MIND MELD Makeup with Jay Lake: Scientific Accuracy in Stories
Two weeks ago we asked several authors for their thoughts on scientific accuracy in science fiction stories. Jay was unable to answer at that time, but sent along his response for all of us to read.
In a word, no. It’s *fiction*, we’re all making it up anyway.
To be a little more specific and less flippant, *any* story is going to fail in the face of expertise. I can write a convincing medical scene for the general reader, but a doctor will call b.s. Likewise astronomy, biology or any other discipline. It all depends on the distance of the reader from the subject matter.
This means one can write about cosmology with a relatively free hand. That’s all esoteric theory anyway. But write about the physics of falling bodies without taking terminal velocity into account and you’re in trouble.
As a matter principle, I always strive for scientific accuracy to the best of my ability. But it’s like the old joke about not being faster than the bear. I don’t have to be accurate, I just have to be more accurate than my readers’ understanding.
Filed under: Mind Meld
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