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57

Without reading the other answers, my answer is that your premise is fine as long as you set the contract with the reader. The reader is fine with your premise if you do not promise a science-based story. Imagine this. Imagine you start your novel with the story of the navel-lotus of Vishnu. Or the bush that burned but was not consumed, of YHWH. Or the ...


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. ...


46

One comment he repeated several times was that parts of my text sounded "too conversational." I think meant that I didn't sound professional or academic enough. You'd be better off asking for clarification instead of guessing at the meaning. He also suggested revisions that increased the word count and complexity of the sentences without adding any ...


40

Spiderman was bitten by a spider and developed spider-like abilities. Superman is from a different planet and afraid of a glowing rock, even if this human-like creature can shoot lasers from his eyes. The Incredible Hulk is... Hulk... If you are looking for a non-comic example take a look at the Metro series. Post-apocalpyse after the nuclear war. ...


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 ...


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 ...


26

No, people won't say that, not even full time working scientists (like me). I know a great deal about genetics; I've published academic articles about it. That did not prevent me from enjoying the TV series "Heroes" for several seasons. Supposedly, their super-powers were due to "genetic mutations" (including immortality, time-travel, psychokinesis, ...


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 ...


22

I'll start with something of a confession - I've been (and often still am) a supervisor who suggests changes to technical reports, instruction manuals and guides to functions which appear to have been written in a conversational style. It's worth mentioning that there's a huge grey area between obscure and conversational language. In some cases it's as ...


22

Remember that 100% of what is in your book is there because you want it to impact the reader in one way or another. Nothing absolutely has to be in there except what you choose. If it isn't serving the story, and your aims as a writer, yank it out. With that in mind, let's examine what you're trying to do with these problematic sections: Maybe it's ...


21

I kept coming back to this passage in your question I keep feeling the need to explain everything in hyper detail Please, consider just not to. There's a saying along the lines of that the author's ability to use magic is inversely proportional to the level of detail to which that magic is defined or explained. To a first order approximation, we can ...


21

There is no need to justify your explanation scientifically. But. You must not, under any circumstances try to scientifically justify anything else. In effect, by making a scientifically implausible claim to establish your world, you've shifted from SF to fantasy. However, fantasy does not have to include unicorns or vampires, or anything else. Just ...


17

"Scientific plausibility" can be tempered by exoticism, time, and distance. It can also be flatly ignored because it's just a plot convenience, or substituted as a metaphor for the real story you are telling. "This technology is so exotic that we barely understand it ourselves!" The technology's narrative role is that it pushes credibility, or is difficult ...


15

You have another problem, if you solve that, you solve this. How did we figure out it was quantum computer activity that signaled them? If this is told omnisciently or from the alien POV, you have no problem: Alien #1: "A sustained trans-universe anomaly in sector 37. Quantum computing detected. Exceeding 100 qubits in total." Alien #2: "...


15

If you watch enough Star Trek (at least the good series... the bad ones tend to do groan worthy stuff that makes no sense) you'll find that the "Royal Smart Person" will rattle off a string of technobabble and immediately follow it up with the "For the dummies in the back" analogy to something that's a bit more common for the people to understand. In the ...


14

What you're writing appears to me to be "science fiction". There are at least two kinds. Hard science fiction: Hard science fiction is a category of science fiction characterized by an emphasis on scientific accuracy. Soft science fiction: Soft science fiction, or soft SF, is a category of science fiction with two different definitions. It ...


12

When I wrote user manuals and so on, for A Big Company, they had a corporate style guide for technical writing. Part of it said to minimise the "reading age" or "grade level" of text: to maximise its readability. There was a tool, built-into the word processor software, to evaluate the text's complexity. It preferred shorter sentences. One reason it gave, ...


12

How should you respond? Take a careful and critical look at your own writing, and - in effect - do as your supervisor has suggested. We all get attached to our own writing, word choice, phrases, and so on. Writers (novelists) are often given the advice to root their favourite, overused phrases and kill them off. As far as academic/technical writing is ...


11

As a general rule, if there is any portion of your premise that you do not want your audience to concern itself with, you need only avoid bringing it up. This is especially true for fantasy and soft-sci-fi. We never got explanations for light sabers, the TARDIS, dilithium (handwavium) crystals, or infinity stones either; and that very restraint has ...


11

It's been decades since I was a kid watching cartoons on TV, and I can still sing some of the Schoolhouse Rock songs. Schoolhouse Rock, for those unfamiliar with it, was a series of short (2-3 minute) bits of educational programming interspersed among Bugs Bunny, Road Runner, Bullwinkle, et al. Each episode taught one concept -- math, grammar, US history, ...


11

I, personally, hate one of suggested approaches of "following it up with for the dummies in the back", which seems to be very popular in US-made works. It just screams: "Hey, reader, me, hero is smart and you and all those other characters around me are dumb, allow me to explain my brilliance to you, troglodytes!" It is especially painful if it follows with ...


10

I am a sci-fi guy, and I find this whole concept a little boring... it would be like if Robert Kirkman comes up with this explanation for the Walking Dead, would anyone in the audience really care? Does it even matter? People may not like this observation.. But there is a reason why the explanation of an apocalypse is NOT very important to the survivors. ...


9

Describe the effects, particularly where the effects in space without the presence of air resistance/friction differ from the familiar effects in an atmosphere where friction slows things down. Thucydides' answer to your question in Worldbuilding SE gave several possibilities, e.g. "Kinetic energy weapons will go until they run into something." Since your ...


9

As somebody that likes to play role playing games, I love it when the game gives me the option to read up on the lore. Some games do this very well, like the books you can read in the Elder Scrolls games. They're completely optional, so anybody that wants to read them can, but anyone that just wants to play the game can also do that. In case of a sci-fi ...


9

No. You can have unrealistic elements as parts of your premise but you need to introduce them to the reader as parts of your premise. Otherwise the reader will not understand your premise and things will go downhill from there. People do not generally care about lack of realism. What bothers them is not being able to understand what is going on. Realism or ...


9

The easiest way to show your technology fits science fiction is to have it break, and then get it fixed by an engineer with a spare part or something. More generally speaking, in the reader's mind it will be "technology" if it is treated like "technology". In particular, show it can break and needs to get fixed by some guy with a screwdriver. In that scene ...


8

I think we need to expand somewhat on @Galastel's answer. Specifically two concepts: Immersion and Suspension of Disbelief. Because that is what it boils down to, in my opinion. So. Immersion. This is about drawing people in, and keeping them drawn in. This can apply to games, stories, music, what have you. And what it essentially boils down to, is the ...


7

Consider incorporating your fine print into the body of the article. Nothing in your Fine Print section requires any special understanding of the science involved, or even a good understanding of how science proceeds. As a bonus: If you do that, you can drop the opening part of that section, which is about you, and not about the topic. If the authors' ...


7

Seek medical advice. Find a medical or health care professional who will answer your questions. If you can't figure it out from a book, find a doctor, nurse, EMT, etc. who is willing to sit down with you for half an hour.


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