Let’s Talk About Science Fiction

You will find my novels at http://www.lulu.com. Just search for Peter Maida.


This is a link to my story “Meeting at Alpha Centauri”.  It is the first in my “Solarian Defense Directorate” series.  Read it and let me know what you think of it.

I do most of my writing in the science fiction genre; frankly, I simply find it fun to write science fiction.  Science fiction is the genre of imagination.  You can let your thoughts run wild and come up with the craziest versions of reality.

You can categorize science fiction many ways.  Some like to break it into hard science and soft science.  Hard science is for people who really now what they’re talking about.  They are the people that put actual real science and theoretical science into their stories.  Isaac Asimov could do that.  He not only wrote some of the best science fiction ever, he also wrote great non-fiction science books.

I am a soft science fiction writer.  I avoid the hard science of space travel by setting the stories far enough in the future to use classic science fiction items such as hyper-drive and anti-matter propulsion.  I guess I’m more about the fiction and less about the science.  Many of my stories contain very little science.  Even in the “The Teacher,” when Selessian Argos 47 is teaching the Irish scientists about force fields and cold fusion, I don’t not have any scenes where he is explaining any real detail.  It’s more about what is going on around the instruction.  It’s about the protagonists and antagonists that clash along the way, and it’s about a friendship that survives all of it.

In my novel “500 Years from Home,” a ship full of colonists find themselves lost in space and time.  They were in cryogenic sleep for almost 500 years and they’re 47 light years from home.  Getting them home, back where they belonged, was a long process that was helped by the Space/Time Vortex or STV.  The STV and its explanation are prime examples of the use of techno-babble in a story.  The STV is a weakness in space caused by gravitational conditions in certain location in deep space.  Of course it’s total bologna but it works to move a ship backward in time.  That is one of many examples of techno-babble that I use in my stories.

I did get a little real science for “The Teacher.”  My good friends John and Barb Sciortino helped me with that.  Barb is my co-author of “The Teacher” and her husband John is a PhD physicist and he told me the likely way a space ship would detect a civilization on Earth from light years away and I used it in the story.

Another category of science fiction is speculative science fiction.  This is an area that I really enjoy.  The is the “What if” science fiction and it is great fun to think about.  There have been some great stories written based on some classic “What ifs.”  What if the south won the civil war, what would America be like today?  What if the Axis won World War II, what would the world be like?  What if American never gained independence from Britain,  what would our culture have become?  The speculations are endless and they don’t have to be about big things.  You can dig into a major event and pick out a smaller event.  For example I have written about the significance of Cinco de Mayo for Americans.  If the Mexicans did not turn the French back on May 5, 1862, the French planned to set up a supply line through Mexico and into the United States.  They would have supplied the Confederacy with all the weapons and equipment they needed.  That would have given the Confederacy the one thing they lacked to win the war, good equipment.  With good equipment the Confederacy would likely have won and our world would be quite different.

Another thing that is commonly done with science fiction is to take an issue of the day and put it in different context and let people see it in a new light.  The original Star Trek episode, “Your Last Battlefield” was about two aliens locked in mortal combat based on race.  This aired in the last 60’s during the riots in our cities.  The characters were pure white on one side of their bodies and pure black on the other.  Loki was white on his right side and Beal was black in his right side.  On their planet of Sharon, Loki’s people dominated and the continual wars eventually destroyed the planet.  It seemed silly for people whose only difference was what side of their face was white or black would destroy themselves, and the hope was for people to think it was silly for people of that time to fight over the color of their skin.  I throw little issues into my science fiction now and then.  The first story of my series, “The Solarian Defense Directorate”, “Meeting at Alpha Centauri” brings up the issue of discrimination based on appearance.  Most people have been a victim and a perpetrator of that discrimination.

That’s my take on science fiction.  Tell me what you think of science fiction.  Do you like it, do you hate?  If you like science fiction, read “Meeting at Alpha Centauri” and tell me what you think. Let me know.


Pete is a retired software developer, a writer, and a martial arts instructor. He lives in Maryland with his wife Cathy and they are enjoying their retirement. Pete is the author of four novels, "The Teacher", 500 Years from Home", and "The Long Journey Home" are available at Lulu.com; and "Pioneers" in available at the Kindle Book Store.

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