Monday, March 9, 2015

Guest Post: Amanda Bridgeman (author of the AURORA series) on SPACE: THE ENDLESS FRONTIER

Each week throughout March I'll be dedicating a blog post, be it in the form of a review, author interview, essay, or recap of the Aurora series by Aussie Sci-Fi author Amanda Bridgeman to celebrate the forthcoming release of the latest book in the Aurora series, AURORA CENTRALIS (book #4) - and today, being the second week of March, Amanda Bridgeman, author of the Aurora series has kindly stopped by for a guest post!


author imageJosh suggested I talk today about outer space and the fictional possibilities it presents to authors. Firstly, I think this is a great topic. Secondly, it’s a topic that can be summarised in one sentence: Space appears to be a limitless entity that we may never finish exploring - and as a result the creative possibilities presented to authors are also limitless.

But let’s break this down a little shall we?

First of all, the number of settings available for authors to stage their stories is vast, indeed like space itself. Whether it’s on the confines of a particular ship (be it a cargo ship, mining ship, military ship, hell even a tourist cruise ship of some kind!), or on the various planets – real or imaginary, writers can literally pick a setting of their choice and build their story from there – based on the particular set of circumstances each setting provides.

Time comes into play here too. Basically the further out time-wise you set a story, the more hypotheticals the writer can play with. Something set in the close future and in a recognisable location like Andy Weir’s The Martian, set on Mars,needs to be relatively realistic or readers won’t buy in to it. But if a story is set a little further out time-wise, it can then become more speculative like Kim Stanley Robinson’s Red Mars. Set a story further along still, time-wise, and then throw it out further into space, and you can play with even more speculative grandeur, like Isaac Asimov’s The Foundation, which is set on a variety of fictitious planets and well into the future.Hence, the further into space and time a writer goes, and the further away from life as we know it, the greater the fictional possibilities.

As mentioned above, ships alone can provide particular sets of circumstances (and possibilities) with which to frame a story,and the planets present an endless amount of options as well. They could be Earth-like and habitable or vastly different and deadly. They can be inhabited with vast array of creatures of the writer’s choosing or uninhabited and desolate to its human visitors. Either way, hardships and problems are presented with either scenario, and the writer needs to find a way around them. This is the beauty of speculative fiction. You get to build the world and make the rules, just so long as you don’t break them!

And it’s not just the physical settings. With every story set in space, there comes a backdrop of the surrounding worlds, Earth in particular, and what the social, political and cultural settings of these worlds are. Is the story set eons into the future where the Earth is dead and the universe and society is unrecognisable? Or is it set in the not too distant future where it is at least partially recognisable? What elements of society have survived and what hasn’t?

What technology have humans spawned to enable this space exploration? And what are the consequences of this technology? Have machines come to rule the world? Have we stripped our planets of all life by taking what we need to build the technology? Have humans lost their very soul to an advanced world where everything is automated and done for us? Have we lost the ability to interact with each other, to be what it means to be human? Have humans become machine-like in themselves?

As humans have ventured into space and colonised other worlds, what has become of the human race in general? Has this spread of the human race across space influenced our ability to stand as one with each other? Do race wars still occur? Genocide? Has the rise of the feminist movement been successful? Has the rise resulted in the male now being oppressed? Or has it failed with our journeys out into space and the cycle of female oppression commenced again? Do humans live and die by trade agreements with other planets? Are there embargos and inter-planetary wars and alliances? Have the humans themselves physically evolved in such ways that reflect the environments of the planets upon which they live? Have they adapted to survive?

And what about religion and its effects on human colonisation and the exploration of space? Will small units of religion survive? Or will one dominant religion oppress the others? Will each planet embrace a different religion? Will it be like our early forefathers colonising the various countries of the Earth and spreading the word of their particular faith? Or has religion died out? The same could be said for the governments. How would you rule a newly colonised planet? Who would take ownership, responsibility? Would these planets be colonised with international pioneers? Or would particular countries, stronger, richer countries, claim ownership over certain planets?

And what then of the indigenous species of the planets man ‘conquers’? Will they be slaughtered to make way? Used as slaves or food? Or will they be forced to share their world with the invading human, to co-exist? Orwill they be embraced and respected? Will we become an ever greater multi-coloured rainbow of races? Or will our cultures, our religions, our physical attributes be diluted even more until we have just one bland watered down civilisation? Will we become a single identical entity that represents the sum of us?

I could go on forever with these questions. And that really is the point.

Space and ‘the future’ are mysterious beasts that tend to go hand in hand, resulting in so many options when it comes to writing about space now and space in the future. And when you open that door and begin to speculate, a whole universe of questions beg to be answered. Questions about exploration, about technology, about society, about politics, about culture, about religion, about human rights, about environmental impacts, about the future of the human race . . . It would surely take millennia to tell all the stories imaginable, and even then with the advent of more technology and the new histories that rise through time, it would take millennia more to catch up and take these new twists in our human evolution into account.The possibilities really are endless.

That’s the beauty of space. It is both a wondrous and terrifying thing,and it is an enormous thing. That’s why I choose to write in the world of science fiction. It doesn’t try to reign or box me in. It gives me space to let my imagination run wild . . .

Other posts from the Official Blog Tour from Just A Guy That Likes To Read:

Precursor post to the tour

Recapping the Aurora Series (March, week #1)

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