Thursday, November 3, 2011

Social Science Fiction

One of the hardest parts of releasing a book is constructing a short, accurate, and engaging description of the story to attract readers.  I think that this is a process that can be aided by the input of people who have read the story and offer their own summary.  For example, one of my brothers described Socialite as "Social Sci Fi" a very short, and accurate summary.  According to wikipedia, then, it occupies the same sub-genre as books by H.G. Wells, Heinlein, Asimov, and several Nobel Prize laureates (including one of my favourites, Jose Saramago whose fantasy "Death with Interruptions" is amazingly creative in form and content!)

In keeping with the sub-genre, the story is less about technology.  Though there are some otherworldly devices, most of the tech that is described skirt the edges of plausibility for a society like our own, if perhaps advanced by a decade or so.   Similarly it does not involve space opera, as events primarily unfold on Earth.  In addition, social commentary is developed within plausible events that might typically generate such commentary in our own lives.  For example, a truck loaded with bee hives that crashes on the highway permits the discussion of self-sacrifice and group needs versus individual needs.  So themes of altruism, stereotyping and the malleability of behaviour are explored without (hopefully) making any of the characters appear preachy - except in the case of Benny, the evangelist, of course.

The "social" theme stretches beyond the characterization of Socialite itself as the social network acting as the glue uniting diverse characters throughout the story.  Certainly Socialite does that:  Ray Amis created the network so he could analyze data about millions of families around the world to find a mate for his daughter.  The theme is also developed through the interdependence between the main and secondary characters.  For example, Jacob, the 15 year old main male character is portrayed as independent in many ways, though most of his main decisions are affected, if not directed, by the behaviour of the other characters, especially his friends and later Elle, the 14 year old main female character.  Book 1 of the series is primarily the exploration of that theme within the context of Elle, finally interacting with humans after 14 years in seclusion, playing a game of seduction on Jacob and Ryan (Jacob's nemesis at school).

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