Home » Temporary Laws of Science Fiction in The Sojourn

The noun, sojourn, according to Merriam Webster’s definition means “a temporary stay.” The first volume of this relatively new science fiction series of the same name has a learning curve perhaps too steep for a purely audible medium.

Sanderson’s First and Clarke’s Third Laws

Clarke’s third law of science fiction is a staple of science fiction writing. The words “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” have become as commonplace as the writing advice “show, don’t tell” amongst writers.

Brandon Sanderson’s first law of magic, while more about foreshadowing according to the author, has a connection Clarke’s third law. An essay on Sanderson’s first law can be found on the author’s website. Replace the word magic with technology and you get the same thing for science fiction. Do another find and replace on “reader” with character and you get the learning curve of the Sojourn.

The Learning Curve of The Sojourn and Exposition in Audio Drama

The Sojourn has a deep history, but the technique used to dish the exposition out to the listener works better in a novel or movie. With the written word, the reader can go back and better comprehend the story if confused. Pausing and rewinding a movie has the same effect, but doing that same function on a podcast causes more confusion. The listener has to readjust themselves in the story. The watcher by contrast can use visual clues to determine what scene they are in. Luckily there’s a transcript on their website and a fandom.com page with tidbits about the world and galaxy.

Mass Effect vs. The Sojourn

In a behind-the-scenes video on the Sojourn YouTube channel, the series’ writer and scientific advisor talk about how drift works and how it’s the least scientifically accurate thing about the story’s universe. A universe that is mostly grounded in real science. He likened drift to Mass Effect’s element zero, which makes transportation by mass relay possible. It’s the Mass Effect games solution to faster than light (FTL) travel.

In some ways, Mass Effect is the inverse of The Sojourn in terms of audio and video. People remember the story and world of Mass Effect more than the music. The video game series has a complex history and lore that the player can experience through side quests and reading the codex found in the game. The Sojourn has similar supplementary material on the internet, but a listener might not get that far because the story assumes they already know enough jargon to understand the story.

For this review, I listened at least four times to all three episodes of volume one before getting some idea of what was going on. Again, the learning curve is steep — especially for an audio drama. The episodes are short enough, but every time I got lost in the weeds. Volume two is out now on various audiobook platforms, minus audible for reasons that are their own can of worms.

8.5/10 Stars

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