever I want. Our current scientific knowledge and ability are far too limited to make interesting fiction, and most readers would throw back their heads and howl if authors restricted themselves to it.

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My second fantasy story, Dragon Valley, is now in the hands of my beta readers. What’s up next? I am trying to decide of I should move ahead in the current timeline or do a prequel to Dragon Child, providing back story for the dragons. On the other hand, perhaps I am wasting my time entirely! I don’t have the funds to publish the work in any format right now, and the target audience is “iffy”. Should I re-work the entire idea to include more action and drama? It’s also possible to allow the main character to grow up, which would then shift the appeal to older readers. Decisions, decisions…

I think I’m going to put the angst on hold for little longer and simply enjoy writing. That’s not such a bad idea, is it?

Author: Alexander Elliott

Alexander Elliott lives in the upper Midwest and is the author of multiple books in science fiction, fantasy, paranormal, and romance. His work is replete with themes of love, passion, family, humor, hope, and acceptance. Good triumphs over evil, providing happier endings for his stories. When Alexander isn’t busy writing, you’ll find him enjoying a good soak in the tub, reading, cooking, giving to charity, or keeping up with his kids, grandkids, and extended family. He loves chocolate, insists on sending birthday cards, and considers himself an old-school Star Trek fan. While he is afraid of heights and hates exercise, he’s a loyal friend, neat housekeeper, and an enthusiastic grandpa. The author is known for masterful storytelling and phenomenal world-building. His books feature realistic, well-developed characters, emotional depth, sizzling romance, and all the adventure, action, and intrigue necessary for a great read. Alexander understands that real life can be discouraging and stressful. Reading allows him to get away from it all, and he invites you to join him. If you have enjoyed his work, he would love to hear from you! Email: aelliottbooks@gmail.com Website: https://aelliottbooks.com/

3 thoughts on “Putting The Science In Fiction – A Book Review”

  1. I saw this book advertised on Twitter where Koboldt is fairly popular. I had a feeling it would turn out to be a mixed bag – happens a lot with any sort of compendium.

    Another thing I’m wary of with books like this, whether it be “Writing for the Sciences” or “Science for Writers” is the authors’ bias. Scientists often think themselves far smarter and more important than anyone else, and I bet it showed in several sections of this book. I didn’t want to read a book that put people down, for any reason.

    1. Yes, the bias showed! I can certainly see how “science” and “fiction” are like oil and water. Science folks want things neat, tidy, and accurate while authors demand creative license and freedom of expression!

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