I’m a book addict. Each time I crack open a book, whether in hard copy or on my Kindle, I’m hoping to be blown away by the imagery the author presents, hoping for that amazing high that comes from living a true classic. Lately I have been reading wide of my usual slot, not abandoning fantasy, but going back and seeing what I loved the most about the genre that was my first introduction to reading for pleasure. I recently had the experience of being completely and utterly blown away by a science fiction novel, The Martian, by Andy Weir.
It’s one of the best science fiction stories to come out of the last 20 years. A real adventure story from the get-go, this story of an astronaut inadvertently left behind is gripping from page one. As a main character, Mark Watney is hilarious. He is the sort of man who gets through life by finding something positive in every disaster, and mocking the hell out of everything that is negative.
A horrendous storm destroys much of their base, and his team is forced to abort their mission. During the emergency evacuation of the Ares 3 landing site, he is severely injured in an accident that appears to have killed him. His body is unretrievable, and unaware that he is still alive, he is left behind. His companions begin the long journey back to Earth, grief-stricken at his sudden death. THIS is an awesome, gripping, and hilarious story.
I’ve been a subscriber to a well-known science fiction magazine, Analog, for many years. I am actually considering letting my subscription lapse, because for the last five years or so I have struggled to find something enjoyable in their magazine. I no longer enjoy the work they are publishing and they no longer seem to care. While there are occasional nuggets, the majority of work they publish is frequently harsh, lifeless, depressing, and incomprehensible. The fact is, perhaps they have forgotten what real science fiction is about, what the average reader wants. Perhaps I am no longer smart enough for their publication–and I hate paying to be sneered at.
Despite the efforts of the publishing community, the genre of science fiction is not dead. Andy Weir ‘s brilliant work on The Martian proves that there are writers out there with exactly the sort of stories I am looking for. And guess what–he published it in 2012 AS AN INDIE. This is a really telling thing, that the watershed books are no longer being put out there by the Big Six, until they have proven their worth in the Indie market. Hugh Howey, A.G.Riddle, Rachel Thompson–INDIES, all of them.
In my sci-fi, I want human frailties, drama, adventure, intense life and survival against great odds, set against a backdrop of understandable and realistic science.
I want a Space Opera. Andy Weir gave that to me.
It is that high drama that made the Star Trek empire what it is. High drama set in exotic places made George Lucas’s Star Wars series of movies the poster child for space operas. Those two series translated the intensity of feeling that the great authors of science fiction all brought to their work.
Over the years, I have written many short space operas for my own consumption. However, this fall I am embarking on the real test–putting my writing skill where my mouth is. It just so happens that off and on for the last 3 years, I’ve been outlining a science fiction story. Originally, I began this project in preparation for NaNoWriMo 2013, but this will be the year to implement it, so in November this will be my work.
As a devoted fangirl of many well-known physicists, I’ve been doing research for the last three years, and feel sure my science will hold up, which, in sci-fi, is key to the longevity of a tale. I have great characters, and a really plausible plot. I just have to spend 30 days stream-of-conscious writing to the prompts I have set forth and…well, that is the trick, isn’t it? But even if I fail to write anything worth publishing, I will have had a good time, and that is what this gig is all about: enjoying the ride.
2 responses to “Analog, I revile thee, or how The Martian redeemed my faith in science fiction”
Excellent news! SF is my original genre too, and I hope one day to re-write the huge space opera that was my debut novel into something that would be worth publishing – love the story, but the writing – let’s not go there!
@ Deborah — It’s the rare author who knocks it out of the park with their first novel. For me, that first book was the breeding ground for the skills and ideas that emerged and became work I could be proud of.