I'd write more Science Fiction, but...

Chuckster

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My perception of Science Fiction is the development of the characters is weaker than in other genres. I've read a lot of Clarke and Bova and think the characters are a little flat. I haven't read that many SF novels that focus on the emotions of the main character rather than the technology. I want to write character-centered stories.
 

lizmonster

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My perception of Science Fiction is the development of the characters is weaker than in other genres. I've read a lot of Clarke and Bova and think the characters are a little flat. I haven't read that many SF novels that focus on the emotions of the main character rather than the technology. I want to write character-centered stories.

You might be pleasantly surprised by more recent works.
 

Woollybear

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Try The Power, by Naomi Alderman. Also Kindred, by Octavia Butler. Much of Margaret Atwood's speculative fiction is character centered. Of course, Le Guin's work, including The Left Hand of Darkness and much of the Hainish Cycle is character-centered. These are older titles. The Humans and How to Stop Time, both by Matt Haig, are character-centered and more recent.

None of these are principally technologically focused, though some have advanced technology.
 

MaeZe

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Beside's Kindred, my next favorite Octavia Butler books are Lilith's Brood (a three part series). There are scenes in her books that will never leave my brain.

And Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson is very character driven.
 
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Ashigara

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Though I may not exactly morally agree with Holden a lot of the time from The Expanse series (I'm more of a Miller fan myself), I think their personalities are strongly written in Leviathan Wakes, the book I did read. Also, the two female protagonists in This Is How You Lose The Time War are so great, from enemies to lovers. I ship them.
 

frimble3

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My perception of Science Fiction is the development of the characters is weaker than in other genres. I've read a lot of Clarke and Bova and think the characters are a little flat. I haven't read that many SF novels that focus on the emotions of the main character rather than the technology. I want to write character-centered stories.
Agreeing with those who posted before me: Clarke, Bova, Asimov, and Heinlein, who are all dead now, were are earlier generation and things have changed. Their stuff was more technologically oriented, because that was big in the '50s. Now that futuristic ideas are common, new writers have moved on as well. Into characterization and so forth.
If you like character-centered stories, go for it.
Read new SF, see what's new, up and coming.
 
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Norsebard

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Chuckster said:
My perception of Science Fiction is the development of the characters is weaker than in other genres (...) I want to write character-centered stories.

:unsure: Well, like I've always said: if you can't find what you're dying to read, write it yourself. I'll bet a great deal of us started out that way - I certainly did.


I don't really read (or write) SF so I can't add any book recommendations, but those already listed in this thread sound fascinating.


Norsebard
 

Lakey

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My perception of Science Fiction is the development of the characters is weaker than in other genres. I've read a lot of Clarke and Bova and think the characters are a little flat. I haven't read that many SF novels that focus on the emotions of the main character rather than the technology. I want to write character-centered stories.
By all means, write them. But also, read more widely and more recent works, and you’ll find that the genre has expanded and deepened in the many decades since the heydays of the likes of Clarke and Bova. You are getting lots of good recommendations in this thread. I’ll add Arkady Martine, A Memory Called Empire, and Martha Wells’s Murderbot series.

:e2coffee:
 

owlion

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Yeah, there are definitely a ton of character-focused scifi stories out there. The Ancillary Justice trilogy by Ann Leckie is one of my favourites, plus there are 'grounded' scifi stories like Never Let Me Go and Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro, or books by William Gibson.
 

Maryn

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And for the record, in the days of classic science fiction with less character development, Judith Merrill and Zenna Henderson were publishing excellent works rich with character. Just sayin'.

Maryn, who once read nothing else
 

JohnLine

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My perception of Science Fiction is the development of the characters is weaker than in other genres. I've read a lot of Clarke and Bova and think the characters are a little flat. I haven't read that many SF novels that focus on the emotions of the main character rather than the technology. I want to write character-centered stories.
Just out of curiosity, what kind of SF story would you like to write?
 
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lizmonster

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And for the record, in the days of classic science fiction with less character development, Judith Merrill and Zenna Henderson were publishing excellent works rich with character. Just sayin'.

Maryn, who once read nothing else

This.

If you like classic SF but want more character, dip into authors who haven't (for some reason I can't quite put my finger on...hm...what could it be) maintained the same name recognition over the years.
 

Pyrephox

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I think there are some subgenres within SF that lean towards more or less character development. There are certainly some branches of the genre that are primarily focused on technology or ideas - those really ARE the characters, and the humans/aliens/whatever are mostly around to talk about them and use them. There's some very good work in that line! But it's not all that SF is, and others in the thread have given some great recs for more character-focused SF. It exists, and it's popular - so if you want to write something that's more character rich, know that there's absolutely a market for it.
 

Myrealana

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My perception of Science Fiction is the development of the characters is weaker than in other genres. I've read a lot of Clarke and Bova and think the characters are a little flat. I haven't read that many SF novels that focus on the emotions of the main character rather than the technology. I want to write character-centered stories.
I just finished The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. It's all character. The plot is incidental to the personal interactions and character development.

But, even if there weren't thousands of books and stories out there to disprove the notion that scifi is inherently weak on character development, why would that stop you from writing scifi that DOES focus on character development?

If you feel a need to fill a weakness in a genre, then write it. You don't need to be like everything else that's out there. You need to tell a good story in a compelling way. If you think there aren't enough adventure stories for girls, then write an adventure story for girls. If you feel there aren't enough stories about evil mermaids then write about evil mermaids. Vampires weren't brooding romantics who longed to be human, until someone wrote that take.

Your job as a writer is to do something new with words - so do it.
 

SWest

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If you like full-blown S/F characters, you can't go wrong with anything by contemporary author Elizabeth Bonesteel. Suzy McKee Charnas' Holdfast Chronicles series is character-based and -driven, even though the setting is also masterfully conceived and managed on page.

It's a broad genre...you'd need only clarify your purpose in writing and potentially publishing/seeking publication. Beyond writing a story you would want to read, have you thoughtfully considered Today's reader? If you are just writing for yourself, that matters less (or not at all). But if you want to write for a wider audience, you need to intentionally craft stories that appeal widely. S/F give writers the opportunity to dissect and remake culture in ways that other genres don't have to.

Advice: read a lot more! :greenie
 

Brightdreamer

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Definitely read a lot more. Deciding that SF lacks character development because some writers in the 50's didn't do character development is like deciding fantasy is just elves and hobbits (and no pesky women) because of Tolkien. It ignores huge swaths of the genre.

Especially if you want to write in the genre now, you want to know what's out there now. And there's a lot of great stuff out there now... but not if your only yardstick is a handful of authors from the 1950s. The genre's grown a lot in many directions. (And if you still just want hard science and men talking about it, there's that, too.)

Though, as others have mentioned, plenty of writers were doing character development even in the "Golden Age", even if they don't seem to have the name recognition.

Science fiction's always been about broadening horizons and pushing boundaries and exploring ideas. So go forth and broaden your horizons at the nearest bookstore or library. Heck, run a Google search of "character-driven science fiction" and see what pops up.
 

ChaseJxyz

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There are plenty of people who shit on genre fiction (namely, sci fi and fantasy) not being "real writing" because it doesn't focus on characters, it's only PLOT focused or OOO LOOK AT THIS COOL THING. But literary fiction can be just as dull and boring, mind you!

The speculative parts of speculative fiction, ultimately, reflect humans of the here and now. We write about our fears and concerns of the modern age or examine injustices through a fantastical lens. Dune, the "greatest" "science fiction" novel of all time (it's not, it's fantasy lol) is just "oh no those weird Muslims in the desert control all the oil!" but in space and with worms.

Walk into your friendly local neighborhood bookstore (or library, if money is tight) and ask someone working there for a recommendation of a sci fi book with great/strong characters. You will get PLENTY of recommendations, take those books home and read them.
 

benbenberi

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My perception of Science Fiction is the development of the characters is weaker than in other genres. I've read a lot of Clarke and Bova and think the characters are a little flat. I haven't read that many SF novels that focus on the emotions of the main character rather than the technology. I want to write character-centered stories.
If you read more sf that's been written in this century, your opinion might change. Those you mention reflect the state of sf publishing ca. 1970, not the modern genre. Suggestion: check out the list of Hugo and Nebula winners in the last 10 years and read a bunch of those. That will give you a better idea what sf is like today.
 

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My perception of Science Fiction is the development of the characters is weaker than in other genres. I've read a lot of Clarke and Bova and think the characters are a little flat. I haven't read that many SF novels that focus on the emotions of the main character rather than the technology. I want to write character-centered stories.
Sorry, Chuckster, but this is coming across as "I'd cook spaghetti bolognese for dinner but my perception of spag bol is that Chef Boyardee SpaghettiOs taste pretty crappy, and I want to cook tasty food."

You're being really insulting to the AW members who do write science fiction. You're denigrating an entire genes that you appear be not well read in.

And as others have said, write the story you want to read.
 
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