Tips: The Joys of Research.
This is my topic? Really? Oh, good grief. JOY and RESEARCH do not belong in the same sentence—or even the same thought.
A research project is what a teacher assigns to a student in order to destroy that student’s joy. A research partner is someone who leaches joy from your life.
Research is to joy, as a knife wound is to… an orgasm?
No, I don’t like research; I think that’s clear. I write about people on other planets in order not to have to do too much research.
(Okay, that’s not the whole reason I write about people on other planets—it’s not even one of the main reasons, honestly—but it is one of the reasons.)
I mean, think about this situation:
Your name is Connie Willis. You write a two-part novel called Blackout/All Clear, which uses London as a set piece. Many, many readers in the UK criticize you—rather harshly—for your horrible mangling of the city’s geography. You are derided as yet another American author appropriating Merry Ol’ England for your own use without doing the proper research.
And so you feel like a fool. A failure. Why-oh-why did you ever try to write about REAL PLACES?
Your novel goes on to win the Nebula.
And then it wins the Locus.
And then—then!—it wins the Hugo.
So, to recap what we’ve just learned: Unless you’re seeking the approval of Londoners, research is unnecessary.
Yay! No more research for me!
Zachary Jernigan is the author of NO RETURN, which comes out from Night Shade Books on the 5th of March, 2013.
He wants to make it clear that the above is not intended to denigrate Connie Willis, a great author of many great books, including BLACKOUT/ALL CLEAR. He has no idea if the geography in her book is off, being entirely unfamiliar with London. He does, however, think it’s awesome that her book could win on literary and speculative merits while still being so (apparently) off on so many of the detaily bits.