This post has been generously written by Beth Revis, YA debut author of Across the Universe. AtU, first in highly anticipated trilogy, will be available Jan 11, 2011, by Penguin/Razorbill and is being compared to The Hunger Games for Sci-fi as breakout fiction. Click on the link above to read the exciting first chapter!
Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awake on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into a brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.
Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone—one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship—tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn’t do something soon, her parents will be next.
Now, Amy must race to unlock Godspeed’s hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there’s only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.
THOUGHTS ON SCI FI SETTINGS:
When coming up with a setting for something in a science fiction, you have to consider two rules.
1. The science should be based on pre-existing scientific thought or theory
2. You have to figure out why we don’t have the technology currently, and then come up for a reason why you can have it in your story.
For example: in writing my science fiction, ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, I needed a character to be frozen cryogenically. This is not something that exists in our science today, but is possible in the foreseeable future. One of the problems with cryogenic freezing is that cell walls burst in the freezing process (think freezer-burned meat). So, if you’re going to use cryogenic freezing in your book, you have to have a solution for it–that is, arguably, the most important thing about your sci fi setting.
So: my problem was that we were close to cryo freezing, but not quite there. I decided that I would make cryo freezing simple—basically you freeze in your own personal ice tray—but add a “blue goo” that would prevent cell walls from breaking. The setting was then a combination of what’s real—freezing—and what’s made up—the blue goo injection and other details that validated the science of cryogenic freezing.
Below is what I made my cryo chamber like—but you could have as easily come up with a different method of freezing (dry-freezing? A stasis chamber? A medically-induced coma along with anti-aging drugs?) that would have been just as valid but entirely different.
Cryogenic chamber(s), medical professionals, information charts, a de-robing room (you’re not frozen in your clothes!), medical equipment (IVs, needles, gauze, cotton, eye-droppers, etc.), white walls, hose for cryo liquid, fluorescent lights, freezing mechanisms, storage facilities, cryogenic supplies
Woosh of cryo liquid from hose, hisses of pain from patients, professional tones of voice from medical personnel, metallic clicks of cryo chambers locking, plastic-on-plastic sound of IV bag and tubing
“Hospital” smell: sterility, antiseptic, rubbing alcohol, cleaning materials; sweat, bleach, metal, tears
(Personally, I think smells can often translate to taste, so a “hospital” scent might linger on the tongue), taste of blood from biting your lip, cold taste of cryo liquid
(I used touch to describe emotion, so I most often referred to the feeling of the room as “cold” to reflect the stony terror of the situation): cold tile floor, cold glass box, cold metal handle… but also: wetness from tears, ache from clenching fists, kisses goodbye
–The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.
And there was Daddy. The translucent liquid was frozen solid and, I knew, so was Daddy. I put my hand on the glass, wishing there was a way to feel his warmth through the ice, but I snatched it away quickly. The glass was so cold it burned. Green light blinked on the little electric box Hassan had fixed to the top of Daddy’s cryotube.
I watched as the girl touched the box, then pulled her fingers away. Stupid kid. Didn’t she know how cold the flash freezing process was? Steam rose from the glass top; if she’d just looked at it, she’d have known not to touch the thing. I breathe in deeply, tasting the cold on my tongue. Reminded me of icy days in the city.
–Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.
Example 1: (Simile)
The tubes were forced down my throat, hard. They did not feel as flexible as they had looked; they felt like a greased broomstick being crammed down my mouth.
Example 2: (Metaphor)
They slammed him in his mortuary, and a puff of white steam escaped through the cracks.