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  #31  
Old Jan 28th 2013, 01:21 PM
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Oh good - Dan Brown's bull dog is going to give you advice on writing a novel
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  #32  
Old Jan 28th 2013, 02:14 PM
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And I just happen to like the setting better than most literature. Heinlein's Starship Troopers is REALLY cerebral and should almost be a political treatise (the movie is a sin). Ursula K. Le Guin's Left Hand of Darkness explores the idea of gender and the characters just happen to be the way that is done. I could go on, but I think the point has been made.
I actually like the movie (haven't read the book). But that has no doubt less to do with the quality of the movie than with the quality of Dina Meyer's looks and Denise Richards' body

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EDIT: in regards to the theory of relativity have you ever read The Forever War? It kind of wrestles with the effects relativity would have on things.
I haven't read it, and what's more remarkable never even heard of it. As a kid I read every SF book I could find in any library in the area and neither Starship Troopers nor The Forever War were ever in supply there. That probably has to do with the militaristic nature of at least the former one. In those days anything tending towards militarism or fascism was a big no-no for librarians.

As for the relativity in The Forever War, from what I read about it on Wiki, it's a bit half-assed. It would be much more complex in 'reality', to the point in fact that galactic empires or even interstellar wars would simply be impossible.
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Old Jan 28th 2013, 04:33 PM
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I've been reading yet another article, this time in the popular media, about 3D printers. It seems that the current limitation is on making things out of more than one material at a time. I think that this is well within the realm of a future science fiction setting where objects are replicated out of the basic raw materials if we're almost able to do that now.
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Old Jan 28th 2013, 08:10 PM
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Nice.

You could start off by picking some establish 'law of physics' and imagine that we discovered some substance or process that represented an exception to it. Then think through how that discovery would change human technology going forward and, potentially, get us to other planets. Maybe we discover some unknown element on Mars that defies the first law of thermodynamics, or learn that basic physics constants (like the relationship between mass and gravity or inertia) aren't actually constant in the universe but change once you get far enough away from our solar system.
Like melange that allows one to see through time.

Yes, it is science fiction afterall. It doesn't have to be peer-reviewed science for a book setting, but I do have a thing for realism.

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This is an overall thing and not really related to space travel.

Science fiction is usually exploring an idea along with the future science aspect. In Asimov's Robot stories it is the question "what makes a human" (among other things. In the Foundation series it is the idea of psychohistory. Actually, in the Foundation series the psychohistory idea is so important it is almost it's own character. Dune explores the ideas of prescience and politics. So i guess I would say that a really good sci-fi book is not just a Western in space, but explores a concept.
Yes, I agree completely. That's why I'm canvasing for ideas for the 'science fiction' part - that is basically the setting or background. The story itself will stand independent of any science/technology.

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Is the goal quality or sales ? When it's the latter it doesn't matter very much what you'd invent.
If you want quality you could be the first to correctly integrate relativity in the plot. Awards guaranteed. Sales... not so much

Have you read a lot of science fiction ? There's mountains of it out there. It's going to be hard to come up with something original with respect to space travel.
Well, at the moment, the goal is quality because that's what interests me. Once that's done, it can be dumbed down by the publisher to boost the sales side. I imagine that's the normal procedure.

As for relativity, any particular aspect you would like to see treated? Personally, I'd just be happy to read a sci-fi novel that shows planets with oddball days (12 hour days or 36 hour days) and/or seasonal cycles that are 4 months or 8 months or 3 years which is what you would get with various planets of different sizes with different sized orbital paths, etc.

And yes, I've read most of the big names in sci-fi literature over the years (mostly years ago). The only ones I really liked were either Asimov or Dune.

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Absolutely. Good science fiction is just literature in a different setting.
Indeed. Sci-fi is a setting that opens up various possibilities, but that's it. The story must stand on its own merits.

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And I just happen to like the setting better than most literature. Heinlein's Starship Troopers is REALLY cerebral and should almost be a political treatise (the movie is a sin). Ursula K. Le Guin's Left Hand of Darkness explores the idea of gender and the characters just happen to be the way that is done. I could go on, but I think the point has been made.

EDIT: in regards to the theory of relativity have you ever read The Forever War? It kind of wrestles with the effects relativity would have on things.
No I haven't read it. But I am curious about it.
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  #35  
Old Jan 28th 2013, 08:12 PM
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As for the relativity in The Forever War, from what I read about it on Wiki, it's a bit half-assed. It would be much more complex in 'reality', to the point in fact that galactic empires or even interstellar wars would simply be impossible.
Please elaborate.

I'd like to have a galactic empire and some interstellar wars!
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Old Jan 28th 2013, 08:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Greendruid View Post
I've been reading yet another article, this time in the popular media, about 3D printers. It seems that the current limitation is on making things out of more than one material at a time. I think that this is well within the realm of a future science fiction setting where objects are replicated out of the basic raw materials if we're almost able to do that now.
Yes, Star Trek's 'replicator' seems to be the one technology that seems closest to actual scientific technology, though it might be a long time before we can replicate 'edible food' by that process. I'd expect the process to be useful in manufacturing.
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Old Jan 28th 2013, 08:39 PM
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Btw, if I do write a sci-fi novel, you can be sure you won't find a dozen flavors of humans in it.

I've always been intrigued by the idea of intelligent life evolving from either the rodent family (racoons, otters, beavers) who are very resourceful and have opposable thumbs and/or the lizard/reptilian genus.

Both of these lines could theoretically do the opposible thumb thing and walk upright and that's the key physiological element that makes humans possible (at least working from the knowledge base that we have).

Intelligent life might evolve in some other way (cloud-people or underwater) but we have no data there to speculate upon. What we do know is that, in the case of humans, walking upright and opposable thumbs are really, really important.
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  #38  
Old Jan 28th 2013, 10:59 PM
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Well, at the moment, the goal is quality because that's what interests me. Once that's done, it can be dumbed down by the publisher to boost the sales side. I imagine that's the normal procedure.

As for relativity, any particular aspect you would like to see treated? Personally, I'd just be happy to read a sci-fi novel that shows planets with oddball days (12 hour days or 36 hour days) and/or seasonal cycles that are 4 months or 8 months or 3 years which is what you would get with various planets of different sizes with different sized orbital paths, etc.

And yes, I've read most of the big names in sci-fi literature over the years (mostly years ago). The only ones I really liked were either Asimov or Dune.
Are you familiar with The Integral Trees by Larry Niven ? That's set in a very special ecosystem with very special (though non-sentient) lifeforms. It's not a long book, so I'd read it if I were you. It gives an excellent example of creativity within ecological and physical plausibility.

As for relativity, that's another matter. If you're really serious about this project you should consult an actual relativity physicist. (I'm sure you have those in Canada). You'd need a basic intuitive understanding of things like time dilation and Lorentz contraction and probably most importantly () someone who could do the maths for you. When there is only the issue of someone going from star system A to star system B it's still pretty straightforward (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_dilation) but as soon as there are more than two frames of reference it quickly becomes very tricky and counter-intuitive.
In a relativistic context (which would be the actual reality of interstellar space travel) every movement in space is also a movement in time (hence: spacetime) in the sense that it's a movement that differs from 'normal' time depending on the ratio of the relative velocity that your hero has vis--vis e.g. a heroin. If the hero goes of to an interstellar war at close to light speed and returns after a few months to the home planet to marry his heroin, that won't work because the heroin will have been dead for hundreds, thousands or even tens of thousands of years (depending on the distances and relative velocities). And that goes for any trip or number of protagonists.
There's also gravitational time dilation. That is similar to relative velocity time dilation. For instance, if you approach a star system with your fleet and you notice it's too heavily defended, you can fly to the proximity of a very strong gravitational force (a neutron star or a black hole e.g.) hover a few days close to it, and when you return to the target star system a hundred years might have passed there and the defenses may have lessened or disappeared.

In a way, the relativistic effects of interstellar space travel are a form of time travel in that you can travel into someone else's future much faster than they experience it their selves. It's very difficult to get a "date" in interstellar space



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Please elaborate.

I'd like to have a galactic empire and some interstellar wars!
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  #39  
Old Jan 28th 2013, 11:30 PM
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For instance, if you approach a star system with your fleet and you notice it's too heavily defended, you can fly to the proximity of a very strong gravitational force (a neutron star or a black hole e.g.) hover a few days close to it, and when you return to the target star system a hundred years might have passed there and the defenses may have lessened or disappeared.
That idea could be the basis of a pretty cool (albeit dystopian) story. A society constantly having to be prepared because they are at war with another star system and at any time (a few months or a few centuries) a fleet could appear out of nowhere and destroy you. Is the war real? Can we really prevent our destruction? Our hero goes to find out only to come back and find everything gone...
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Old Jan 28th 2013, 11:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Dominick View Post
Are you familiar with The Integral Trees by Larry Niven ? That's set in a very special ecosystem with very special (though non-sentient) lifeforms. It's not a long book, so I'd read it if I were you. It gives an excellent example of creativity within ecological and physical plausibility.
Yes, writing a book always requires research and I will note this one. I certainly would put Larry Niven on the short list of 'most famous sci-fi' novelists that I know of.

I'd like to explore the idea of encountering relatively realistic lifeforms on other planets (sentient and non-sentient) - of the non-human variety.

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As for relativity, that's another matter. If you're really serious about this project you should consult an actual relativity physicist. (I'm sure you have those in Canada). You'd need a basic intuitive understanding of things like time dilation and Lorentz contraction and probably most importantly () someone who could do the maths for you. When there is only the issue of someone going from star system A to star system B it's still pretty straightforward (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_dilation) but as soon as there are more than two frames of reference it quickly becomes very tricky and counter-intuitive.
In a relativistic context (which would be the actual reality of interstellar space travel) every movement in space is also a movement in time (hence: spacetime) in the sense that it's a movement that differs from 'normal' time depending on the ratio of the relative velocity that your hero has vis--vis e.g. a heroin. If the hero goes of to an interstellar war at close to light speed and returns after a few months to the home planet to marry his heroin, that won't work because the heroin will have been dead for hundreds, thousands or even tens of thousands of years (depending on the distances and relative velocities). And that goes for any trip or number of protagonists.
There's also gravitational time dilation. That is similar to relative velocity time dilation. For instance, if you approach a star system with your fleet and you notice it's too heavily defended, you can fly to the proximity of a very strong gravitational force (a neutron star or a black hole e.g.) hover a few days close to it, and when you return to the target star system a hundred years might have passed there and the defenses may have lessened or disappeared.
Hmmm. That sounds like a 'science' novel. No doubt this is why we have things like 'guild navigators, spice and folding space' (as in Dune) and not actual 'relativity'. Btw, I think the whole idea of 'warp-speed' (in sci-fi) is to 'warp' the galaxy to get there instantaneously without the passage of time - in order to solve or bypass all this nasty math/physics stuff that just boggles the mind.

Using the 'jump/fold/warp' thing, once one 'jumps' across vast space, one then uses more modest speeds/engines for driving around a particular solar system (sub-warp speed). This seems to be the standard format, as shown in most popular sci-fi stuff (Star Trek, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, etc).

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In a way, the relativistic effects of interstellar space travel are a form of time travel in that you can travel into someone else's future much faster than they experience it their selves. It's very difficult to get a "date" in interstellar space
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Originally Posted by Non Sequitur View Post
That idea could be the basis of a pretty cool (albeit dystopian) story. A society constantly having to be prepared on edge because they are at war with another star system and at any time (a few months or a few centuries) a fleet could appear out of nowhere and destroy you. Is the war real? Can we really prevent our destruction? Our hero goes to find out only to come back and find everything gone...
Yes, this is a problem that I don't like. That when you start playing with time as a functional dimension, my grandchildren could kill my parents and that's just too weird and not something I want to read or write about.

The thing about sci-fi that intrigues me (as a writer) is the idea of encountering non-human life on another planet. Heck, I expect us to find dinosaurs out there if we could actually go looking. And if we did find dinosaurs on some so-called 'goldilocks' type planet, wouldn't that create a conundrum for human ethics? Because we know that human-life evolved on a planet that had dinosaurs on it, that means if we even landed on that planet, we would be interferring with their natural evolution... and that's the ultimate irony - we build our magnificent spaceships, cross the galaxy searching for an ideal planet for us humans to live on and it is already occupied. Indeed, for it to be ideal, it would probably have to be already occupied with an ecosystem and complex creatures. And if we landed there, we'd be gods (or disasters like Columbus landing in the Caribbean). These are the kinds of themes I'd like to explore.

I do like realism as much as possible, but if actual realism prevents the game, then realism will have to be sacrificed.
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