All of that makes sense, and then comes the question, but WHY Science Fantasy? Why not stick to straight urban fantasy? Werewolves, motorcycles, a real place on Earth. And my answer is pretty simple, because why do what everyone else is doing?
Urban fantasy is a huge genre right now. It’s become immensely popular. There is a huge amount of competition in that specific area. A writer who writes urban fantasy runs up against everyone from Jim Butcher who resides firmly on the Science Fiction/Fantasy shelves to people like Thea Harrison and Angela Knight who can be found in the Romance shelves. Urban Fantasy characters are everyone from Harry Dresden, October Daye, Mercedes Thompson, Rachel Morgan, Merry Gentry, Anita Blake, Jane Yellowrock and so on and so forth. There are a lot of them. To get ahead in the urban fantasy genre, your character has to be distinct enough from all the other ones to get a following.
Most biker novels are horrible, and I do mean horrible, romance novels. Sure, there are characters in urban fantasy that ride motorcycles. Jane Yellowrock, Cassiel in Rachel Caine’s books, Karin Murphy from Dresden Files. The focus wasn’t on them as bikers. Riding a motorcycle was incidental to the rest of the story. They don’t participate in biker events. It’s just a cool mode of transportation. I wanted to focus more on the concept of biker as part of the character’s identity or the journey to becoming a biker as part of their identity. I wanted to pull bikers away from bad romance novels where they are idealized and objectified to some extent and also away from just being a small part of a character as they are in urban fantasy.
And I love science fiction and fantasy.
My first love of science fiction and fantasy was Star Wars. Star Wars is a true science fantasy. Oh, the prequels tried to pull it back into the safety of true science fiction and didn’t succeed. The magical mystical and religious power of the Force side by side with laser swords, blasters, floating vehicles and healing tanks filled with powerful bacta goo. Star Wars was for its time groundbreaking. They’re going to beat it into the ground, but in the 70s and early 80s there wasn’t really anything like it. Science and magic side by side. I fell in love with that idea back in middle school and still love that idea.
Later on, Firefly was another inspiration, as was Lost in Space and Riddick. The idea of a low budget science fiction franchise that makes you really stop to think on where do you put your money? What is the most effective use of special and practical effects? Keep things contained. Keep things simple but cool looking. Restraint was the key word when I was thinking about the science fiction elements of my story.
I wanted something that was grounded here in Earth. We have all these things, computers, cars, motorcycles, books and magazines and newspapers. How much of that would stay the same? How much would go paperless? How miniaturized would technology become? I knew there had to be an impetus to push for new technology. But at the same time, didn’t want to set my novel directly after a cataclysmic event. I didn’t want Dark Angel or Mad Max levels of devastation. I wanted things to be “okay, but could be better.” And at the same time, what would future technology look like if it was being built out of the junk of old technology.
Doing this, I later realized I gave myself a lot of wiggle room. I can write stories from directly after my cataclysmic event of the Cascading War and then I can push it in the opposite direction and do “werewolves in SPACE.” And that’s what I love about science fantasy. I have that power. I have that ability to choose between so many stories all set in the same universe which I really can’t do in Urban Fantasy.
I didn’t want to stay limited to what is possible right now. I wanted to take a step beyond it. Just a step mind you, not a huge one, but a little one, and explore the possibilities, but with werewolves on floating motorcycles during security work in a little city they built after a devastating war. Underworld toyed with science fantasy. Ultraviolet was outright science fantasy. To me, it is a mix of the familiar and the different and that is what makes it fun and entertaining to me.
It’s important to push boundaries of genres in my opinion. It’s important to mix things that we love together and keep the flavors of each while still making something ‘new.’ New worlds, new possibilities, new tales and new journeys.