How Far Away Is That Galaxy?

Most of my literary science fiction experience has been in the realm of Star Wars novels I am sorry to say. This hasn’t done anything for my copiousness. But it made me aware of a pet peeve I have regarding science fiction. It always annoyed me, when I delved into the Star Wars universe, that nothing was real. Now hold on, you will say, of course nothing is real; this is science fiction. But there is real and then there is verisimilitude, the the likeness of reality, which most of the Star Wars novels didn’t have to some extent. Why? They got too caught up in the gadgets and the cool names for the most basic things. R.A. Salvatore described a common sink as a “refresher” in his novelization of “Attack of the Clones”. Barbara Hambly described hard copy documents as “flimsiplast.” And I cannot count how many times I have read “viewport” where usually one finds “window” or “transparisteel” instead of “glass.” In light of these substitutions, some very probing questions must be asked. What logical reason is there to call a sink, or even a bathroom, a “refresher” if you don’t want to cause your readers a major hiccup? What is wrong with having paper hard copies of documents? If your reasoning is “they destroyed all the trees,” fair enough, but where did the petroleum come from to make all the plastic? Why are normal windows not made of glass? Have they destroyed sand as well? And most important; If you have no good reason behind your terminology besides “it sounds cool” why are you using it? From someone who has slogged through many books littered with these, please stop. Readers are physical beings that live in the real world, and if the story we are reading is too full of unnecessary other-worldliness, we will lose interest.

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