Guest Post – What Makes A Good Science Fiction Story?

Hi folks, and welcome to the next pit stop on The Emoticon Generation Blog Tour! Yesterday I reviewed Guy Hasson’s short story collection; today, I’m turning the blog over to the man himself for a guest post in which he answers the question above – and I hope you enjoy his take on that as much as I do! So without further ado …

What Makes a Good Science Fiction Story?
By Guy Hasson

When I spoke to Lisa about doing a guest post and what I could write about, she said she’d been intrigued by what a science fiction author would consider a good SF story. I said, well, sure, I’d be happy to talk about that.
There are many, many types of good SF, and there are many, many criteria that make a good SF story. But the more I thought about it, the more it became clear to me that through all the different genres, through all the different stories and books that I love, runs one common theme: Science fiction can change the world.
There are two worlds, actually, that science fiction can change. Science fiction can change your world, the reader’s world. There could be some great insight into your past, your present, your future, your nature, your self, you understanding of what everything around you is. Science fiction tests boundaries, runs risks, asks questions that others don’t. It asks the unaskable, explorers the unexplored, tests the untested, and ventures into places ‘regular’ people would say: “Why even go there?” Even though ‘regular’ fiction can change your world, science fiction is much more likely to do so.
The same way science fiction is more likely to change your world than any other form of fiction, it’s also more likely to change the world on the whole than any other form of fiction. From exploring the atomic bomb before it existed, how to land on the moon in the 1950’s, overpopulation, global warming, nanotechnology, computer technology, how to advance past Earth and into other solar systems, how to explore the brain, how to change our bodies, how to become immortal in the 21st century… All these things and so many more have been brought up before they were in fashion by science fiction. Science fiction can predict, and perhaps even has caused, political movements, religions, new fields in psychology and science, and so much more.
Science fiction can change your world. And when you pick up an SF book, chances are you know it. And maybe you’re a little afraid.
I’ll tell you a story. A few years ago I was asked to give some kind of lecture about science fiction. I don’t remember what the subject of the lecture was or who it was for. I do remember that the audience sitting in front of me was not a fan of the genre/s. They didn’t seem to have read any SF books, and though I think they saw some movies, they didn’t like them much.
I remember that I was reading passages from one of my stories, Eternity Wasted, in order to prove some kind of point I was no doubt making. When you read to an audience you can see how and what they’re reacting to. There was one kid in the audience, probably fifteen or fourteen years old, sitting there with two of his buddies. While their minds were clearly on whatever daily troubles troubled them, I could see that his brain was exploding. I could see invisible fireworks going off in his head, as I was reading. Sentence after sentence, paragraph after paragraph, his mind was exploding.
And I remembered: Oh, yeah, that’s why I write science fiction!
And it is. That’s what I love about science fiction and that’s what I try to do when I write it. I try to change the world. Sometimes I try to change your world. Sometimes I just try to change the world. Sometimes these two are the same thing.

* * *
And how right he is. Or is he? Comments are open as always, so have at it! Agree, disagree, ruminate, speculate – whatever your thoughts, share ’em if you’ve got ’em!
Many thanks to Guy for taking the time to provide this post, and also for the review copy of his book. It is awesome, and it’s out now. Here are a few links:

6 thoughts on “Guest Post – What Makes A Good Science Fiction Story?

  1. I agree!

    The power of SF (or Fantasy) is that when creating a world that doesn´t exist (yet!) there are no boundaries, no limitations, other than those making the story interconsistent.

    In fact, I would go as far as to say that if a Science Fiction story might as well have been in a different genre, it really isn´t an SF at all. For an SF to be any good, it has to harness the power of freedom implicit in the writing in that genre…

  2. I love those specials on the Science For the Masses tv stations that talk about how SF did it first – either in a book or on Star Trek or in a movie, etc. and then the real world said, hey, that ain’t a bad idea. Of course the first example that comes to mind is Dr. McCoy’s hyposhot on Star Trek and how we can do that now – no needle needed, which cuts down on waste and on possibility of transferring blood born pathogens.

  3. Awesome guest post!

    as a reader, I love it when a scifi story changes how I look at the world. And I do find that *hearing* science fiction is a completely different experience than *reading* it. Sure, the reading is fun and I do it all the time, but hearing it is something special, it pings a different part of my brain.

    That kid in the audience? I’ve totally been there, done that, and enjoyed every second of it.

    1. I did always enjoy science lessons at school. The experiments were the best part, but I enjoyed hearing about all the awesome stuff science has discovered, and what it can let us do now. Guy’s post nailed that point, spot on. 😀

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