Read This First!
McIntyre’s First Law:
Under the right circumstances, anything I tell you could be wrong.
Pitfall #8: It Looks Like Seem or Appear!
These Seem to Be More Weasels
Be very careful about the use of words such as “seem” and “appear,” especially in science fiction. As Samuel R. Delany pointed out, in sf things can happen that are unlikely to happen in real life or in realistic (“mainstream”) fiction. Therefore, if you use “seem,” you should mean “seem.” As in, “This is what it looked like but this isn’t really what’s going on, so pay attention!”
A perceptive reader will note “seem” or “appear” or “looked like,” perk up their ears, and wait for you to tell them what really is going on. If nothing other than the superficial action is going on, the reader is going to be irritated.
Eventually the reader will quit trusting you.
I blog here every Sunday, and irregularly otherwise as the spirit takes me.
My novel Dreamsnake is now available at Book View Cafe, serialized by the chapter on Sundays. You may buy the complete ebook for $4.99. (Current formats: Mobipocket/Palm, html, PDF).
At Book View Cafe you can also find The Moon and the Sun, as well as the faux-encyclopedia article, “The Natural History and Extinction of the People of the Sea,” that inspired it.
Recently added: “The Adventure of the Field Theorems,” a Sherlock Holmes scientific romance, in which Sir Arthur Conan Doyle hires Mr Sherlock Holmes to investigate crop circles, and Dr Watson demonstrates to Holmes the benefits of astronomy.
For signed hardcovers of The Moon and the Sun and my other SF novels, visit my website’s Basement Full of Books.