What Makes a Good Science Fiction Book

Online Book Reviews One of the big issues with speculative fiction novels I see when I write book reviews is the disparity in the quality, seemingly more than many other form of literature science fiction and it's brother fantasy seem to be an area with a massive range in the ability of the authors. This appears to be compounded by the literary explosion that is "self publishing".

Don't get me wrong there are some incredibly talented authors who self publish but this new freedom has also opened the flood gates for every man and his monkey to "have a go" and seperating the good from the bad can be very time consuming.

I do firmly believe that despite this the very best genre authors are more talented by far than the very best literary authors.

In my humble opinion the basic required ingredients to write good science fiction are:

1) Entertainment value. The whole reason to read a novel is to be entertained, if the story isn't entertaining then it's fallen at the first hurdle and will be quickly abandoned.

2) Sense of Wonder. Any good book should evoke a sense of wonder in the reader; this is one of the defining tenants of science fiction and a primary reason why people are drawn to the genre. To dream of travelling through time, see other planets and meet alien species are all reason's why someone becomes a fan of sci fi to begin with.

3) Quality writing. Ok this one speaks for itself here but you would be surprised how many novels are written by authors who have littler grasp of the written language. It's also important to develop your own style and avoid mimicking others.

4) Willing suspension of disbelief. Make sure you read that right as it's not a method of supporting any male private parts but it's one of the biggest reasons why some novels float and others sink without trace. The technology described must be believable, or explained in such a way that makes it believable.

5) Get a good Title. Seriously, this can make all the difference, while Shakespeare famously wrote "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet" (he clearly never considered the name stink bottom) as far as books go it provides an identity, a badge if you will and even the most talented of writers often produce names that for everyone but them seem obscure or even worse already exist in some other form of media. I personally dislike titles that don't trip of the tongue or are hard to pronounce, although I don't let it colour my experience of the book itself (at least not consciously anyway).

Even with all of the above in place it is possible for a bad book to be written (and believe me there are many out there), but these points can really help.

One of the easiest and most effective things an aspiring writer can do is to read as many books from as many authors as possible for as long as possible, and then practice writing their own style.

On a final note after you've written your magnum opus and are ready to go, get the book edited. A good editor can make a massive difference to the finished story and these people are worth their weight in hardbacks (if not gold).