The creation of an afterworld is what many people believe to be is a simile for a science fiction world. Majority of the famous science fiction literature such as “War of the Worlds” and “The Time Machine” by H.G. Wells, “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley, “1984” by George Orwell and so on, depended on the creation of a different world. However, there are a set of rules which people must follow in the post-2020 world where the market of science fiction is gradually shifting from the west to the east. This has to do with the life cycle of sci-fi. Science fiction has been cultivated as a product, which reached its maturity and now is heading on a decline phase in its life cycle. In the east, however, science fiction is in its intermediate phase. As an author, the challenge lies on us to satisfy both the markets and provide the reader with a sci-fi world which hooks our attention.
The first and foremost idea is to make it believable. Imagine you’re making a word in the recent future i.e. less than 500 years into the future, and you see people are seeing that people are godlike and robots are instrumental in killing creatures larger than the sauropod dinosaurs. This might seem like an exaggeration. Hence, every time you attempt a novel, you must ask yourself: Would this be possible this close in future? The timing in years, should be well estimated. It must have a scientific or rational explanation for the story to move ahead. For example, in my novel: A Tiny Reason to Live, the planet Neptune has been heavily altered and is now a rock planet. Experiencing something like that in the next one-hundred years would seem over the top. Having normal humans like us in the year 7000 would be another exaggeration. Hence, I kept a safe bet at the year 4,000 A.D. Same goes for the characters.
Second: While describing the characters, one needs to follow the same pursuit. Remember: it is “science fiction”. We must have the “science” aspect in science fiction, which unfortunately many sci-fi authors substitute for a storyline which involves plain fantasy. I also admit that even I was guilty of doing so in the past. A seventeen-foot, snake-like creature of a different life form sounds more like 3,000 than the year 2,100. Limiting possibilities to humans in a new world need not be told about because it is expected of a sci-fi author to try out new forms of aliens. These aliens may have a thousand legs and body shape of a fourteen-year old boy but as an author, we must put detail into the inquiry. Why? The query of, ‘Why does the concerned alien need to be a millipede reincarnate?’ must have some relation to the world we are creating. It should also have reasonable evolutionary examples which reveal a new set of possibilities to our reader. Along with the evolutionary examples, there must be some threats these creatures have faced. What are those threats? Are they still relevant i.e. did they exist in the past or do these exist in the present? All these questions must be answered while writing about the alien in a science fiction world.
Third: Do not make the antagonist godlike in a plot which involves a different world. Enough novels have been written about such characters already. More than novels, the sci-fi movies follow a similar pattern. Be it Thanos from MCU or Borg from Star Trek, the presence of a godlike antagonist has now become a stereotype of the science fiction. The very reason one writes about a new dimension, or a new planet is to show the unique set of possibilities and threats this new world has to offer. Why would one go ahead and create an antagonist which is beyond the scope of this beautiful new world? This would mean that the ‘new world’ the author has created, has nothing unique to offer except for its environment and ambience. The quintessential abilities of the archetypal godlike science fiction antagonist must be toned down. He must have certain characteristics similar to a normal antagonist. Also, this should include certain scientific edges which make him fearsome. He must have an appalling worldview and there should also be a reason why he pursues such worldview. Unless you have an extraordinary plot, you must avoid going for the antagonist.
Last but not the least, avoid overtly simple worlds. Gone are the days when Robert Heinlein used to write novels like “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” and used to be lauded amongst the literary community. “Dune” was also written in the year 1965 by Frank Herbert. Moon, Mars, Jupiter etc are planets which you must avoid if you want to sound original. Write about a fictional planet which has its unique challenges. It may be the gravity, it’s magnetic waves, surface, clouds, the sunlight (or two of them), the anomalous weather patterns – it can be anything unique to the atmosphere. A little bit of imagination is required to open our horizon to broad set of possibilities.