Anatomy of a SF Novel – Research

When I decided to write Tyrmia I knew that a large part of the story would take place in a rain forest. Having never lived in a rain forest, I had to do some research. I have lived in Florida for many years so I was familiar with rain and jungle and humidity, but that was about it.

I watched every TV show on cable that had anything to do with rain forests. Saw many survival episodes and such and believe me, I took a lot of notes. I also read several books on rain forests and in particular, the tribes of humans who live in them. I wanted my alien rain forest to be more like the Amazon than Pandora. Of course when I was writing this novel, there was no knowledge of that movie. Side note, I was horrified when I saw that movie as so many elements of it were the same as my completed novel. But I also knew that my rain forest was nothing like Pandora. My rain forest was much more like the Amazon.

I knew Tyrmia was going to have a smaller focus than the Space Opera of Starstrikers. It would have a smaller cast and take place on a single world that had to be really fleshed out. My take on the rain forest  was not to include crazy alien stuff but to keep it as realistic as possible. Hence all the research.

The two books I read for an insight into the indigenous rain forest dwellers were Spirit of the Rainforest, and Yanoama. The first book was about the life of a shaman who lived in the Amazon and the second was about a white girl who was abducted by the Yanoami indians. Both books offered a rare glimpse as the violence and the daily tribal life of those indigenous people.

Many aspects of the Yanoami life are included in Tyrmia. From how they ate and lived to how violent life could be. I hope I was able to add a touch of realism to my story by including aspects of real indigenous tribal life.

The other research I did for this novel involved WWI artillery canons. I had to get my hero’s starship shot down from low orbit and after examining the power of German artillery in WWI, I concluded that it was possible to down a ship with artillery. The level of technology my bad guys had in Tyrmia was about the same as the Edwardian Era on Earth. Other technology of the day, early aircraft, steam trains and boats were also studied for authenticity.

In the end, the amount of research for Tyrmia was greater than any previous novel and was very interesting.

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