Hey you PUNKS! Subgenres in Sci Fi

Calling all you punks out there!
So, if you haven’t delved into the world of punk sub-genres, you’re definitely missing out. I recently finished a Cyberpunk short story that will be published in an anthology coming next month, and it was really fun.
Like all of my writing it’s probably lame, but it was still fun.
So let’s talk about some punk sub-genres.

1. Cyberpunk

According to Wikipedia, the foremost scholarly site on any subject (yeah right), “Cyberpunk is a postmodern and science fiction genre noted for its focus on “high tech and low life.”

Basically the internet rules everything and no one is really happy.

Wow. I just realized what that means. We all live in a Cyberpunk novel. Anyway.

It usually centers around characters who have to deal with the most ridiculously sad situations, and stand up to large corporations or government entities that want to control every aspect of society. There’s lots of cool technology, and the imagination can run wild.

Reference works: ‘Neuromancer’ by William Gibson, ‘Blade Runner’ the movie, which was adapted from Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and the anime series ‘Ghost in the Shell

2. Steampunk

Back to our source for everything, Steampunk ‘involves a setting where steam power is widely used—whether in an alternative history such as Victorian era Britain or “Wild West“-era United States, or in a post-apocalyptic time —that incorporates elements of either science fiction or fantasy.’

It’s pretty cool stuff. I recently got some positive feedback on Facebook and Twitter, so I will be writing some stories in this genre. I think I like it so much because of the many machines. In Cyberpunk everything is cybernetic and runs on information, in steampunk, everything seems like it took a little more engineering because it runs on steam and fire. Lots of gears and clockwork, lots of trains, and oh yeah lots of airships.

That’s right, a staple of this genre are ships that run on steam, and they float in the sky instead of the ocean. Love it.

Reference works: ‘The Wild Wild West’ film featuring Will Smith and Kevin Kline (save your bad comedy comments, I’m just giving stylistic examples), ‘The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’ graphic novels and film, ‘Final Fantasy VI and IX’ are also good examles (video game)

Side note: This sub-genre also spawned several sub-sub-genres (?) including dieselpunk and clockpunk.

I know it’s weird, but trust me you’ll like it. And those of you who already do like it will agree with me I’m sure.

3. Mystery Science Fiction

It’s exactly what it sounds like.

I wrote a short story recently, and tried to make it a murder/mystery set in a Cyberpunk world. The problem was that I ran out of room! I was shooting for 5000 words, and i went over by about six or so, but instead of a ‘mystery’ it was more of a ‘noir/detective’ thing. Don’t get me wrong, it was still great to write. But Mysteries require lots of words, so shoot for a novel.

Reference Works: ‘I, Robot’ by Isaac Asimov and the movie adaptation with…Will Smith…, he must really like punk sub-genres cause Robotis pretty Cyberpunk too, and my friend Nick Thacker has written a novel entitled ‘The Golden Crystal’. It’s a mystery/thriller and incorporates elements of Sci Fi as well. I got to beta read it and I loved it.

So who’s up for writing some sub-genre stuff? I’ve been at it, and I want to do more. Let me know what you’re working on, and I will definitely keep you posted on my stuff.

Novel Ideas

Let’s talk about novel writing today.
I know, I know.

Writing a novel is HARD. I did it. I was a mess. And my novel is probably really bad. I mean i know it’s bad but it’s probably really bad.

But I won’t know until my beta-readers are done with it.
Anyway, I want to talk a little about the process. Obviously there are tons of books out there that can help you, but hey, they cost money. This will help you get started, then you can move to the more in-depth books.

1. Idea

Duh, right? Ok, so you need an idea for a story. My friend Nick Thacker, another author who I reference often, has a great post over at K.M. Weiland’s blog Word Play about writing your novel in two sentences here. It goes through how to choose a protagonist and a conflict to set up your novel. It’s a good map for getting started.

2. Ending

The second thing that can help you with your novel is knowing how you want the story to end. I started writing my novel with no end in mind, and the story just went wild. With nowhere to aim, I literally fired into the air and eventually hit something. It was brutal. Having an ending in mind will help shape your story.

3. Cast

The protagonist is important, but the cast as a whole is what makes a story great. Think about it. Who are the most memorable characters from Star Wars: A New Hope? Han Solo and Chewebacca, supporting cast members for that movie. R2-D2 and C-3PO, also supporting cast.

Now go to Star Trek: The Original Series. Scotty, Uhura, and Chekov are all supporting cast, but they are beloved characters. They were so vital to the series, that they could have whole stories revolve around them, but they were still supporting the main trio of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy.

Firefly. The argument could be made that the entire cast is in a supporting role and the protagonist shifts from episode to episode. This is mainly due to Joss Whedon’s expertise in writing ensemble casts. Dude is a genius. If you don’t believe me, watch Firefly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the Avengers movie.
I hope these three things will get you started. I know that they would have helped me greatly when I wrote my first novel. I’m currently working on a second, we’ll see if they help. Keep writing!