I really miss writing sci-fi (and reading it)

A little over a year ago, I submitted a story to the Strange New Worlds VIII contest. Apparently Dean Wesley Smith, one of the three judges and the editor for the contest, liked it, but it didn’t quite make the final cuts. Other times I’ve written amateur sci-fi or fan-fics, and generally, they were well-received. Unfortunately, I’ve not done very much in that field since.

It’s a trade-off. I’ve been a software engineer professionally for a while now, and I’ve not spent any time writing science fiction. Certainly I haven’t studied it as a field enough to see what others have done. One regret is that over the last several years my knowledge of sci-fi has been mostly limited to the classics, a few interesting novels and authors, and Star Trek.

Still, I sort of miss it.

One of the cardinal rules for writers is that you must write. It’s true for blogging, it’s certainly true for programming, and it’s true for science-fiction writing. Having a non-fiction book under my belt is quite an achievement, but I never want to lose my appetite to be an artist. I never want to stagnate.

In terms of literature, I’ve stagnated. Just today, I asked myself two questions I’d want to base stories on. The first is, “What if a military grew so large that no officers could live long enough to learn how to command it?” I remember reading in a book by Tom Clancy and Gen. Fred Franks, Jr., (ret), “Into The Storm”, that it takes twenty years to develop a senior army commander. Suppose the military got so big that no one man could gain the experience he needed to direct it? What would the military do to get the most bang for the buck? (Pun not intended.)

The second question is, “What uses can a naval force be put to in a war against a space force?” I don’t believe I’ve ever read a sci-fi story that tried to answer that question. My first thought is, “Very little.” But that almost certainly ignores what centuries of naval history have taught us. My own understanding of naval warfare is somewhat limited, but I do know that I didn’t need a space suit in my two years in the U.S. Navy. The closest glimpse I got of this was from Harry Turtledove’s Worldwar series, and naval technology had not nearly advanced to the point we have now.

I’m not stating my opinion on war here, but science fiction combat is one of the biggest fields for sci-fi. Nor am I trying to actively capitalize on my talents in sci-fi

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. I write fiction as a hobby, when I feel like it. If I spent several years at it, I could probably become a decent professional writer. First, though, I’d need to do my homework — both in what’s been written and in what’s plausible. Finally, I always try to remember in sci-fi writing that it’s not about the gadgets and the gizmos, but about the people in the stories.

I would really love to make friends with a retired military strategist. Just to poke his (or her) brain about both history and tactics. No one can write about anything they don’t understand the basics of. Anyone who tries inevitably fails, as I’ve learned time and time again.

Also, if I was ever to go to college, this would be a big reason: to learn more about the world (and universe) we live in, to express it to people. Assuming, of course, that I ever budgeted the time for the writing. Because ultimately, I determine my schedule aside from work hours.

4 thoughts on “I really miss writing sci-fi (and reading it)”

  1. I remember a battleship shooting down a capital spacecraft in John Ringo’s Posleen War series. (The premise of which is that ravenous genetically engineered aliens invade Earth, but with the help of some pseudo-benevolent other aliens we bootstrap our technology to the point where we can just barely survive. If you’re curious, the first book, A Hymn Before Battle, is on the Baen Free Library.)
    That’s all that springs to mind, really.

  2. OK, here’s an idea: gin up something like the British M-class submarines (“M” for monitor; they were bizarre steam-powered monstrosities outfitted with a single 12-inch gun) armed with a Gerald Bull-type supergun or a railgun. Similar doctrine: pop to the surface, fire off a spaceship-killer round, and dive, dive, dive to put lots of water between you and whatever the spaceship is carrying.
    (From Alex: Infrared satellite tracking of the engines? Like it or not, the ocean’s a big place, and there aren’t that many ships out there in any given patch of ocean. Still, something to think about. A junior officer could pitch that to a ship’s XO.)

  3. Choess – a modern sub already has better than that. Nuclear-tipped cruise missiles ought to do the job quite nicely, no need to resort to WW2 tech.

  4. I was reading a sci fi book that talks about using sound as a weapon. I thought that was cool. I don’t if you could direct sound like a weapon from a ship, but…maybe?
    Don’t give up on writing! I’m a writer too. I wrote a sci fi recently and am submitting it to a couple of houses. I’m lucky though, I own a production company and can make my own commercials.
    I used a Book Trailer to submit a story and that worked great! If you’ve never seen one you have got to check it out! Here’s one we did that is from the sci fi book I mentioned above. It’s called Night Game. The video has a bunch of cool special effects in it.
    Writers write. That is so true. But, blogs count! Right?
    (From Alex: The idea of sound as a weapon is interesting, but not very plausible. Especially not in space, where there’s no air to carry sound. Even sci-fi must obey the laws of physics, warp drive not included…)

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