Characters Awakening


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



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