This topic contains 31 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by Profile photo of ogreoregon ogreoregon 6 years, 8 months ago.

Infodumps

  • Profile photo of ogreoregon

     You see the chef, the chef shows you: the pile of ingedients, some familiar some not; the shelves full of dusty boxes of ….?  You see the stove with lots of cooking surfaces, he shows you his collection of kitchen knives.Then he shows you the bubbling pots and you smell the aroma of something so delicious, you can’t wait for a taste!  The Chef dips into the boiling pot and holds the spoon to your lips.  You taste……. ahhhh!  The chef knows how to entice.  He can create a masterpiece using all the things you saw as you walked through  the kitchen,  but you would never have imagined what he was going to create with them. 

    *I’m Rear Admiral but Sigler ‘s the BOSS*

    Profile photo of Donald Martin

    I agree, the Science in the re-write is really interesting, must be in the book.

    BTW..I’ve read all of the Harry Potter books and I’m re-reading the Lord of the Rings book right now.

    • These gathering hosts of loyal junkies, under the command of the great SCOTT
    Profile photo of Thomas Reed

    but then it does make for good drama

    and we get to see deeper into the mind of sigler (DAMN HIMN)

    mmmm, now is that a good thing??

    Profile photo of James Keeling

    When the sigler decides to post, he sure goes all out doesn’t he…   

    SynapticJam on Toast – hhhmmm… tastes like chicken (aka PUVJK)

    Profile photo of Thomas Reed

    ya need the science in scifi

    especially if the story is BASED on that science, look at crighton’s (sp) work, jurasic park, prey (good gawd that was good scifi horror story), next. and he JAM PACKS the science in his stories, not just a little explanation

    Profile photo of Wolf

    You wouldn’t read a murder-mystery and not expect both a murder and a mystery. Same with science fiction. Without the science, it’s just fiction. If you don’t want science in your fiction, read Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings.

    I consider the science to be just as important to the story as any character. It’s not just knowing what, but how and why.

    "Just shut the fuck up and do yer job, asshole!"

    Profile photo of Donald Martin

    It feels like I just read a book.

    The Sigler could have podcasted that remark and made a bonus episode. LOL 

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    • These gathering hosts of loyal junkies, under the command of the great SCOTT
    Profile photo of Thomas Reed

    my eyes hurt from reading so much on the pc screen

    lol

    Profile photo of Richard Damge

    the benevolent dictator has spoken!!! i don’t think Stephen King or Dean Koontz, both who i like by the way, would give their readers or critics feedback like that. Out-fucking-standing!  just another reason i’m hooked for life. the Dark Overlord takes on all comers and crushes them, jackboot firmly on the throat.

    Profile photo of Donald Martin

    That’s right submit to The Sigler 

    He is always right 

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    • These gathering hosts of loyal junkies, under the command of the great SCOTT
    Profile photo of Thomas Reed
    Profile photo of Thomas Reed
    Profile photo of Christopher Thanard

    As you point out, I did a rather nice job of defeating my own arguments. I can understand how an explanation is required for the seeds. If you didn’t give any, the book would turn into some sort of supernatural ghost-possession thing, and we wouldn’t want that. So, I’ll happily concede, there. Here, you even make it sound reasonable, given access to advanced alien-tech.

    Looking back on it, my request did sound pretty audacious. I suppose I assumed you already had the research in front of you, and you’d just need to copy-paste it into the feed. I didn’t even think of the required production time. Sorry about that. I suppose there is a limit to how long even you want to spend in the closet.

    I suppose the only leg I have left to stand on is the one I hobbled in with. Even now, though, my "find a better way to give us the information" argument is sounding quite weak. If there is information the reader needs to know, and needs immediately, then an exposition from an omniscient narrator is probably the only option the author has. There must be a reason so many sci-fi books use the things. So, I concede that point, as well.

    Thanks for all the insight. It isn’t many authors that would put up with this.

    Profile photo of Tom Merritt

    sorry I asked for a different feed for the Infected podcast… Sealed

    I just wanted seperate feeds so I can wait and not distract myself too much right now…  (thank you to Pulsar again!)

    I’ll buy you a beer in Houston!  Tongue out

    Profile photo of James Keeling

    I can immediately see and understand her view and Scott’s counterview…  This is what makes both Scott’s stories, and these forums such a great place.  Here we are provided true insight into Scott’s creative process as well as the perceptions of readers/listeners.  Gravy… 

    SynapticJam on Toast – hhhmmm… tastes like chicken (aka PUVJK)

    Profile photo of James Keeling

    I’m in at least some agreement with Treed…  It does slow down the story a little bit, but in this case, pacing may be a good enough reason for the scientific diatribe. 

    SynapticJam on Toast – hhhmmm… tastes like chicken (aka PUVJK)

    Profile photo of

    So on the one hand, you say I’m building on reality and you don’t need explanation. On the other, you find the concept of alien seeds a bit far-fetched to the point where it breaks my argument of need for expositioinal detail upon which to found the story. What’s an author to do?

    There is a difference between my work and what most people are doing. I consider my contemporaries to be Crichton and Lincoln & Child. These authors try to take existing scientific knowledge, give it a little fictional nudge, and give you a story where a predominant thought in your mind is "I can see this happening." That’s the benchmark of this style, a story that you could see happening. When done right, you should have your non-science-following readers wondering if what you wrote is, indeed, current science.

    The Rookie is a fun story. It’s a cake-walk, because I can take the liberties that most of the "hard scifi" guys take. It’s a warp drive. It’s a space elevator. You’ve heard of this stuff before, so just take my word for it that it works and enjoy your story, dammit. That’s what most hard scifi is, a theoretical idea with a bunch of thin, unrealistic characters thrown in as a backdrop. I can get away with factual murder there because we’ve all been weened on "re-calibrating the phase array" to solve any number of plot holes.  

    It’s a different ballgame when you are using the real stuff to justify your story. The science in NOCTURNAL, for example, is sound. We’re using real-life examples of inheritence, genetic drift and mutation to create something that is believable.

    As for the seeds, I’ll quote my father to say "you’re wrong, fishbreath." DNA is at it’s essence a collection of building instructions, do you agree? It’s a blueprint that builds itself. If you could read and understand this blueprint, you could see all of the things that DNA will become. Again, agreed? Hard to argue with it, really, because we grow from that tiny spec of DNA into a replicatable, predicatble form with statistically insignificant variation. So it is a blueprint, and it could be read to see what it would produce, if we only knew how. You could also modify those instructions to build something else — or have you never heard of a virus? Hijacking biological processes is a common thing in nature, so I’m sticking to the fact there, just extending the technology to a higher level. The factual basis for biological modification of cell reproduction is inarguable. At one point the Tower of London was thought the world’s tallest building, but now our technology lets us make things much larger. The basic process of making a building is the same, but modern tech lets us take it to an extreme they Tower builders could have never imagined. 

    Okay, so that’s the seed. Let’s move on. As for the atmospheric survival, do you know the delivery vehicle? No, I haven’t shown that yet. So do me a favor and give me the benefit of the doubt. Third, looking at the structure of the hatchlings, what is the most fundamental self-supporting structure? A tripod. Not us, we take constant balance modifications to even remain standing. A tripod provides stable structure, and if you were to make that tripod a pyramid, and put an eye in each plane, you’ve now got 360-degree vision, the perfect fashion accessory for the alien invader on the go. Finally, if you’re going to set up a Turing Machine that can travel infinite distances, detect a habitable planet, land and set up shop, wouldn’t you want all that effort to succeed? Well I would, but I’m crazy that way. To me, that means finding a way to identify sentient life. Sentient life is the only thing that has collected a large amount of knowledge about the world. It knows culture, geography, available technology, and — most important of all — it knows which other sentient life forms would try to destroy it. In war, the most powerful weapon is information. Knowing your enemy is how you defeat your enemy. If the seeds just infect any animal in a haphazzard fashion, will they survive long enough to build what they were sent to build? Maybe, maybe not, depends on the level of technology available to the sentient life forms on that planet. If I’m in charge of this operation, I’m investing in stealth and intelligence gathering as opposed to brute-force and exponential replication. And do keep in mind, the hatchlings are NOT the life form behind all of this! They are a tool to connect two points, allowing their original builders to travel distances that, at least in this universe, could not be covered by biological life forms in conventional modes of travel. 

    An as for mind control, it happens every day on this planet in numbers we can’t even calculate. For some easily digestible examples, please visit my YouTube page and look at the parasite movies:

    http://youtube.com/user/scottsigler

    In many of these examples, the parasites actually MAKE THE HOST COMMIT SUICIDE. If you don’t think a parasite forcing an animal to abandon the basic tenant of survival is mind control, then I can’t help you see basic logic in the first place.

    So, good thing for me I make the rules. If you don’t like the exposition, skip it. You seem like a savvy enough reader to see it coming and skip over it.

    The blatant audacity of you asking to modify the text to fit your desires is pretty impressive. You want me to create a second podcast feed, RSS data, PDFs, whatever, to make the book "read better" as opposed to the individual readers who don’t like those portions just breezing them over or skipping them altogether. This argument really doesn’t even make sense.

    Get yourself a bottle of white-out and go crazy, then re-read, and enjoy! 

    Profile photo of Gmork

    Diatribe at it’s finest

    Profile photo of Christopher Thanard

    Vampire and Zombie stories? That’s a pretty low. Certainly, I know where to go if I’m desperate for the brain-candy, but normally I stay far away from those cliché-ridden excuses for literature.

    I prefer the short story, which generally follows a "use only if necessary" stance on describing technology. Anything else takes up words and slows down the plot. I’ve heard a saying tossed around by various writers: show, don’t tell. In this vein, I believe exposition should be a last resort, not a first.

    There is a genre out there calling itself "hard sci-fi", and there is, in my mind, a surprisingly large market for the stuff. Its readers are armed with a fork and knife, ready to devour whatever technical explanations are tossed their way. The sales of anything in David Weber’s Honorverse (especially War of Honor) is testament to that fact. I don’t know if that’s the company you wish to keep, but mind-controlling aliens aren’t the kind of thing you’d write about if you did.

    You certainly don’t go around shouting "Nanobots! Quantum Physics!" and assume that explains any tech in your books. I’m quite thankful that you treat your audience better than that. On the other hand, you do take some liberties with your science. I mean, you have space aliens that can genetically engineering a microscopic seed that transforms into a psychic, mind-controlling, three-eyed tentacle-vampire with a complete awareness of the alien world and near complete control over an alien mind and body. Oh, but did I mention that these aliens can’t get most of the seeds to survive entry into the atmosphere, and even then, nothing will probably happen until they’re eaten by certain alien dust mites. But hey, as long as we know the scientific name for that particular mite, the whole thing must be Science!

    So, what do I think a proper amount of exposition sounds like? The book that immediately comes to mind is "The Rookie". As far as I remember, most of the exposition in that book stuck to what was critical to the plot. The relationships between the races (something the readers need to know about, but have no way of knowing) was done in a nice, succinct manner. Most of what we needed to know about the Purist Nation was shown through the thoughts and actions of Quentin. Any description of alien races was done through his eyes, which would have the same perspective as the readers’. At no point did it feel like I was listening to a textbook.

    Possibly the most important point I can make, though, is about the way you handled football in your story. In separate podcasts, you took the time to give a briefing on the rules of the game, but in the actual book, you assumed the listeners would understand what was going on. I think this is because you, yourself, knew about football before even going into the story. On the other hand, if you spend a lot of time researching something, you tend to stick some of it into the story, instead of a "The Science Behind…" companion cast, where it probably belongs. In books, there are footnotes, and the readers have the ability to scan the pages until the story is resumed. Podcasts aren’t quite as easy to skip through.

    Most sci-fi creates entirely new worlds. They need pages and pages of exposition to justify the actions of their characters. You are building off reality. The world your characters come from is the same world we come from. We don’t need to be told what our world is; we just need to be told how our world is different from theirs. You did say that you’re "not even scratching the surface on this stuff." I want to hear about the science and reasoning behind why your world is the way it is, but not in the middle of the story. Toss together a meta-cast in which you’re doing all the exposition you didn’t put in a Faux Dialogue Naïve, and I’d happily listen to it.

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    I don’t do the "easy" stuff like make my my own mythos or magic. I don’t pull shit out of a hat. The science is the basis of the entire story, the foundation upon which the plot is built. By giving you the science that I give you, I’m establishing the rule-set that would allow you to successfully guess the plot. All the clues are there. If you don’t guess it, that adds to the fun.

    And man, I’m not even scratching the surface on this stuff. I am giving the most high-level explanation of what’s going on. This is to set up what’s described as "the big idea," so I don’t shovel the same regurgitated shit we’ve all been fed far too many times to count.

    Now, if you like better a book where the author just says "gawrsh, these really complicated aliens can control our minds! Ah-hyuk!" then doesn’t explain how, in a way that’s believable, then I’m clearly not the writer for you.  I wonder if you’re really into vampire and zombie stories? 

    In your mind, what’s a novel with a proper amount of exposition? 

    Profile photo of Benjamin "The BenT One" Clifford

    you are insane, it is fine the way it is now.

    By the way, Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

    Profile photo of Thomas Reed

    there are more than you realize that see it they way you do…

    for me, it doesn’t matter, more entertaining would be better, but in the long run, does it matter??

    Profile photo of Christopher Thanard

    Well, the masses have spoken, and it sounds like I’m the only one that has a problem with this. I suppose Scott knows what he’s doing far better than I do.

    Thanks, everyone, for your input, as well as the reality check.

    Profile photo of James Keeling

    Scott did it just right!  All hail the Sigler 

    SynapticJam on Toast – hhhmmm… tastes like chicken (aka PUVJK)

    Profile photo of ogreoregon

    It makes it far more interesting. and the bit with the seeds… there is such a visual thing going on in your brain as you listen to this.. my brain anyway….. it gave me the vivid picture and scope of the process. I think it was just right.

    *I am the Rear Admiral and you must obey*

    Profile photo of Donald Martin

     The scientific explinations interesting.  I liked that he went into more detail with the re-write than than the original podcast.  I feel like I understand the seed/triangles a little better now.

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    • These gathering hosts of loyal junkies, under the command of the great SCOTT
    Profile photo of James Keeling

    I’ve gotta go with the crew on this one.  Yeah, it blurs the line a bit, and it almost turned me off to the original Infection where it was the prologue (FYI – Infection was Infected in beta), but in the right place, it demonstrates something while bringing the un-edumacated up to speed…  I can deal with a page or two of techno-babble as long as the rest of the story and what it does with the tech is good, and Scott is really good at making it count in the end.  My vote would be to leave it in there…   

    SynapticJam on Toast – hhhmmm… tastes like chicken (aka PUVJK)

    Profile photo of Thomas Reed

    to each his own

    Profile photo of Richard Damge

    i agree with wolf. i think the science aspect adds a bit of realism to the tale

    Profile photo of Christopher Thanard

    Oh, don’t get me wrong, there. I do find it fascinating. I just think it could be handled in a better fashion than a ten minute exposition.

    Profile photo of Wolf

    I find the science behind the fiction fascinating.

    "Just shut the fuck up and do yer job, asshole!"

    Profile photo of Christopher Thanard

    Sigler-

    Yeah, I love your stuff. Great stories, and all that. But what’s with your infodumps? I mean, do you get off on pretending you’re the grand-geek-overlord when you write those things?

    Listening to the last few chapters of Infected really pushed me over the edge, but I’ve been noticing it in all your stories. Usually, I just cringe and suffer as you regurgitate Wikipedia, and wait for the story to continue on, but no longer. Probably the best example I can come up with was when you taught your audience the difference between the XX and the XY in the early Nocturnal chapters. Maybe not everyone knows, but the great thing about using real science is that if your listeners are interested, they can check this stuff out for themselves. I know you spend time doing research into the science you write about and it shows. I think it would still show if you didn’t explain it to us as if we were in the third grade, though.

    Your explanation of the seeds in the most recent Infected was an quite an extensive Infodump, and in a couple minutes, I was checking my watch, hoping that it would soon end. No, I did not know that the scientific name for a hair mite was "Demodex folliculorum". I didn’t know that enzymes which targeted proteins were called "proteases". I didn’t even know that there was a name ("radicle") for the root of a seed. What I do know, though, was that I spent a very boring eight minutes learning this. All you needed to say was "There were millions of seeds. Most died. A few landed on some guy. Using his body for food, they started growing."

    Congratulations, Sigler. You’ve taught me that even real science can be used as technobabble.

    Don’t let this damage your ego in any way, though. I’m still passing around my copy of Ancestor between friends and family while waiting desperately for my next fix.

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