Is it possible to have a wild, exciting space adventure without resorting to magic? Or is there just no way to imagine conquering the vastness of the cosmos without warp drives, hyperspace, miraculous shielding and other fancy devices?

Some of our best and brightest minds are writing "mundane space opera," in which everything is scientifically plausible. And now, you can too! We'll teach you how.

When we were at Worldcon in Chicago, we had several conversations about mundane space opera. And we went to a panel about slower-than-light travel and interstellar trade, where Charles Stross shared some tantalizing tidbits about his new mundane space opera novel. Also working on a mundane space opera? Geoff Ryman, who invented the term "mundane science fiction", to describe SF where everything is scientifically plausible.

Space is really really big.

As Douglas Adams tried to explain once, space is really big. And most writers haven't fully gotten their heads around the vast challenges of space travel. The distances are immense, the radiation outside a solar system is incredibly dangerous, and the closer you go to the speed of light, the more your mass increases. Among many, many other problems. As Stross tells us:

Space is mind-numbingly vast and the energy requirements for travel are even more so — double your velocity, square the kinetic energy requirement (and that's in a merely Newtonian approximation — relativistic energy requirements are even worse).

There are just so many myths about space travel in classic science fiction.

Read the rest here.

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Replies to This Discussion

Interesting Link Steph.

I don't actually mind when they write "hyperspace" or "Wormhole" as shorthand for "Man, if we don't find some trick or shortcut, we ain't never getting out of this joint" .  =]

 

I don't give humanity good odds of getting over our "Everyone ought to be allowed to own a car" phase, myself. People are so selfish, they prefer not to think about their duty  to the earth, if that means they have to go without all the best toys, so the planet can stay alive. And so we probably are going to kill everything dead, long before we can make a ship to the stars.

I like very much the last authors "zinger" at the idea of mundane sci fi.

It seems to me that the common wisdom that "science fiction doesn't sell" grew out of a failure that started in the 80s, when science fiction writers started trying to be Very Serious People who were doing Very Important Work, and we started getting manifestos aimed at narrowing the field and appealing to a narrower and narrower — and more to the point, purer and purer — audience. Mundane science fiction turns its back on the "stupidities" that underlie books like Dune, The Left Hand of Darkness, The Dispossessed, The Forever War, Ender's Game and Startide Rising. I would prefer my stuff to remain in that company.

lol. TAKE THAT ! hahahaha.

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