“Kids, fiction is the truth inside the lie, and the truth of this fiction is simple enough: the magic exists.” – Stephen King, IT
If there’s one question writers of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and their many sub-genres are asked by readers it is likely some permutation of “How do you make all this stuff up?” While all writers of fiction, by definition, make stuff up, it is far easier to understand the origin of stories that take place in the world we know. But when the stories involve strange lands, creatures, magic, or even alternate versions of our own history, the trail to the story’s source becomes harder to follow.
Or does it?
Some of the best speculative fiction holds a mirror up to our own world. A funhouse mirror, perhaps, but a reflection nonetheless. Speculative fiction writers often take what we know and merely stretch it, shrink it, change the colour, add a few extra limbs, or move it to a new planet. In this way, the mundane becomes mysterious and the writer allows us some distance from the known.
Recognize this plant from James Cameron’s Avatar?
This fictional flora is called helicoradian. It is 3-4 meters tall and its red spiral leaves collapse in on themselves when touched.
Now have a look at spirobranchus giganteus, known to divers as the Christmas Tree Worm.
Take a real living creature, make it bigger, change the colour and shape, move it from water to land and, voila, science fiction!
I’ll never forget the first time I saw these worms underwater. They were no less magical in their natural setting than they were in Cameron’s enchanting imaginary forest. As King wrote, “the magic exists”.
For the next month, we’ll be featuring guest posts from several speculative fiction writers who will share the real life people, places, or events that shaped or inspired their work–the truth inside the lie.
But first, I asked Josh to talk a bit about some of his truths behind Warpworld, Wasteland Renegades, and the third book-in-progress in the Warpworld series, Ghost World.
It all begins tomorrow. See you then!
Blood for water