I think I’ve figured out what annoys me most in fiction. The people never change. The circumstances never change. And most of all, the real technology doesn’t change.
Let’s take the typical science fiction franchises, Star Wars and Star Trek.
Granted, the characters change in Star Wars – Darth Vader, for instance. I’ll admit that from the start.
Everything else is just a little too familiar. Both have space navies that have guns, artillery, and missile-like things. Both have pistols, and Star Wars has swords. Computers, robots, and all the familiar things you can see in everyday life. Nothing really groundbreaking.
Fantasy stories have fireballs, lightning bolts, invisibility cloaks, wands, things like that. All familiar, all overdone.
That doesn’t mean, however, the stories are bad. Don’t get me wrong. I like a good story, even if Sheriff Longmire will never grow as a person. There’s a comfort in that. And it’s hard to cast a TV series if a main character will be written out of the series after a dozen episodes. (Um, what about Death in Paradise?)
But there are stories that push things. Ian Douglas has a science fiction series with space marines where the technology changes so dramatically it’s hard to keep up. The computers, ships, weaponry, and characters all develop beyond what is easily recognizable. For fantasy, Modesitt doesn’t use the fireball spells like most in that genre.
That is an issue that will be affecting my writing as I progress. A series I have planned (Purple Crypt – see my previous post about fake names) must have technological improvements across ten thousand years.
Which reminds me: The Foundation Series.
From Caves of Steel through Foundation and Earth covers twenty thousand years. And they’re still using the same basic hyperspace technology? Computers have only advanced to the point where you still have to touch them to interact? Come on!
One author friends, Terry Hill, has some real groundbreaking science fiction. It’s not the typical phasers and light sabers and computers. Check him out.
Just some idle thoughts.