I am excited to welcome debut author Joshua V. Scher, who is celebrating the release of his new novel, Here & There.
Debate rages over whether the Reidier Test’s disastrous outcome resulted from human error, government conspiracy, or sabotage. No one has actual knowledge of the truth. But hidden from the public eye, there exists a government report commissioned from criminal psychologist Dr. Hilary Kahn, chronicling the events that took place.
Dr. Kahn disappeared without a trace.
Now her son Danny has unearthed and revealed the report, fueling controversy over the details of Reidier’s quest to reforge the fabric of reality and hold his family together. Exposed with little chance of finding his mother, Danny goes underground to investigate. But nothing can prepare him for what he discovers.
In this thrilling saga, a paradigm-shattering feat may alter humanity’s future as quantum entanglement and teleportation collide.
Click here to read an excerpt.
How Important Are Emotions in Sci-Fi?
“For sale, baby shoes. Never worn.” In six words, Hemingway tells a devastating short story. The plot is simple, the characters are absent, and the setting’s non-existent. Nevertheless, the impact is significant and effective. Why? Because it’s an emotional sucker punch.
The reader cannot help but empathize, imagining parents mourning the loss of their dead child. The heart aches with understanding. The details of the parents’ lives and circumstances of the death are unimportant and unnecessary. All that matters is the immensity of feeling the last two words provoke. Emotion is the key.
If there’s any doubt, consider this slight rewrite: For sale, baby shoes, bright red. See what I mean? That’s not a story. It’s not even a sentence. It’s just an ad. Because it lacks pathos. Almost as much as Hemingway’s novels lack space ships, aliens, artificial intelligence, and any technology more advanced than a fishing reel. He is, arguably, one of the worst science fiction authors ever.
Still, he knew how to write and he knew how to tell stories.
Some books are page-turners, paperbacks one eagerly rushes through to find out what happens in the end. Others are slow-burners, narratives readers relish and breathe a sigh of relief during when they realize they still have hundreds of pages left.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good page-turner. They’re often a roller coaster with a ripping plot, but more often than not, that’s it. A narrative chess match between writer and reader. And when it’s over, it’s over. Nothing lingers. There’s no real emotional impact. It’s sort of like completing a puzzle, there’s a satisfaction to finishing it, sure, but then it goes back in the box.
Science fiction has a lot of these. But so do most genres. What differentiates sci-fi, however, is it requires a certain amount of wonder and awe. No matter how thin the characters or how relentless the plot, sci-fi has to capture the reader’s imagination. It has to transport him or her into the world of what-if. By its very nature it takes on topics that tantalize and terrify us. It teleports us to alien environments, pits us against superior extra-terrestrials, threatens us with our robotic prodigies, and torments us with fascist futures.
Ok, so while the genre engages our inner children (in the best of ways), it’s not necessarily achieving the same gravitas as baby shoes.
For that sort of impact, we need to turn to the slow-burners. It’s in them that we find ourselves getting attached. And attachment is really more what we were thinking in considering the idea and role of emotion. While not strictly necessary, the greater the role of emotion in the sci-fi narrative, the more profound the impact. This is why Terminator is fun, but Blade Runner is haunting. It’s why the end of A Handmaid’s Tale is gut-wrenching and unsettling. Because you’re attached. Because you empathize. It’s why whenever you finish any good book (sci-fi or otherwise) it’s a loss that feels like heartbreak. It’s over and you’ve lost that connection.
At the end, the importance of emotions is really a question for the writer and the reader. How deep do you want to get? How lasting an effect do you want?
For me, emotion takes primacy. My novel, Here & There, isn’t about teleportation. It’s about a physicist trying to save his family and a son trying to find his mother.
There’s no reason sci-fi can’t be literature as well. There’s no reason why it can’t have just as much of an impact in just as short of a story.
For sale, android. Self-a-Ware Software optional.
Meet Joshua V. Scher!
Joshua Scher is a playwright, screenwriter, novelist, and most recently, an Angeleno. He holds a BA with Honors in Creative Writing from Brown University and an MFA in playwriting from Yale University. His play, THE FOOTAGE, has been produced from NYC to Australia and its cinematic adaptation was developed by Pressman Film. Scher’s television pilot, JiGsAw, was developed by Danny Glover with Louveture Films and his film, I’M OK, starring Dot-Marie Jones, is in post-production, set for a 2016 festival run. Here & There is his first novel.
Want to purchase Joshua’s novels?
Here & There