The Heisenberg Compensator School

I firmly believe in the Heisenberg Compensator School of Science Fiction.

I have probably told this story before, and it's likely apocryphal, but screw it. The transporter in STAR TREK was notoriously based on bad science. Apparently some theorem by physicist Werner Heisenberg proved that the matter-energy transporter could not exist. Don't ask me how or why, I am no scientist.

At any rate, at one point in one of the serieses or movies, someone refers to the Heisenberg Compensator as a device integral to the transporter. In one fell swoop, they established credibility and dismissed real science. Because to me, science fiction is about people, ideas and stories. It isn't about How the Starship Works. Save that shit for the obsessive fans in the dorky ears. (What? Do I have a pair of Vulcan ears? I refuse to answer on the grounds that... hey, I was sixteen. Shut up.)

In 1994, Time Magazine asked famous Trek technogeek Michael Okuda, "How does the Heisenberg Compensator work?"

Okuda replied, "It works very well, thank you."

I belong to the Heisenberg Compensator School of Science Fiction. In technology, I don't care how it works as long as you tell me it does. When I wrote "Deep Breathing," I deliberately set it in the future so I wouldn't be bogged down with endless nonsense about how submarines work today. Instead, I could simply have a throwaway line: "Are the gills working? Good, we won't suffocate." Therefore, you know that the "gills" are likely a slang term for a gizmo that draws oxygen directly from the water. They had problems on my little submersible, surely they did. But suffocation wasn't one of them, and I didn't want an endless debate about the gizmos when I could watch my crewmen go crazy instead.

But a conversation with a fellow writer and a friend today reminded me that I tend to get obsessive about other aspects of my craft. Here I am, perpetually one step away from finishing YELLOW ROSES. In the beginning, I got endlessly bogged down in research for the World War I/1920s flashbacks. Then it was ghostbusting. Now it's the rituals of various faiths used to cleanse a space and banish unfriendly spirits.

My fellow author said this is where he usually makes shit up. And I realized, when it comes to technology, so do I. Why not now? Why not simply make up a ritual and call it done?

Well, I get angry when I see bad journalism on TV. Likewise, bad science makes scientists angry. Bad spirituality/mysticism makes witches angry. And I know a lot more witches than scientists.

Still, at this point I'm about ready to risk their wrath and make up my own damn ritual. I'll replace the frankincense with sage and I promise not to call anything devil worship, but it's possible part of the block I've had in finishing this damn scene (and with it, this damn book) has been my obsession with Getting Everything Right.

It's also possible I don't want to finish this book because I'm not sure what comes next. Oh, I've got projects. But there's a lot of uncertainty in my career right now. That's scary.

Fukkit. Finishing the book, ritual or not. I'm sure someone will let me know if I get it wrong.