As we all know many science fiction novels employ the use of tables in their prefaces to convey things such as; linneage, measurements, time, or other information unique to the world or worlds that you are about to read about. Ursula LaGuin, Anne McCaffrey, and OSC are a few that readily come to mind.
My dilema is that I am writing a millieu based story for my WOTF entry this quarter and the planet on which the story takes place has a far different orbit and rotation than our own and therefore has a far different system of time. Not only that but the days/nights are radically different. Here a day is basically closer to 48 hours. Humans still haven't fully evolved from their pysiological conditioning to Earths days so they have come to cope by breaking the day down into comfortable units. Ie. Light-day, Light-night, Dark-Day, Dark -night. Still with me? Imagine the North pole, but on a more daily basis.
So my question is; Since Short fiction does not have the benefit of the use of tables, is it better to bite the bullet and dedicate a small amount of exposition to explain this phenominon or try to weave it into the prose? I almost feel it is worth the explaining and in the long run will make it more enjoyable to simply have the concept offered rather than wading in the confusion.
have a child ask it's father questions as the story moves.
For example let's say your MC is having an important conversation with another character. Have your MC's child (write one in) and have the child ask the simple question. "Daddy in school we learnt...why is that so?" "How long is the day?" "Why?" etc. and while the dad explains the world he also carries the main conversation that moves the story forward.
Another way is to make time a part of the description. "Xyz liked to organize his day. He always broke his day into the natural four twelve hour portions the rest of society conformed to. The first twelve hour, or Light-day, he spent reading quietly and warming up for Light-night, when he started his commute to work at 12:00 sharp. He would spend the next twelve hours tucked away in a cozy office, until his watch struck 24:00 and he would be off to the gambling tracks, spending most of Dark-day there, then return home for dinner. By Dark-Night he was tucked in bed, sleeping the proper medically mandated 12 hours till his alarm struck Light-day"
What about a trip to the doctor where the character can discuss some of the adaptation problems? Lack of sleep, fatigue, horribly debilitating nightmares . Same idea as the child but a doctor is more disposable after their necessary scene is done.
Posts: 1993 | Registered: Jul 2009
| IP: Logged |
If it's a measure of distance, have the character travel a distance, or refer to traveling a distance, making it clear the distance involved. For a measure of time, have a character endure the length of time.
(I just had a bit in my story, where I had an isolated planetary culture keep its clocks on Earth time---not needed as the world always turns one face to its sun---and, recently, have them reset to the correct Earth time by visiting space travelers. I had characters, native and space visitor, compare watches. The native's was a big pocket watch, the visitors a digital wristwatch. (I have yet to devise a way to let the reader in on the world always turning one face to its sun, though.))