5 Traits of Highly Successful Sci Fi Authors (Guest Post by Edward Stern)

Readers enjoy science fiction because of the varied worlds of which the genre consists. Sci-fi can mean almost anything. Imagination is endless, and the more imaginative an author is, oftentimes the more readers cherish their work.

However, there are definitely some common strands in the genre as a whole, and certainly some commonalities amongst its most successful authors. Highly successful science fiction authors like Ray Bradbury or Philip K. Dick all share traits in their works that make them so well received. When writing your own pieces, incorporate these 5 traits of highly successful sci-fi authors to make a particularly marketable piece, no matter where your ideas take you:
  1. Go Somewhere New
    The most successful sci-fi novels take readers somewhere they have not been before and will not see in the real world. Successful authors write about the future, alternate presents, galaxies far, far away, or sub-cultures existing in the present but well away from the public eye. Be imaginative, and be unique. Literature is the greatest form of escapism.
  2. Create In-depth, Intricate Worlds
    One of the reasons Dune appeals so much is that Frank Herbert crafted such a fascinating and complex society in the series. Readers not only want to be taken somewhere else, but they want to understand where they now are and to learn about these worlds and continue to imagine them further; whatever world or reality is created, it is 3-dimensional. Such depth allows for fans to become obsessive as well, and engage with these stories as more than just novels.
  3. Touch on Current Themes
    Though successful sci-fi writers do take readers to fantastic new landscapes, these worlds are based in real reality and the issues of the time. There is something recognizable about the new situations encountered, no matter how imaginative the creatures or the technology. The very best sci-fi explores current themes (and especially fears) through literary drama.
  4. Have Appeal Outside of the Hardcore Sci-fi Community
    The most successful sci-fi authors reach readers who do not generally read science fiction. How do they reach these readers? By crafting really good stories that cannot go ignored, and that play on the greater public's enjoyment of whimsy and imagination. Science fiction isn't always for everybody, but by creating tight plots, vast worlds, and compelling story arcs, the most successful authors have been able to reach readers -- and lots of them -- outside of the hardcore sci-fi community.
  5. Create a Series
    The most successful sci-fi authors did not just write one book about one subject and then move on. Instead, they created series so that readers could continue to follow and grow with the characters and events they fell in love with in the author's first novel. Creating a series allows for authors to further explore the dense, lively, complex worlds of their imaginations, and allows readers to keep coming back for more.

Christmas Gifts For 2010: Favorite SF/F Films/Shows for 2010 (and Some Extras)

2010 has actually been a fairly decent year for science fiction and fantasy film.  True, there have been some stinkers (like The Last Airbender, CapricaClash of the Titans, Dollhouse, and Prince of Persia), but the whole year hasn't been a bust.  A number of great movies have hit the theaters (and DVD) and there's still hope for the field in the years to come. With that in mind, I give you my Christmas SF/F film selections for 2010 (with a non-SF title and some just-out-on-DVD titles tossed in for good measure; in no particular order)(after the fold): Inception By far one of the greatest and most important science fiction films in the last decade, let alone the last fifty years.  You can read my review here (and my various other columns here, here, and here). The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus My second favorite movie to come out this year, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is as imaginative as Inception, with a unique narrative structure.  Considering the limitations created by Ledger's death, Gilliam's new masterpiece certainly turned out well.  You can check out my review here. Moon I only recently got a chance to see Moon.  While it's not a perfect film, it is a fine example of serious science fiction.  Deeply psychological and expertly crafted, Moon is one to see. Pandorum
I'm sensing a theme here...can you guess what it is?
One of the creepiest science fiction films in the last ten years, Pandorum is just the right combination of terror and scifi goodness!  It's worth having in your collection if you don't have it already. How To Train Your Dragon
Even this film fits into the theme (in a way)...
Need a great family movie?  Why not try How To Train Your Dragon?  It's fun, cute, and strangely beautiful.  See my review here.
The Shows
Stargate Universe I'm a tad behind, but the last time I was able to watch the show, I recall liking it quite a bit.  It's an attempt at filling the gap left behind by Battlestar Galactica (which Caprica failed to do), and it does so moderately well.  Too bad they cancelled the show... The Big Bang Theory
Geeks are sexy.
If you're not watching this show, then you must immediately turn in your Geek and Scifi Cards.  If you refuse to do so, you will be hunted down by the GIA. V
The lesson:  don't trust beautiful women who live in spaceships!
I'm a little behind on this one too, but I've enjoyed it so far.  Tea Party folks should like this show a lot, since it's all about ridiculous conspiracies (only, they come true). The Pacific
Beautiful and gruesome...
I'm only six episodes into this miniseries, but it has already proven to be a must have for any fan of war films.  If you haven't seen Band of Brothers (the series that preceded The Pacific), you should.  Both are worth having in your collection, not simply because they are beautifully crafted/acted/written, but also because they are amazingly detailed (each episode is preceded by brief talks about certain events by people who were actually there).  Watch it and pray that HBO will keep producing these kinds of series.  I don't want it to end... And there you have it.  What are some of your favorites for 2010?

Christmas Gifts For 2010: Favorite SF/F Reads in 2010

I've already done a podcasting kit for authors and like-minded individuals, but no discussion of Christmas gifts in the SF/F world should leave out books and magazines.  So, below are my favorite reads for 2010 (so far, anyway, what with there being another 15 days left).

Here goes:

Fiction -- Top Picks
The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell
Badass of the Year:  Temple
A lot of books came out this year, and at the top of my list is Alden Bell's post-apocalypse literary zombie novel.  Check out my review to see why I loved it so much.  Oh, and we interviewed Mr. Bell here.

This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer
The end of the world always has tornadoes...
I was sad to see this series end, but Pfeffer did a fine job pulling everything together in the third of her post-apocalyptic YA novels.  Told in the form of journal entries, it follows a young girl and her extended family as they try to survive in world changed by a massive impact on the moon, which pushes it into a closer orbit around the Earth.  My review can be found here, and I've interviewed her two times, in case you're interested.

City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff VanderMeer
An oldie, but definitely one of the most enjoyable and fascinating books I've read this year.  Whether you want to call VanderMeer a New Weird writer, or something else entirely, his fiction is fantastic.  City of Saints and Madmen is a prime example of the man's talent, moving through various literary styles and modes with a uniquely categorical attention to detail.  The novel reads almost like a catalogue of Ambergrisian wonder.  If you're going to get an oldie for Christmas, this should be it.

Graphic Novels -- Top Pick
Mouse Guard:  Fall 1152 by David Petersen
Better than Brian Jacques...
A beautifully drawn animal fantasy tale with an entertaining story.  It's like Duncton Wood meets Narnia.  Fun, adventurous, and cute (yes, cute, because even kickass ninja mice are adorable).  Give it a shot if you're up for a little adventure.

Non-fiction -- Top Picks
Colonialism and the Emergence of Science Fiction by John Rieder
Ew!  Colonialism!
If you're going to choose a critical text about science fiction this year, then Rieder's book is the one to go with.  We read this book for my Utopia/SF course and it has become one of my favorite theoretical works in the class.  If you're interested in how colonialism informs and is tied into the very structure of SF as a genre, this is a book worth reading.

Rogues by Jacques Derrida
Will the real rogue state please stand up!
Nothing like a little political philosophy to get your day going, right?  The good news is that this is one of Derrida's shortest and most coherent works, which deals specifically with the idea of the "rogue state."  And, of course, as Derrida always does, he deconstructs the term to explain its ambiguities, eccentricities, and so forth.  There's a lot of useful stuff in here for worldbuilding if you ask me.

Magazine -- Top Pick
Interzone Magazine from TTA Press
The only magazine worth subscribing to...
Best.  Magazine.  Period.  Subscribe.

And there you go.

Which books and magazines would you recommend for Christmas and why?  Let me know in the comments!

Christmas Gifts For 2010: A Podcasting Kit For Authors/Editors/etc.

Christmas is almost here and one thing every SF/F author needs is the the ability to do interviews and online discussions without sounding like they've been living in a broken WW2 submarine in the Mariana Trench.  Well, having spent a good portion of the year doing The Skiffy and Fanty Show, I have a good idea what would make the perfect podcasting gift for any author, editor, or blogger.  And the best thing about the Podcasting Kit below is that it can all be used for a variety of things other than podcasting.

So, without further delay, here is my podcasting kit for authors and other creative individuals:
The Hardware
If you're going to buy any headset on the low end of the price scale, this is the one to get.  I've been using it for months and the audio quality is fantastic.  It's easy to use (plug'n'play via USB) and, in my opinion, the best low-cost headset out there.
I look cute in black...
Pro:  Easy to use and great audio quality.
Con:  It is limited by your computer and ports.  Some computers will create some barely audible fuzz, which can be cut out in post-production.

Tip:  Don't put the microphone too close to your mouth or nose.  Keep it above and away from your face.  Why?  Because when you make certain kinds of sounds (like hard Ss and Ps), your microphone will pick it up and leave an annoying breathing "pah" on your audio recording.  Keeping it away from your face limits the impact of these sounds and makes it so you don't have to buy or make your own pop filter (which professionals use).

Cost:  $29.88 + shipping (sometimes it's on sale)

2.  A Computer (Optional)
If you're a writer, you probably already have a computer.  Depending on the computer you have, however, you might need to get a new one.  Most desktops are pretty cheap these days, depending on what you want them to do.  For podcasting, you don't need much more than a basic unit.  Every computer comes with USB ports, and you can get computers with any operating system you desire.  I prefer Windows (though I can't speak to anything after Vista), but if you're a Mac person, that works too.
Sexy computers are hard to come by.
Pro:  It's a computer.  Take your pick.
Con:  Ditto.

Tip:  Avoid overpriced computers and useless software packages.  Do your research on the various brands.  I've had good experience with HPs (desktops and notebooks), but all of my computers are over 2 years old, and, thus, might not represent HP quality today.  Just do your research.

Cost:  $400-$1200 (depending on the specs and the type--notebook vs. desktop)

The Software
1.  Skype
The majority of podcasts use Skype for all of their recordings, even when they call you via phone.  Why?  Because Skype is free between users, and it's cheap or everything else.  Plus, it's a fantastic little piece of software that works almost perfectly almost all of the time, and because it's common among podcasters, you absolutely need Skype if you want to do interviews.
There is a logical reason for the blue logo.  Liberals.
Pro:  Easy to use and good audio quality.
Con:  The program is limited by the Internet and PC power of the people using it.

Tip:  Turn off all non-essential programs that use the Internet, such as messenger programs, Tweetdeck, and even smaller programs that have automatic update checkups.  Leave antivirus programs and the like on, though.  The fewer Internet-using programs you have on, the greater your ability to avoid cylonifying yourself or others (i.e. when your voice or theirs goes crazy robot and comprehension drops to zero).

Cost:  Free (download at the link above)

If you're planning to edit any recordings of your own, you'll need Audacity to do so.  The newest beta is one of the best versions so far released, and includes everything from noise removal to voice manipulators (you know, for making your voice sound like an alien or a robot).  While Audacity takes a little time learning how to use, it does have a shallow learning curve compared to other kinds of audio editing software.
Apparently it put radioactive audio waves into your brain...
Pro:  Relatively easy to use for most tools and very effective.
Con:  It is notoriously difficult to use as a recording device for conversations.  It works great for recording yourself, though.

Tip:  Noise removal is a useful tool, but don't go overboard.  Removing too much "noise" can actually warp your audio.  Try low pass and high pass filters, too (the latest beta comes with them pre-installed).

Cost:  Free (download at the link above)


While the name is obviously not all that original, it is a very useful little tool for recording Skype conversations.  It takes very little time to set up (you open it, you click the settings you want, and you press record) and usually only fails when you've done something wrong (like not pressing "record").
It's like a malformed Mickey Mouse.
Pro:  Easy to use.
Con:  It's a little annoying to close, since clicking the "x" doesn't actually shut the program down.

Tip:  You know it's recording if a little window temporarily pops up and tells you so.

Cost:  Free (download at the link above)

Total
  • $29.88 + shipping ($35, roughly) w/o new computer
  • $429.88 to $1229.88 + shipping (varies depending on where you get your computer) w/ computer
Likely cost?  $35.

Let's face it:  if you're a writer, you probably have a computer, and if you don't, then you probably aren't going to be doing audio interviews online anyway--in which case, this whole post is meaningless to you.  For the rest of you author types, you can see how easy it is to do podcast interviews for dirt cheap.  $35 is very little to ask for from Santa, after all.

Now I throw it out to all of you.  What little gizmos and gadgets would you recommend for authors wanted to do audio interviews and the like?  Feel free to leave a comment!

Five Oft-Repeated, But Invaluable Writing Tips

I'm not making this list with the intention to simply repeat what everyone else has said, but to offer some notes of advice that I know personally to have worked. Perhaps you can take something from my personal experiences with these tips that you wouldn't have been able to get from the myriad of repeated versions of the same thing all across the Interwebs and in books.

Here they are:
  • Read a Lot
    To avoid the vagueness of that statement, I'd like to clarify this to mean that you should read "a lot" based on your own pace. We all can't read twenty novels in a week, so don't feel bad if it takes you a couple weeks for a 300-page book. There's nothing wrong with that. Just don't stop reading.
    Reading can drastically improve your craft. It has for me. And read outside your comfort zone from time to time. I'm lucky in that I am in college, and thus exposed to a lot of writers I probably would not have read before. The result is that my writing has changed for the better; I can actually see the differences in how I write, what I write, and the quality of what I write.
  • Show Your Work to Others
    Getting critiques does actually work. While you don't always get great advice, you do often find mistakes your critical eye failed to discover. My writing has drastically improved as a result of this and I find that I experiment more and more with style as a result.
  • Write Frequently
    This shouldn't be misconstrued as to mean you should have a writing schedule. I find that advice that demands that you write every day only works for people who have that sort of creative brain. But you should write often. Don't fall into the trap of "Well, I don't have time." You do have time, and if you're in the mood to write, then do it. Writing often has not only improved my craft, but also created more of a drive to write, which I, unfortunately, have to sometimes ignore in order to get other more important things done.
  • Write What You Love
    I don't write what the market wants. I write what I find interesting. This really should be the cardinal rule, but unfortunately it's been superseded by that bastard "Show, Don't Tell" one. Trying to write to the market is not only stupid (because the market constantly changes), but really rather pointless. When you force yourself to write a certain thing, it shows. Just write what you like.
  • Experiment
    There's no logical reason why you shouldn't try to push the limits and try new things. Your writing will benefit enormously from pushing yourself to fiddle with style, grammar, and words. Perhaps one of the most profoundly important lessons I learned, as my writing has drastically changed from simply trying new things. You should too. You don't have to write like everyone else!
And there you have it. Any pieces of advice that you took that helped you in your writing? What were they? Let me know in the comments and if you like this post, feel free to tell your friends about it or stumble it (or something).

Thanks!

Publishing: Your Options and the Pros and Cons

I don't think I've done a post like this before and it occurred to me that many of my readers and folks out in the blogosphere might like a post that looks into the various options for publishing and whether they are worth it. So, for this post I'm going to put together a short list of the various publishing options and what their strengths and weaknesses are. Here goes:
  • Standard Publishing (Big Press)
    • Pros
      • Bigger print runs.
      • More potential exposure (big presses may or may not put money into advertising your work).
      • Editing services provided.
      • Automatic "respect."
      • Large advance (w/ royalties also earned).
    • Cons
      • Hard to break into this side of the industry. Even good manuscripts get rejected.
      • Run on a profit platform where selling many copies of one book (or many copies of multiple books) is the standard. This means books are bought based on their profitability, with content taking a close second. This doesn't mean crappy books are picked up, it just means that if a book is too niche, big presses are unlikely to take them.
      • Long wait times for submissions. Long wait times for publication. Sometimes weeks, but most of the time months or even over a year.
      • No simultaneous submissions to most big presses. One place at a time.
  • Niche Publishing/Standard Small Publishing (Small Press)
    • Pros
      • Greater attention paid to individual books.
      • Variety; there are an enormous amount of them.
      • Most pay with royalties.
      • Much more receptive to short story collections than big presses.
    • Cons
      • Fewer titles published each year than big presses.
      • Because they are often niche markets, they are limited in what they take.
      • Low advance or no advance.
      • Smaller print runs.
      • Depending on the publisher, there may be low distribution (Amazon and some bookstores, but not necessarily places like Borders).
      • Rare instances of unprofessional behavior and publishers caving due to economic pressure (and I mean rare).
  • Print-on-Demand (POD) Publishing (Small Press)
    • Pros
      • Your title never goes out of print. Books printed as needed.
      • They pay in royalties.
      • Other pros are roughly the same as for standard small presses.
    • Cons
      • Low distribution. Many chain stores will not take these books.
      • Low advance or no advance.
      • Low print runs if any (print runs are made obsolete by POD technology).
      • Can be difficult to tell the difference between legitimate POD presses and ones simply trying to take advantage of you.
      • Other cons roughly the same as for standard small presses.
  • Print-on Demand (POD) Publishing (Self Publishing; Lulu, etc.)
    • Pros
      • Low cost to the author to get a novel printed (sometimes nothing).
      • Titles are printed a needed.
      • Complete creative control, with some exceptions where ISBN #s come into play.
      • Pays in royalties.
    • Cons
      • You have to market your work on your own.
      • Usually costs extra to distribute via major websites such as Amazon.
      • Books usually cost significantly more than those published by small or big presses. Some free POD methods exist (such as via Lulu), but those tend to be limited. Most companies charge a large fee for printing packages.
      • Selling books is, for most, nearly impossible. You have to really have something worth the money.
      • You are stuck in a sea of other people who think they are great writers when, in reality, they aren't. This makes getting people to view your novel difficult at best.
      • Sometimes distribution doesn't work properly. When something goes wrong, you have to take care of it. There is no company to perform those tasks for you.
      • Many POD self-publishing companies intentionally take advantage of writers by promising them things that aren't actually provided, etc. If you get into POD self-publishing, be aware of what you're actually getting.
      • Editing services almost always cost extra. Other professional services (formatting, etc.) almost always cost extra as well. Those companies that claim to provide these services for free are usually lying.
      • POD self-publishing companies can be difficult at best, even when they are good companies.
      • Getting your novel in stores is practically limited to what independent bookstores are willing to take the risk.
      • Self-publishing comes with a stigma that is often justified by the overwhelming amount of garbage printed on a regular basis and thrust on the public.
  • Standard Self-publishing (Note: Many self-publishing houses are switching to a POD format these days)
    • Pros
      • Complete creative control, with some exceptions where ISBN #s come into play.
      • Pays in royalties (technically).
    • Cons
      • Basically all the same as POD self-publishing (minus the bits related directly to POD printing).
      • Many of these companies will intentionally misrepresent what they do and con you out of your money. Know what you are getting into before you cough up the big bucks.
      • Almost always costs an exorbitant amount of money for a publishing package.
      • You have to print the quantity you want. No POD. The cost for the books you print comes out of your pocket.
  • Podcast Novels (Podiobooks, Podnovels, Author-distributed Audiobooks)
    • Pros
      • Free (technically).
      • Complete creative control. You can essentially do whatever you want.
      • An enormous community for support.
      • Audio format makes it easier on the listener/reader as they can take the book wherever they go.
    • Cons
      • Can cost a bit of money to get set up (mics, etc.), but generally getting started is low cost.
      • Limited audience (and sometimes a picky audience). It's hard to break into the field and do well now that podcasting has grown.
      • Has unfortunately been stuck with the stigma surrounding self-publishing, though to a lesser degree.
      • All marketing, etc. is the responsibility of the author.
  • Self-published eBooks (downloadable books in various formats)
    • Pros
      • Basically the same pros as self-published work (creative control, etc.).
      • Can be good marketing tools for blogs, when done properly.
    • Cons
      • Basically the same cons as self-published work.
      • Can be hard to sell since it is an electronic only format; a lot of people still won't read electronic stuff (this is the same with most electronic formats, though).
      • Fiction is especially hard to sell in this format primarily because eBooks have and continue to be the domain of erotica (more so in the non-self-published arena). If you're not writing erotica, this can be a difficult market to get into. Non-fiction is dominated by topics related to marketing, business, and blogging, making subjects outside of these domains difficult to get attention in.
      • Lends itself well to being in both print and electronic formats with companies like Lulu, which is great for marketing yourself to both markets.
  • Online Novels (Blovels, Wovels, Web Novels, Blog Novels, and other names)
    • Pros
      • Basically the same pros as podcasts.
    • Cons
      • Basically the same cons as podcasts.
      • You can run into the problem of failing to grab readers who don't like to read on a computer screen.
Well, there you go. This list is somewhat of a work in progress. If you have a suggestion on what to add, feel free to let me know. Let me know your horror stories, or tell me what flaws or cons I should add or edit!

If you liked this post, please stumble it, digg it, or buzz it.

How To Be a Writer

...Or do you have what it takes?

I've talked about some aspects of this before, but I think it all bears repeating. Young writers constantly ask other people whether they have what it takes to be a writer. Often times they ask based on writing alone and when you think about it that's not the best approach. While it is important that you be a good writer, or even a fair writer, it's not the only thing you need to be concerned about. Being, or trying to be, a writer isn't easy, even if you're published. It's a rough road full of disappointment and rejection. It can be an emotional ride too.
With that in mind, here is a list of things that you need to do if you want to be a writer:
  • Practice
    You can't go from being an okay baseball player to a great player if you don't practice. Same with writing. Don't kill yourself, but you should write when you can.
  • Read
    Whether it be books on the craft, your favorite authors, or whatever, reading will teach you new things. For example, I learned ways to use the dash and the semicolon in fiction from authors who did it well.
  • Grow Thick Skin
    Learn how to take rejection. This is life. Whether it be an editor, a friend, some random person on the Interwebs, or someone in your writing group, you will get rejected and criticised. It's okay, though. If a story gets rejected, don't fret! Submit it elsewhere! Don't get ticked off at the editor. That's never a good idea.
    • Grow a Spine
      Don't be afraid of what people will think about you and your writing. Being afraid of criticism means you lock up all your writing and never let anyone see it. If you're okay with doing that, then no problem, but if you want your writing to be read by other people, well, then you have to put your writing out there!
  • Develop a Web Presence
    Some vote against this because it sucks time away from writing, but I recommend you try to get involved with potential readers now rather than later. You can make new friends, learn a lot about the craft and promotion, etc. It's up to you if you want to do this through a blog or just being a part of a social network or group.
  • The Will
    You can't just like to write. You have to have the desire to be published and the desire to do whatever it takes to get there (and when you get there, to do whatever it takes to make sure you can keep doing that--all within reason, of course). Plenty of people fail at this because they don't have the will to learn, to write, to do anything that is required of you to be a writer. This applies to any form of writing.
  • Be Gracious
    This is one that took me a while to learn. If someone is kind enough to look at your work and offer a critique, be sure to thank them! Don't spend your time arguing and disagreeing. There's nothing wrong with disagreeing on some things; not all of the changes another person suggests will be useful. But it doesn't help if you're going to be disrespectful of ungrateful. Remember, they put a lot of work into their critique for you (or, at least, they were supposed to).
  • Accept Failure
    Embrace it! Tack your rejections to your wall or laugh about them. It's important! You can't expect to win from the start and you can't let it get you down. Turn the emails or rejection letters into paper airplanes and toss them around the house or, if you're not the sentimental type, collect them together and have a bonfire!
If that isn't a good starter list, then I don't know what is! Any suggestions for things that should be included?

List Universe Tackles the Olympics

Want to know fifteen things about the Olympics that you probably didn't know? Well List Universe has you covered here. One of my favorites:
13. The last running race added to the Ancient Games (after the addition of two longer distance races) was the hoplitodromos - in which competitors would run 400 or 800 yards in full armor with shields and a helmet or greaves (leg armor). This was introduced in 520 BC. Runners would often trip over each other or stumble on shields dropped by other competitors. In the image above we see athletes competing in the hoplitodromos - in far more an orderly fashion than was likely.
I submit that we need to have something similar in today's world. Seriously. Wouldn't that be one hell of an event to see a bunch of folks in full ancient armor running down the track? I would want to see that every year.

On a side note, I have a question for all of you:
Do you ever wonder what the ancient Greeks and Romans would think of our seeming obsession with them? We make movies, write books, dress up, and even celebrate them. Do you think they are watching us up there and wondering what the heck is wrong with us?

I for one am curious what you all think.

Anywho!

(Don't click the read more, there isn't any more after this!)

Science Fiction: Sometimes it’s wrong.

Browsing through today, I discovered a very interesting website that discusses the errors within science fiction, particularly in TV and movies. Some of these errors are, quite frankly, rather stupid on the part of the creators. Such as:
In the Star Trek Voyager episode "The Fight", Voyager encounters a Negative Space Wedgie that is "2 light years across". They start "11,000 km" away from it and yet, the whole phenomenon is visible on the viewscreen. As the Agony Booth review of this episode points out, this is exactly like "putting your nose on the ground, and still being able to see the whole landscape from horizon to horizon" except...you know...even worse. The thing also looks about as big as Voyager when it engulfs it, which might make slightly more sense (for a given value of "sense") since Voyager is apparently the size of a planet.
Yup, that's Star Trek. There are even a few related to literature. Such as:
The original Dune series was set 10,000 years (human history goes back 7,000 years at present) after the Robot War known as the Butlerian Jihad, featuring an old, decadent society that had presumably been going downhill for a long time. However, when Frank Herbert's son picked up the reigns and wrote prequals set before and during said Butlerian Jihad, the prequels end with all the social orders and customs, and even the religion, of Dune already established as nearly identical to the ones in the original novel. And the reader is expected to believe that they stayed exactly the same for almost a third longer than the time between the invention of writing and the present.
Yeah, pretty interesting, don't you think? Check out the site. Maybe one of your favorite shows is on there with an error.