The King of Pop

One difference between writing Science Fiction and Urban fantasy is the ease of using pop culture references.

Writing Urban Fantasy means being able to reference Internet Memes, make jokes about Jay Z, or even reference popular franchises in the same genre. One of my favorite Remo Williams moments was the time he jokingly introduced himself as Mack Bolan.

Pop culture references in far-future science fiction can be trickier. One way to create a pop culture item is to take concepts from our time and make obvious analogs, like Slurm in Futurama. It’s a sugary sweet drink with many things in common with Coca-Cola. This gives the reader a point of reference and give the author legal¬†indemnity.

Another tactic you can use is putting together weird combinations of corporations. Tyree Campbell likes to do this in his Nyx series, where an enemy might be armed with a Kellogg-Feuer Ray gun. Actually, this method has some plausibility. For instance, over the years, Remington has made rifles, typewriters, shavers, and jewelry.

Of course, you can always make your own pop culture references. However, to do so, you have to build up a context throughout the story you are working on. This is hard work, and may only be accomplished over a series rather than a single book. A good example of this is Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, which for the purposes here can be considered Science-Fiction as it is alternate Universe. While Pratchett relies heavily on analogs to our society, he has also created several of his own, but you wouldn’t get them. You have to be there.


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