What I love most about science-fiction aren’t the cool gadgets and the ships (although I’d probably sell a kidney for a trip around the stars), or the many ways in which humanity might evolve or ruin itself, but the exploration of foreign planets and encounter of alien species. Nothing makes me more excited than the prospect of discovering life on exoplanets! And I’m not talking about bacteria and frozen spores, I’ll let the scientists get giddy about those. I’m talking about alien societies with own rules and laws, with particular technological adaptations and their very own cultures and ideologies.
I enjoy science-fiction in all its shapes and sizes — hard sci-fi, soft and social sci-fi, cyberpunk, steampunk, time travel, alternate history, military sci-fi, *gaaasp*, alien invasion, superhuman, post-apocalyptic, dystopic, space opera and space western, etcetera. *inhale*exhale* But in all that forest of subgenres, the shrub I’m building my treehouse on is something I could probably call xenocentric science-fiction.
In other words, I write about aliens in their own environment.
(Hm… I’ve just googled that and there’s no such term for the subgenre, so I may be just coining this term on the fly, but bear with me.)
The most important players in my story are aliens. The plot starts out as human bickering and evolves into inter-species enmity. The setting grows from a rundown orbital station to a multi-planetary world, and the conflict shifts from an internal disruption to a guerilla war that spans the galaxy. Sure I have all kinds of ships, deadly weapons and futuristic communication technologies, but those are just props and tools used to achieve goals. The soul of the story lies in the creatures inhabiting it, their interests and distinctive points of view, and their relationships.
The idea for this story started out small and shy, and as I expanded and had increasingly fierce fights with insecurities and doubts (there’s nothing like the sound of a knee cracking one’s own belittlement’s nuts open), I reached a point where the world I created and the personalities inhabiting it would not be satisfied with hesitant scribbling any longer. Trying to write the story just wouldn’t cut it anymore. I had to step up my game and push my knowledge and skills—and most of all my attitude—to a whole new level to even attempt to write this, all the while stifling the miserable cries in the back of my head that said I sucked for all eternity.
It was the alien protagonist that pulled me out by the hair and sat me at the desk to write. I owe him big time, and he knows it. Hm? What? Ssshh. I’m talking to these people here.
I can doubt that I have the skills required to write this story well, I can doubt having the storytelling charms necessary to make these creatures plausible and compelling to others, and I can doubt achieving any marketability with the end product, but what I cannot doubt is my fascination with these aliens and the gnawing, visceral desire to write their story.
So above all my fiction is heavily xenocentric, and all my studying and practicing, the work I do, the challenges I take up and the many potential failures I face, are all in the service of an alien species.
What about the core of your writing life? What do all your ideas swarm around?
This blog post is part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge, April 2012