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Is a force field strictly for sci-fi?


JosiAtara
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I toyed with the idea of a device that can set off a temporary force field in my book. My husband said that my book isn't that sci-fi (it's speculative fiction with superhumans, but I'm keeping it slightly more realistic so there's no flying, fire shooting, etc). I mentioned that comment to my neice and she agreed and said, "if readers see a forcefield, they'll expect certain other sci-fi stuff." When I asked what they would expect, she couldn't tell me.

 

I personally feel the way I designed it is within realistic limits of my world, and I might use it anyway.

 

So I'm looking for opinions and clarification. If you read a book with a force field (it's not huge, it has limitations, it only covers maybe 2 people, and they are VERY LIMITED), will you expect other sci-fi stuff, and if so, what?

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Guest Spaulding

I'd be shocked if it was sci-fi. I don't read sci-fi.

 

But I am still hoping for the flying cars or flying devices promised in the beginning of the 21st century.

 

My high school math class had a mini-main frame in a windowed room behind the class. My math teacher said people could buy a computer for their desks within 10 years. It was 1974.

 

And I don't even think Al Gore could imagine the Internet as it is today.

 

Assuming your story is set in the not-too-distant future, it seems like a reasonable invention. Sure beats taking defensive classes like we're supposed to today. Any chance it keeps the rain out too. Cool umbrella.

 

I suspect when someone reads the rest, they may be surprised, but they won't assume sci-fi.

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1 hour ago, suspensewriter said:

But still, I think you might add a few more sci-fi just to make your readers happy.  There are certain expectations that readers have. 

 

This is where I'm at a loss. What expectations will readers have? If forcefields=sci-fi, what else are they hoping to see?

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I think the author gets to set the tone and expectations at the story's start. If you throw the force field in on page three, then yes, many readers will expect strange gadgetry but if you want a more realistic world, then set the mood by initially showing one. If being a superhuman is rare and abnormal and one character is hiding their "abnormality," there's a different mood than one in which they're as common as sports fans.

 

James Michener's novel, Space is by all practical purposes, alternate reality SciFi, set in the days of the Apollo lunar program, and which later showcases a disastrous mission that never happened to land a crew on the far side of the moon. Yet it's a Michener novel, rather than any standard SciFi of the day. It's still SciFi, but chooses to go its own way, and does it spectacularly.

 

It begins and sets its mood with interesting characters, in a world that looks very much like our own. Historically real characters exist who are relevant to the story, like President Johnson and Werner Von Braun. Yet they never appear "on stage," but are only mentioned in passing where their influence was relevant. Looks normal.  Still, little oddities tip us off to the fact that this is not Our World, like the fact that a couple of senators come from states that do not exist in our 50 United States. We gradually realize that these are not typos and we are in a world that is not ours, and that the things that will happen will not have to match our recollection of what really happened.

 

What you're doing might be rare in speculative fiction, but that doesn't make it bad. In Latin American literature, there's a genre called Magical Realism, in which various simple little magical elements simply appear in otherwise mundane events. They are as surprising to the reader as the incidental appearance of a cell phone might be to a character during WW II, yet they may go as unnoticed by the character in the story just as the same phone might go unnoticed by us. (I tried reading A Hundred Years of Solitude a couple of times, and this element really had my mind spinning, 'till I realized what was going on...)

 

What you're doing might be a magical realism in a technical-looking disguise. Still, if we look realistically at that kind of tech, it's not that different from Harry Potter's magic wand, but with a few blinking lights attached. I say go for it. Just be extra careful in building your setting and mood before introducing anything unusual.

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1 minute ago, suspensewriter said:

 

That's a genre in the US and Canada and the UK too, @Wes B.

 

Good point. Once a genre is created, no one "owns it," though there can be much to be learned from how it came to be. It has its deep deepdeepdeep roots in Latin American literature, and really goes beyond being a fringe genre, being a very Cultural Thing. Gabriel Garcia Márquez once kinda' bristled at the term being applied to his work, insisting that he just told stories as his grandmother told them.  Its popular beginnings though come out of Nobel-Prize-winning literature, and will have found their way into a wider field.

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Guest Spaulding
1 hour ago, suspensewriter said:

 

That's a genre in the US and Canada and the UK too, @Wes B.

It's a genre everywhere, but it is more commonplace in Latin America. Something like Rock music in 1960. It was American, it was becoming more widely accepted, and a few years later, British Rock invaded America. That's about when people stopped assigning it to a particular area. 

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To your question, I would agree with @suspensewriter in that some futuristic (sci-fi) type things might be expected. As @Spaulding mentioned it may depend on how far in the future the story is set.

 

It's been theorized a magnetic force field very much like Earths can be created. The one created is limited in scope and power primarily because the first major obstacle is the power and method to create it. It has been created in a lab a few years back in a feasibility study.

 

They've also, very recently, been successful in creating, albeit for a very short time right now, a fusion tokomak reactor that makes more power than it consumed. 

 

We currently use fission reactors, a fusion reactor works like the sun. Much more efficient. Much more difficult to control. No surprise since God created it.

 

I agree that you might need to include things like flying cars, personal flying suits, and even an inevisability screen, yes, they have them, albeit again with limited functionality. 

 

Point is you might be able to Google cutting edge technology in these areas and come up with believable, if not currently practical, futuristic items that will fit your story and still satisfy the sci fi readers. 🤓 

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14 hours ago, JosiAtara said:

If you read a book with a force field (it's not huge, it has limitations, it only covers maybe 2 people, and they are VERY LIMITED), will you expect other sci-fi stuff, and if so, what?

 

I've seen this used many times in fantasy stories (magic generated), so I don't think it's limited to sci-fi.

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On 12/7/2021 at 8:55 PM, zx1ninja said:

Isn't a window a type of force field? 😁

 

On 12/8/2021 at 8:49 AM, Paul but not THE said:

The birds certainly wouldn't argue with that.

Bird philosopher be like "Any technology sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic." 😏

So yes.  Windows be magic.  As for force?  More of a matter field as it is a pane or plane.

I say go for it and have fun. It's your story.  Just stick to your rules.

 

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On 12/4/2021 at 8:43 PM, JosiAtara said:

I toyed with the idea of a device that can set off a temporary force field in my book. My husband said that my book isn't that sci-fi (it's speculative fiction with superhumans

 

Maybe a better way to go about this is to ask if you're already using superhumans, is there a superhuman who can have that temporary force field as a super power to stay more in line with the world you've already established?

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