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  #61  
Old Feb 9th 2013, 12:53 PM
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As mentioned colonization of planets (normally for desired mineral and exotic resources) was by far the most common theme when I was addicted to science fiction writing. Endless variations with inevitable central themes of capitalism, power and independents. With your proposed time span I'd think setting the initial scene to define desired progression will be the major challenge.
I suspect that Sci-fi writing tends to follow the historical analysis pattern. That is to say, any given sci-fi book (like any history book) tends to tell you more information about the time period it is written in rather than the topic.

That is to say, back in the 50's and 60's, the idea that we would run out of mineral resources tends to colour sci-fi stories at that time period about the need for more mineral resources. In the 70's comes the energy crisis and the awareness of environmental destruction. In the 80's comes the distopian politics and an obsession with nukes.

Now I'm thinking that the search for new planet/habitats is all about the idea that Earth is going to become eventually uninhabitable.
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Old Feb 9th 2013, 11:00 PM
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I suspect that Sci-fi writing tends to follow the historical analysis pattern. That is to say, any given sci-fi book (like any history book) tends to tell you more information about the time period it is written in rather than the topic.

That is to say, back in the 50's and 60's, the idea that we would run out of mineral resources tends to colour sci-fi stories at that time period about the need for more mineral resources. In the 70's comes the energy crisis and the awareness of environmental destruction. In the 80's comes the distopian politics and an obsession with nukes.

Now I'm thinking that the search for new planet/habitats is all about the idea that Earth is going to become eventually uninhabitable.
I agree, that variation on a well established and accepted story line would be interesting to formulate. Any early concept on hero (instigator) and evil/challenges? It almost has to be state sized ideology on both sides due to the immense cost of yet to be defined technology just to do volume one.
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Old Feb 10th 2013, 09:15 AM
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Default Re: Future Science & Technology

Based on your description of how worm-holes are used to move between stars, it strikes me that you could develop some interesting political dynamics between, on the one hand, the earlier, more established colonies that were set up when humans had only the few options available to them via "natural" wormholes, and on the other hand, the later, theoretically more numerous and less developed colonies, created once we could create our own wormholes and go to whatever star we wanted.

Colonies connected by natural wormholes would be much easier to get to: no super-expensive wormhole-generating tech required, you just have to be able to fire a rocket in the right direction. But traffic through those wormholes would be much easier for governments to control.

All sci-fi these days is going to be at least a little derivative' actually, probably all stories in general are so. Looking over your timeline, I'd think the established material you'd want to be the most careful to differentiate yourself from would be Dune (Computers take over earth - there's a war - earth destroyed - now humans don't use computers but train people to be really good at math...) and the first Star Trek movie (interstellar probe from humanity's past [in that case Voyager] is found by an alien race which develops itself around it - centuries later, said race returns to earth to threaten it).
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Old Feb 10th 2013, 09:55 AM
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I agree, that variation on a well established and accepted story line would be interesting to formulate. Any early concept on hero (instigator) and evil/challenges? It almost has to be state sized ideology on both sides due to the immense cost of yet to be defined technology just to do volume one.
At the moment, I'm more concerned with constructing the setting - since that's a major challenge in itself. The actual story line/characters/plot will be constructed later on.

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Based on your description of how worm-holes are used to move between stars, it strikes me that you could develop some interesting political dynamics between, on the one hand, the earlier, more established colonies that were set up when humans had only the few options available to them via "natural" wormholes, and on the other hand, the later, theoretically more numerous and less developed colonies, created once we could create our own wormholes and go to whatever star we wanted.

Colonies connected by natural wormholes would be much easier to get to: no super-expensive wormhole-generating tech required, you just have to be able to fire a rocket in the right direction. But traffic through those wormholes would be much easier for governments to control.
Yes, the political dynamics of the 'first' colonies and the "old world" and the 'newer' colonies are an interesting element to work with.

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All sci-fi these days is going to be at least a little derivative' actually, probably all stories in general are so. Looking over your timeline, I'd think the established material you'd want to be the most careful to differentiate yourself from would be Dune (Computers take over earth - there's a war - earth destroyed - now humans don't use computers but train people to be really good at math...) and the first Star Trek movie (interstellar probe from humanity's past [in that case Voyager] is found by an alien race which develops itself around it - centuries later, said race returns to earth to threaten it).
Indeed, Star Trek and Dune do share elements with what I'm thinking about, but I think that's inevitable. I don't think the 'war vs machines' thing is uniquely Dune (its a key element of both the Terminator and Battlestar Galactica series for example). Indeed, I can't imagine a future of advanced technology that doesn't lead to that conclusion. Any smart/intelligent/AI robots we create are going to eventually come to the conclusion that we (humans) are a cancer that needs to be eliminated or controled.

As for the 'interstellar probe from humanity's past', I'm planning on using this as an "unintended consquence". That's a theme I really like and want to explore - the way us humans try to do things but inadvertently end up causing big problems for ourselves because we are always pushing forward.

That is to say, our space probe sent out looking for a planet ends up giving space technology to a violent warlike race that didn't have that technology.

I also like the idea that human colonization of some planet, mixing in with some planetary microorganisms will produce some wild new bacterial mutations that are particularly nasty (and perhaps uncontrollable).

That is to say, I want to explore this general theme as a 'warning' - that everything we do in space is going to have some long-term consequences that we can't predict (almost the opposite of Dune-theme of controling events through prediction).
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Old Feb 10th 2013, 11:54 AM
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Colonies connected by natural wormholes would be much easier to get to: no super-expensive wormhole-generating tech required, you just have to be able to fire a rocket in the right direction. But traffic through those wormholes would be much easier for governments to control.
Hmmm... the more I think about it, this is a really good point. The whole socio-political-economic dynamics of planetary colonies that could be reached via wormholes from Earth is totally different than the dynamics coming from the later and more advanced warp-jumping technology.

For wormhole travel, the cost certainly would be much lower since it only requires a relatively 'normal' ship propulsion system - the kind one would use for driving around our own solar system. That makes it attractive and theoretically accessible for the 'great masses' seeking a new life on a far away planet. Likewise, ongoing communications/trade between the wormhole colonies and earth would be cheaper and easier (though dependent upon stable wormhole conditions). And because wormholes occupy specific 'places' in space, that makes them strategically valuable and controlable by military/government forces.

The later 'warp-jumping' technology is more likely to be an elite/specialized technology and thereful not generally avialable to the masses - a toy available to the government/military/research institutions, though access to this technology would likely broaden over time. If this technology becomes generally available, then security/control becomes very difficult because of the 'warp-anywhere' concept (the science of back-tracing warp-jumps?).

At the very least, warp-jumping technology would have to be very large/powerful to supply the vast amount of energy needed for the process - which suggests that it ought to be fairly rare/expensive - and it would also require some mega-serious math/calculations for navigation (super-AI computer power - or human super-mental powers). Later technological innovations might make this process smaller/cheaper, but for the first century of this technology is likely to involve massive-size ships for the power source (or at least that's my intention).

Anyway, the key point here is that this will naturally make for some seriously different socio-political-economic differences between 'early' wormhole colonies vs later 'warp' based colonies.

And the more I read about the type of conditions necessary for either eco-systems to exist on a planet or for humans to be able to inhabit a planet, the more I'm convinced that these are going to be very rare things. Given the size/scale of space, we will probably find some, but 99% of all planets that we find/access will likely not be suitable for either prospect. That means that I'm predicting a network of maybe 50-100 actual colony planets 1000 years from now rather than 10,000. That's not counting lunar-type mining colonies that could go anywhere.

We want colony planets where we can actually breath the air. I think that's a big thing. Having to live inside bubbles and/or spacesuits to go outside would suck for normal living conditions (but is okay for a mining/research facility).

And yes, I realize that we are probably going to have to do some serious research of any 'found' planet and will have to develop a whole lot of special vaccines for the colonists in order to survive such a foreign ecosystem.

(And for the record, I'm generally following with the panspermia theory of lifetransmission in the galaxy).
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Old Feb 10th 2013, 01:38 PM
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Since this thread has become completely thread-jacked for my sci-fi book ideas, I might as well go 'whole hog' here.

Planets - this is the fun part! I'm only looking at planets that could potentially support human life (breathable and liveable atmosphere) and ignoring everything else. By definition, any planet that could sustain/support human life is an equally likely candidate for having its own native ecosystem. Weird and exotic forms of (non-carbon) life may exist out there on gaseous planets, but that's a bit outside the range of the sci-fi story I want to write about. I'm only thinking about carbon-based lifeforms.

Star systems - for our purposes, only star types F (white), G (yellow dwarf like our sun), K (orange) and M (red dwarfs) are considered possibly functional for life habitation. Other star types are just not suitable for various reasons. Stars can be solo (like our sun) or they can come in binary pairs or even triads. Some stars have lots of planets and some have none. Random distributions are generally assumed. White stars are hot/bright so planets need to be further away than an earth-range-orbit or it would be way too hot, while Red Dwarfs are comparatively dim/cool so a planet would have to be much closer (mercury-orbit-like) to gain enough light and heat. I want to have some real diversity here with different colored star-suns and planets having different colored sky (Earth is blue), multiple moons of course, since we have to pander to the romantics.

Planets must be terrestrial/metallic in composition (not giant balls of ice or gas giants). While there are exceptions to every rule, planets generally need to be at least as large as earth size in order to have plate tectonics which is critically important for releasing the necessary gases from inside the planetary crust to form the atmosphere we need to breathe. Volcanos could serve a similar purpose on smaller tidal-locked planetoids or moons of gas giants planets. Also, planets need to be of sufficient size to have an iron core and develop a wonderfully useful magnetic polarity. Earth is believed to be about the minimum size of a planet to possess these features (except for the gas-giant-moon example). Planets of this class could easily be 1.5 or 2 times larger than earth which would be a huge planet by earth scale. Given the theory of 'panspermia', larger planets are more likely to have lifeforms than small planets just because they are bigger targets for meteorites, comets and asteroid collisions that may bring frozen life organisms to the planet.

So, assuming we have the right kind of star and the right size and type of planet, located in the proximate 'habitable zone' of planetary orbit, with a stable orbit and a nice modest axial tilt for seasonal variations, and a nice comfortable 0.8-1.2 range of gravity, with active plate tectonics, the chances for human habitability rises sharply, but even with this type of planet, many of them could be unihabitable with lakes or pools of liquid clorine or methane or stuff like that making the oxygen atmosphere unbreathable (not to metion nasty temperatures!). Volcanos and/or earthquakes might be much worse and more frequent than on earth. Routine rainstorms on some planets might be more like hurricanes by our standards. Anything is possible.

As for lifeforms, I'm using a simple scale of "0" for sterile (no life forms), "1" for unicellular microorganisms and bacteria, lichen and/or mosses, "2" for multicellular organisms (plants, trees, fish, insects, reptiles, mammals etc) and "3" for presence of a sentient/intelligent creature. Needless to say, these types are listed in order of increasing rarity (0 is most common, 2 or 3 is least common).

I'm planning only inventing only two planets with category "3" (other than earth of course). One would be a lizard-reptile based creature that would be rather war-like in demeanor, with human-like intelligence and cleverness. The other will be a rodent-raccoon-otter-beaver based creature that would be more of an 'Ewok' type from Star Wars - clearly intelligent, using speech, tools & fire, but no where near capable of building space ships (or still a long way away). Speaking of which, I may just reverse these two species of creature just to be different - make the lizard-reptiles like the 'Ewoks' and have the rodent-raccoons be the violent human-types. Actually, now that I think of it, this makes more sense, since I consider humans to be evolutionary 'scavenger-types' which is a trait shared with the rodent family and highly suited for developing advanced intelligence.

I will also have several life-form "2" planets that may feature dinosaurs and/or giant insects as the dominant species type, although ocean-planets are also likely with fish, shellfish and whale-like creatures. Low gravity planets might have some really, really big birds (or huge flying insects), while higher gravity planets would tend to have smaller creatures (that are very strong). If for no other reason than to provide planetary-porn-candy, I'm going to have to create some exotic creatures and/or extraordinary natural planetary features just to dress up the story.

I may even have some planets with fossil records of extinct dinosaurs, or extinct hominid lines. Indeed, this is probably a likely finding.

Hmmm... I'm going to have to figure out my plan for handling future religion. That's going to be a tough one! Religion for these type 3 species is easy - it is future Earth that is the tricky one!

Anyway, I'm just posting all this stuff to stir up ideas. Comments and critiques are always welcome.
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Old Feb 10th 2013, 05:19 PM
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Planets must be terrestrial/metallic in composition (not giant balls of ice or gas giants). While there are exceptions to every rule, planets generally need to be at least as large as earth size in order to have plate tectonics which is critically important for releasing the necessary gases from inside the planetary crust to form the atmosphere we need to breathe. Volcanos could serve a similar purpose on smaller tidal-locked planetoids or moons of gas giants planets. Also, planets need to be of sufficient size to have an iron core and develop a wonderfully useful magnetic polarity. Earth is believed to be about the minimum size of a planet to possess these features (except for the gas-giant-moon example). Planets of this class could easily be 1.5 or 2 times larger than earth which would be a huge planet by earth scale. Given the theory of 'panspermia', larger planets are more likely to have lifeforms than small planets just because they are bigger targets for meteorites, comets and asteroid collisions that may bring frozen life organisms to the planet.

So, assuming we have the right kind of star and the right size and type of planet, located in the proximate 'habitable zone' of planetary orbit, with a stable orbit and a nice modest axial tilt for seasonal variations, and a nice comfortable 0.8-1.2 range of gravity, with active plate tectonics, the chances for human habitability rises sharply, but even with this type of planet, many of them could be unihabitable with lakes or pools of liquid clorine or methane or stuff like that making the oxygen atmosphere unbreathable (not to metion nasty temperatures!). Volcanos and/or earthquakes might be much worse and more frequent than on earth. Routine rainstorms on some planets might be more like hurricanes by our standards. Anything is possible.
You could broaden the range somewhat by supposing the development of terraforming technology somewhere along the way. That way barren worlds like mars could be made habitable even if they weren't that way naturally. Given the threat of hostile natives or alien pandemics, originally sterile terraformed worlds might be considered much safer than worlds capable of supporting their own native lifeforms.

Imagine humans in the 24th century sending off massive, automated terraforming arks that will land on barren or toxic worlds and begin altering the environment so that humans in the 26th century can land there and breath the air. It would be an enormous, long-term investment for some company or government, but the pay off would potentially be huge.

Maybe 24th century investors could contribute to the construction of the terraforming ark in exchange for guarantees that their great-grandchildren will receive land-rights on the new world once terraforming is complete. Assuming earth's own environment is falling apart by then, it could be tempting to invest in clean air and soil for your distant descendants.
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Old Feb 11th 2013, 06:53 PM
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You could broaden the range somewhat by supposing the development of terraforming technology somewhere along the way. That way barren worlds like mars could be made habitable even if they weren't that way naturally. Given the threat of hostile natives or alien pandemics, originally sterile terraformed worlds might be considered much safer than worlds capable of supporting their own native lifeforms.

Imagine humans in the 24th century sending off massive, automated terraforming arks that will land on barren or toxic worlds and begin altering the environment so that humans in the 26th century can land there and breath the air. It would be an enormous, long-term investment for some company or government, but the pay off would potentially be huge.

Maybe 24th century investors could contribute to the construction of the terraforming ark in exchange for guarantees that their great-grandchildren will receive land-rights on the new world once terraforming is complete. Assuming earth's own environment is falling apart by then, it could be tempting to invest in clean air and soil for your distant descendants.
Terraforming seems to be popular in 'pop-culture' but the reality of it seems pretty far-fetched. I can see the possibilities if one had a decent atmosphere to begin with, but creating an atmosphere? The scale and cost of that would be enormous (doesn't sound even vaguely practical).

I could be wrong about that, but the time frames needed and the cost investments look way too large to be practical - especially for something that would be considered highly experimental.
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Old Feb 11th 2013, 08:40 PM
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On the subject of terraforming, I must admit that I'm biased by spending a few years arguing with an offline friend about it. I think the idea of terraforming Mars is non-functional. The problem with Mars is not just that it has no atmosphere to breath, the problem is that Mars doesn't have enough gravity to hold an atmosphere (or humans). And also, no magnetic field means no radiation shielding. So even if you can pump the air full of O-N for us to breathe, the place still has enough radiation to kill you damn fast.

The 'too little gravity' thing is just not the kind of problem that we can solve with our chemical wizardry. Terraforming a planet might be feesible if it had sufficient gravity and an existing atmosphere (and a magnetic field). Nothing in our solar system fits that.

Now it might turn out that us humans might not be able to breathe freely on any another O-N atmospheric planet we may find (or earth planets/animals) won't grow due to bacteriological differences, or whatever, and in that case, terraforming a 'sterile' planet just might be the only way to go. For the purposes of bookwriting, I think I'm going to accept that humans can breathe on other O-N planets - though I'm certainly aware of the major biological challenges that will pose - I'm going to assume that our biomedical sector will be able to address most of the issues sufficiently in a timely manner. Still lots of room for plagues and nasty super-infections from some ecosystem playing havoc by jumping ecosystems.
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Old Feb 11th 2013, 08:51 PM
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In reply to my own comment about religion, I suppose I'll just go with the default existing model continuing to exist. Our existing religions don't seem to change much over the centuries, except as they adapt to changing socio-economic-political conditions over time. My goal is not to write about religion specifically, though religion will likely remain a part of society in the future as it has in the past.

In which case, I will have to address Shekib82's question about how the Churches will react to the proven existence of extra-terrestrial lifeforms (which will occur in my book-plan). As noted previously, I generally ascribe to the panspermia theory of life-diffusion in the galaxy, so I do expect lifeforms to exist on other planets (a statistically rare thing, but the universe is very large with lots and lots of zeros).
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