Coming Attractions

The Podcast

First of all, thanks so much for keeping up with this blog even though posting has been sporadic. A lot of time goes into the podcast, taking away time to write stuff down here.

with that being said,

 

have you checked out our podcast?!

If you haven’t, you can find it on iTunes, The Silly Robots podcast, or the podcast website.

 

We’re working really hard to get great content, news, interviews, and all kinds of other things on there, and would appreciate it if you left us a review and rating on iTunes.

We have some great new episodes coming up, including a special Valentine’s day episode, a Deadpool movie review, more of our popular Not a Nerd Trivia series, and tons of other stuff.

Writing

Don’t worry, Will is still writing. He just finished the first chapter of a graphic novel, has submitted a few short stories to magazines, and is working on all sorts of other stories. Some of it will even be out before you know it.

Grant is also working on a few projects, as well as his wonderful sermon blog every week.

So stay tuned for all of that, and you can even get some free stories when you sign up for

 

Patreon

Yes yes yes…we have started a Patreon campaign. We are announcing it on this week’s podcast to go along with this post. And this week’s Valentine’s day episode is totally hilarious by the way.

 

But here’s what we’re asking:

We want you to partner with us so we can bring you even more incredible stuff. We love creating things and we love giving it away, and by partnering with us it will give us more time and resources for all of that stuff. And the packages for giving are pretty cool, giving you free stuff that isn’t available anywhere yet, plus some airtime and production experience. All in all this is a win win win, as Michael Scott would say, and we hope that you will partner with us in this endeavor. It starts at 5 bucks a month and offers some great incentives.

Well that’s everything going on here in Silly Robots land for the time being, thanks for reading and listening, and we hope to hear from you soon!

important links and stuff

Silly Robots Twitter

Silly Robots Facebook

Will’s Twitter

Grant’s Twitter

 

The Silly Robots Podcast

There’s a new thing in town. And by town I mean the internet. And by the internet I mean the thing that drives us all mad.

But I digress.

The Silly Robots Podcast is here, and we would love it if you would join us. Your hosts are Silly Robot Will and Silly Robot Grant, and we talk about lots of stuff. And things. We also have guests. You know, podcast stuff. The first episode is already up, and we will be publishing new episodes every Friday. Please subscribe! You can find us on iTunes, and also at our website.

Here’s a sneak preview of some of our upcoming episodes…

  1. Intro
  2. Interview with author Nick Thacker
  3. Music Review – The Dear Hunter: Act IV, Rebirth in Reprise/CHVRCHES Every open Eye
  4. Avengers: Age of Ultron Blu Ray review

Thanks for reading, now please go listen! You can also follow the show on Twitter and Facebook!

Have you picked up the latest book?

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Where Science Fact Meets Science Fiction

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know that the Silly Robot has a special place in his memory banks and emotion chip for the Hard Sci Fi genre. Authors such as Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, and John Scalzi permeate the way I think about science fiction and how it is written.

Lately I have ben frequenting io9.com, reading all sorts of interesting articles about all sorts of interesting things. The thing I love about io9 is their blending of science articles with a genuine love for science fiction. They intertwine sci fi into most of their articles about science, and do so in very informative and entertaining ways. I have gleaned several ideas for stories on their site, and I hope they continue to churn out content for years to come.

Creating Hard Science Fiction

Hard science fiction is special to me because science is a major part of the storyline. I have a degree in Agriculture, which basically means i have a degree in biology with a concentration on production, so being scientifically accurate is sort of ingrained into my being. I have scoured countless scientific journals for research facts, and doing so for fiction i write is commonplace. Weaving these facts into a work of fiction is accomplished in many different ways.

I love Arthur C. Clarke because of his use of science in his stories. They aren’t always the strongest plots, but the science is fascinating. I just have to keep reading and reading to find out what all of the gadgets do.

Heinlein tends to use science as a sociopolitical device in his stories. Artificial Intelligence running revolutions, exo suits driving a conquest, and Martian colonies causing a dramatic social revolution on Earth are a few ways he accomplishes this. Ideals are achieved through the use of technology and scientific proficiency.

Elements of Hard Science Fiction

HSF is usually associated with long paragraphs explaining tech and how it is used. John Scalzi has a fascinating few pages on his ‘skip’ drive in the novel Old Man’s War. And it actually adds a weird element to the story as he does it. It’s quite fascinating. And OMW is a really good book on top of it.

Most HSF stories take place in space, utilizing FTL propulsion and other theoretical technologies. The desire of the authors to stay scientifically relevant drives the universes their stories take place in. Some of them, Isaac Asimov comes to mind, even start a separate writing career in the non-fiction section of the bookstore. Robert Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke were even brought into the newsroom for the Moon Landing in 1969. Science permeated these mens’ lives, driving them to write the fiction they are so renowned for.

How To Do It

So what if you just like writing about some guy who galavants around the galaxy with a laser gun saving pretty girls?

Then HSF probably isn’t for you.

But if you want to write it, remember a few of these things:

Science

It’s all based on a desire to stick to facts and accepted theories. Find a theme and go with it.

Speculation

Sticking to facts doesn’t mean you can’t draw conclusions based on them. Does your FTL drive move the ship or the space around it? How does time factor into your story? Are there sentient species on other planets? All of these, and more, can shape your story.

Silliness

Have fun. Reading some of the guys that are dead then switching to guys that came after them is sometimes disheartening. They think HSF means that everyone is totally and completely serious about everything and nobody laughs. Heinlein makes all sorts of jokes in his writing, and Arthur C. Clarke has an entire story about two British freight pilots sneaking the prince aboard their vessel without the captain finding out.

That’s why I like John Scalzi. He’s a throwback to those guys without being a copy. Go read his books.

To Infinity and Beyond

If you want to write HSF, become a researcher. A true student who learns and adapts. Have fun in the facts. And most of all, write good stories.

Genre Mixing

I’ll be honest, Sci Fi is not the only genre I like.

And I will probably try to write something that is not in some sort of Sci Fi subgenre someday. But here’s a good question:

What if I could mix Sci Fi with another genre?
Well I certainly wouldn’t be an innovator.

I think Mel Brooks is a genius. He is a comedian, but his movies are comedy set in another genre. Blazing Saddles is a western, Spaceballs is Sci Fi, Young Frankenstein is horror. And yet they are all comedies.

So what if Science Fiction was the permeating undertone?

SPOILERS IF YOU CONTINUE!

 

Some of you may hate this, but I am a big fan of Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series. When I was in grade school, I read those books as fast as I could, seeing the planet Pern in my mind’s eye, wanting to be a dragon rider. But the most interesting thing to me was that in the end, these novels are not fantasy.

They’re Sci Fi.

McCaffrey had this whole world planned out with Dragons and a seemingly supernatural enemy set in what seems to be a feudal time period in the planet’s history. But we find out that that what actually happened was that a group of people came to Pern on spaceships and genetically engineered an indigenous species to create the Dragons. Eventually they uncover the original ship, a supercomputer, and tons of data about why they are on Pern.

In my young mind, Sci Fi and Fantasy were very much two different things.

I read Tolkien’s books and they were far different from Star Wars or Star Trek.

Harry Potter is not Blade Runner or The Matrix.

But I wasn’t paying attention to one of my other loves: Comic Books.

Comic books have a wonderful way of mixing Sci Fi and Fantasy.

Aliens who have powers bestowed by yellow sunlight are susceptible to magic. A Norse god fights alongside a suit of high powered armor with a supercomputer.
They do it pretty well too.

So here’s the big point for today:

 

Don’t be afraid to mix genres. Keep Sci Fi as your starting point, but don’t be afraid to throw in some Fantasy or Thriller elements. Maybe even delve into myths and legends to help complete your story. Make some genetically engineered fantasy creatures to use as an army force.

Don’t be a genre snob. Nobody likes that guy.

 

Anyway, keep writing.

My NaNoWriMo has taken a turn for the worse and I fear I won’t catch back up. But I’ll keep writing and trying. How are your projects going? Let me know.

I also have a guest post coming up at livehacked.com in November, and you should go check out the website and get some helpful tips for marketing your book.

Have a great week everybody, keep calm and Sci Fi

Comic Relief

Who likes the jokes?!?!?!
I likes the jokes!!!!!

 

Ok, let’s do something that’s a little more fun than being a ‘serious’ writer.

I tend to find the comedy in all situations. To quote my father, “Life is too serious to be taken seriously.” Therefore, I try to fit comedy into all of my writing, and consequently the rest of my life.

We see this all over Science Fiction too. Comedy permeates such episodes of Star Trek as ‘The trouble with Tribbles”, all of the Star Wars movies, Doctor Who, and the list goes on and on and on….

Comedy is what makes something likeable, loveable.

Case in point: Firefly.

Firefly has dramatic moments, political undertones, and all sorts of commentary on society, but do you know what sticks in my mind about the show?

Jayne’s hat. And Vera. And Mal’s whit.

The funny things.

And it’s no secret that ‘The Big Bang Theory’ is one of my favorite sitcoms. They take scifi comedy to the next level! (you can hate me for that, but the show is really funny and my wife loves it too. As with the card game Citadels…)
So let’s talk about jokes:

1. Make it appropriate

An out of context joke is like watching a train wreck. It’s terrible, but you can’t look away. So use the context to make a good joke. If you’re hero (or anti-hero) is stuck in a dire situation, a joke about a trip to San Francisco is in order. Or about never marrying. Or something like that. It’s funny.

2. Make it accessible

I have a wife, whom I adore. We have several inside jokes. If I make these jokes in my stories, NO ONE WILL KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT. If you have an inside joke with someone, it’s probably not ok for public consumption. Stay away from these things in your writing.
3. Other SciFi is always open for fun!

If you take yourself too seriously, you shouldn’t be an artist. Art, occasionally gets made fun of. Not always in a demeaning way. Take the show Castle. Nathan Fillion is the lead, he was also the lead in the aforementioned Firefly. In a Halloween episode of Castle, he dressed up as his character, Mal Reynolds, and even referenced his role in Firefly. There are several other things he’s done in reference to the show, but you get the idea. If we can learn to reference things in fun and not take it seriously, it will make everything funnier.

4. Make fun of yourself

Make fun of what you’re writing inside of the story. I wrote a terrible novel and in it I make fun of some of the ideas that I present. Because they’re ridiculous! If I can’t make fun of my ridiculous ideas, then they aren’t worth writing down. Learn not to take yourself so seriously. I love hard scifi, but sometimes it gets on my nerves and I have to stop reading or watching. Laughter directed at your own work can be a wonderful thing!

 

I hope this helps you out a little. I know that being able to laugh at myself and other things is a great joy, and it makes me actually like writing. So let’s all start laughing!