This subject is very fascinating to me. I think there is a very fine line between what you can and cannot get away with as a writer. Of course a lot of this depends on what genre you are writing and who your target audience is.
Let’s face it, a lot of science fiction fans are smart. Not only do they geek out over believable science and future technologies, but they love those clever plots! Some of the big names in science fiction had advanced degrees. That’s a little intimidating for us small fry. But as I was thinking it over I realized something else…
Even the most popular franchises and the best authors have to fake it. After all, if we’re talking about futuristic technology, we’re diving into unknown waters. Granted, you can do thorough research and even play it safe by simply altering technology that already exists, but the foundation of science fiction is convincing your audience.
I like to consider myself pretty intelligent. I enjoy smart science and I enjoy science fiction that actually teaches me and makes me smarter. But I also enjoy good writers who can convince me. Maybe outside the context of the story their theories don’t hold up, but the writer is such a good storyteller that you are willing to believe it is true. As I started reflecting on some of my favorites books, TV shows, and movies, I realized that I can be very generous. I think two of the biggest factors for me are dialogue (or narrative) and characterization. If there are good characters with good writing, I will believe (almost) anything.
So there’s hope for me 😉
Any other thoughts on what a reader will and will not forgive? I think I’ve realized the key has a lot to do with making an emotional connection with the reader. If my book is dry and intellectual, they will respond to it on an intellectual level and tear apart my plot.