Man, writing science fiction while reading Accelerando is a bad idea. It’s like teaching yourself how to use crayons while sitting in the Prado museum, or picking up a flute with only Mozart to practice with. Science fiction: space pirates with ray guns, or Singularity centered orgasmatrons that examine the future as it hurtles towards us? I mean, Stross packs more info into each paragraph than most people do into whole stories, and suddenly you’re feeling like you’ve got to do likewise, that you have to justify your vision of the future by grounding in in extrapolated possibilities that make sense and don’t break any of the rules.
It’s almost like you have a seesaw, with the story sitting on one end, all fun and friendly and waving at the audience, and the science/reality on the other, infinitely complex and potentially restrictive. I guess you have to find the balance, decide how much science to throw in, how many liberties to take in order to further your tale.
For example: it takes about 5 minutes to send a radio wave from Earth to Mars. That means it takes 10 minutes to get a response to any question you make. Does that mean I can never write a story in which people on Earth and Mars are able to converse normally to each other? I’ll always have to take this 10 minute delay into account. Add everything else I am beginning to learn about space elevators and gravity and so forth and suddenly I’m delving into a complicated world into which I have to insert my story.
Either that or come up with magic wand tricks to avoid these restrictions. For example, claim that in 2067 the Scalzi/Stross Drive was discovered, which allowed faster than light travel! Now all my characters can zip about the solar system without worrying about physics as we understand it.
The story comes first, I’m guessing. When I read Ursula LeGuin’s stories, I didn’t balk and hoot at the lack of accurate scientific portrayals – I was simply along for the ride, and enjoyed the writing and story telling. In the end, the story trumps science, and if it’s not helping, then chuck it. But all this information has given my editorial voice a whole host of new weapons, and now I find it trickier than ever to just let go and have my imagination roam free…