My friend the double-barrelled professor is a fan of Star Trek and familiar with that fandom. She opines that unless the possibilities are clearly ruled out players will want to play half-aliens and Pinocchio-bots, and to have their characters fuck or marry aliens. She knows that that is ruled out by “scientifically realistic”. You know it, I know it, Roger knows it. Myriads, perhaps lakhs, of SF-fans know it. But millions of sci-fi fans whose main exposure is to Star Trek can’t be expected to. Such things happen in the sci-fi they are used to, and of course they don’t know what doesn’t happen in the SF they don’t read.
When my first paper¹ came back from the publishers Reviewer #2 had written some typically foolish comment about a certain passage not being clear. I complained to my supervisor that the passage was clear and that the problem was the Reviewer #2 is an idiot, but he told me something that I have treasured ever since: “If anyone says that your writing is not clear, then by definition it is not clear enough.” I re-wrote the passage.
Someone — I think it was @davidbofinger — commented once that Flat Black is not modern² science fiction, that it is essentially 70s SF with conservatively updated technology. I think that is essentially right. Perceptive chap, David.
¹ Evill, B. 1995 “Population, Urban Density, and Fuel Use: eliminating spurious correlation” in Urban Policy and Research Vol. 13 number 1, pp.29–36
² He made the comment about 1990 I think, certainly no later than 1995, but it remains true.