I owe Rudy Rucker a lot for his instantiation of wetware, a concept I used as a Leitmotif in every class I taught in the last 6 years at W&L. In today’s blog posting he links to his Writer’s Toolkit, which looks like it’s an education in itself. Just yesterday I was unpacking a box of scifi books and stumbled on Freeware, and thought how it would be worthwhile to reread the whole -ware series, and now I have a pony for that project. Here’s a bit from what he calls “my ever-growing cumulative email interview“:
Science fiction is writing that analyzes some fast-changing aspect of society by extrapolating current trends into the future or into an alternate world. Traditionally science fiction has certain standard tropes that it uses, but new ones are being developed all the time — I’m thinking of things like blaster guns, spaceships, time machines, aliens, telepathy, flying saucers, warped space, faster-than-light travel, holograms, immersive virtual reality, robots, teleportation, endless shrinking, levitation, antigravity, generation starships, ecodisaster, blowing up Earth, pleasure-center zappers, mind viruses, the attack of the giant ants, and the fourth dimension. I call these our ‘power chords,’ analogous to the heavy chords that rock bands use.
When a writer uses an SF power chord, there’s an implicit understanding with the informed readers that this is indeed familiar ground. And it’s expected the writer will do something fresh with the trope.