Daily Archives: January 20, 2015

Conversation With An Author

If you could speak with one author of your choice, either living or deceased:

A)  Who would you choose?

B)  Why?

C)  What would you ask him or her?

And…go!

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Let’s Talk Sci-Fi – How Much Tech Explanation Do You Really Want?

I think we need to transport Ann and John into the future.

If you’ve yet to hear of them, and why have you, when I only have three readers, Ann and John are my go-to fictional power couple that I use whenever I have questions about writing.  You can catch some of their past misadventures in :

Ann and John Explore Copyrights

Ann and John and Accents/Non-English Speakers

So now, let’s transport Ann and John to the year 2200, through a time machine.  The three people who regularly read my blog, my Aunt Gertrude being one of them (hi Gertie), know that Ann and John inevitably end up battling a strangler.  So behold, I give you – Bay Area Strangler III – Curse of the Robostrangler

So let’s start with a basic question.  As a reader, how technically detailed do you want me to get when it comes to future tech?  For example, take this scene that involves a robot:

EXTREMELY DETAILED

“We need you, Ann and John,”  said General Jones as he lead the the world’s most notorious strangler hunting detectives into a secret laboratory deep below the Pentagon.  “We’ve received a communication from the future.  It’s a bleak world where the population has been decimated.”

“How could such a thing happen?”  Ann asked.

“Robostrangler,” the General said.  “Initially designed by Alpha Tech Corp in 2075 to provide neck massages to elderly nursing home shut-ins, his Nano Brain Chip malfunctioned.  A nano brain chip provides both acceleration and deceleration of higher brain functions, creating a complex system of reactions, both positive and negative, and when mixed together through the funnel apparatus of a concave refractal interior nano scope, a robot’s artificial mind is able to replicate basic human functions.  Unfortunately, Alpha Tech failed to realize that its product could replicate feelings found in the most evil of humans, and alas, Robomassager turned into Robostrangler.”

Compare with:

LESSER DETAIL

“We need you, Ann and John,” said General Jones as he lead the the world’s most notorious strangler hunting detectives into a secret laboratory deep below the Pentagon. “We’ve received a communication from the future. It’s a bleak world where the population has been decimated.”

“How could such a thing happen?” Ann asked.

“Robostrangler,” the General said. “Initially designed and marketed as Robomassager by Alpha Tech Corp in 2075 to provide neck massages to elderly nursing home shut-ins, his Nano Brain Chip malfunctioned, turning him into Robostrangler. Now he’s gone berserk and strangling everyone he sees.”

Which version do you prefer?  Personally, I like the second one.  Admittedly, I made the explanation up in the first one.  I suppose if I really wanted to get detailed, I’d have to do some serious research into how robot brains work and how they could theoretically turn evil.  But, as a reader, do you really have the time to care?  Isn’t, “the damn robot went nuts!” enough?  I submit that’s enough.

Let’s talk time machines:

LOTS OF TECH DETAIL

General Jones showed Ann and John the X21 Time Closet.

“This device has the ability to destabilize your bodily particles, eject them into the cosmos, send them hurtling to any time, past or present, where they will then materialize.  Once you’re in the future, you’ll be on your own against Robostrangler.”

Compare with:

PRETTY MUCH NO EXPLANATION

General Jones led Ann and John into the X21 Time Closet.  He set the date for Jan. 1 2200 and Ann and John instantly found themselves in a dystopian world where strangled corpses littered the streets, and the Robostrangler reigned supreme.

I’m torn here.  I feel the destablize/materialize your particles was enough of an explanation of what’s going on without getting into the theoretical science of Star Trekian “Beaming” technology.

So those are just some examples, using my old friends A and J.  The main question – when the author introduces a newfangled sci-fi gadget, do you want a detailed explanation of how it works, or should the author just make it work?

My 2 cents – I just like to see it work, because hell, I have no idea how have the shit in existence in my life now works, let alone how future shit will operate.  You can explain to me a million times how this damn computer in front of me works and yet the best I can come up with is that each time I press a key on the keyboard, a tiny gremlin is poked in the ass, causing it to etch a letter on my screen.

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