Saturday, July 22, 2006

So what kind of SF is it?

I was reading a thread on the SF forum at sffworld this morning where someone asked why the fantasy forum on the same site had 5 or 6 times the visitors and discussion. Was fantasy really that much more popular?

Someone made a good point (I've lost the exact post) when they said readers know what they're getting when they embark on a fantasy trilogy. Within a page or two they're up to speed, and from there it's just a matter of how the good guys beat the bad guys, and what the bad guys get up to along the way. Sure, there are other kinds of fantasy, but if the cover has a bloke with a sword or a castle or a warrior princess on horseback or whatever you're pretty well set.

Science fiction, on the other hand, is much more open. You might be picking up a book with exhaustive scientific detail, written to explain the author's theory that the universe is really three parallel planes in one. Or it might be a bug hunt with big guns and chesty babes. (And don't rely on the cover - more than one universe-theory author has received the first copies of their latest tome, eagerly opened the package, and then stared in horror at the chesty babes and laser guns on the cover. Blame the marketing dept for trying to shift books.)

Hal Spacejock is at the bugs 'n' guns end, science wise, but the characters have all the morals of the dodgy geezers from the TV series Minder - without the cockney slang.

There's hardly any violence in Hal, though. No sex or swearing either, and if you think it'd be hard to write a funny book without those three mainstays you're right. I play on incompetence, tricky situations and overconfidence a lot, and there's enough dialog(ue) for a whole radio series.

To get a feel for the style, you can read chapter one of both books online. Just see the Hal Spacejock website. I had to convince my publisher it was a good idea to put them online, so please make use of them.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

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