Thank you for visiting Jagged Edge Reviews. We have a lot of exciting reviews, guest posts, cover reveals and book blitz coming up! I apologize we are going through a bit of a change as we have been away for a short time but we are getting back into the swing of things! Just getting a bit organized again, please be patient.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fate's Mirror- Guest post

Looking Around the Next Corner
by Margaret Yang and Harry R. Campion

Hard science fiction always takes imaginative leaps from the science of today to the science of tomorrow, and those who read a lot of it tend to take those visions for granted. But not everyone does, and a question we often get asked is, “How do you know what’s going to happen in the next thirty years?”

The answer: a butt-load of research.

As readers, we believe there is a contract implicit in the delivery of science fiction. If we buy a book of hard SF, it should read like a scientifically plausible future. With that standard in mind, we try to do the same.

Luckily, we have between us enough curiosity to kill seven or eight cats. We both read as widely as we can, mining everything from newspapers to barely-understandable scientific periodicals for things we hope (and sometimes fear) are coming around the corner.

Articles bring the ideas to us, but then we get medieval on our facts by collecting books about a subject. It seems nonsensical. Research is a study of what’s already here. How can that help us imagine what’s to come? But only by having a solid grounding in the science of today can we extrapolate to the science of tomorrow. You have to know where you are before you know where you’re going.

Since Morris Payne, the hero of FATE’S MIRROR, is the world’s best hacker, we needed to learn about computer hacking, cryptography, virtual reality, and the National Security Agency. Our research promptly smacked us into a wall when we discovered that something called quantum cryptography was in development. We realized that in the near future there might be a computer code that even Morris Payne couldn’t break.

We had three choices—abandon the story, ignore the science, or address the facts. In the end, we made quantum cryptography a plot point in the story. Its existence, and subsequent squelching, becomes an ongoing sore spot between Morris and his NSA contacts.

The other problem is that ideas do not exist in a vacuum. Societies are changed by the technology they embrace. For example, the Arab Spring was enhanced by social networking sites like Twitter. Our second stage of research always moves from what’s possible to how these theoretical leaps might change society. We have to build a world that is still recognizable to our readers, but which doesn’t ignore the implications of new technology. And because it’s our world, we get to choose the most fun of any choices.

We live in an interconnected society, but what if everyone doesn’t love it? In FATE’S MIRROR, we decided it was time for some backlash. In Morris’ world, being constantly wired-in is no longer mainstream. More and more societal pressure is applied to “keep it real,” which is difficult for our techno-centered hero to embrace. Does this reflect our own frustration with people who ignore us in person to type short, grammatically-nonsensical fragments to one another? Maybe. Perhaps it’s just wishful thinking on our part, but it was fun to write a very techie hero out of step with his not-so-techie world.

No matter how much research we do, we’ll never be able to perfectly predict the course of human events, any more than someone can perfectly predict the outcome of a baseball game before the first pitch is thrown. There are too many variables. But we hope, that with a lot of study and a good helping of imagination, we can at least keep it in the ballpark.

M. H. Mead is the shared pen name of Margaret Yang and Harry R. Campion. They have been friends forever, and co-authors for over ten years, starting with short stories and working their way up to a novel. They live with their families in Michigan, where they teach, raise chlidren, and read as much as possible. More about Margaret and Harry can be found on their website

1 comment:

Margaret Yang said...

Thank you for inviting us to visit your blog today, Kati! This was great.

Margaret and Harry

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