I’m writing a science fiction book where certain areas of technology have exploded (space exploration, weather control), while others have stagnated or even regressed (weaponry, communications). I’m concerned that people won’t buy that right away, but I don’t want to spend too much time pontificating on how it got that way. The history isn’t the point. Are there any good rules of thumb for how to get readers to accept something about your world that may be counterintuitive?
Such a good question, and I think the answer is a simple one.
Less is more.
The more explanation you give, the more explanation the reader is entitled to.
Some of the best sci-fi franchises in the world really explain next to nothing–Dune, The Hunger Games, as examples. When explanation does come, it’s usually not in the first book. Instead, those writers just plop you into an unknown universe, and you limp along and figure it out as you go.
You can get a long way with “It is what it is.” But when you start providing elaborate explanations, then the reader has a right to approach those explanations critically and to expect really satisfying answers.
I’d love to hear from others, what are some books or franchises that either explain the universe really well, or just drop the reader in with minimal explanation and let you live it out with the character?