Having recently read some great sci-fi for the first time in a couple years, I have some thoughts.
I think my perspective has changed after the past few years of reading pretty much only literary classics. Coming back to science fiction after that, everything feels so transparent. I’m not sure if it’s me, or just this book, but this is what I felt:
I felt like I could see every move the author was making. I saw each bit of foreshadowing and set up and why he was doing it. A leads to B leads to C. The inner workings of the story seemed to be laid bare, without even an effort to disguise them. Though one can say the ticking and turning gears of a watch is beautiful and skillful, it is still something mechanical, unabashedly and proudly–not something organic. And organic is what I’ve come to feel writing should be.
Is it the genre, or is it the author? I’ll have to read more sci fi to be sure, but I suspect some of it must be to do with the genre. Sci fi by its nature requires lots of explaining. There are guaranteed to be new concepts and technologies in a sci fi novel–after all, that is the driving force for the author to even write the thing: to show off new ideas and technologies. The steps needed to bring the reader to the point of understanding how something works probably can’t help but feel somewhat mechanical.
I think this also is part of why I haven’t written sci fi (or fantasy) in a long time: I’ve grown to intensely dislike explaining things.
I feel I’ve been mutating for the past six months or so, and am about to start writing again. But my style may have completely changed by then, just as my tastes have…