Grav. Attraction Launch Party – How Much To Tell?

July 21, 2014


Exposition in Science Fiction. Yes, it’s an odd topic and it rhymes, but try not to get scared off yet. It’s one of the things that causes SF writers the most angst and anguish. SF, by definition, discusses things that could be, that might be, possibilities, and probabilities. Stuff that hasn’t happened yet or hasn’t been invented/discovered/fully theorized yet.


Master storytellers like Ray Bradbury were criticized for not enough exposition, not enough science, leaving too much unsaid and to the imagination (heaven forefend!) SF geeks like their science. Kinda follows, eh? But if you go to the other end of the spectrum, we have brilliant scientific minds like Arthur C. Clark. Astounding, prophetic thinker, someone who understood the universe better than perhaps the universe itself does. As a storyteller? Often dry as dust. The reader needed constant rehydration just to get through some of the chapters, long, never ending passages of nothing but exposition.


So we walk a fine line writing SF. Don’t think about the science enough, and you have fluff, worse than space opera. It becomes stripped and empty of everything that makes it SF and you might as well make it into a contemporary romance because the spaceships are just backdrop. Think about the science too much? Lose the average reader. Fast.


So when I wrote Gravitational Attraction, it was with mixed feelings that I cut out the detailed explanations of how the GEM (gravito-electromagnetic) interstellar drive worked, as well as bits about how lumanium was discovered and certain detailed aspects of life on T’tson. Important to me in understanding the created universe? Yes. Important to the story? *scuffs foot on the carpet* Probably not.


If you’re not a writer, creating universes in your head is often called schizophrenia. So long as you keep up the appearance that you know the inner universe is pretend, no one tries to have you committed. But, ye gods, the more you build, the more real it becomes. Brave new universe, that has such aliens in’t. Which, when you get down to it, is really the point of any fiction. If writers don’t believe, what charlatans we become trying to convince the reader they should.


7 Responses to “Grav. Attraction Launch Party – How Much To Tell?”

  1. H.B. says:

    I totally agree with how much to tell. I was reading Jack Campbell’s Lost Fleet series and at the first book he was losing me fast because the details aspects of space battle.

  2. Sula says:

    Sorry I have my teachers hat today, another myth story for you :)

    Well one typically British saying, based on Gaelic folk myths, is that day dreamers are often said to be ‘Away with the fairies’. The myth almost compares to abduction by aliens as the folklore story links to kidnap by the Sidhe (a supernatural clan of fairies) where you were taken to another world, equivalent to contemporary science’s notion of a parallel dimension. The victim would then return after what seemed like a few hours only to find that many years had passed in the world of humans.

    Going back to story writing and Science Fiction I tended to move towards the fantasy side as you were more likely to get a romance in the story but thanks to books like yours I am going back to science fiction more.

  3. Some of my favorite space battles, and she manages to keep the tech but still make it gripping, are the ones from Lois Bujold :D

  4. Oh, Ms. Sula, come visit me in my Endangered Fae books – we got a whole lot of sidhe going on! I love them both SF and Fantasy – and I’d never give one up for the other, but I do think I expect different things of them.

  5. H.B. says:

    Thank you for the suggestion. I’ll have to give her books a read.

  6. Susan says:

    The great thing about having a blog is that you can post all the back story you want there so geeks like us can revel in it!

  7. Yes! It’s such enormous fun! And I have lots of it, mwahahaha!

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