When science meets fiction, and they have a love-child

Vuk picMy thanks to the Passive Guy for highlighting the following article in the Guardian.


The article talks about the symbiosis that exists between hard science, and the speculative, highly imaginative and sometimes unlikely stories we weave from it.

I count myself as one of the ‘we’ even though most of my formal education was in the humanities – philosophy and languages to be precise. But before I began my arts course, my favourite subject at school was biology. Sadly I was not so fond of math, and no one told me you needed both to take biology past year one level at uni. so… -sigh-

Just because I could no longer study biology did not mean I stopped being interested in it. I continued to read layman’s articles in the area for years [thank you New Scientist!]. And that interest manifested itself in every weird and wonderful creature in Vokhtah, including the Vokh themselves.

Did you know that there is a species of worm that is essentially an hermaphrodite? When these worms mate, they literally duel with their penises to determine which becomes the sperm donor, and which the donee [?].

I swear, I did not make that up! It was one of the many, many things I researched before I created the Vokh. In fact research is the core link between scientists and writers because a world, no matter how imaginative, has to follow rules, plausible rules, otherwise it becomes fantasy not science fiction.

For example, although there are some elements of Vokhtah that are more ‘fantasy’ than anything else, [the power to heal, for example] I did spend months researching what my creatures would see when day changed to night, and one sun followed the other across the sky. I knew very little about binary star systems, and even the scientists could not tell me precisely how two suns would affect things like weather, and the day/night cycle, so the Vokh calendar is very speculative indeed. But I did try.

Other, ‘softer’ areas of knowledge informed my writing as well. Hungarian is my so-called mother tongue, and I studied French and Japanese at uni, along with a smattering of Mandarin and Spanish, so it was almost inevitable that I would get carried away with the Vokh language.

At first, I only wanted a few alien sounding names so I drew on Hungarian for the name ‘Vokh’. The word was based on ‘Vuk’, the name of a popular child’s toy in Hungary. That’s what the cute picture up the top is all about. You were wondering, weren’t you? -smirk-

Once started, however, I could not seem to stop and ended up with a Vokh to English dictionary-slash-encyclopedia.

Yet more research went into cross-over technologies such as blacksmithing and hunting. [Some of you may remember my post about the Poacher’s Knot in which I talked about hunting methods and very simple snares.]

But I digress, badly. My point in all this is that you don’t have to be a scientist to write science fiction, [although many, like Isaac Asimov were]. I believe the only necessary qualification for a science fiction writer is the need to know how things, and people tick.

-cough- Or in my case, how sociopathic, flying hermaphrodites tick. -cough-

Happy Australia Day!


P.S.!!!! I just found my 13th review of Vokhtah on Amazon. -dance-

About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

8 responses to “When science meets fiction, and they have a love-child

  • EllaDee

    It’s interesting you are commenting and elaborating on something that has just recently consciously occurred to me although I’ve been just doing it automatically. In the legal world, we call it verification, making sure the facts back up what we state. And realised in the blogging world I spend as much time doing the same as I do putting the words together. Regardless of genre -sci-fi or otherwise- a novel’s integrity depends a lot on it. I think I’ve mentioned I’m a fan of the Outlander series written by Diana Gabaldon – she inspires and amazes me!


  • Candy Korman

    I, too, stopped formally studying science early on. But as an adult, I’m constantly reading the science pages of the newspapers, science magazines, books, etc. and much of what I discover informs my fiction. Although it might not appear to be that way because I don’t write science fiction. Since, we are kindred spirits as non-scientist/science fans, I’m thrilled to hear some of your sources for your fabulous creatures were the real world!


    • acflory

      I think we have to stop thinking of science as something scary and complicated. Science can be as ‘simply’ as a light switch. And yes, like you, almost everything I write is grounded in the real world, at least a little. 🙂


  • davidprosser

    Congratulations on another review. You already know I enjoyed and appreciated all your hard work with the Vokh, how I found the world to be totally alien as were all those who inhabit it. Now know how shocked I am to read that I was enjoying a story about a Hungarian child’s toy.
    xxx Mammoth Hugs xxx


  • Carrie Rubin

    So much work it must be to create a world like that! But what fun you must have letting your imagination soar with the possibilities.


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