91

I will disagree with others. I am a professor involved in AI, and the easiest way for you to think about a super-AI is to understand what Intelligence IS. Predictive power. Intelligence is the ability to discern patterns (in behavior, in sound, visually, by touch, even by smell) and use those patterns to predict other facts or high probabilities: What will ...


50

Generally, @MichaelKjörling and @HenryTaylor are right. Let me, however, look at the issue from a slightly different perspective. If you explain something, it has to make sense. If you don't explain, it can be accepted as a black box. Consider, for example, Asimov's Robot series. The robots have a "positronic brain", and obey the Three Laws of Robotics. ...


47

You only need to present as much information as is necessary for the plot. Let's use the classic SF technology, Faster Than Light travel. If all it's doing in terms of the plot is moving the characters from A to B, no further elaboration is necessary. On the other hand, if the method is important, you need to get into it more. To use an example I've read ...


45

To be honest, your question has me scratching my head a little. You've described your character as a person with no qualms about manipulating others, all while putting on a sweet face to the outside world. Whether or not you as the author explicitly state the MC's mental disorder at the end of the book, by including scenes in which she lies, cheats and ...


40

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. - Arthur C Clarke There's a reason that science fiction and fantasy are frequently shelved together - separating the two is usually a fools errand. The Dragonriders of Pern features a preindustrial society where flying, firebreathing, teleporting, and telepathic dragons defend the ...


37

I don't find anything wrong with your explanation per se. You have a range of options as how to best present it, and what works depends on your aims: Don't explain it at all: This is a legitimate choice, especially if you're sticking close to the POV of the humans, and they (we) never figure it out. Give it a brief, non technical explanation: ("Great ...


37

Finish the story. Don't worry about the word count. When it comes time to do revision, rewriting, and editing you can look at ways of possibly splitting it into two or more volumes. Stories need satisfying endings. They're what sells the reader on reading your next book. Sell them short shrift and they won't be back. You will only be able to find the ...


35

That Star Wars crawl is affectatious nonsense. It is there for the same reason Harrison Ford's voice-overs were in the original cut of Blade Runner. They borrowed a stylistic element from Old Hollywood to signal to the audience the retro-inspired framing of the story. It is communicating information, but it's not an infodump. It's communicating style and ...


34

A little before Einstein's time, people were saying there's no sense in going into physics, since almost all the questions have already been answered, we understand everything that can be understood, there's only one or two unanswered issues, and those are going to be solved soon. Then came Einstein and his Relativity Theory, and we discovered there's a lot ...


31

You appear to be a nonfiction or science fiction writer, attempting to create a work of fantasy. In either of the former disciplines, critics will come out of the woodwork to spotlight every inaccuracy. In the later, the call of logic is a little more complex and the criticism more subtle. In fantasy literature, consistency trumps factual truth. Your ...


31

To directly answer your question: The role of the supernatural in hard science fiction is that it doesn't exist. Period. There are no shades of grey to the laws of physics. You can't say "this one location is the Space Bermuda Triangle" or "this one alien race defeats time with their brain" and still claim that you are writing hard sci-fi. This is the old ...


30

Just because The Crunch happens doesn't mean that your protagonists all lose. Yes, the obvious antagonist is The Crunch. But is that all your heroes are fighting? Is that all they're striving for? All your heroes are facing imminent doom. That does things to people. They may lose faith, or gain it (the religious folks — and they can have diverse ...


28

It isn't science fiction, it is just Contemporary fiction, aka Realistic fiction. A Science Fiction story must rely heavily on some non-existing tech or some reasonably plausible guess at a futuristic development; like being visited by aliens, or discovering them. In some scenarios (about the future, or space operas, etc) there is a lot of this; in others ...


26

First, it appears that your character is a parasite, not a virus. Viruses are mostly about replicating and spreading to more and more hosts. Your character seems to simply move from one host to another. As far as the writing, it is all about actions and motivations. What does the main character want to do and how far is it willing to go to accomplish ...


26

I think you may be thinking a little too hard about things as the writer. Instead look at things from your characters' perspectives. Unless you're writing an engineer or someone actually building X, they probably won't actually know how it works. Heck, even an engineer building X would only know about the tiny portion they actually work on. The rest is ...


26

This is literary science-fiction. I identified it by taking the genre it definitely must fit in, and then looking for a commonly used, readily understood modifier that subtracts the "gee whiz" elements of the genre, and adds in what for-lack-of-a-better-word we might call more "literary" qualities. It is a well-known, critically acclaimed, and reasonably ...


25

Read, read, read, read. The only way to learn words is to ingest them, to feed on them. The only place where to look is books. Read a lot of different authors, styles, genres, ages. The more words and expressions you put in your head, the more you can use them in your writing. Every time I wrote something, I realized I was heavily influenced by the things ...


25

You definitely don't pad. If you are starting with plot, it sounds as though you may not be getting into the characters as much as you might need to. Here's an idea: Take your favorite Crichton book. Write a quick outline (one page) of what happens in the book: Ex: Jurassic Park : My quick outline off the top of my head: Kids go to island, dinosaurs ...


25

I would say, you don't get off on a technicality when it comes to readers, so whether you are explicit in telling them it is scifi, or aliens are spaceships or super-high-tech, is all immaterial. If you expect them to figure it out, then it is not different than if you told them. Just because your characters have no concept of aliens living on other worlds ...


25

I think what's tripping you up is the idea that your male characters need to be characters that could not possibly be female. This probably comes from traditions of valuing what men do and devaluing what women do. So many women aspire to do "male" things. Showing them succeed at that can be a way of showing their uniqueness. But very few men aspire to do ...


23

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. This is my understanding of the law. (a) You can't copyright a name. By definition, using the same name as someone else's character is not a copyright violation. (b) You can TRADEMARK a name. But in this case I think the authors of this French comic you refer to -- sorry, I never heard of it before just now -- would have a ...


23

If their appearance doesn't matter to the story, then there's no need to bring it up. But if it does matter, the story can be confusing if you don't explain, and it can seem like cheating if you don't bring it up until the instant when it becomes relevant. For example, if you never describe George physically, and then half way through the book you suddenly ...


23

You don't need to label your characters for the reader. And you shouldn't. Just describe them as they are, and as they act, and let the readers make their own decisions about them. The main character of The Talented Mr. Ripley is a charming, likeable sociopathic killer. The writer doesn't need to spell this out, you see it in his actions. The same is true ...


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