Heard of science fiction in medi/primeval settings?

Discussion in 'General Books' started by Daughter of Hell, Oct 16, 2015.

  1. Daughter of Hell

    Daughter of Hell damosel in distress

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    I was wondering if people know of any books which are generally solid fantasy (like A Song of Ice and Fire is), in the basic swords and castles setting or something similar, but are considered some type of science fiction?

    I ask because I'm a writer and I'm writing one. I wanted to know if it's been done before, or anything similar. The general idea I had was there's no magic in it. It's just a primitive society. However, the planet's much older than Earth, so evolution has taken certain organisms in odd directions. There is, for example, viruses that turn people into giants, or such, enhancing their strength. Makes sense?

    It's science fiction, because it's based on evolution and stuff, but it's a fantasy world. Seen it before? Let me know. Thanks.
     
  2. Emerlas

    Emerlas Emerz

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    nothing like that comes to my mind
    sounds like a great concept though :D
     
  3. Overread

    Overread Wolfing it up! Staff Member

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    Anne McCaffrey's Pern novels spring to mind. Technically science fiction because of the historical base of the setting; however much of the action plays out against a very fantasy setting with the technologies of the past creating a world which operates with elements that seem more magical to the people of that world. Heck before she passed away I've heard that she'd regularly get into "debates" regarding if her work was sci-fi or fantsay.

    So it has certainly been done - that, however, doesn't mean it shouldn't be done so again :)

    Heck you can get the opposite too; Starwars is a fantastic example where you've got swordplay against a very science fiction setting.


    I would say cross-overs are fun and enjoyable and, like most things, if they are done right and done well they will work. I would say that if evolution is your primary "science" element then chances are it might not carry as much "sci-fi" as you're expecting. Evolution isn't really a science so much as its just a natural process - so in theory its in all fantasy anyway (beyond those purely created by a gods doing of course).
     
  4. Daughter of Hell

    Daughter of Hell damosel in distress

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    Thanks, Overread.

    I like the idea of pushing it towards sci-fi as much as possible. It's going to confuse people though. Because the locals don't understand science (iron age civilization), they think it's magic, and the work of the gods, and the reader will be inclined to agree. However, it's just freakishly evolved viruses that give people seemingly supernatural powers and appear to make mythical races. I'm not sure how I'd clue the reader in that it's not at all magic. It's going to be fun.

    Okay. Bye now.
     
  5. Overread

    Overread Wolfing it up! Staff Member

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    It depends how early you want to clue the reader in. A prologue could easily set the stage to convey information about the setting which otherwise would be very hard or clumsy to put into the narrative.

    You could document the first testing of one of the viruses - setting the stage for later when they've evolved further but giving the hint to the reader that they were at one time developed by an advanced race. You could also detail the fall of civilization if you chose to.

    Note if you do the former remember that if you don't detail the fall in the prologue you have to give some big hints early on in hte first chapter that you're shifting time significantly and that the people are now living in a much more primitive way. Otherwise your reader is going to get confused as to why the sci-fi starting story suddenly changed without mention or they are going to get really confused as to what is going on.

    Presenting questions to the reader is good - confusing them as to what is going on is bad since the former makes them read on; the latter makes them just want to throw the book out the window.
     
  6. JIM

    JIM zombie Turncoat

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    there was a series i read as a teen which is similar.
    post apocalypse, city states ruled the land, medieval armies did battle. the main character was the son of a minor captain, suddenly elevated to prince of the city.
    there's a revolution and the prince's father is overthrown while the main character is away visiting an advanced society (with rifles).
    the main character returns at the head of a WW1 style army to take his city back but is guilted by the civilians setting themselves as a human shield on the city walls.
    he returns to the advanced society, victorious but without ultimate victory.
    as the story ends we learn the advanced society has reinvented flying machines and what they call tanks.
     
  7. Daughter of Hell

    Daughter of Hell damosel in distress

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    it's not post apocolypse. the world has never got beyond iron age, thanks largely to the viruses which keep bringing about ragnarok. my plan is to cue the reader in slowly, i think, but keep them entertained by sub-plots along the way. i'm writing a sort of in-world charles darwin into it, who slowly unravels the mystery of evolution and the existence of the viruses. it'll have to go slow, otherwise i'd need to rewrite that plot.

    thanks for the replies. bye.
     
  8. Sparrow

    Sparrow Well-Known Member

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    Charles Darwin's, On the Origin of Species was published four decades before the concept of viruses was proposed, a hundred years before they were properly defined and considered as an influencing force of evolution... plus, viruses are so small you can only 'see' them with an electron microscope. You could conceivably use a light microscope, but you could not articulate any detail of a virus... your story would need to take place in a post-industrialized world with access to a high power microscope. That doesn't mean your world need be "modern", or even "Victorian-Steampunk"; it could still be medieval-renaissance, but definitely not Iron Age.

    If you're interested, read The Iron Dragon's Daughter, and The Dragons of Babel, by Michael Swanwick. Both books have at least some aspects of what I think you're looking for. Beyond that, a great up-to-date book on Evolution is A New History of Life by Peter Ward & Joe Kirschvink.
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2015
  9. Daughter of Hell

    Daughter of Hell damosel in distress

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    I appreciate your interest, Sparrow. Please try and envision a 12 billion year old virus, and how it might vary from Earth's viruses, which are what, not more than a billion years old, surely? I'm using the term "virus" loosely, anyway. I'm writing it in as a sort of algae thing, which can be seen because it clumps.
     
  10. Sparrow

    Sparrow Well-Known Member

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    Earthly viruses came on the scene rather late in the game, only about 300 million years ago.
    The other thing about viruses, they aren't actually considered living organisms. They need host cells to replicate.
     
  11. Daughter of Hell

    Daughter of Hell damosel in distress

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    Yeah, I'm learning. I just said "virus" because it makes sense, easy to understand. What would you call it, then? A microscopic organism like algae, that grows in stagnant ponds, and clumps together so it's visible, but can enter the bloodstream of animals through various ways, and can be passed on through sexual reproduction too. It can read DNA, pretty much, and choose which features to enhance, and which not to enhance, always with the goal of making stronger beings that allow it to, through the host, dominate the planet. It's the dominant life-form. What is it, then?
     
  12. Sparrow

    Sparrow Well-Known Member

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    Actually, a virus can still be used in a story as you intend it... viruses are dead simple organisms, usually one-trick-ponies that can infect and affect human DNA. In the bad sense, viruses can cause death, but those times that humanity overcame a particular virus made us stronger and we survived while other competing homo species died out. We Homo-sapiens have permanent remnant RNA from various viruses written into our DNA, there are also ethnic differences... scientists use it to map our evolution over millions of years. About five years ago they found the RNA of a virus in our DNA, it's inert and has no effect on us... they also found the same virus RNA in Chimpanzee DNA and it takes up the same position in their DNA strand, proving we branched off of the same ancient ancestor a very long time ago.
    If you use viruses in your story, if the setting is Iron Age or later, Dark Ages perhaps, then you could have certain people (shaman or witches, or whomever trained in the Dark Arts) in your story who use substances found in nature to propagate changes in people. They would of course have no idea that it's viruses doing the dirty work.

    Theres's a few books that come to mind, that do something similar to what you want to do, though the three books are all Science Fiction... I Am Legend by Richard Matheson, The Andromeda Strain, by Michael Crichton, and The Body Snatchers, by Jack Finney. I Am Legend is probably the closest example, as the plague ultimately creates a stronger hybrid humanity better equipped to survive. Btw, the I'm talking about the book, not the really bad movie with Will Smith.
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2015
  13. Daughter of Hell

    Daughter of Hell damosel in distress

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    Thanks for your replies, Sparrow. I'll look into your recommendations. I have to stick with "virus" because I don't know what else to call it. "Viral algae" appears to be the go.

    Here's one thing I'm writing now that I thought was a really cool idea. Like I said, there's no magic, but it looks like magic to both reader and protagonist. So there's an Egyptian-like priestess called Silence. She has the virus in her blood. She meets a new recruit to her cult and begins teaching her stuff. I already said, people are having trouble reading. They keep suffering major wars (Ragnarok) and lose touch with their old culture. So there is ancient stone tablets they cannot read the heiroglyphs of.

    So what Silence does is take the "viral algae" from a sacred pond, dry it, compress it into a sort of bar of soap, then place paper over the stone tablets and rub the algae-bar over it to make a rubbing. Then she puts water on the paper to bring the algae back to life. Then she burns the paper, mixes the ashes with water, then feeds the water to the new recruit. The recruit then learns what's written on the stone. This is how they read the language of the ancients. What's happening is, the virus feels the shape of the words when it's rubbed over the stone, then it imprints that wisdom into the human when they eat it.

    Silence has her lips sewn up with golden thread, too. It's so that, if she's killed suddenly, a butterfly carrying an enemy virus cannot lay its larvae in her mouth and steal the wisdom she learnt from the stones.

    So it, all looks magic, but it's not. I'm quite proud of how magic it looks frankly!
     
  14. Sparrow

    Sparrow Well-Known Member

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    The problem as I see it... if I'm Silence I wouldn't want a recruit or any underling knowing what I know. I doubt I'd be so willing to share wisdom, especially if wisdom is power. Perhaps, instead of the recruit becoming wise, they merely translate the ancient texts. The virus need not affect the brain of the recruit, it could simply manifest itself on the skin. The stone rubbing is translated as symbols and characters on the skin?.. anyhow, seems a bit more creepy that way.:)
    Incidentally, there are some rare skin diseases that make very weird imprints and patterns on the skin, some are only visible under certain kinds of light... google "Blaschko's lines". Check this site out... Understanding Genetics

    I like the butterfly idea... sort of Dark Ages biological warfare.
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2015
  15. Daughter of Hell

    Daughter of Hell damosel in distress

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    It's funny, Sparrow. A lot of what you say, I already thought of! Silence's recruit is Parthenia, niece of the king in the neighboring country. She's recruiting her as a plot for world domination! The temple I envision these stone tablets in are in floors, also. The highest wisdom is on the highest floor and only read by the highest recruits, who then have to sew their mouths up to protect that wisdom. There aren't many of them. Like you imagine, they're scared of their knowledge falling into enemy hands, so only the most trusted recruits go to the highest level.

    I don't know why you're talking about skin. I think you misunderstood something. You know what a "rubbing" is, don't you? =
    Rubbing - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    So consider making a rubbing of the stone tablets using the dried viral algae as the ink. The algae is super evolved, so it can read the shape of the rubbing it's on. Then burn the rubbing and mix the ashes with water, drink it. It looks like you're making a magical potion. That's what both the protagonist and reader will believe. I got the idea from actual ancient Egypt, where people believed the written word had power, and they thought you could absorb that power by burning the paper and drinking the ashes.

    Here's another idea I had this morn. Migratory birds. Infect one with the virus and it migrates to the enemy kingdom with the rest of its kind. Perfect spy in disguise. Locals won't think twice when they see it. Drink the bird's blood when it's returned, and the virus in the blood will teach the drinker everything the bird has seen of the foreign kingdom.

    The butterfly idea came from one strain of the virus where the virus is passed from human to human by biting (this gives the reader an impression they're reading about vampires). The virus turns a person's saliva into fangs made of ice, then they bite their chosen mate. The ice melts in the mate's warm-blooded neck, inseminating them. It's oral sex. LOL. The butterfly idea is a bi-product of this. The butterfly goes to battlefields and lays a larvae in a chosen girl's mouth. The larvae is like a huge maggot. Disgusting. It eats the tongue for food (which is why Silence sews her mouth up), gaining whatever information it can from the blood, then travels down the throat, into the womb, where it transforms into a butterfly, then climbs out the corpse's vagina. Sorry if that's gross as Hell. It's meant to be. This is dark horror fantasy for adults. But you see this strain of the virus is very oral-centered, which is why Silence's cult sews up their mouths.

    These are just little ideas of how to create the illusion of a magical world. I mean, it's still radical fantasy, yeah, but there's no "higher power" behind this magic. No gods, no divine source, no other realm stuff. It's just life-forms using one another like parasites to get ahead in the game of evolution and natural selection. I hope I can sell it. I think I've got some great ideas, and pretty original too.

    Bye now.
     
  16. Sparrow

    Sparrow Well-Known Member

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    I like to think I'm a better than average lover, one who can on occasion make butterflies fly out of women's vagina.
    Metaphorically speaking.:rolleyes:
     
  17. anonymous

    anonymous the king

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    Timeline comes to mind