Daily Archives: November 9, 2011

Characters and Plot

The science fiction genre has often been accused, like much genre fiction, of being so focused on plot and setting that it actually becomes detrimental to character development. Indeed one of the criticisms often levied upon Isaac Asimov, one of the greatest and most prolific sci-fi writers to ever live, is that many of his characters seem like mere caricatures. The old tired tropes seemed to be all sci-fi writers used for character stock: the damsel in distress, the heroic and righteous starship captain riding in to her rescue, thinly veiled xenophobia in the form of aliens that are just a little too human but “not,” etc.

Cyberpunk did a good bit to turn those tropes on their head. The razorgirl Molly Millions, for example, in Neuromancer is far from a damsel in distress. Case is far from heroic and righteous.

I like to think I have a good grasp on character development. I’m a student of the human condition, a watcher if you will. From my earliest years I absolutely loved people watching and still do to this day. Some psych classes in college gave me an even deeper understanding of the human condition, and honestly economics has a lot more to do with human behavior than most people realize. After all, the economy is a human construct: wealth, money, competitive advantage, inflation, etc. are all simply human concepts, thus the study of these concepts must necessarily involve understanding people and what makes them tick.

Science fiction can absolutely be literary, and I like to think I’ll have the ability to write “high brow” science fiction while melding it with the pulpy plot-driven aspects that many sci-fi fans truly love. At least that’s my goal. I guess I’ll have to get published and get some reviews to know if I can actually do that. ;)