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The Origins of Technofiction

First there was science fiction, then came hard science fiction, now there is Technofiction!

Technofiction is the subgenre of science fiction which declares:

"Human emotions are a constant of the world, and constants are boring. What is interesting storytelling is how technology adds variability to the expression of those constant emotions."

or, in other words,

"No cardboard characters??... OK... But no cardboard technology, either!!"

The Origin of Technofiction

by Roger Bourke White Jr.

I have read science fiction since I was a teenager, and written science fiction starting in the mid-80's. I started writing because I was getting increasingly dissatisfied with what I read -- more and more I was feeling, "I'd been there, read that." and I wanted something new.

As part of my learning this science fiction writing craft, I attended seminars and writing groups concerned with writing science fiction. Over the years I became more and more distressed with the emphasis on strong characterization in science fiction, "Make sure you don't have 'cardboard characters' in your stories." is the perennial admonition from older writers and prominent editors to aspiring new writers.

I listened, and I was dismayed. If I was interested in strong characterization, I'd be reading mainstream literature. I was also dismayed as I came to realize that simple morality stories were considered good science fiction -- stories where current day human controversies are editorialized by simply transferring the issues to aliens. The arch-typical example of this is the 1988 movie Alien Nation and subsequent TV series -- which were thinly veiled metaphors for '80's racism issues. Morality stories are a time-honored tradition in science fiction, but the tradition is a dull one in my opinion.

It's a dull form because humanity is a constant. Human beings have been acting and thinking like human beings since prehistory. They have the same angers, fears and aspirations that they had in Biblical times. As a result, great character-oriented stories about human virtues and vices have been springing forth ever since there was an oral tradition. There is nothing new in telling stories about humans acting as humans.

What is new to humanity today is new technology. If you have jet planes, travelling between Los Angeles and Shanghai takes many hours, not many months. If you have easy birth control and antibiotics, impulsive love is not medically risky. If you have Twitter, you can answer the question "Whatcha doin?" on a minute-by-minute basis...

Now... what differences do these new lifestyle opportunities make to how we humans live... and think?

That's the heart of Technofiction!

The Technofiction admonition is, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, no cardboard characters. ... but no 'cardboard technology', either!"

Examples of Technofiction

Examples of not Technofiction

Technofiction is closely related to "hard" science fiction. But more than hard science fiction, the goal of Technofiction is to talk about the future and attempt to reveal it.

The goal is to explore the relations of humans and their machines.

The goal is to explore the question, "If we gain a certain technology, what difference will it make to the human condition... to how we humans think and act?"

This is goal of Technofiction, and here are some samples of the genre that I have created.

-- Roger

Check out these sections to sample and find the kinds of stories you like, then buy the books/ebooks from Author House -- Amazon -- Barnes and Noble or wherever. (my book page)

Origins of Technofiction -- this section.

Technofiction Reviews -- looking at books and movies from a Technofiction perspective. What looks good... what stinks!

Child Champs -- what's the world going to be like 100 years from now when humans are mixing with a whole lot of artificial intelligence, genetic engineering and nanotechnology? The tools will be different but humans will still be humans. There will still be hopes and dreams, triumphs and frustrations, fears and joys. Read as Dahlia Rose decides to have a baby, but in this world of the future having one is not birds and bees simple anymore.

Tales of the HX -- John Boromov discovers the Honeycomb Comet, a small fragment of a millions-years-dead, moon-size, alien. The aliens are the HX (HX = huge and unknown) and this series of stories spans the centuries from first discovery of HX existence to human mastery of this wonderous treasure.

Tales of Baron Rostov -- fantasy stories told in a Technofiction style. Baron Rostov is the magic using ruler of the Kalzov valley in the 17- and 1800's. He faces wondrous and terrifying creatures, such as a dragon so ancient and powerful she is the subject of, "Long ago... when the Earth was young..."-stories. He also encounters familiar faces, he has a run-in with Aladdin and the Genie.

Tales of Technofiction -- a wide range of tales: Hear a Technofiction answer to a child's innocent question, "Mommy, why am I here?", follow some shoot-em-up-action as power-armored mercenaries get stranded on a strange planet, read Roger's touching version of the "only living boy in New York" scenario.

Tales of Technofiction Fantasy -- fantasy short stories. Read about two scientists who try to summon an angel, and a strange ghost child who appears to two lovers on a day trip in the Utah west desert... who may not be so strange after all!

Tales of Non-Fiction -- these are Roger's musings about the science behind his Technofiction stories. If you want to find out what Roger was thinking about before the story was written, check here.

-- Enjoy --