My most thoroughly researched book is…
As an author of science fiction, I almost always have to research each book. How much research varies from book to book.
This one required little research
My upcoming release, Newborn, coming in October, required relatively little research. It’s the third book in the Alien Contact for Idiots series, which helps, and the book is set on Earth in the near future.
Nonetheless, I had to research the wild, sparsely populated west coast of Vancouver Island. I’m familiar with the Northwest Coast, but I wanted to pinpoint the exact fjord where my story happened. Along with determining the topography, the location would determine which First Nation lived near my setting. Google Earth was a great resource, as were maps and the Internet.
Although I did choose a site, I decided not to name it in the book. The name would mean little to readers, and I wanted to place a village and a road where I needed them to be. The book is fiction, after all.
A major theme in Newborn is how native peoples react to the arrival of kinsmen with advanced technology from an alternate Earth. I already knew about Northwest Coast tribes, so I didn’t need much research.
The stickiest point was what to call them. Indians is outdated and colonial, but no alternative is universally accepted. Native Americans didn’t feel right; they’re in Canada. First Nations people is the Canadian euphemism, but it’s a clumsy, bureaucratic mouthful. I settled on aboriginals.
Tribe names are controversial, too. Kwakiutl is widely used, but it rightfully describes only the Indians/Native Americans/First Nations people/aboriginals from one village. The name for the people as a whole is Kwakwak’wakw. Yeah, right. No way was I going to use a name so difficult for English speakers — although I did research how to say it. 😉
I also researched little things, such as how to load a Glock pistol and the hunting seasons that were open during the story’s season. Little details matter. Still, Newborn required relatively little research.
But this one, sheesh
The Midas Rush was set on a world inhabited by intelligent natives who grudgingly share a sliver of their planet with humans. The natives have an unusual life cycle, dominated by a cataclysmic social upheaval every 3109 years — and they’re on the verge of such an upheaval as the story starts.
I did a lot of research. The answer came from a serious scientific research paper proposing an explanation for the Permian Extinction. I won’t bore you with the details, but the paper explores what could’ve happened if Earth had passed through a thick lens of dark matter. (Answer: a mass extinction caused by radiation and destabilization of the core.)
Ahha! My hypothetical planet (which I called Jones to contrast the commonplace with the unusual) orbits through a hypothetical lens of dark matter every 3109 years. The natives gained vast power as they evolved to deal with wild radiation fluxes, but it’s a dangerous time nonetheless. It took quite a bit more research, but my strange aliens can at least be defended scientifically.
What about You?
Have you ever read a science fiction book with a lot of research, like The Martian? If you’re a writer, what kind of research do you do? Tell me about it in a comment.
About The Midas Rush
All Tresky Buffrum wants is a taste of adventure and freedom before resigning himself to the simple life of a shepherd. What he gets instead is a mysterious wife, determined to remain chaste, who leads him to the Midas Crater, where some of the planet’s intelligent natives have been inexplicably transformed into gold. Can innocent Tresky defeat the interplanetary conspirators who seek to destroy the Midas Crater before its mysteries can liberate humankind?
The Midas Rush is a available at:
SFR Brigade Showcase Participants:
Be sure to check out the other great writers taking part in the Showcase.
|1.||Lea Kirk||6.||C.E. Kilgore||11.||Ed Hoornaert|
|2.||Veronica Scott||7.||Lexi Post||12.||Diane Burton|
|3.||KM Fawcett||8.||Cynthia Sax||13.||Elle Clouse|
|4.||Aurora Springer||9.||Teresa Noelle Roberts||14.||Melisse Aires|
|5.||Lee-Ann Wallace||10.||JC Hay|