I belong to a lot of groups. Some are about writing, some about things science fictiontiony, some about makeup and clothing, some about how to cook the best meth. (No, that last is just a joke. A joke. Does anyone remember laughter?)
Over the last few days a thread popped up in one of these groups, and it made my head hurt. Without getting into too much detail, someone decided that, for their story, they needed a Hollow Earth. Not only did they need one, but they needed it bigger, and they needed populated . . . and they needed it to occur naturally. They also wanted to know if the people on the inside of the world would ever know that their are people on the outside, and if the people on the outside would ever know about the people on the inside, and could they detect each other like they would an earthquake, and . . .
Ouch. My head hurts.
I know what you’re thinking: “Cassie, you’re being a bitch. You’re gettin’ all up in this guy’s stuff just because you think the primary plot element of his story is crazy.” Yeah, I’m like that. I look at things that aren’t and say, “Hey, you know if you don’t have a spinning molten metallic core in your planet, you’re never going to have magnetic fields, and eventually everyone dies.” I know–bitch, right?
I am the first to admit than when I want something in a story, I go for it. Magic? Sure, why not? I’ve done it in one story, and I’m going to do it in another. Superpowers? You know it, because I know I’d look great in a boob window. Psychic abilities? I have a whole series I could write around a couple of ladies who possess them. How do all these things work? Damned if I know, because it’s all stuff that’s happening at quantum levels of nature, and you need to get people brainer than me to puzzle that stuff out.
Tell me you have a naturally occurring hollow planet, or that you’re packing up your planet and moving to another system because everything’s used up, and I start looking at you funny. Because there are some things that just aren’t meant to be.
Suspension of disbelief is something all writers have to deftly balance when working their craft. You can throw a few pieces of Handwavium into your story to make it fantastic, but if you maintain the internal consistency of the world, things’ll be groovy. (And Handwavium? Yeah, that’s a real word.) But if you do something stupid like, oh, I don’t know, synthesize someone’s blood and discover that it’ll bring people back from the dead hours after they croaked, then you’ve officially crossed the border into Bullshittia without your passport and there’s no coming back in one piece. (This also goes for dumping a dead body on a newly created planet and having it restore someone to the age they were when they died. Yeah, the border guards should have stopped you.)
Nothing wrong with the fantastic. We love to read it, love to wallow in it, too. But we own it to ourselves to keep it somewhat real as well.
Otherwise someone like me comes along and . . .