Monday, May 20, 2013

Know how to use your tech.

Art by Internetnerdette
Some readers would argue they don't read punk fiction such as Cyberpunk and Biopunk because the read is so tedious it's not entertaining. Those readers were the victims of over-explanation, jargon and what I call "tech as a character."

Punk lit would be nothing without the technology weaved into the world created by the author. I would go as far as saying technology makes any punk world. While it may be the cogs and wheels of Steampunk, the neural connections of Cyberpunk or the recombined DNA strands of Biopunk - tech and the future of science is undeniably at the center of all punk genres.

Readers of punk fiction want to imagine the possibilities of future technology while being entertained; they want to believe humans will eventually be able to plug up their brain directly into virtual reality. But this cannot turn into an engineering manual. In order to buy it, the reader as to believe the tech has been mastered by the characters and is now completely organic to society, to the point where it is seen as an intrinsic element rather than just as an extrapolation. If it has been part of your character's world, your character won't feel the need to explain every detail of it.

You may be so brilliant that you would be able to explain your new tech to the minute detail, but beware that it may sound like a research report and thus break the believability of your concept. The reader will feel like you're trying too hard to explain your tech manipulation and be taken out of your story.

You want your story to be accessible to as many people as possible. You know what a precuneus is, you know everything there is to know about nucleobases or you could build your own steam engine in your backyard. While that is awesome, you don't need to show off in your story. Most readers won't know what you're talking about and they'll throw your book across the room or burn it.

You cannot use your tech as a crutch. You still need to instill your character's voice as well as a seamless plot. Don't forget you're telling a story, and for a story to happen you need well developed characters. Punk fiction is about a state of mind, a struggle, a point that is being made. If you focus so much on the technology and how cool it is, your characters will fall flat and the reader will wonder why they should keep reading? Technology is a tool to bring forth an atmosphere and plot twists, but in the end, the effects of it on your characters is what matters most.

You've got to weave the tech around the plot, weave the plot around the tech while injecting your character's voice. No easy task, but who said being a writer was easy?


  1. Love. THIS. That sums up my most recent issues with the book I'm currently reading - and makes me think of another one I never finished. This is such a great explanation of what can be a huge problem and also why it's a problem!

  2. You often find some great science fiction writers have a background in science :) Awesome article.