There are a number of things that set science fiction apart from other kinds of storytelling. Often times the world building is really universe building, and the sense of scale, both in space and time, are different than what we are used to. There’s a tremendous capacity for speculation as well as escapism.
The sheer prevalence of new ideas as they manifest in an imagined universe set it apart from many other forms of fiction, but the role of technology and the importance of an awareness of time are what, I think, really give science fiction its spark.
Seed of Treachery, the first instalment of Trent Oshawa’s own C.A. Maclean’s Architects of the Illusion, is good science fiction. Its strong point, though, is in how visual and temporal it is. You always have a sense of where the action is taking place, and how fast things are moving, and action is an important part of this story. Seed of Treachery would work just as well as a graphic novel, a film, or a video game as it does as a novel.
That could be taken as a negative thing, but that’s not at all how I mean it. It can sometimes be hard to translate a story from one medium to another, and often this has to do with how much you need to work within your medium to tell a good story. It seems straightforward to make a novel rich with dialogue and action into a comic book, for instance, but it’s almost always surprisingly difficult to get the same things across (even if you have any idea what you’re doing). So far, there aren’t any alternative versions of Seed of Treachery, but I think one of the strongest points of this book is that it is so visual. The opening sequence, with its octagonal “cargo receptacles” and automatic, ever shifting security lights feels like something straight out of a video game.
Science fiction recognizes technology, and the importance of time, and the sheer immersive nature of surrounding stimuli, like a video game. I think it’s awesome that a bunch of symbols printed on paper can capture that.
It doesn’t just sound like something from a more visual medium, it feels like it. See, I think good fiction in general puts you in a different, specific, place and time, and good science fiction puts you right in the middle of an alien reality, and a novel full of action needs to have a sense of urgency. Seed of Treachery feels urgent, alien, and immediate.
I like to think of art, at least the art I enjoy the most, as tractor beams and lasers. I think I’m stealing that metaphor from a record review I read a long time ago, but I think it’s a great one, so I’ll use it too. You want something to draw you in, something that surrounds you, that you can’t really resist, and then you want focused light to shoot you in the head at a time just off from when you expected it to, metaphorically speaking, of course. My point is, this book has a rhythm to it, a rhythm that keeps you moving forward, because it’s all about time and space. It’s in the future, and it’s far away, and urgency is everywhere.
Really, this is a book worth reading. I didn’t want to get too much into the plot, which was great, because for me it was the sense of time and space that stood out. It’s the kind of book you’ll tear through, and thank yourself for it. It’s worth checking out Mclean’s blog, The Gamers Looking Glass, especially if you thought all my focus on how much like a video game this book felt was odd. You can, and should, find it on Amazon, Createspace, and Kindle.