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.