Guest Post: How to Write Successful Sci-Fi with Alexandra Duncan

Posted September 21, 2015 by love2dazzle in Features, Giveaways, Guest Post / 0 Comments

Guest Post: How to Write Successful Sci-Fi with Alexandra Duncan

Guest Post: How to Write Successful Sci-Fi with Alexandra DuncanSound by Alexandra Duncan
Series: Salvage #2
Published by HarperCollins on September 22nd 2015
Genres: Adolescence, Girls & Women, Science Fiction, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 496
Buy on AmazonBuy on Book Depository

SOUND is the stand-alone companion to Alexandra Duncan’s acclaimed novel Salvage, a debut that internationally bestselling author Stephanie Perkins called “kick-ass, brilliant, feminist science fiction.” For fans of Beth Revis, Firefly, and Battlestar Galactica.

As a child, Ava’s adopted sister Miyole watched her mother take to the stars, piloting her own ship from Earth to space making deliveries. Now a teen herself, Miyole is finally living her dream as a research assistant on her very first space voyage. If she plays her cards right, she could even be given permission to conduct her own research and experiments in her own habitat lab on the flight home. But when her ship saves a rover that has been viciously attacked by looters and kidnappers, Miyole—along with a rescued rover girl named Cassia—embarks on a mission to rescue Cassia’s abducted brother, and that changes the course of Miyole’s life forever.

I’ve been writing science fiction for about eight years, but I’ve been a fan of it all my life. Sci fi is a vast genre that can encompass everything from near-future medical advancements to far-flung tales of aliens and spaceships. Yet all successful sci-fi has a few common elements. What are they? The answer is in the genre’s name.

First, you need some science. This is more complicated than is sounds. Some purists insist sci-fi isn’t sci-fi unless it includes “hard” science elements, like an explanation of how a spaceship’s fission engine works. However, hard science fiction is only one corner of the genre. Your science element can related to anything from the “hard” STEM fields to the “soft” sciences, like psychology and anthropology.

My books tend to have some of both. Sound, for example, explores linguistics – the science of how language is formed and used – through characters that try to communicate with each other across a wide variety of languages, including Hindi, English, Spanish, and American Sign Language. Since the main character, Miyole, is a biologist in training, the book also involves harder sciences like medicine and biomimicry, which is a field of study where nature inspires scientific inventions. The vast research ship where Miyole begins her journey is grown underneath the ocean, rather than built, and is able to heal its own armored skin.

The second thing you need is the same thing any piece of fiction needs – a good story with memorable characters. Your scientific element might someday seem outdated or be proved simply wrong, but readers will still be able to enjoy it if they’re invested in what happens to the characters. For example, we now know that there are no alien civilizations on Mars, but that doesn’t stop H.G. Wells’s War of the Worlds from capturing our imaginations and being retold in movies and graphic novels.

This happened to me when I was writing my first novel, Salvage. At the time, tablets were something that was being talked about in magazines and online, but no one was actually using one. They weren’t even on the market yet. I decided it would be cool if my characters could use this up-and-coming device. However, the technology caught on and advanced so quickly that tablets actually existed by the time the book came out. I’m sure in ten years, readers will look back and wonder why my characters are using outdated technology, but I hope they’ll still be able to enjoy the book for its story and the peril the characters find themselves in.

Science fiction is a genre that is always exploring new ideas and pushing the question “What if?” to its limits. What if human cloning becomes not only possible, but popular? What if robots develop self-awareness? What if there are other worlds and civilizations in the universe? Behind every question is an excellent story waiting to be told.


1 winner will receive a signed hardback of SOUND, a signed paperback of SALVAGE, and this electronic butterfly in a jar. US Only

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Sept. 21st | Dazzled by Books – Guest Post

Sept. 22nd | Fiktshun – Review

Sept. 23rd | Bookhounds YA – Interview

Sept. 24th | Literary Meanderings – Excerpt

Sept. 25th | The Broke and the Bookish – Review

About Alexandra Duncan

Alexandra Duncan is a writer and librarian. Her first novel, Salvage, was published April 1, 2014, by Greenwillow Books. Her short fiction has appeared in several Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy anthologies and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. She loves anything that gets her hands dirty – pie-baking, leatherworking, gardening, drawing, and rolling sushi. She lives with her husband and two monstrous, furry cats in the mountains of Western North Carolina.

About love2dazzle

Ali Kiki is a reader, writer, reviewer, blogger, and photographer in Portland, OR. An avid reader since childhood, you can usually find her devouring a book or stalking the bookstagram hashtag in her lovely apartment surrounded by books. Ali has been blogging since 2006 and she created Dazzled by Books in 2012. Her most recent adventure is making bookish candles for Stub Tail Candle Co., which are sold on Etsy.

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