How can I describe my material succinctly? I tried to come up with a slogan, but rejected them all and finally decided I really didn’t need one! However, the thinking behind each attempt illuminates an aspect of my writing, so I’ll describe a few I considered:
- Reality is best seen from Elsewhere. I used to use this one. The idea is that one often has to step away from something and look back at it to see it clearly, and a speculative fiction story is a good vantage point to look back at reality from somewhere else. For example, religious conflicts can often be considered more objectively using fictitious religions instead of the emotionally charged real ones that real people fight over.
- Taking the high road. My characters are often forced to confront challenges they never wanted. Ordinary people can come through and do what’s right, taking the “high road” and changing for the better—sometimes.
- Nerdiness not necessary. My stories are not truly “hard” science fiction. You don’t need to be an avid science fiction reader, or have a scientific or technical background, to enjoy them. If you ever watch popular science fiction movies or TV shows, you’ll feel at home in my work. On the other hand, I make sure my stories will appeal to true science fiction nerds and aficionados too, because I’m one of you! I’ve been reading science fiction ever since I knew enough words to do so.
- It’s not hard SF, it’s Hardin SF. Trying to get at that “nerdiness not necessary” idea—but this is entirely too cute. Never mind.
- Keep it simple, stupid (KISS). OK, this is actually a well-known saying among engineers, and I never considered it for a slogan. But the concept applies. All the talk about themes, high roads, and seeing reality is important, but in the end, the most important thing is to make sure I write a story that a reader will enjoy!
Favorites and Influences
Favorite authors who probably influence my style include Timothy Zahn, John Scalzi, Brandon Sanderson (I like fantasy too), and Isaac Asimov. Not that I’m the same as these authors, but I think we all play in a similar literary region. If you like any of their work, there’s a good chance you’ll like mine. (And the reverse is true—if you like my work, you should definitely have a look at these authors’ books!)
Other authors I like even if they’re less similar to me include Neal Stephenson, Michael Crichton, Terry Pratchett, Jo Walton, Susanna Clarke, Martha Wells, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Lois McMaster Bujold … well, I don’t know where to stop with a list like this; I guess that’s enough to give the idea.
And that’s without even getting into movies and TV shows. Best example of a similar literary flavor might be Star Trek: the Next Generation, but there are so many good ones out there …
The Short Answer
I write science fiction for anyone willing to look at reality from another vantage point and imagine how people might improve in the face of trouble.
And that’s a little too much to fit on a bumper sticker!
Slogans won’t tell you whether my fiction is right for you. Have a look at five free chapters of Softlife and decide for yourself!