Author/Publisher – Time to choose

simpson logic

A year or so ago I wrote a short science fiction story named “L’Orgoglio di Smirne” [Smirne’s Pride], I was thinking about translating it into english after a massive editing process. While I was at work I thought that it could be a nice way to write about the logical ramification of a story, it’s one of the biggest traps for anybody who write fiction.

My story was about a young spaceman/miner who got himself in trouble rescuing another spaceship in the Asteroid Belt. The AI system in his spaceship became infected and he got to find a way to save his life and going back to his base.  So far it’s a classic story; the young man who became more experienced under the stress of a dangerous situation, the superiority of an educated mind over a challenge.

While I was writing the italian version of this tale a number of questions came up. How about this kid? Was he born in the space? Aboard a spaceship? Or a more stable base anywhere? How does he adapt to live and work into space? How about cosmic radiations, exposure to low-level of gravity (or none at all)? Who took care of his education and what about his relatives and such?

batman logical connection

That was nothing but the top of an iceberg of questions. In the next paragraphs you will find a lot of this stuff.

The spaceship; OK, I want something that could be manned by a single operator. It have to be able to travel at good speed in a very dangerous zone like the Asteroid Belt, it have to be able to load the minerals mined from an asteroid and to transport a crew of robots.  [by the way, Smirne’s Pride it’s the name of the spaceship].

Now the questions; how about the engine? What size does it have? What kind of propulsion could be used in the near future? How about fuel, heat emission, vibrations? How much technobubble can I use to describe it?

Again about the spaceship; does it have an artificial gravity generator onboard? How does it work astrogation between asteroids and to and from the Asteroid Belt to the base (and where the Hell i sit?) and to and from Earth? And the communications? Are we still using radio frequencies or there will another technology for it?


There’s an AI onboard. It got to have it for my story, it’s a logical step if this kind of device will be easily available in the future (wait, can I name an AI “device”?). So, how can I set up an AI designed to “live” on a spaceship? What its personality could be? What about its attitude? How many tasks it will control aboard? What are its weakness, if any?

For our computers we have malware, viruses and such. How do you name a hostile program able to attack an AI? Psychoware? Mindware? That’s linked to the question about the potential weaknesses stated before. If an AI detect an attack what happens? Will it became unstable? Schizoid? Depressed?

As you may see the sheer number of questions was more than enough to drive me out of my task, I stopped writing my story while running up and down search engines for links and related pages. I was wasting my time and the job was far from done. The real question was different: how much have I to put in the story aside from the main plot?

My choice was to cut down to a minimum, favoring a straightforward way to tell my story. Was I right? What do you do when it comes to choose?

2 thoughts on “Author/Publisher – Time to choose

  1. I mentioned somewhere else last week that I like to keep 70% of the story as close to the original outline as possible, while allowing for a 30% of improvisation, a maneuvering space for those ideas that pop up during writing, and that are just too good to let go.
    The sort of ideas you mention, that come from thinking about your characters and setting in depth.
    So when I get down to the actual writing, I know most of what will go on the page, but not all – I found that 30% of gray space is also great when editing and revising, because it allows me to slip in the bits that I need to make my editors happy.
    There’s a down side, of course – the story I’m writing right now started as a straightforward action short, with a very linear plot, but due to the nature of the characters, to preserve their logic I had to jump in the unknown 30%, and now I’m facing a lengthier narrative, with a double plot, multiple viewpoints, and a double climax. It will be great – but very complicated.

    • Everybody find his/her own method of writing and yours is working fine, that’s for sure. I’m not in the same line, I’ve to set up the whole of the plot before writing it down and after I wrote down the first draft I can start with the “what if” and “what not” phase. My method is far more slow than yours, I believe. It shows how much I’m rigid when it come to write a story, not exactly a good side to show for a writer.

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