Th3 FUtuR3 sTaRT5 h3R3!
by Paean Yeo and Jyotika Puri; edited by Edward Goh and Lee Russell
Passengers, please fasten your seatbelts. We are now approaching the future.<<Cue Star Wars (Main Title)>>.
It’s time to embark on a journey across the gregarious galaxies and swim among the constellations. Or would you rather wield laser cannons or lightsabers? Or perhaps venture where no man (or woman) has gone before?
Welcome to the future. Welcome to Science Fiction.
This is a genre with no boundaries – there is no sky: just an endless ocean of stars and planets. Here is where collective imagination pushes the possibilities of fiction – what can you create? Or more importantly, how far can you see into the future?
The panel started off by talking about certain benefits of sci-fi. The panellists pointed out that the genre was like a crystal ball: prying into the future, “predicting” problems caused by technological advancement and paving the way for future tech. The writers shape the humanistic perspective of scientific/technological progress and define what will happen in the future based on what is happening now. It helps us think about what we can do in a variety of ambiguous situations that might arise in the future, however unlikely they seem now.
And of course, we know sci-fi writers love being sneaky: current problems/issues we face are projected into the past or future. The lists gave the example of Zaphod: the President of the Galaxy who had the responsibility to draw attention away from the true rulers of the universe. Naturally, Zaphod and his outrageous behavior triumphed. (Sounds familiar?)
The panellists stressed that a lot of research has to be done to convince the reader and yourself of the science you are creating, even if it is just on paper. “All good fiction,” one of them said, “must be grounded in reality.” In order to establish credibility with regard to your story and its science your research should focus on characters, plot and setting(s). Your writing will go from good to great if you can refer to actual articles on science.
Not only does sci-fi allow us to forage into the future, it also allows us to re-imagine the distant past. In retrospective science fiction, writers toy with history to try and re-evaluate the past from a different perspective. “Good people need to learn from history so as to predict future problems and make the world a better place,” was one piece of advice that stuck with us. We can have fun with history and see it from a whole new perspective using this intriguing genre.
As we delved deeper into it, two very different views of sci-fi started to emerge: utopian and dystopian. Currently, writers are opting towards a more positive interpretation of the future. It kindles a new hope in us – we can strive to make the world a better place since we are ultimately the ones who are constantly shaping the future and re-defining the past.
The panel impressed that we need to strike a balance between science and humanistic perspectives. Carefully consider the amount of information you wish to dispense to the readers. Too much, and you’ll bore them; too little, and you’ll leave them confused. Scientific jargon should be kept to a minimum. In addition, as a writer, you need to learn to trust your readers – there is no need to regurgitate fact after fact. After all, if you are able to stoke enough curiosity in them, the readers will conduct further research by themselves.
Tailor concepts according to the length of the story to maintain a balance between science and the story. Try to simplify if you’re writing a short story – you can only afford to be complicated without a tight word limit.
As a whole, the session was both interesting and dynamic. The writers explored trends in sci-fi novels as well as films, making it a holistic discussion in which any amateur with a passion for imaginative stories could meaningfully and uninhibitedly contribute.
For example, why is Hollywood currently focussing on producing films about human-alien interaction? With today’s technological advancement (plus the recent discovery of a possible life-sustaining solar system) we have dramatically increased mankind’s chances of encountering the third kind. Furthermore, planet colonisation has become plausible over the years as seen in The Martian.
We definitely had a great time in this session and walked out knowing that we were not alone!
Find out more about the panellists: Ivan Ang, Hassan Hassa’Ree Ali, Otto Fong and JF Koh!
All photos used in this article were obtained from the All In! Facebook page: