2015-02-15

Sluggish start

Dragonverse Origins is off to a sluggish start (from a word-count perspective anyway). But progress is slowly being made. I'm having to stop and do research on what life was like in the Medieval period. Since Origins is fantasy/scifi, I don't have to be 100% accurate, but I do want to be as close as I reasonably can. To me, getting something wrong about the period I'm writing in is a problem that can, and should, be avoided. It's the same with modern and futuristic prose. If I'm writing a science fiction novel set in the far future, I'm forced to think about what life will be like in 50, 100, or even 200 years. That's not an easy task by any means.

Consider what has happened in the span of my own life. I was born in 1958. I can remember the simple dial telephone. Computers have gone from huge machines filling entire rooms to something small enough to put in your pocket. I watched the first man step foot on the moon. I saw the advent of the internet. I can easily remember saying, "I'll never need to learn about this internet thing". Wrong. My very first computer was a TRS-80 (trash 80 for those who remember). My dad gave me a Leading Edge model D a few years later. My first "real" computer was built at a local computer store. I had the technician install a whopping 130 Meg hard disk in it. He asked what I was going to do with such a huge drive. Today, our phones listen to us and talk back. They recognize our faces. If current predictions hold true, computers will be self aware in 25 years. Technology is moving so fast it's is virtually impossible to keep up with it. I love it, and I'm a bit concerned at the same time.

The science part is fairly easy to get right. The known laws of nature should not change in the foreseeable future. If you accelerate at a certain rate for a given time, you will find yourself traveling at a known speed. Mass moving at any speed carries kinetic energy. Energy cannot be created or destroyed. The amount of energy you can possibly get from a given mass is not boundless--it's limited by the famous E=MC^2 equation. But science fiction authors are forced to stretch the limits of known science. We build stardrives; weapons of inconceivable power; create alien races; and talk about these things as if they not only already exist, but are common-place. Fantasy writers live in a slightly altered universe where magic may be possible, bizarre creatures exist, and the laws of nature are not quite exactly how we know them now.

Being a writer is fun because we get to live is these universes and we get to share our vision of such places with those who read our books. My wife made a good point the other day. She said that although it is important to get the grammar right, it's not necessary to always get it perfect. As long as the minor grammatical errors don't detract from the story, the reader will generally forgive the author and publisher. Throw in too many such mistakes though and the reader becomes distracted and the story fragmented. It's not possible to publish a grammatically perfect book. Especially in this day and age when a book can be read by anyone from anywhere on the planet. American English is not the same as British English. Writers do the best they can--and that's all that can be asked of them.

Time to get back to writing.