How much science with your fiction?

Discuss the June 2017 Book of the Month, Superhighway by Alex Fayman. Superhighway is the first book in the Superhighway Trilogy, so feel free to use this forum to discuss not only the first book but also the other books in the series.

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Re: How much science with your fiction?

Post by gali » 07 Jun 2017, 23:21

I love the genre. I don't mind the science as long as it isn't too technical.
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Post by hsimone » 09 Jun 2017, 07:33

Jaime Lync wrote:I totally understand what you mean Christina, I think I just want enough science in the book to help me understand how key theories came about in the story. It doesn't even have to be correct but I prefer an effort be done instead of the author saying that I won't be able to understand the science so he skips explaining.
I agree with this completely. I want just enough science to explain how it works, because it does kind of give off the impression that perhaps the author doesn't believe the readers can handle the science behind the story if it's just glossed over.

Though, when reading (or even watching sci-fi movies), if there is too much unknown terminology, then I am turned off. So, there is a unique balance for me.

Good question!
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Post by kandscreeley » 09 Jun 2017, 07:36

hsimone wrote:
Jaime Lync wrote:I totally understand what you mean Christina, I think I just want enough science in the book to help me understand how key theories came about in the story. It doesn't even have to be correct but I prefer an effort be done instead of the author saying that I won't be able to understand the science so he skips explaining.
I agree with this completely. I want just enough science to explain how it works, because it does kind of give off the impression that perhaps the author doesn't believe the readers can handle the science behind the story if it's just glossed over.

Though, when reading (or even watching sci-fi movies), if there is too much unknown terminology, then I am turned off. So, there is a unique balance for me.

Good question!
I guess I understand that you don't want the science to come out of the blue. However, if it gets too technical it just goes over my head. For me, I don't have to know how the time machine works to enjoy seeing where they go in history or the future. :)
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Post by akruser13 » 09 Jun 2017, 16:33

Ah, I actually enjoy science and research to an extent, but I'm certainly no scientist. As long as the story is good I can enjoy it either way, with or without a lot of scientific explanation, but I do like seeing an author really try to embrace that aspect of a universe. If they take the time to make some rule or action in their universe make sense using "real world" science in some way, it just goes that little extra level. It doesn't have to be true science or realistic, but if there are traces of realism that can be applied to our physics, I tend to appreciate it more.

That being said, if they go overboard and start spewing out big words and numbers and odd terminology that require ten pages to explain, I'm not as interested. If I'm reading fiction I don't want to feel like I'm reading a textbook, you know? So there has to be a balance between making a universe's science sound interesting and logical, but also not going so far as to throw it over an average reader's head.

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Post by Jaime Lync » 09 Jun 2017, 21:41

After reading the two comments above (Kandscreeley's and Akuser13's) it came to mind that I appreciate it when author's take time to develop their very own laws of nature. Science in fiction doesn't have to obey our science in real life. For example, if a novel tells me that a star crashed into the equator and put the world out of orbit in the solar system so our gravity is wack - I would appreciate that.
I agree with everyone that said that when the author gets too technical the story could suffer or the reader could suffer from confusion.

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Post by masterhawk88 » 09 Jun 2017, 22:38

I don't mind if the science is glossed over. I really do enjoy it when they come up with a plausible explanation of how something works though. My biggest irritation in scifi has to be when authors break physics. While that's fine in universes where magic exist if you claim something can happen because of technology or science and it's a literal impossibility I kinda want to make you go back to high school until you understand the laws of thermodynamics.
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Post by Donnavila Marie01 » 14 Jun 2017, 10:09

khusnick wrote:I like when the science is included to an extent. I don't like extensive explanations with terminology that I can't understand. I just want the fiction to make a little bit of sense. A brief but helpful answer as to how things work in the book is all I need.
I agree. We need a brief but helpful answer to our queries about the science-fiction story but to the point of detailed explanation with a definition that pops out somewhere in the pages. This destructs me.

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Post by Gravy » 14 Jun 2017, 20:06

Mira Grant puts puts a lot of effort into her science, and, while not possible (let's all hope :lol: ), she makes it all seem plausible.

When an author can make me believe in the impossible (Yes, we can bring dinosaurs back! Yes, a tapeworm can be genetically modified for your health, but wind up taking over your body.), I swoon.
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Post by psychopathycathy » 14 Jun 2017, 21:26

I'm definitely interested in a good sci-fi story, but I would love it better if it had some basis that I could learn; I don't need explanations to go overboard, and I actually like more fiction than science. I couldn't get through books like The Martian because there was just so much explanation and it became boring.

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Post by akruser13 » 14 Jun 2017, 21:34

Jaime Lync wrote:After reading the two comments above (Kandscreeley's and Akuser13's) it came to mind that I appreciate it when author's take time to develop their very own laws of nature. Science in fiction doesn't have to obey our science in real life. For example, if a novel tells me that a star crashed into the equator and put the world out of orbit in the solar system so our gravity is wack - I would appreciate that.
I agree with everyone that said that when the author gets too technical the story could suffer or the reader could suffer from confusion.
Oh, definitely, but see how it still plays on something that could sound logical based on our knowledge of how our gravity works in relation to our position in the solar system? It's a fictional science based on even a slight knowledge of real world physics. It makes a certain amount of sense and I would totally roll with that.

If, on the other hand, an author decided to set their story on Earth in what is supposed to be "real" Earth but maybe a few years in the future, and just decided they wanted their gravity to have less pull just for the sake of letting their characters bounce around like moon visitors, but offered zero explanation for why that is, I might be a little confused by that. Just saying, "It's in the future so gravity is weaker just because I want it to be," is less enticing to me than giving me some sort of reason for why. They could say someone invented a machine that counters the pull of gravity for all I care, but I prefer to have something grounded in actual science as explanations for how a fictional universe works if I'm reading a science fiction story, ya know?

Tell me it's fantasy and there's magic so anything flies and I'm down with that though, lol.

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Post by Zoey » 16 Jun 2017, 14:44

How much science with my fiction?

Picture a piece of pumpkin pie with cream sky high.
Does it run your mouth dry?

Of course not! It makes it water like crazy!

Think of science in the context, the more the merrier!
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Post by Miriam Molina » 16 Jun 2017, 15:35

I think background info about a supernatural event is always good, as long as the author delivers it well. The usual fallbacks are a gene mutation, alien life, and a genie. But J.K. Rowling never gave us a reason for how the wizard world came about (or did I miss it?) and look how many of us she fooled haha.

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Post by John Cand » 16 Jun 2017, 17:47

Just enough science to make me feel like I understand the storyline - that's good enough for me.

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Post by Anirudh Badri » 16 Jun 2017, 18:27

I prefer science fiction that has a proper grounding in actual science. More importantly, I am ok with an author making up plausible or even hand-waving explanations for complex phenomena, but when they actually try to explain something, it really bugs me when they get stuff wrong. This is one of the reasons I really loved the book The Martian, by Andy Weir.

His focus on describing the well-understood aspects of science was a major factor in how much I liked his book.
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Post by Jennifer Allsbrook » 16 Jun 2017, 21:12

Jaime Lync wrote:In Superhighway, Alex is able to travel through cyberspace as a result of an inherited genetic mutation. In my opinion, the author does a great job describing the science behind the fictional power of 'electoportation'. However, I have read many sci-fi books that present awesome powers, namely time-travel, and simply gloss over the science by saying that it would be too complicated to understand or some other deterrent to having to give scientific explanations.
Are you interested in learning science while reading sci-fi?
Do you know any books that give really detailed science explanations to support the fiction?
Are you turned off by sci-fi that does not try to explain the science behind the story? (I know I am )
I am a science fiction fan and a scientist to boot so I love it when the science is well developed. That is one of the reasons why I enjoyed some of our recent BOTM selections including We are the Ants, Nightlord: Sunset, and Roan. Also, one of the books I recently reviewed - Staff Sergeant Belinda Watt (https://forums.onlinebookclub.org/viewt ... 21&t=41412) had great science!! Sometimes it might detract from the story if it is overly complex, however, personally I love it!

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