Inspiriation: 50% Weirdness, 50% External Input, 50% Science, and 7% Cigars & Scotch

So, I sat down at my day-gig and ran a quick run-through of FB headlines. You never know what you might trawl up from there, and I got lucky over the past two days. And NO, I’m not talking about some hottie from Zodicus Zu’ul… (although some of what that guy posts is positively UberHotness.)

Actually, what I’m talking about here is a combination of two articles that passed me by. The first was about research about to be undertaken by NASA, and the other was about a Barcelona-based engineer who is delving into alternate means of generating energy.

When I finish up the new Jake Lasater manuscript (and just in time for NaNoWriMo) I plan on writing an off-world steampunk novel set in the future. In it humanity has to have populated dozens or perhaps hundreds of worlds. Such population requires a means of getting to other stars. Such are the travails or world and galaxy building. It’s these little details that can make or break a story.

Granted, Star Wars dodged science almost completely, so one has to admit that science is not required. However, I’ve always thought that good speculative fiction has to be entrenched in at least a reasonably scientific understanding. Hence the trawling of headlines for what’s new and feasible in the world of physics.

As I read the second article, I had an epiphany. In a flash of brilliance (or madness) I conceived a means of interstellar travel that is at least plausible if not probable. The lesson here is that writing of any kind, particularly science fiction, requires ongoing reading and research. You never know where your next great (or even average) idea may come from. If you’re struggling with a story or struggling with coming up with an idea for a story, then pick up the newspaper or start perusing various magazines. Let your brain do what it does best, namely cognize.

It’s like Heinlein’s novel “Stranger in a Strange Land.” One must grok in order to understand. And in order to understand, one must grok. In order to do either, one needs as much information as possible. A full garden is more likely to produce fruit than one that is barren. That ideology has served me well, and in so many pursuits, I wouldn’t hazard to count them.

So, READ and read some more. Gather as much information about this world and the universe around you as you possibly can. It can make the different between success and failure in virtually every aspect of your life, particularly your writing endeavors.




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