It’s easy to think that fiction books, even more so sci-fi or fantasy, which are, after all, from made up worlds, don’t involve much research. And it’s true, compared to something like historical fiction, they don’t. I don’t need to research what style the dresses were in a particular year, or where a particular building stood and when it was built.

But sometimes, an entire sci-fi story can hinge on getting the research right. And sci-fi fans can be just as critical of incorrect science as historical fiction readers can be about styles or word usage!

Reckless Recon has been giving me some headaches in the research department. I established in my first two books that the planet my characters are heading for, Semala, was destroyed by a meteor twenty years ago, and is still uninhabitable. The only real research I needed up until now was to know if this was possible. Now that my characters are there, I need to know what it’s going to be like on the surface, what happened to the city that used to be there, and what happened to the people in that city. And all this requires details of meteor impacts, and the likely effects of them. (Information which changes over time, as science comes up with and tests new theories, since we haven’t witnessed a meteor impact on that scale ourselves).

Yes, there is a margin of error in these theories, and room to modify them a little. But there’s no getting away from the fact that a meteor likely to cause that sort of planet wide destruction would have done extensive damage to the town near the impact site.

There goes the 15,000 words I’d already written!

Well, OK, not gone completely. But I do have a lot of re-writing and tweaking ahead of me. The good news is that they story overall will be better for it.

I did also find this awesome site in the process, that will let you choose the size, velocity and other details of your meteor, then tell you what the damage will be. You can even pick a city on the satellite map, and centre your crater over it to see how large it would be! Hours of fun.

One thing I love about writing is all the things I’ve discovered as a result. I love researching novel facts. I just have to be careful not to get so caught up that I neglect actually writing the book!

Do you like researching obscure topics? Do you notice if an author gets certain facts wrong in stories, or can you overlook them so long as the story is good?