This month’s Redital Spotlight is Ernest Cline’s Armada which is an epic science fiction fantasy novel, so we decided we’d break down what exactly makes a great Sci-fi novel. Science fiction and fantasy are some of the most creatively stimulating genres because they leave a lot to the imagination, but even though the limits can be stretched so much further, writers in these genres still have a responsibility to make sure we’re not too overwhelmed as readers. Take a look at our list and let us what you enjoy about reading Sci-fi.
World Building with minimal info dumps
World building is a huge factor when it comes to Science fiction. All sci-fi and fantasy novelists are world building by default when you think about it, because they need to demonstrate the boundaries of the technologies, species or magics they are introducing into the story. Unfortunately, this is an area where Science fiction novels can fall flat completely. Many readers are put off by the Science fiction genre because they believe them to be full of complex jargon that means nothing to the storytelling. This is of course true in many cases, but a good writer understands that the story is the heart of the novel, and the world is just the medium in which the story takes place.
As readers we need to understand the dynamics of the world or universe that the writer is presenting, but it needs to be presented to us in a way that won’t cut into the storytelling. The worst thing an author can do is divert us away from the story and its characters to explain the laws of their world. There are many ways the information we need about the world can be presented to us without ever straying too far from the story. Using dialogue is probably the most preferred method, but even that must be done in a way that’s progressive to the scene taking place. Simply forcing dialogue between characters to explain the world isn’t any better than diverting away from the storytelling completely.
Experiencing the universe in first-person
We have no problems with stories being told in third-person, but when it comes to Sci-fi and Fantasy, nothing is more exciting that experiencing the world through the characters perspective. Whether the character is also experiencing this world for the first time or whether they’re a veteran in the world, first-person just helps to keep the readers intrigue when learning the components of the world.
Also, depending on the nature of the story it’s usually exciting to think that this imagined world continues to spin even if the characters aren’t there to instigate it, and first-person does a great job fulfilling that illusion. Of course, if the author is telling an epic story where the future of the world is literally going to be decided by the main characters then that illusion is futile. It’s also worth noting that the characters must be relatable if we’re experiencing the world through their perspective.
It’s impossible for every Sci-fi book to be realistic, but some of the best science fiction stories are the ones that make you think the components of the world could actually be reality someday. For instance, one of our favourite video games is Metal Gear Solid and one of the reoccurring themes throughout the series is that armies are trying to innovate on weaponry. This leads to giant walking tanks (called Metal Gears) to be constructed. The Metal Gear Solid games are heavy on Science fiction and fantasy, but regardless it leaves you thinking about the possibility that one day there may actually be giant mechs walking around patrolling warzones.
It’s not geeky to ponder on these things, and it’s always a treat when you manage to read a Science fiction story that has realistic possibilities.
What makes great Science Fiction to you?
We feel like this is a discussion that needs to be had with many readers, so let’s keep the ideas on what makes great Science fiction swirling around. Be sure to leave a comment below, or Tweet us your thoughts. Hearing from other readers is our favourite thing, besides reading.