Using Science To World-Build
We’ve known for a long time that science fiction will sometimes influence science and that science will sometimes influence science fiction. Sci-fi authors typically love-love-love science, which is one of the major draws to the genre. Readers typically do, too. But some of us aren’t quite as brainiac about it as the scientists and engineers who develop the technology, explore the new frontiers, and cut the edge on our evolving existence.
Fantasy and urban fantasy authors do this too, but their focus is on social sciences. Fantasy and science fiction authors study the people around them, the things going on in the world, the political climate, the economic climate, the crappy things we’re doing to one another, and they see where we could go if things don’t change.
Using Story to Influence Science
When science fiction authors write, they focus on what could happen if we use this science, but also what would happen if we take these social norms with us into the future. Look at The Expanse as one of the best representations of this that I’ve experienced. I read the book, Shane and I have listened to the audiobooks, and we’ve devoured the television series. It rings with us because it speaks to the social issues we’re seeing in our society. Shane is right-wing. I’m left-win, and yet that show speaks to us both.
When urban fantasy authors write, they focus more on the social aspects and use mythology and faith to build their world. Faith is almost a soft science. It’s using psychology to build a framework for people to relate to each other in. So, it’s a little easier for readers to slide into than hard sci-fi. Urban fantasy fiction is even easier because those authors use the current world and tweak minor details to build from. There’s more middle ground, but those same social issues are there.
They use supernatural creatures, vampires and werewolves, the Salem witch trials to get you interested in the story. Or sometimes, they’ll choose young adult characters to tell their stories as they’re exploring this world through new eyes and fresh perspectives because that will sometimes add a level of awakening.
Using Reading to Influence Society
Reading science fiction and urban fantasy series doesn’t make you less of a reader, even though many will say that it does. If anything, I think it makes you more. It makes you more aware because the authors are challenging you to look at your world differently, to see things that others would prefer you ignore.
The authors you read aren’t always experts in the sciences they present. Sometimes they don’t know much about physics or the different types of drives needed to travel at light speeds. They might not know what’s it’s like to be a private detective, or be on an actual police force.
Living in our society, however, doesn’t mean you need to know any of that. They might not be able to talk about certain things on Facebook because of cancel culture, but they have the power to influence people into… being people. Even if you’re just reading witch fiction or supernatural thriller books or some really amazing science fiction, the characters are giving you a different perspective. The author is taking is you on a different journey, giving you experiences you might not have otherwise.
The books you read give you the ammunition to challenge the world around you. So, when you’re picking up your next great book to read, think about what your soul needs. Does your soul need character connection? A little bit of romance? Fuel to fight social injustice? Hope? The power to rise up against a personal oppressor?
The authors you read are giving you those tools from words fed from their own souls. Read on and be empowered to shape the world around you into a world you’re content to live in.
Authors Realizing Their Social Power
I don’t know if all authors even realize they have this superpower. It really became apparent to me as Shane and I were writing Whiskey Witches Para Wars. We were writing about a civil war that started because of social inequality, something our nation and our world have been fighting for centuries. It wasn’t a political statement. It was the shake-up that needed to happen so I could write the Whiskey-verse the way I wanted.
But… I realized while writing it that I was connecting to people on the far-far right and to people on the far-far left. They both thought I was writing their story. We are fighting each other in our homes, schools, friend groups, Facebook groups… everywhere and we’re saying similar things. I don’t quite get them all. Like, I don’t quite understand how people I see as being racist think my war for racial equality is their fight too, but… I’m still connecting with them. There has to be a connection at some point. Maybe we’re not as divided as we think we are.
And maybe if both sides see just how damaging a potential war – which, btw, I’ve been researching my freaking fingers to the freaking bones and I’m pretty sure I’m on all the FBI watch-lists now, but I still don’t know how “real” my scenario even is – can be if we don’t find some middle ground really damn fast. We need to be able to reconnect with people.
What we’re living through now, if we don’t take personable action, will adversely affect the generations to come. The ideas I put in Para Wars are not the solution.
They’re fodder. The solution will be found by those emboldened to read what the Whiskeys have done and figuring out how to do things better.