Unforced Error—hard science fiction
This item is from my website and is about my science fiction novel. If you want to read it in full, please go to the relevant page of my website here.
Several people have told me they enjoyed reading Unforced Error and had little trouble sorting out who was who in the story. However, others got lost in the first few chapters and decided not to continue with it. This second group intrigues me, considering one of my aims was to write a story that was easy to read. How did I get that wrong, or at least not completely right?
Many authors have written novels that didn’t appeal to everyone. It’s the norm. I’ve read reviews posted to www.goodreads.com for various novels including best sellers. Some reviewers rave about a book and give it five stars; others hate the same book and give it one star. Some people are highly intolerant of an implausible story—see my example in the appendix below. Others seem not to care or even notice. Can an author hamper his or her success by insisting on a logical plot and plausible character motivation? Interesting question.
I can tolerate an implausible plot if it’s a film with amazing special effects, because I’m not expending much energy, and quite possibly I’m consuming a glass of beer or wine at the same time and enjoying the ride, no matter how silly it is. Implausibility in written fiction, however, is not so tolerable for me.
I suspect Unforced Error can be a challenging read because at any one time up to four groups of characters are driving the action. What one group decides to do affects the decisions of the others, and all decisions must be described in a correct time sequence. This means I constantly move the action from one point-of-view character to another, and this invariably involves a change of location. All these groups of characters are introduced early in the story, so the reader has a lot to absorb from the first few chapters. There is a protagonist who is fighting for his life, antagonists who are actively trying to kill him, a separate group of high-level antagonists who are controlling them, and finally the law enforcement people. I’m sure switching from location to location and character to character wouldn’t be a problem if Unforced Error were a film. In that form, the audience gets to eyeball setting and character. That makes any story easier to follow. With the written word, it’s always going to be a harder.
The varied reaction to Unforced Error has caused me to consider how I might help even a seasoned reader of fiction to better enjoy the story. We live in an age of digital publishing, and there is talk about the ‘enhanced’ novel. At present, there is no consensus as to what enhancements might be attractive to readers—or what might make money for publishers. Developments in hardware are currently outpacing developments in content. In any event, I’ve decided to create this simple ‘enhancement’ that describes and explains various aspects of Unforced Error.
Read more at my website here.