Writing Radical Fiction
Authors are constantly pushing the boundaries of reality. For example, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein completely opened up horror, science fiction, and drama. The result caused people to think about themselves and their viewpoints.
I define radical fiction as a story that takes a large leap from reality. This means readers are required to accept concepts like impossible physics, alien values, crazy morals, and a society with inhuman rules. Authors like Ray Bradbury, Jules Verne, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke all pushed the views on what is possible. They made us believe in distant worlds, faster than light travel, blue aliens, magic, time travel, and ray guns.
For example, Spiderman’s world has radical biology. He uses a silk gland to leap from building to building. Readers must overcome many hurdles to accept that kind of character. At the very least, the silk gland would be near his butt and it would shoot out three feet. How far can a man pee? It’s the same biological mechanism.
I approached radical fiction with caution. For example, in my first book, I explored the impossible concept of immortality. I explained how it worked with pseudo-science as opposed to proven medical facts that astute readers thoroughly understand. My immortality process utilized “harvested human organs” placed into a host body. This provided the immune system the ability to destroy the “parasites responsible for old age.” In order for this concept to work, readers must take a blind leap into fantasy.
Is my immortality concept plausible? Sort of. Using harvested organs to achieve eternal life is pure fantasy. Having the immune system indefinitely repair the body is almost plausible. Overall, my concept would not warrant a scientific study. However, it’s a good plot tool that “could work” with a little imagination. Wink, wink. Now, if my process required “magic wand” then readers would have to take a leap into implausible fantasy.
My second book has aliens. In the real world, some anecdotal evidence has been uncovered to support the existence of aliens. However, aliens certainly haven’t been on 60 minutes to discuss their political views.
My approach to discussing aliens was basic. The aliens were invisible at the beginning of the story and they briefly interacted at the end. Their visual appearance was “human-like” and they had no special abilities. I was careful to keep their exact details vague. I did this by putting them into invisible suits.
I feel a gradual introduction led the readers into accepting alien characters. The story “could happen just like that.” This approach allowed the plot to build in a realistic manner. This also avoided many questions. What do aliens like to eat? How does the alien ship work?
My second book touches on the concept of telepathy. Science has completely debunked telepathy, so I took a careful approach. Only two characters had telepathy their interaction was difficult, awkward and incomplete. Of course, I skipped over the technical explanation.
I can imagine mentally communicating with somebody. There have been times when I got coordinated with a person’s thoughts. So that gives me something to write about. For me, that is not too far of a leap. Despite all the science telepathy could be possible.
In Star Wars, there were many characters with different backgrounds. Wow, that would be difficult to organize. Star Wars gets away with radical fiction by taking the leap without explanation. Luke Skywalker presses a button on his light sabre and slices away. Never mind the concept of a “light sabre” is completely impossible by every known law of physics, thermodynamics, electronics, and optics.
As an author, I approach radical fiction with care. To me, it is like a gun with only one bullet. You wave the gun around and act tough, but you only get one shot. So, aim carefully. Of course, other authors approach radical fiction like it’s raining bullets. They attract readers who instantly “get” the altered reality.
Harry Potter uses his wand and the water freezes. For me, that’s a bridge too far. My plot has to make sense or at least be almost plausible. In all the technical reading I have done, scientific experiments I have done and Discover Channel science shows I have watched, a “magic wand” has never frozen water. First law of thermodynamics! How could I imagine a world where a magic wand could ever work?
I certainly have a lot of respect for the authors that write radical fiction. They have the wonderful gift of creating a story out of nothing but their imagination. I am trying to push my personal envelope. My present book centers on an alien world. Society, physics and the “people” are different from humans. It has been challenging and fun. I also have a short story idea about a magical world. Someday I might take this leap. In the meantime, I have a lot of ground to cover here on plain old boring earth.
You’re the best -Bill
February 13, 2019
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