SF / Fantasy is a broad church. Over the years I’ve read a lot of it.
I’d go with an idea or a premise, explored to some logical conclusions. This requires fine-tuning to plot and setting; character shouldn’t be affected but is frequently set to ‘wooden’!
Taking an idea and analysing its consequences requires little literary pedigree. Many such premises have become stock devices for the genre. For example: Faster than light travel; Galactic empires conquered by / ruled by humans; Martian / other wordly princesses; Parallel dimensions and alternate histories…. Re-using a motif requires more thought, but SF plagiarises its stock of devices with careless abandon. For this and other reasons it earns its ghetto status.
I think it was Brian Aldiss who speculated that a new and upcoming generation of middle class literatii would establish themselves and go on to make SF respectable; and that unless Continue reading “What Makes Good SF?”