Month: December 2017

Review: The lost room (9/10 stars)

The lost room is a mini-series made by the Sci-Fi channel (before they misspelled themselves). While it may not technically be science fiction it is a good object lesson in science fiction.

The basic idea is that in the late sixties an event happened, something that should not have happened by all our understanding of physics, but it did anyway. One of the rooms in a small motel was removed from reality, the key to the missing room was found and when used on any door it opened to the removed room.

Inside were what were called Objects, ordinary items that do freaky and random things. A pen could microwave you (the coroner said it looked like a jet engine hit the guy but left his cloths intact) a watch that boils eggs when you stick them in, a comb that can stop time briefly.

Some groups want to find and use the Objects, some to contain them (on the theory that they do more harm then good) some think they are the body of god, or even that they will become god if they get all of them at once (there are 100ish).

A detective is introduced into this world when he find the key, the object that opens any door to the lost room, and once inside you can go to any door you can picture in your mind. He has to navigate this world in order to save his daughter.

The two things I love most about it are how well thought out the setting is, including the effects the Objects had and the various groups rushing to get them. The main character was also not some action hero trying to save the world, but a man trying to save his daughter.

What People Really Want.

When your writing out the notes for your character one thing that your often told to do is to write their goals, what they want most.

In Sci-Fi you often have characters who do things like save planets, or stop invasions, and while you can use grandiose ideas like these, but I would recommend against it.

Most people have simple desires when you really get down to it, they may want a wife, to be safe, or to have kids, or the power to destroy their enemies.

Simple is better, even a simple goal can create an interesting character. If the planet is being invaded then your simple character, who only wants to protect his family, may have to leave and go on an adventure.

Also don’t be afraid to give your character contradictory goals, real people have those all the time.

What You Can Learn From Star Trek: Disagreement

One trap it can be easy to fall into when your writing people interacting who are on the same side, and ultimately want the same thing, is to have them agree too often and too fast.

This can happen because you know all the facts of the situation, you know your characters will decide on a certain course of action, so you make the deciding part too fast. Doing this misses one of the best chances you will have to build character, showing how and why your characters are disagreeing.

In Star Trek this is used very effectively for Dr. McCoy. You learn he is a man who never puts anything above the individual, over what is right. It is also made clear he is not an officer of the line (an officer who would be in line to command the ship) because he does not easily see the big picture. He see’s a situation and acts in a way he feels is right.

You must not only think about what your characters know at the time the scene is taking place but what mistakes they would make, what would they incorrectly assume? What biases do they have?

Review: Artemis (5/5 stars)

Artemis is written by Weir, the same author who wrote The Martian. The science is just as impeccable, even if it is a very different story.

It is sorta similar to Asimov’s Lije Baley books. That is to say where the setting is a science fiction the story is a mystery/thriller. That is not to say the setting is just a backdrop, the setting is one of the best parts of the book.

Artemis itself feels like a city, not like a planned colony. Weir spent a lot of time making sure the city make’s sense not just from a engineering point of view but from a economic one.

Like the Martian the book relies heavily on it’s main character, and the book works in large part because it’s main character, Jazz, is a very funny likable person who you want to succeed even when she is doing something less the ethical.

on Goodreads