Not too long ago, I re-watched 'Serenity'. (For the uninitiated, it's by Joss Wheadon, and caps off the short-lived, under appreciated sci-fi series 'Firefly', and makes 'Return of the Jedi' look like Sesame street.)
During Serenity (Minor spoilers ahead), we hear details about the creation of the 'reavers', the nastiest group in the Firefly universe. With a little viewer-nerd math, we find out that an estimated 30,000 reavers were originally created.
Feeling smug after I did the simple math, I hit google to see if anyone else had figured it out. Well duh. Many had. I ended up lurking in a forum where people were discussing reavers.
One denizen of this forum felt that reavers weren't explained enough, and that she wanted to see more of 'reaver society'. She wanted all the details. She also wanted to know more about how the ships in firefly worked. She essentially said she wanted it done like Star Trek does it.
Firefly's reavers are scarier BECAUSE we don't know the details. The unknown is scary. We know too much about all the 'evil' star trek aliens for them to be scary at all. Romulans, ooooOOooooOOOh. What's scarier- A Klingon with a Bat'lef coming at you, when you have full knowledge of their government system, and honor based culture, or a Reaver. For much of Firefly, all we know about Reavers is that they will "rape you to death, eat your flesh, and sew your skin into their clothes, and if you're lucky, they'll do it in that order." Hi. Scary. No known origin? (Until the Serenity movie) Mysterious.
In Star Trek we're well informed all about all the significant races, and are fed paragraphs of made-up science revolving around the engines and transporters, etc, etc. I, and many firefly fans love firefly because IT'S NOT STAR TREK. It's much more character driven. The tech is there to enable the story, but the tech itself is not the story. Oh, and don't get me started on Star Trek's 'humor'.
I feel the same way with my writing, (The offer is still on the table for Mr. Wheadon to produce my movies) as I touched on a bit in October at the VCON forum "Hard sci-fi".
There's some tech concepts that I'm alright with watching, but don't want to write about. Faster than light travel, (or even space in general) time travel, teleportation, holodecks, aliens, the list goes on... That much qualifies me as a 'hard' sci fi author, I suppose.
Where I get soft is largely that I don't give a crap about going into detail abut the tech that I DO use. By contrast, the panelist on the other end of the table had doctorates in all kinds of things, and likely lets the reader know every detail he can. That's fine for some, but not me. Like I said, the characters are far more interesting than the rate of decay in the batteries in their walkmen. Or the flux variance on the quantum tribble eviscerator.
(And I will never put anything in my books about anything flux, or quantum.)
So sue me.