Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The fictional skeptic

The subject was brought up over at Pharyngula of how skeptics are portrayed in fiction. I left the following comment over there, and I'm cross-posting it here so my readers can know a bit more of what I'm up to:

I'm actually working on a skeptical fantasy book myself (which is going at the expected snail's pace for random-intellectual-tries-to-write-a-book). The world contains many typical magical elements, but with physical causes behind them. Of course, since magic doesn't actually work in our world, my solution was to go in and tweak the laws of physics for this world.

Being the scientist that I am, looking at the results of somewhat different physical laws turned out to be one of the most interesting parts of constructing this world. For instance, one of the first ideas I tried was the existence of magnetic monopoles. I later added in negative-mass matter in order to explain the ability of magic to seemingly violate conservation of energy. Putting these together allowed me a somewhat-plausible physical explanation for magic, which means within the context of the story it can be studied.

The major theme of the story is rational skepticism, particularly about religions. In it, a major world religion's history is thoroughly plumbed and it's revealed that it's completely wrong in many ways, and the one seed of truth in it leaves out the real interesting story that happened in the past.

Unfortunately, I haven't really been working on it much lately. Seeing that there might be some interest for a skeptically-themed story, however, I'll see if I can convince myself to get back to it.

It occured to me that if I talk about some aspects of it while writing it, it might get me back into working on it. So, I'd like to ask my regular readers a question: Would you be interested in reading about the process of writing it? There are many ways I could go about it, such as talking about the characterization, the building of the world, the designing of alternate physical laws, and how I'm fitting in themes of skepticism.

Leave a comment and let you know what you think (if you're unsure and would like a sample of what such a post might be like, feel free to say that). No pressure, of course; there's no reason I can't just create another blog to talk about it if the general traffic here wouldn't be interested in that. But if they would be, no reason not to keep it here.


TheBrummell said...

That sounds like fun. I'd like to see some of what goes in to writing a book, especially a piece of fiction being written by a scientist who has not written (much? at all?) fiction before - i.e. someone similar to myself in my moments of wanting to write a novel or something like that.

toomanytribbles said...

tag! you're it!