What makes a great science-fiction story work? Most people say the acid test is whether you can remove the scientific speculation and still have the same story. If so, it's not science fiction. But one author says it's the opposite.

Guest blogging over at Southern City Mysteries, Cassastar author Alex Cavanaugh writes:

No matter where our epic novel is set, all readers must still relate to the story. They need to feel a connection to our characters and setting. The same forces that drive humans must also drive our characters or they will seem alien to the reader (pun intended). They must possess similar needs, desires, and emotions. Create a world that is absurdly alien and no one will identify with the concept. We're on the right track if we can remove the sci-fi element from our story and it still works as mainstream fiction.

Which is a provocative viewpoint, to say the least. Maybe both things are true? Your characters and their basic arc should be able to work without any reliance on speculative science. But at the same time, you might be in trouble if your plot looks exactly the same with no speculative elements in it at all. What do you think? Image by Stephan Martiniere.