I’m happy to announce that my characters are awake again and chattering like children in a playground. I knocked out a short chapter and now I sit at 41K words, just past dead center.
One reason I was able to do that is because the two droids are off-stage right now, pursuing their missions, so I could focus on the humans back in the lab. They’re devising a new AI strategy that does not involve a third android. (I can say no more). But I’ve got to get the droids back on stage right quick or it will seem like another novel has suddenly sprouted. I’m a little foggy on exactly where I’m going, but that’s not unusual in a first draft.
Meanwhile, I’m trying to up my sci-fi bona fides. My first android story, which, incredibly, snagged an agent, was an accident. I’m really not a sci-fi writer. Nor do I read the stuff. I wrote that novel as an exploration into human psychology, and used an android as a device to create a non-human contrast. Writing sci-fi was the farthest thing from my mind. But when I was done, I had a main character who happened to be an android, and I had accidentally written a sci-fi novel.
Now I feel I should be more up-to-date with the world of sci-fi so as not to be a total fraud. I developed a list of recommended “hard” sci-fi novels and I found a few of them at a used bookstore today. I wish you could buy a package of reading hours to go with each book. I’ll copy my study list below.
I had two interesting realizations in the bookstore. One is that I actually have read some sci-fi, classic stuff, like Clarke, Heinlein, Bradbury, Asimov, and so on. I had forgotten that I avidly read sci-fi for a few years in high school. So I’m not a virgin after all.
The other notable experience was a sense of intimidation. All those authors, so many books, so many ideas. I felt like every possible sci-fi topic that could be written on, has been – repeatedly. The only angle of uniqueness I might have is that I am exploring inner space rather than outer space. The final frontier?
After what I saw today, I definitely will not be addressing any cutting edge topics in physics, astronomy, chemistry, materials, biology, evolution, gravity, space or time. Everything’s been done, done, done. As a psychologist, I’ll stick to what I know. The inner world is anyway vaster and far less explored than the outer one. And I don’t have a faster-than-light problem.
My study list for hard sci-fi:
- Rendezvous With Rama, Arthur C. Clarke
- Foundation, Isaac Asimov.
- I, Robot, Isaac Asimov
- Tau Zero, Poul Anderson
- The Thought Readers, Dima Zales.
- Red Mars, Kim Stanley Robinson
- The Color of Distance, Amy Thompson
- Ringworld, Larry Niven
- The Mote in God’s Eye, Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
- Revelation Space. Alastair Reynolds
- Rainbows End, Vernor Vinge
- A Fire Upon the Deep, Vernor Vinge
- The Diamond Age, Neal Stephenson
- Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson
- Downbelow Station, C J Cherryh
- Cyteen, C.J. Cherryh
- Use of Weapons, Ian M. Banks
- Lilith’s Brood, Octavia Butler
- Accelerando, Charles Stross
- Blindsight, Peter Watts
- Starfish, Peter Watts
- Beggars in Spain, Nancy Kress
- Dragon’s Egg, Robert L. Forward
- Diaspora, Greg Egan
- Manifold: Time, Stephen Baxter
- The Forever War, Joe Haldeman
- Everyone in Silico, Jim Munroe
- Synners, Pat Cadigan
- Spin, Charles Wilson
- The Quantum Thief, Hannu Rejaniemi
- World War Z, Max Brooks
- The Mars Trilogy, Kim Stanley Robinson
- Incandescence, Greg Egan
- Eon, Greg Bear
- Moving Mars, Greg Bear
- Einstein’s Bridge, John Cramer
- The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Robert Heinlein
- Altered Carbon, Richard K. Morgan
- Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie
- Fiasco, Stanislaw Lem
- Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement
- Startide Rising, David Brin
- The Martian, Andy Weir