Lazette Gifford
Publisher & Editor
zette@cableone.net

 

Nuggets of Wonder

By Lenny Kraft
2005,
Lenny Kraft


I was nine years old when I fell for science fiction.

To keep me from getting bored on a class trip, my mother handed me a book: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Not only did this book have quite an influence on my developing personality (especially my sense of humor), but it also opened a door into a completely new world.

I have been an avid reader of science fiction ever since. While I do read the occasional novel in other genres, I always return to my one and true love.

Why?

Because there is something in science fiction that I rarely if ever find in other genres. It is not only the strange worlds and the visions of what if. Fantasy offers that, too. But what pulls me to science fiction is the occasional moment when an idea leaps at me and I hold my breath for a second and go "I'd never have thought of that." Perhaps you have experienced it, too -- an idea that was so intriguing, so unique or simply so cool that it jolted your brain and set your mind in motion and for days afterwards you found yourself coming back to this idea as a starting point for a completely new direction of thought.

A few months ago, a novel that gave me this feeling was A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge. One of the key elements of the plot is a species of aliens that form collective intelligences. One creature has the mind of an animal, but four to six form an intelligent individual.

I'd never have thought of that.

During the weeks after I had finished the book (which, by the way, I warmly recommend to anyone looking for a good read), I spent several hours turning the idea over and over in my mind. I twisted it, stretched it, and of course wondered how much of it I might steal for my own writing. My mind, and thus my world, had become a little richer.

It is not just novels, of course. While a novel may present an idea as a polished jewels, perhaps the most yielding source is short stories. The short story does not leave much room to explore an idea, showing it instead as a raw gemstone. The in-depth exploration is left as an exercise to the reader -- and it is an exercise that I sometimes enjoy more than the story itself.

It does not happen in every story. And I am not actively searching for these idea-nuggets, or I would be disappointed most of the time. But whenever I start reading a new story, I enjoy the possibility that this one might rock my brain.

As you can imagine, this is what I want to accomplish with my writing, too. I am a science fiction writer, and so I aim for even more than believable characters, fascinating worlds and gripping stories.  I try to come up with original ideas and tweak them around so that some day, somewhere, one of my readers will put the story down for a heartfelt moment of "I'd never have thought of that."

Because this is what made me fall in love with science fiction, and this is what I want to pass on.

 

 

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams - Del Rey Books - ISBN 0345418913

A Fire Upon the Deep - Vernor Vinge - Tor Books - ISBN 0812515285