Monday, February 22, 2010

Making a Plausible Setting

I watched "2001: A Space Odyssey" last Saturday. It's been almost 42 years since I first saw the film, and quite a bit has changed. Including me.

So, I took a trip down memory lane by viewing a movie I liked in my late teens? So what?

Stanley Kubrick's film is still (fairly) convincing science fiction cinema today. In large part, I think, because he understood that his 'futuristic' gadgetry and settings had too look like people actually used them. And, he made an effort to make sure that sets which were filmed as if they connected to each other - would actually connect, if placed side-by-side. And that live sets matched (more or less) the miniatures used for spacecraft exteriors.

I spent quite a bit of time today, working out the deck plan for part of the Blue Buzzard, a ship that's the setting for what I plan as a sequence of stories. For (some) written fiction, that'd be a waste of time. All an author would have to do is make sure that - if any numbers were given - there was enough cubage to accommodate whatever the action called for.

I'd be uncomfortable with that - I've read too many stories where willing suspension of disbelief was stretched when, say, a hallway had three doors on each side in one chapter, with pictures hung between them - and was three paces long in another.

Besides, what I'm aiming for is a story involving quite a few pictures, drawings, whatever. That means that I need to have at least a rough idea of where things go.

That deck plan? I can't use it. The good news is, I know what won't work, know a few features that will - all before making a single sketch or rendering.

Why all this fuss over deck plans today? My imagination had taken a sabbatical. Which is another topic.

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