September 18, 2013

Writing Club Wednesday: Putting the Science in Science Fiction


So, in case you haven’t heard, I have a book coming out next week called Ultraviolet Catastrophe! (I’m trying not to hyperventilate over here). It’s a young adult science fiction, and it was so much fun to write. But, I’ll also be completely honest, it was also a bugger to research.

I loved science as a kid. I thought for years I’d end up a Marine Biologist or a Veterinarian. And then I realized I hated science *class*. Which I’m sure there are all sorts of reasons and issues with, but that’s a post for another day. So when I started writing, the last thing I ever thought I’d do was write a science fiction book.

But Ultraviolet Catastrophe called out to be that kind of book, so I went with it. And when I realized there was going to have to be ACTUAL science, I pretty much panicked. Because I’ve been out of school for quite a while, and I certainly didn’t plan on going back.

So how did I learn what I needed to know to make this book work? RESEARCH. SO MUCH RESEARCH.


  1. YouTube – I don’t know what I would have done without the fact that so many physics professors post their lectures online. I watched hours of video on the Rayleigh–Jeans catastrophe (otherwise known as an ultraviolet catastrophe), on wave length and electromagnetic energy, and quantum physics. I’m not sure I could tell you much about it all now, but at the time it made sense!
  2. Science textbooks – I’m lucky that my local library has a huge science section and I was able to check out quite a few books to help me work through some of the stickier science subjects.
  3. Internet research – Of course the internet is a great resource and I did a lot of searching on the various aspects I was trying to include
  4. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) – A lot of the large universities offer these courses and they are an amazing resource. A MOOC is an online course aimed at large-scale participation and open (free) access via the internet. They are similar to university courses, but do not tend to offer academic credit. However, it also means you can take a class at Harvard, or MIT, or the University of Michigan. Talk about a cool experience.

I’m sure there are a ton of other resources out there I could have used, but these were the big ones for me and this book. And of course, since I’m not scientist, I took a ton of liberty with these scientific principles to make them fit the events of my story. I’m sure real physicists would be appalled!

How about you guys – when you have to do research, what are your favorite sources?


39 comments:

Laura Rueckert said...

I have a bit of science in my YA SF too, mostly anatomy and physiology, body chemicals, etc. I found most of my information on the internet, but I was lucky that one of my CPs was a retired doctor, and she was also a great help.

Morgan York said...

Wow, good for you! Bookmarking in case I ever wanna write a sci-fi. :)

Pili said...

I had no idea that things like the MOOC existed, such a cool idea!

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