I Wish I Had a Sonic Screwdriver
OK, lame joke, but still--if you've not checked out this amazing show from BBCA, you need to.
Doctor Who has been around a long time--if you count all the reboots and re-imaging of the show, it's the longest running television series ever. The premise is brilliant--a man (who looks human but is really from another planet) is the Doctor, and his mission in life is to protect the weak and help those in need (hence the name, Doctor)....kind of like an intergalactic Superman, but without the super powers or Spandex suit.
The Doctor has some powerful weapons with him--including a Tardis (the police box in the background) that is much bigger on the inside and is a space ship; psychic paper that allows the Doctor to present papers to people who then see whatever they expected to see (a passport, an invitation to the party, clearance to go to the secret base)....and a sonic screwdriver.
And it's also the thing that drives hardcore sci-fi nerds CRAZY.
See, Doctor Who is--technically--science fiction. But he's got a device that's almost a dues ex machina. Whenever he's in trouble, he always has the screwdriver that can, miraculously, get him out of whatever scrape he's gotten himself into.
Yes, it's kind of sciencey. It's sonic, after all. But there's no real scientific explanation to the screwdriver, just as there's no real scientific explanation for psychic paper or a police box that's bigger on the inside and can time travel.
This, to me, is the difference between hard sci fi and soft sci fi. Hard sci fi needs a true, 100% realistically possible explanation for anything. But soft sci fi can use a sonic screwdriver like a magic wand.
I prefer soft sci fi--I'd rather focus on the story than on the science (and I'd rather focus on David Tennant than either of those, mmmm....).
What about you? Hard sci fi, or soft sci fi?
The League of Extraordinary Writers is a group of debut YA authors who write science fiction and dystopian works. The ten of us have works that run the gamut of near-future mind control to far-future space travel, but they do have one thing in common: a future where the Earth we know now is twisted, gone.