Guest Post: Putting the Science in Science-Fiction by Leona Carver
I’m a technophile. I admit it. I don’t think I could hide it, anyway, as the evidence is splattered all over Piperlike a “pearl necklace” made of magnetic fields, vibratory frequencies, inertial equations, holographs, anatomy charts, and reallysticky quantum particles.
My name is Leona and I have a fetish for taking science fact and molesting it into science fiction. Thank you so much for letting me frolic in Boyland for the last stop on Piper‘s blog tour, following World of Diversity Fiction [link: http://sean-norris.com/]. If there are a few less babes here after I’ve gone, it wasn’t me, I swear.
When I was first thinking about rewriting a fairy tale, I challenged myself to set the narrative in a very different world from whence it originated. So I chose The Pied Piper, from sixteenth century Germany, and hurled it into space. This ended up working exceedingly well for me because I was able to explain the piper’s extraordinary abilities using technology. So says Arthur C. Clarke, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,” and this applied quite nicely to Piper.
My favourite science fiction novels and movies leave me thinking, “Is that possible? Will that be possible? Is that a thing right now?” In the very best of them, the fiction is nearly indistinguishable from the fact. The masters seem to be able to weave the two together tightly enough that any reader without intensive knowledge in the subject field really can’t tell. Even when the audience knows that the technology does not exist, I believe that really good science fiction will encourage and inspire their audiences to invent it. The most common analogy today would be smart phones and Star Trek gadgets. It won’t be long before we have devices with all of those functions and then some.
I mention this to explain my fanaticism about the details in Piper. I am very fortunate that an aerospace engineer is
indentured married to me and verified the mathematics and physics. He ensured that my story setting wouldn’t tear itself apart, spin itself into Wolf 359, or make the characters fly around without gravity.
Here’s a tidbit of information for anyone who has or will read Piper: Technically, the Ham Lin should be much larger than I portrayed it in order for the gravity to be as strong as it is. For reasons of plot and to keep the page count down, I decreased the station’s size and accepted the blow to the world’s realism. So, other than one or two deliberate inaccuracies, the science is fairly solid, at least for the nitty gritty of the space station, the ships, the suits, and even some of the computations.
When it comes to the particular mechanism by which pipers control their audiences … well, I’m astounded to admit that I didn’t have to push the boundaries of science too far. It’s amazing what little tricks that sound waves and vibrations can do in real life, like holding a ball in midair, heating and cooling, and stimulating the circuitry of the brain. I started writing with the thought that I was verging on fantasy, but then found out that Piper is coming perilously close to science fact. Give it a few hundred years, and we may very well be able to create frequencies that could shake apart the enemy’s stronghold or exert mind control.
do that to you,” he murmured. His eyes cast downward
and his fingers trailed over Jake’s stomach, followed by a
comet’s tail of gooseflesh. “I treated you like a rat. And
when your father said you were sick …”
No. No. He’s backing down.
“I was healing,” Jake filled in gently, carefully hiding his
lurch of disappointment. “Of course it hurt. But I turned
out fine. Better than fine.” He smiled. “It was a gift.”
“I was already enthralled.” Jake caught and held Atmos’
restless hand. “Look at me.” When dark eyes flicked up to
meet his gaze, Jake tried to silently communicate every
need, desire, and thought. “I am yours. I always have
been.” He brought Atmos’ fingers to his lips and pressed
kisses to each fine line.
Atmos watched him, teeth indenting his lower lip.
“What are you doing to me?” he sighed. “Tell me why I’m
willing to break all the rules for you.”
Jake laughed in soft relief. “All of them?” he asked
Atmosphere pulled away and shifted onto his knees to
straddle Jake’s hips. He collected his flute and rolled it in
his palms thoughtfully. After a heart-stopping moment, he
finally glanced up through his lashes and then leaned
forward. His lips next to Jake’s ear, he whispered, “Every
This blog tour has been all about the factors that made Piper what it is: the original fairy tale, the exploration and challenge of writing characters with varying abilities, cultural influences, sociopolitical world-building, and the science, both factual and fiction. Those factors create the situation, the people, and the locations for my protagonists, Atmosphere and Jacob, to encounter as they learn about each other and themselves in their fight to be together.
As I write about it here, I realize how important those are to me as a person, not just as a writer. They play a big role in the way I view the world, with perceptions shaped by tales of warning, focused on the colourful people around us, and deeply interested in the physical sciences.
I only touched on them briefly here, but I hope some of my passion for those topics and for Atmos and Jake shone through. There’s a lot more passion where that came from. I’ll be giving away a copy of Piper, either electronic or print format, at the end of this blog tour. Every comment on this and the other four posts will be another entry into the draw. I will write them onto little pieces of paper and put them into a legitimate top hat, pull one out on September 15, and email the winner.
Thanks so much for reading. Happy trails and comet tails, my friends.
To combat the voracious rats that have adapted to space age living, powerful resonance technology was developed and implemented by a League of pipers, who lure the rats out of hiding and send them into open space. Master Piper Atmosphere is the most talented piper in the League, but when he meets a young scientist in the course of his latest assignment, he finds himself caught in an entirely different kind of lure. His new relationship leads him to secrets of the resonance technology the League has carefully hidden—secrets worth killing for, and which drive him to dark, drastic measures of his own.
Buy Piper here!