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When I try to write about new species, and they're part of the ordinary world of the novel - but obviously completely unknown to the reader, then I actually have to know all of their peculiarities much better than I would have had to know if they had been new, unknown species to the world of the novel. Some of the things about people we all know well on a ...


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I've actually seen this used deliberately, to help establish the character of the... err... character in question. In the first chapter of The Tales of Paul Twister, we're introduced to Paul, a thief-for-hire in a magical world who's got a bit of a sour, snarky attitude about the world around him in general and his line of work in particular. He's been ...


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Character is in trouble situation on a planet and danger is closing in. He is in a good mood and he is speaking over a com with his mates, quoting: "Houston, we got a problem." But in this universe for example Earth does not exist. I'm going to edge away from the opinion part and try to focus on the when and why it may be appropriate. As with so many ...


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This is certainly valid in some contexts, e.g., in a parody, or while leaning on the fourth wall, for example ... "And using this device you can communicate if there are any issues." explained Houston. "Oh, great, but what if I have to fix it first, «Houston, we've had a problem?»" However, I would advise you against using it if you are not ...


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If the quote is in reference to something that would not exist at all in the world you've created, it is completely inappropriate. Even if it happens to be a quote that would make contextual sense (no references to anything in our world), I would still avoid it. References to things that happen in our world, in a world that is not ours, only serve to ...


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In my opinion it's ok to use such quotes, if an "explanation" is following, like: "He didn't really know, why those words appeared in his mind. They made no sense, but jsut sounded right in this situation." However, if you use this too often, it surely will break the idea of your story.


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For your "Houston" example, definitely not if Apollo 13 is not culturally relevant to the person saying it. You can use some sayings from this universe in your universe, for example Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Because this could come about without someone having seen The Godfather Part II. It's just advice. But any quote or ...


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Please, don't. I have often encountered this in Fantasy and Science Fiction, and it breaks my make-believe. I am immediately thrown out of my beautiful escapist reverie and back on my sofa. I hate when authors do that. I expect a fiction to be consistent, and the narrator has to be part of the fiction if this is to work. The only setup where a quote like ...


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It very largely would depend on the quote you are using, and how you are using it. Using 'Houston we've got a problem' on a planet that has no Houston is going to leave the reader a little confused. Using 'Foobar we've got a problem' would fit better, and the reader would understand the context you're likely aiming for. The thing to be careful of is to ...


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Whatever point you choose on that spectrum you will have some readers who won't like the place that you have chosen. You will never get the balance exactly right for everyone. I am sure some people would enjoy a purely anthropological study of another species, if it was well written and contained interesting insights - myself included. Equally, that would ...


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Treat fantastic, made-up facts the same as you would treat facts about our own world. Do you describe the physiology of human beings when you write a book about people like you and me? No. Neither should you go into medical detail when you write about aliens – unless your protagonist is a scientist studying them. In that case, give us the same amount of ...


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One common way to do this is to have one character that is as new to the environment and knows as little about it as the reader. (I think this is what meer2kat was talking about above.) Then as the character learns when s/he needs to know, the readers learn it, too. For example, if you've read DUNE, consider the part where Paul and mother run away to live ...



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