Why I Love
and Writing Science Fiction Reading
Karen A. Wyle
I'll start with a caveat. I do not always write science fiction. For many otherwise fallow years, I wrote picture book manuscripts. More recently, between my current release and the sequel (still in rough draft), I wrote what I suppose is general fiction, if a novel in that category can take place in my fanciful notion of an afterlife.
That said, I am proud to write science fiction.
I don't remember when I started reading science fiction, but I'd guess I was around ten or eleven. I have been reading it ever since. The day I met my husband, twenty-five years ago, we talked for two hours about Robert A. Heinlein and assorted other SF authors. As you might suppose, our marriage exposed me to even more of the genre.
How do I love science fiction? Let me count the ways. . . .
Science fiction explores how human beings – whether acknowledged as such, or in any of innumerable disguises – react to the unexpected. How do they – how would we – cope with the fulfillment of anything from dream to nightmare? How will the future we anticipate surprise us? How will we surprise ourselves when we confront it?
Science fiction's imaginative settings allow us to examine familiar themes and problems with a fresh eye. (Star Trek, despite its flaws, was often excellent at using the trappings of science fiction to explore issues like racism, war and peace, patriotism, gender identity, ambition, love versus career, et cetera.) I am a lawyer; I am writing a series of short stories which will eventually include legal issues raised by certain future technologies. I have long been fascinated by twins: my novel Twin-Bred features fraternal twins (carried by host mothers) belonging to different species. I have been deeply interested in parenthood since becoming a mother: I can create aliens for whom parenthood is in many ways different, and in some fundamental ways the same.
Science fiction paves the way. Its authors, often scientists themselves, extrapolate from current technology and knowledge, and make educated guesses about what we will be able to invent. Often they guess correctly. It might be easier to identify the scientific advances of the last sixty years that were not predicted in science fiction than to list those that were. By working within the constraints of scientific theory, science fiction honors those who have spent their lives helping us understand our universe (and any meta-universe which may include it).
Finally, science fiction gives the would-be builder of worlds a place to play. While fantasy does the same, science fiction imposes certain constraints – and as many a poet would testify, some constraints can actually spur creativity. At any rate, I find satisfaction in knowing that what I have imagined, or what another author lays before me, could possibly exist. Science fiction authors differ in how hard they strive to ensure that the physical features of their planets, aliens, and technologies fit within our current scientific theories (or at least, scientific hypotheses held by at least one adventurous scientist out there). No scientist myself, I still try fairly hard. I use my husband, whose scientific knowledge runs broad and deep, as my technical adviser – but if I really want to make the sky green, or put multiple sails on the sailboat, or whatever, and he is skeptical, I just keep researching until (with luck) I find some more or less plausible basis to do so. On the other hand, unlike historical fiction, where the possibility of error lurks behind every detail, the amount of research need not be too intimidating.
I'd love to see comments about what visitors to this blog like most about science fiction -- or about any problems they have with the genre.
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Karen A. Wyle was born a Connecticut Yankee, but eventually settled in
, home Bloomington, Indiana . She now considers herself a Hoosier. Wyle's childhood ambition was to be the youngest ever published novelist. While writing her first novel at age 10, she was mortified to learn that some British upstart had beaten her to the goal at age 9. ofIndiana University
Wyle is an appellate attorney, photographer, political junkie, and mother of two daughters. Her voice is the product of almost five decades of reading both literary and genre fiction. It is no doubt also influenced, although she hopes not fatally tainted, by her years of law practice. Her personal history has led her to focus on often-intertwined themes of family, communication, the impossibility of controlling events, and the persistence of unfinished business.
Links for Karen A. Wyle
Website and Social Media:
Author website: http://www.KarenAWyle.net
Author Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/KarenAWyle
Twin-Bred Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Twin-Bred-by-Karen-A-Wyle/222985574428006
Blog (Looking Around): http://looking-around.blogspot.com
Can interspecies diplomacy begin in the womb? After seventy years on Tofarn, the human colonists and the native Tofa still know very little about each other. Misunderstanding breed conflict, and the conflicts are escalating. Scientist Mara Cadell’s radical proposal: that host mothers of either species carry fraternal twins, human and Tofa, in the hope that the bond between twins can bridge the gap between species. Mara lost her own twin, Levi, in utero, but she has secretly kept him alive in her mind as companion and collaborator.
Mara succeeds in obtaining governmental backing for her project – but both the human and Tofa establishments have their own agendas. Mara must shepherd the Twin-Bred through dangers she anticipated and others that even the canny Levi could not foresee. Will the Twin-Bred bring peace, war, or something else entirely?
[Context: The human colony on Tofarn and the indigenous Tofa have great difficulty communicating with and basically comprehending each other. Scientist Mara Cadell is running a project where host mothers carry twins, one human and one Tofa, in the hope that the bond between twins can bridge the gap between species. Alan Kimball, a member of the governing human Council, is hostile to the Tofa and has inserted agents into the project.]
Tilda looked at her twins, cuddled close together in the crib. Mat-set had all four arms wrapped around Suzie. They seemed to cuddle any chance they got. Maybe they were glad to be free of separate amniotic sacs.
She looked down at Mat-set and remembered the rumors of Tofa with five arms instead of four. She had even seen pictures, but who knew whether they were authentic. Certainly none of the Tofa Twin-Bred babies had been born with extra limbs.
Tilda glanced over at the big dormitory clock and then back down at the babies. She gasped and staggered a step back. Mat-set was still holding Suzie with four arms. So how was he scratching his head with another one?
Tilda looked around wildly for a chair, found one blessedly nearby, and sank down on it. She pinched herself. Nothing changed. Well, who said you couldn’t pinch yourself in a dream and keep on dreaming?
She got up and walked, a bit unsteadily, to the intercom and buzzed for a nurse. Then she went back to the crib. Of course. Four arms, only four, and what was she going to do now?
She decided to be brave and sensible. If she had really seen it, the staff had to know. And if she hadn’t, and she didn’t wake up, then she was ill, and she should get the help she needed.
The chief nurse tucked Tilda in and watched her drift off to sleep, sedative patch in place. Then she went back to her station and called up the monitor footage on Tilda’s twins.
* CONFIDENTIAL *
CLEARANCE CLASS 3 AND ABOVE
LEVI Status Report,
Observation of the Tofa infants has shed some light on the longstanding question of whether the number of Tofa upper appendages is variable among the Tofa population. The thickest of the four armlike appendages is apparently capable of dividing when an additional upper appendage is desired. . . .
Councilman Kimball bookmarked the spot in his agent's report and opened his mail program. He owed an apology to the young man who had claimed his poor showing against a Tofa undesirable was due to the sudden appearance of an extra appendage. Apparently the man had been neither dishonest nor drunk.
After discharging that obligation, Kimball made a note to seek further details as to the divided arms' placement, reach, and muscular potential. His people needed adequate information to prepare them for future confrontations. After all, forewarned — he laughed out loud at the thought — was forearmed.
Purchase Links for Twin-Bred:
Amazon (Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005VDVHQ2
Smashwords (various ebook formats): http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/94490
-- Lynda Again
Wow! Talk about an intriguing premise and excerpt! As I said earlier, Karen is offering a free copy of Twin-Bred in any format the winner wants to one lucky commenter. So leave a comment WITH your email addy so she can contact you by Friday, Dec 16. Good luck!
Have a Blessed Day!