Friday, January 25, 2013

What makes great science fiction? Guest blog with Maria Hammarblad

What makes great science fiction?

In my opinion, there’s one basic premise that must be fulfilled to make an interesting story regardless of genre: it must make readers care what happens. Whether it’s science fiction, fantasy, a thriller, or something happening in a historical setting, the reader needs to be interested in the characters and their fate.

The forest can be immensely dark and scary, the palace vast with marble floors and tremendous chandeliers, or the spaceship engines so clever they could almost work, but if there aren’t any people there, who cares? I might stay up at night to imagine my own interplanetary drive, but I’m not likely to stay up reading about someone else’s. The hero in great peril is a completely different matter. In that situation I have to know if the heroine will arrive in time to save him, and with the character’s life at stake, logic dictating two in the morning is past my bedtime doesn’t stand a chance.

This sounds self-evident, but trust me, as a writer it’s really easy to get caught up in details. Also – in my opinion – this is where many science fiction authors stumble and fall headfirst. Sci-fi writers generally have a burning interest in science, the future, and space. If we didn’t, we’d be writing something else. This interest poses both a trap and an opportunity.

I know exactly what the spaceships in my books look like, I know what the worlds look like, how big a space station is in relation to the hero’s ship, and I have a general idea of how I want the ships and worlds to work. Most of my readers couldn’t care less. They want to know if the heroine will make it back home in spite of being abducted by a crazy murderer.

Here’s the thing though; whatever details about science and worlds make it into the finished story must be plausible. I’m not saying it has to be real or invented yet, but it must be somewhat credible. If nothing in the book sounds like it could be real, no one will believe it, and readers will lose interest without even knowing why they’re bored. If it does seem real, it can be both thought provoking and fascinating.

Remember I said the interest in science/future/space is both a trap and an opportunity? The interest will drive writers to learn more and perform actual research. Incorporating elements of reality will make a better story. On the other hand, it will also tempt writers to put too much theory in there. Everyone’s different, of course, but unless it’s woven into the story, page after page with details about imaginary artificial gravity would bore me to tears.

There’s much more to science fiction, of course. Many books offer provocative ideas, take readers to a dystopian future, show how new technology can impact our lives, or why not speculate in someone travelling back in time, changing history. The same basic ideas apply; whether gruesome or jolly, the story needs to be entertaining, and at least somewhat feasible.

High Gravity
Embarkment 2577, Novella 2
Maria Hammarblad

Genre: Scifi Romance

ISBN: 1456515128
ISBN-13: 978-1456515126
ASIN: B004HO673O

Number of pages: 131

Word Count: 28566

Purchase Links:

Book Description:

In this second novella in the "Embarkment 2577" series, the story picks up shortly after it left off in "Brand New World." The main character Alex has come to terms with her new life on a starship in the year 2577, and reluctantly won both respect and admiration for her actions during an alien attempt to conquer the ship.

Little does she know a number of new trials are about to shake her world. Besides encounters with alien species and an unexpected relative surfacing, a fatal navigation error will test her relationships with both her android lover and her friends.

Brand New World
Embarkment 2577, novella 1
Maria Hammarblad

Genre: Scifi Romance

ISBN: 1456338366
ISBN-13: 978-1456338367
ASIN: B004HO630G

Number of pages: 128
Word Count: 29477

Book Trailer:

Book Description:

When Alexandra wakes up in an unknown environment, populated by a cat-like woman with a tail and a hologram of a rockstar, she knows she has to be hallucinating. Maybe she hit her head, or finally suffered that nervous breakdown. It doesn't get any better from finding out she died and was taken into the future by the elusive Adam, whom she can't remember, or from people telling her she's on a spaceship.

The last year or so is gone from her memory, and she has no choice but to try to adapt. As days go by, her new environment becomes more and more unnerving. She finds herself helpless, and completely dependent on a man who isn't even human.

"Brand New World" is the first novella in the "Embarkment 2577" series.

Author Bio:

Born in Sweden in the early 1970's, Maria showed a large interest for books at an early age. Even before she was able to read or write, she made her mom staple papers together into booklets she filled with drawings of suns and planets. She proudly declared them, "The Sun Book." They were all about the sun. She also claimed, to her mother's horror, that her being on Earth was a big mistake and that her alien family would come and bring her home at any moment. This never happened, but both the interest in space and the passion for bookmaking stayed with her.

As an adult Maria's creativity got an outlet through playing bass in a number of rock bands, and through writing technical manuals and making web pages for various companies and organizations. She did write drafts for a few novels, but the storytelling muse was mostly satisfied through role playing online on Myspace. It was here, while writing stories together with people from around the globe, she stumbled onto Mike. They started talking out of character, and she moved over to Florida to him late 2008. Today the two are married and live in the Tampa Bay area with three rescue dogs.

Besides writing and playing bass, Maria enjoys driving off-road, archery, and Tameshigiri.

Upcoming releases

Flashback, to be released by Desert Breeze Publishing June 2013
Operation Earth, to be released by Desert Breeze Publishing August 2013
Borealis XII, to be released by Desert Breeze Publishing November 2013

Fun Facts

Favorite color:              Blue
Favorite food:               Chicken with cashew nuts
Doesn't eat:                  Mammals
Favorite TV Show:        Star Trek TNG and Leverage
Favorite animal:            Border Collie
Quotes:            "Full Speed Ahead" and "Caffeine is good for you"

Find Maria on the web




Twitter:                        @mariahammarblad


Publisher's website:


Kaye Manro said...

Hi Maria! Great article. You hit it right on with:

"Sci-fi writers generally have a burning interest in science, the future, and space. If we didn’t, we’d be writing something else. This interest poses both a trap and an opportunity."

It is always nice to connect with other authors who are writing in the same genre.

Your books sound great. And congrats on all the future books with Desert Breeze!

Anonymous said...

thanks for share..