5 Things You Can Do to Get Your Child Interested in Science Fiction

A child used to be in the company of all the members of the family like father, mother, sister, brother, cousin, grandparents, great grandparents till the end of the first half of the twentieth century. It extended to a decade or more in some families. If an event like a marriage taking place in a rural place, the neighbors used to help in cooking and extending hospitality to the guests of the villages. There was totally ‘Oneness’ seen in ‘mini India’. There used to be dances, music, and all sorts of entertainment for a period of more than a week. 

When time and money replaced the earlier ‘pleasure concept’ of the people, youngsters left the villages in seeking jobs, villagers left fearing the rate of interest and the harassment of the money lenders. The wrong notion of more money in cities made everyone the culprits of urbanization. As a result, there is a reduction in the number of young farmers in the villages and rushed to areas where the super industrial era gave assurance of a better life in the cities and metros.

As a result, there was nucleus the family is broken. There was a considerable reduction in the members of the family. The people sought pleasure in buying spree, shopping, and in spending money for entertainment. It lead people to earn by unfair means, accumulate wealth, leading a showy life, developed false prestige. It resulted in extra- marital relationships, divorces, living together culture, and ultimately resulting in single mother families.

 Ambience in which the present day children live:

The present day trend is that most of the children are confined to spend their time at home. There is not even a single serial on any television Channel which could be watched with children as most of them beam love, love triangle, murder, kidnap, demanding ransom, corruption, cheating,  cold wars, tears, family politics and many more.  On the part of the children they have to watch substandard cartoons, most of them beam foreign cartoons in Indian languages which do not depict Indian scenario. Since, they are beamed throughout the day, children may become sofa vegetables.  What sort of impact the above cited scenes will create on the psyche of the children? 

  1. What is Science Fiction?

We have analyzed the Indian scenario in the past and the present times. Historical novels deal with the past, contemporary novels and fiction deal with the present.  On the other hand, Science Fiction deals with the future. The time range may extend from a few years from now to many centuries. . Spatially,  It is not a story of a known world of contemporary times but it may be a story of a  galaxy which is many light years from the Earth. In other words -“That which has not happened yet”. It is not a cock and bull story but is based on Science/Technology. There is no science Fiction story without science element in it. it may deal with Darwin’s theory of Evolution as you may narrate a story where  Vasanth (could be boy/girl)visits robot land to encounter a series of hurdles in bringing back Earth most intelligent humanoid robots for the  service of humanity.  Therefore, Science fiction in simple terms is the study of impact of science and technology on the society. The impact may be good or bad as in the case of the use of cell phones.

2. Narration:

As Aristotle has layed down the principle of storytelling, a Science Fiction will also have a “beginning, middle and the end”. As in mainstream fiction there may be flash back effects. However, follow my own acronym “TIP AS Resolution” for narrating stories that is, every story must have a Title, Initial Incident, Point of view, Attempts, solution. A good story is one which answers for all the questions before the end. Certain issues are resolved at the end even after the solution for the main theme is provided. In Charles Dickens’ novel David Copperfield (1850), Mr.Micauber throughout the novel aspires “something will turn up” and at the end his case is resolved by informing the readers that he has got a job in Australia.

3. Themes:

A story will have many ideas and the main idea is called a theme. Science Fiction may deal with a few themes as listed here: Aging and Mortality, Aliens, Alternative Universe, Ancient Astronauts, Androids, Better Brain, Biological Engineering, Brain Wash, Children of the Wild, Clones, Crime and Punishment, Cryonics, Cyborgs, Dreams of the Future, Drugs, Energy Time Travel, Flying Saucers, Genetic Engineering, Halo caust & Catastrophe: Warfare, Future Weapons, Chemical & Biological Warfare, Nuclear Halo-caust, Intelligent Machines, Journey into Space, Machines and Leisure, Men and Supermen, Mutations, Natural Disaster: A New Ice Age, Plague, Pollution, New organs for Old, Over Population, Famine, Pantropy: New men for New World, Powers  of  the Mind: Mental  Science,  Psionics  & Telepathy, Society, Telekinesis: Mysteries – past & present  Vanished Civilizations.

4. Tips to narrate the Science Fiction Stories:

Science Fiction (SF) stories differ from the mainstream fiction as they are “Have not happened yet”. In this regard, a thorough preparation is required. First of all, a science idea has to be chosen as, if you take out the science idea from the story, the story will fall. Sometimes it is a thought experiment. Consult scientists and experts, experiment it several times, and then select them. A story is extrapolated to several years from now and several light years from now. A structure can be taken which balances the plot. The antagonist is depicted as intelligent as the protagonist. A semblance of harmony is seen on either side with regard to the introduction of the characters. As James Gunn puts it “mainstream has minimized plot as mere incident…Only proper concern is how character should react to repetition. There is “thinness of character” in Science fiction whereas “plot remains at the heart of Science Fiction”.   In many cases, idea is the character in Science Fiction stories. Have dialogues. Above all there should be a story. The element of curiosity should be there throughout the story. To make it spicy, Let there be fun. To cite an example, in Isaac Asimov’s Naked Sun (1956) the protagonist Elijah Bailey wants to get up from his chair. He asks the humanoid robot Daneel Olivaw to “Give me a hand”. The robot takes out its arm from its body and gives it. There should be an element of suspense till the end. So far I have not come across any Science Fiction tragedies. So have a happy ending.

5. Writing itself is a very difficult task. Hence, we value writers. First, one has to have a mental picture. Later one has to jot down the points, choose the names of the characters, their relationship has to be defined, then the places of their plot, transport system, communication ways, dialogues, who will narrate the action has to be thought of, ‘then a draft has to be prepared. That has to be read by us. Ask questions to ourselves whether it conveys proper meaning, Question ourselves whether the story is worth telling? Whether the story answers to all the questions –whether the incidents are plausible. Then write down the list of titles. Read the story before the listeners whose age group is nearly equal to the audience of the desired age group. Listen carefully to the questions asked by the listeners. Try to find the answer within the story. Otherwise modify the same. There is nothing like final until you desire to publish. Prepare the second draft. Read and go to bed. Suddenly you may wake up and make corrections in the midnight. That is natural as the characters, incidents, narration, the science, the plot, the theme, and the end should really bother you. After a week, you can prepare the third draft. Patience yields good result. Professor Lankesh has written somewhere that he learnt writing only after he tore off the first written one thousand and five hundred pages. I too has made seventy six drafts before finalizing one of my writings.

As Francis Bacon says “Practice makes a man perfect”. Read stories written by eminent Science Fiction writers like Jules Verne, Mary Shelley, H.G Wells,Robert Silverberg, Heinlein, Arthur C Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Ursula Le Guin, James Tiptree Junior, Jayanth Narlikar, Bal Phondke, Laxman Londhe, Meghashri Dalavi, Jawadekar, Mandakini Gogte,Arun Manday, Rekha S Baijal, Sujatha, Rajashekhar Bhoosnurmutt, Arvind Mishra, Devendra Mewari, Gokulanand Mahapathra, Sathyajith Ray, Dilip M Salwe, Dinesh Chandra Goswami, Mehandale,KRK Mohan and others.Watch Sci-fi – movies like Metropolis, I Frankenstein, Interstellar, Martian, ET, Jurassic Park, Gravity, Endhiran, Mr.Muniswami 1.2.4, Ra One, serials like Star Wars and Shaktiman.L let us begin to review certain themes: In Bal Phondke’s “Nathicharami” a male and female robot approach a swamiji requesting him to get their marriage done. In Sanjay Havanur’s “The Lift” the question of negative impact of travelling to future is depicted. In Arun Manday’s “Ruby” the depiction of a gynoid attempting to respond to human emotions.In Srinarahari’s “Connect” deals with the solution to waste management of the Earth by dumping them on the 39th Planet by applying the formula G=m1m2/d2.

To facilitate the prospective story tellers/writers, here are a few hints for time travel stories: A scientist invents a Time Machine and vanishes with it; A Scientist travels to the past with his time machine and find out that by stamping on a butterfly results in winning of the rival candidate in the present day election; a scientist returns to the present after travelling to future as a insane person; Enemy country spy confiscates the time machine but does not return to the present at all due to wrong use of the  button; a man lands to the present from the future and decides to remain here supposing that it is the paradise.

Another popular Science Fiction theme is on Robots: Space expedition by robots to discover the congenial atmosphere for man on another planet but it never returns as there was lack of planning in its make to survive in a radioactive atmosphere.  The impact on the citizens and king of the desire  of a robot which wants to rule the country; A humanoid robot got a human brain transplanted and behaving like human, lately discovered that it was not a human being; How a robot outwits a human being in an interview; Lastly, it is not ours till we try it. Please take your pen and start writing science Fiction story today.

About the Author

Dr.Srinarahari is the General Secretary for Indian Association for Science Fiction Studies since its establishment in 1998. He has organized 13 National and 3 World Science Fiction Conferences. He is a writer, critic and a reporter for the number one SF magazine of the world namely Locus. He has conducted Science Fiction Short Story Workshops for the children of the age group 13-15 which is acknowledge as a pioneer attempt. Also conducted similar workshops for Ph.D, M.Phil Research scholars, Master and Undergraduate students, Senior citizens, Working Women and Housewives. After his retirement as Principal in Government instittutions in Karnataka State, he is now working as Principal of Animaster College, Bengaluru. He can be reached over email: sciencefiction_india@yahoo.com.

One thought on “5 Things You Can Do to Get Your Child Interested in Science Fiction

  1. Loved this blog <3. Anyone will find your post useful. Keep up the good work.
    in writing Science fiction, preparing conflicts as many as you can be a great idea. You can add branches to your main conflict. To come up with a compelling conflict, you need to go back to the previous point.


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