Monday, May 9, 2016

Theme Thoughts: The intersection of sci-fi and the paranormal

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

- Arthur C. Clarke

Inspired by the recent launch of In Irina's Cards (The Variant Conspiracy Book 1), I'm going to start exploring themes from the trilogy as a whole. Hence the term, "Theme Thoughts".

Possibly the broadest theme for the entire trilogy is the exploration of where science and the paranormal overlap. It's a simple idea. Someone who doesn't understand the tech behind a given device, process, food - anything really - will view its form and/or function with awe and perhaps suspicion.

I'm sure we've all wondered what it would be like to show an iPhone to one of our parents in their own childhood. Or better still, demonstrating something now as basic to us as a remote control to a medieval farmer. Magic, right?

Science fiction relies heavily on this notion. To achieve suspension of disbelief, authors must gently convince readers through a story's subtext that the research and technology behind a made-up invention is real and sound.

Because my academic and professional background centres around arts and social sciences, I've always known that any sci-fi I would ever write had to be of the 'soft' variety. In keeping with that perspective, my protagonist, Irina, is not well-versed enough in hard science to relay knowledge of the exact chemistry or mechanics that her friends and co-workers are developing.

While steering clear of technical details may keep the narrative more accessible, it does miss opportunities to craft a stronger story, rooted in believable real-world science.

When discussing this trilogy, I use the term sci-fi because the context of the plot includes genetics, pharmacology, seismology, and botany. I use the term paranormal because central characters have mutations, aka 'variations', that move beyond real-world science including psychic abilities such as mind-reading and remote viewing, pyrokinesis, aquakinesis, super-human strength, and many human-animal hybrids.

What are your thoughts? Do you read sci-fi for pure entertainment? Or do you want it to spark ideas for the exploration of actual scientific concepts?

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