My point is that, as science fiction writers, we need to make sure the science in our stories isn't too far beyond comprehension. I've found a couple useful resources and tips for doing just that. (Incidentally, I wish I head learned this before I finished my first book.)
- Find a mentor in the sciences: Personally, I like to talk to my brother. He's an engineer and works mostly on renewable/alternative energy research. Fortunately, he's also a science fiction fan and likes to think about the physics of our genre. He's a great resource because he can explain why something might work (even if we can't get it to work in real life yet) or why something definitely won't work. Besides, it's kind of fun just to kick ideas around with him!
- Do some research: I know this sounds like a fate worse than death, but it can be really fun. I don't mean you have to earn an advanced degree or anything, you just have to do a little digging to get some background information and a foundation to build your ideas on. I hope the intellectual community wont' lynch my for saying this, but wikipedia is a great place to start. You can get a lot of basic facts and usually plenty of good resources. I also like Science in My Fiction. They do a pretty good job of covering the science fiction standards (energy weapons and the like), especially explaining how writers often misuse them.
- Share your ideas: I've said it before, but the best way to make sure your ideas will keep your readers interested is to discuss them with someone who reads a lot of science fiction! I love talking to one friend in particular because he'll actually try to punch holes in my ideas (not maliciously). It can be a royal pain sometimes, but it forces me to think about my ideas and see if they really work.
P.S. For all you fantasy writers, don't feel left out! I'm tackling magic in my next post!