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Thread: To Sci-Fi Writers...

  1. #1
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    To Sci-Fi Writers...

    Hi all! I'm a long time fan of science fiction. I've been influenced by Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Orson Scott Card, and others. I'm currently writing my own short story and I was wondering about any other posters' experiences writing.

    Did you try and stay scientifically accurate? Were you hesitant on bringing in new types of technologies? Were you cautious in naming an alien species, or planet? How and why did you name them what you did? If there was an alien species, were they malignant or benevolent, and why did you make them that way?

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    I mainly write cyberpunk genre - so fairly "near future" - and strive to be as accurate as possible (down to trying to extrapolate how the internet will develop given more bandwidth and faster computers etc, researching prostheses and developments in robotics, AI, medicine etc and trying to work out how those changes will shape our society.)

    I thought of a number of alien contact scenarios and even thought of doing an alien invasion story but what comes to mind for me is that if a civilisation capable of crossing interstellar distances turned up and parked in orbit, we'd be pretty-much royally screwed.

    Resistance? Futile! If we can image the Earth with the technology we have (and we're not an interstellar civilisation by a long stretch of the imagination) it would be child's play for the invaders (I don't see any logical reason why their scanning technology would stand still while they developed interstellar transport) and I figure that anyone running around on the surface of the planet would have very little chance of hiding their activities from someone who holds the "high ground" (in orbit) and retribution would be swift and efficient (some form of very accurate weapon removes the dissidents below from the safe vantage point in space or they elect to make an example and drop one of our own artificial satellites on the town...)

    Short of openly plagiarising Niven and Pournelle's Footfall, it's hard to come up with a remotely feasible way for humans to strike back at an "advanced" race - and the Fithp weren't really that advanced, they merely used the technology of a predecessor species as revealed through inscriptions on stone cubes called Thuktunthp (and even then, one wonders why none of these Thuktunthp described how to build advanced detection/scanning systems that would render human resistance impossible).

    Any race that built their own tech to cross interstellar distances and invade other planets would not be the clueless, inept, tactically-challenged, incapable-of-hitting-the-broad-side-of-a-barn, let's-do-things-the-hard-way, give-the-victims-plenty-of-opportunity-to-plot-and-act morons that routinely invade us in popular fiction (like V, for example...)

    I think that if you're going to go far future, you're going to have to speculate insanely - look at Jules Verne, HG Wells, John Wyndham: some of the more intelligent SF wrters of the far past. While they came up with some ideas, none of them predicted a lot of the stuff we have now or how it developed. Look at ST-TOS, the communicators look clunky compared with our modern cell phones.

    If you're going to go interstellar, you'll need to consider the ramifications of tech and possibly invent new tech - sub-light "Generation Ships" do not allow for vast Empires. Expansionist colonisation resulting in independant worlds irrevocably separated from their homeworld, yes; "Empires", no. If you want vast Empires, you need FTL travel, which opens its own can of worms. You have to come up with something plausible and think it through logically - in Mote in God's Eye, Niven and Pournelle devised their tech carefully to allow for both an interstellar empire and a nearby unexplored region.

    Technology suggests technology and technology affects lifestyle/culture.

    The teleporters of ST-TOS made for a useful Deus-ex-Machina (and then led to some absolute absurdities explaining why they sometimes could not use them) but the concept was not really thought through until TNG when suddenly they had replicators (which is an obvious side-effect of being able to rip something down to pure energy and reassemble said energy again - who said that the reassembled object had to be the same as the original?) and even then they don't take it far enough: Like making a back-up of the buffer when a person beams down. If they get seriously harmed/killed, beam them back and use the back-up to reassemble them exactly as they were before they went - OK, they lose a few hours/days memory, but they're alive and well. Differential comparisons of the incoming pattern and the saved out-going pattern to determine if the amount of difference is in keeping with being merely three hours older and wiser than before. Or, if the captain materialises and is suddenly revealed to be infected with an alien symbiote that's hell-bent on taking over the ship, shoot him dead, dematerialise his corpse and rematerialise him using the pre-sortie buffer pattern - I'm sure that, after you've explained the events of the missing day(s) between his memory of stepping onto the pad and him stepping off it again, he'll be quite understanding. In fact, from his point of view, he steps onto the pad expecting to go to Planet X then instantly finds himself in the transporter room and, not being a complete idiot, says "OK, number 2, I expect a full debriefing on what happened when I beamed down to Planet X and why I've been reconstructed."

    One of the reasons I stick to near future is that its easier to extrapolate current tech in a logical fashion (smaller this, more powerful that - what will this do to our society?) - I tend to nit-pick quite badly, including my own stuff - if I can't convince myself that this alien culture could have FTL travel and yet not be able to subdue a bunch of Early-Space-Age savages, what hope have I of convincing my readers?

    One day I may write a first contact story set in the very near future (so our tech is unchanged and the alien's tech is so far ahead of ours that the (human) author can merely describe its actions, not its science (good way to avoid technobabble and erroneous assumptions of science on my part).

    HG Wells did this brilliantly, I feel, describing the heat ray in War of the Worlds:

    It is still a matter of wonder how the Martians are able to slay men so swiftly and so silently. Many think that in some way they are able to generate an intense heat in a chamber of practically absolute non-conductivity. This intense heat they project in a parallel beam against any object they choose, by means of a polished parabolic mirror of unknown composition, much as the parabolic mirror of a lighthouse projects a beam of light. But no one has absolutely proved these details. However it is done, it is certain that a beam of heat is the essence of the matter. Heat, and invisible, instead of visible, light. Whatever is combustible flashes into flame at its touch, lead runs like water, it softens iron, cracks and melts glass, and when it falls upon water, incontinently that explodes into steam.
    The character is a journalist reporting what he sees, he mentions the conjectures of various people as to how it might have worked but gives the caveat that it may not work like that at all.

    The "savage describing the television" scenario. "The alien captain waved its appendages and the ship moved into orbit."

    Personally, since all the invasion scenarios I can logically conceive of consist of the invaders turning up and humans rapidly becoming either slaves or dead (depending on personal choices), I'd write a first contact story with more benevolent aliens who trade use of their technology for something we have that they need.

    That way humankind is likely to survive more than three paragraphs past first contact...

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    I've done a few stories of present-day or near-future missions, and I did try to stay very accurate. The only alien that appeared was a frozen slug on Europa.
    The greatest journey of all time, for all to see
    Every mission makes our dreams reality
    And our destiny begins with you and me
    Through all space and time, the achievement of mankind
    As we sail the sea of discovery, on heroes’ wings we fly!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolf1066 View Post
    If you're going to go interstellar, you'll need to consider the ramifications of tech and possibly invent new tech - sub-light "Generation Ships" do not allow for vast Empires. Expansionist colonisation resulting in independant worlds irrevocably separated from their homeworld, yes; "Empires", no. If you want vast Empires, you need FTL travel, which opens its own can of worms. You have to come up with something plausible and think it through logically - in Mote in God's Eye, Niven and Pournelle devised their tech carefully to allow for both an interstellar empire and a nearby unexplored region.
    There is a way to have an interstellar government without FTL -- very very long lifespans. If a trip to a colony planet and back takes up no greater portion of your lifetime than sailing from Britain to India, then yes, interstellar empire is possible.

    It's been done in SF, but rarely. The only one I can think right off is "Pushing Ice" by Reynolds. Lindblad Ring is a democracy, not an empire, and its Congress meets once every five hundred years. The protagonist has been a Congress member for several millenia.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ilya View Post
    There is a way to have an interstellar government without FTL -- very very long lifespans. If a trip to a colony planet and back takes up no greater portion of your lifetime than sailing from Britain to India, then yes, interstellar empire is possible.
    While I agree to a point, it raises the problem of what happens if a colony attempts to rebel. By the time a message that the rebellion has started crosses (say) 15 light years to the Empire's Motherworld and your Sub-light ships are readied and despatched and spend... I dunno, assume their ships carry sufficient fuel to accelerate to (and decelerate from) 1% of light speed (3 million metres per second's a fair clip) in addition to whatever fuel can be reasonably calculated to be needed for in-system manoeuvring/fighting - so: 1500 years to actually get there (OK, peanuts as to them it's like Britain to India was to us in the age of sail) but the war lasted 5 years with a decisive victory for the rebels and (knowing that LocalGov had snapped off a radio mayday at the onset of hostilities) they've spent the last 1510 years building a massive space fleet to annihilate the incoming Imperial ships.

    The dastardly rebels may well still be alive to face the retribution of the Motherworld (due to their long lifespans) - but the Motherworld's forces have to get to them first.

    Of course, you can accelerate and decelerate longer and maybe crank your ships up to 2% of c to reduce the amount of time the rebels would have to set up their defences - but you'll arrive with empty tanks and might as well be sitting on a barren asteroid, for all you can manoeuvre.

    If a colony is suddenly beset by a plague, the aid ships sent from the Imperial capital will arrive at a dead colony - their natural lifespans might be long, but a virulent plague could, if unchecked, kill off the population long before the radio signal about the virus gets to the home world...

    Within individual worlds (or even between multiple inhabited worlds in one system) communication is going to be swift and efficient, between Imperial Centre and colonies it is going to be horrifically slow. You're going to rely more on your neighbour who can reply instantly (or with a few hours) than on an imperial court with a 30-year (or more) round trip for radio communications - even if that 30-year lag is scarcely consequential compared with your lifespan.

    Put in scale: the nearly instantaneous communication afforded by email or on-line chat compared with surface mail even within your own country.

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    Thank you for your responses. I think I'm going to avoid trying to describe technology as much as possible. Because for one, I know little about the inner workings in present day technology, so how could I hope to describe technology hundreds or thousands of years in the future?

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    Since 2007, I have been working on something on another forum which came from something I did on a now defunct forum in 2001.

    It kind of started off as fantasy and I took it into scifi

    I have tried to be as accurate as I can, and when I start a story I tend to embed and refer to youtub clips on the base science. (This is about a world in a parallel universe where creatures of fantasy, myth and fiction are real and are aware of Earth, as they were formed by our collective unconsciousness)

    A lot of my research has been wikipedia or other websites, and as I am publishing online, I add in hyperlinks to my research. Sometimes I have come on this board to discuss how things would work, form orbital mechanics of a world with more than one moon to the soviet space programme.

    I try and keep as much of the science right as possible, in the hopes that some on that forum might learn something.

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    Did you try and stay scientifically accurate? Were you hesitant on bringing in new types of technologies? Were you cautious in naming an alien species, or planet? How and why did you name them what you did? If there was an alien species, were they malignant or benevolent, and why did you make them that way?
    I've written several sci-fi story fragments (fragments, because I never make it past chapter 5 or so before life intervenes, and can't seem to ever pick up the thread again).

    I usually do try to stay within my knowledge of physics, but occasionally I venture outside. I get more speculative the further into the future the story is set.

    In my near-future sci-fi scenarios, I try to focus on colonizing space using chemical or atomic rocket technology, revolutions due to genetic engineering of food or wars using deployed weapons systems that are currently lab kludges.

    Good topics are the effects of highly concentrated manufacturing technology on economics and the fine/coarse-grainedness of economic power, and what such power could do to the effective size of the nation state (and whether or not the traditional nation states can recognize it). Or what would happen if there are technologies that everyone wants, but are "forbidden" by artificial suppression? After all, if everyone can easily get manufacturing technology to build whatever (skyscrapers and palaces, rockets, aircraft, farming domes, dams, reactors, ect), then so can nutcases that want to build bombs and weapons. But denying people these essentially creative technologies means enforcing their relative poverty to the people who are "allowed" to wield such devices. And it means your nation will end up economically impotent versus a nation that allows the free use of such systems.

    In further future scenarios, I usually do interstellar STL ramjets or beam-riders, and near speed of light propogation of mankind(s) out from the solar system.

    -------------------

    PS - don't worry about datedness so much. Resistance is futile anyways - who outside of a lab could have envisioned what electronics did to our society, the implications of the Church-Turing thesis or the distinction between software and hardware? If our grandkids can read our sci-fi and not be amused at it's datedness, then we've done something wrong, because not enough truly interesting and creative would have been invented between now and then.

    I still enjoy reading "dated" sci-fi - sometimes much more so than up-to-date trendy genres. Some of those people could write a good story!
    Last edited by ASEI; 2008-Dec-05 at 11:38 AM.

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    PS - on FTL - it's often been remarked that FTL is inextricably tied up with time travel. If you have the ability to travel FTL, then you can at least recieve signals before you transmit them, if not reverse your direction in space-time entirely.

    So it's often been stated:
    Causality, Relativity, FTL travel, choose any two.

    I don't see why you have to throw out causality though. There are completely causal frameworks in which time-travel can function - it just means taking determinism (or at least, non-solipsism) seriously.

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    My writing leans strongly towards mystery, so things have to be as accurate as possible. That said, the current project is a testbed to see what styles I can get away with and what styles I just can't do. My chosen venue for this is fan-fic for a video game about superheroes.

    I've got one alien race, one parallel world involved, maybe two, and one self aware robot that still follows his basic programming, but has adapted it in a way that was seriously unintended. But I've tried to keep everything consistent and realistic enough that it's not a superhero story with a mystery theme, it's a mystery themed story, some characters of which happen to be able to fly, or teleport, or shoot ice from their hands.

    I think that unless you're going for hard SF, as long as you stay consistent within your own story, and show that you at least gave some thought to any issues that arise from tweaking the physical laws, it could slip on by without much notice and become just another part of the world you create.

    I've got all but the last chapter written, and 3/4 of it has been posted at the writer's site, with a new section going up about once every week or two.
    I'm Not Evil.
    An evil person would do the things that pop into my head.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Klaus View Post
    Thank you for your responses. I think I'm going to avoid trying to describe technology as much as possible. Because for one, I know little about the inner workings in present day technology, so how could I hope to describe technology hundreds or thousands of years in the future?

    Thing is, you dont have to describe it. in many instances (especially OS Card), the technology is just there. Think of the Ansible, or the spacefleet, etc in Ender's Game and sequals. Or the TrueSites in Pastwatch.

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    I think it was Harlan Ellison who suggested that since accuracy isn't really possible, you should try for verisimilitude. Not 'is it really possible?' but rather 'Did it sound reasonable when I read it?' or 'Did it advance the story without throwing a clinker?"

    Example: I'm currently writing a story where a seriously ill person develops telepathy as a side effect of medical treatment. I know enough to toss in real compound names and routes of administration and such, but that's not the point of the story. And 'classical' telepathy seems to me hard to swallow. The real question is what would such a person do under the circumstances.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolf1066 View Post
    While I agree to a point, it raises the problem of what happens if a colony attempts to rebel. By the time a message that the rebellion has started crosses (say) 15 light years to the Empire's Motherworld and your Sub-light ships are readied and despatched and spend... I
    If you will excuse the pun all of this is relative. Back in the 18th century when the Europeans were establishing their distant empires a voyage out to asia could take a year or more. Don't get confused by thinking about 19th century clipper ships, they were like sail powered sports cars compared to the slow vessels of previous centuries such as the "East Indiaman" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_Indiaman) where a sailing speed of 6 knots would have been consided respectable. Thus getting news of an uprising back home to Europe could take over a year also. Therefore in those days if a force were sent out to quell a rebellion it would arrive perhaps 3 years (maybe 4 years if you include mobilisation time) after the fighting started. Consequently any such insurgency would normally have to be put down by government (or more likely trading company) forces already in the colony. If they lost then the government forces arriving later after it was all over would have to try and re-take the colony and probably embark on punitive action. It also followed that colonial administrations had a high degree of autonomy. They did not have to wait for approval from the home government before taking brutal action against the natives, they just acted as they saw fit. For them the consequences of losing the colony were almost equally severe regardless of whether they managed to escape back to their homeland to face their own government or died fighting the uprising.

    Now I grant you we are talking centuries in interstellar terms not mere years. But then again we are talking of humans with lifespans of millenia as opposed to 18th century humans with an average lifespan of between 40 and 50 years.

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    James Blish, for one, addressed this in his 'Cities in Flight' stories with 'anti-agathic' drugs, indefinitely prolonging lifespan.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 3rdvogon View Post
    If you will excuse the pun all of this is relative. Back in the 18th century when the Europeans were establishing their distant empires a voyage out to asia could take a year or more. Don't get confused by thinking about 19th century clipper ships, they were like sail powered sports cars compared to the slow vessels of previous centuries such as the "East Indiaman" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_Indiaman) where a sailing speed of 6 knots would have been consided respectable. Thus getting news of an uprising back home to Europe could take over a year also. Therefore in those days if a force were sent out to quell a rebellion it would arrive perhaps 3 years (maybe 4 years if you include mobilisation time) after the fighting started. Consequently any such insurgency would normally have to be put down by government (or more likely trading company) forces already in the colony. If they lost then the government forces arriving later after it was all over would have to try and re-take the colony and probably embark on punitive action. It also followed that colonial administrations had a high degree of autonomy. They did not have to wait for approval from the home government before taking brutal action against the natives, they just acted as they saw fit. For them the consequences of losing the colony were almost equally severe regardless of whether they managed to escape back to their homeland to face their own government or died fighting the uprising.

    Now I grant you we are talking centuries in interstellar terms not mere years. But then again we are talking of humans with lifespans of millenia as opposed to 18th century humans with an average lifespan of between 40 and 50 years.
    I do get what you're saying, but personally I would not want to fly an attack force into a hostile star system that's had 1500+ years to prepare for our arrival - especially since our weapons, communications etc are set at what we had 1500 or more years ago and we have no idea what the rebels have developed in the meantime.

    Personally, I find the time spans too problematic unless the culture has all but stagnated. The technological (and therefore cultural) changes throughout the course of a single trip between even fairly close worlds would be mind-numbing. (compare today's world with 1850, let alone 508AD)

    Every journey is "one way" - as when you return to your planet it's not the same as it was when you left - even though the same people are alive, there will still be advances made and the way things were done when you left could well have been superseded several times before you get back.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolf1066 View Post
    The teleporters of ST-TOS made for a useful Deus-ex-Machina (and then led to some absolute absurdities explaining why they sometimes could not use them) but the concept was not really thought through until TNG when suddenly they had replicators (which is an obvious side-effect of being able to rip something down to pure energy and reassemble said energy again - who said that the reassembled object had to be the same as the original?) and even then they don't take it far enough: Like making a back-up of the buffer when a person beams down. If they get seriously harmed/killed, beam them back and use the back-up to reassemble them exactly as they were before they went - OK, they lose a few hours/days memory, but they're alive and well. Differential comparisons of the incoming pattern and the saved out-going pattern to determine if the amount of difference is in keeping with being merely three hours older and wiser than before. Or, if the captain materialises and is suddenly revealed to be infected with an alien symbiote that's hell-bent on taking over the ship, shoot him dead, dematerialise his corpse and rematerialise him using the pre-sortie buffer pattern - I'm sure that, after you've explained the events of the missing day(s) between his memory of stepping onto the pad and him stepping off it again, he'll be quite understanding. In fact, from his point of view, he steps onto the pad expecting to go to Planet X then instantly finds himself in the transporter room and, not being a complete idiot, says "OK, number 2, I expect a full debriefing on what happened when I beamed down to Planet X and why I've been reconstructed."
    Something very like this provided a significant part of the drama in John Varley's The Ophiuchi Hotline and related stories.

    I've always found Star Trek risible because they could consider bodies being taken apart atom by atom and yet somehow they didn't consider the most obvious consequences. For instance, if you can reassemble an atomically dismantled human body, why worry about a frenzied stabbing?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolf1066 View Post
    Personally, I find the time spans too problematic unless the culture has all but stagnated. The technological (and therefore cultural) changes throughout the course of a single trip between even fairly close worlds would be mind-numbing. (compare today's world with 1850, let alone 508AD)
    Yes I grant you that is where the analogy starts to break down. Mind you it is difficult to know at what sort of pace a culture would advance where the individual members of it lived for thousands of years. With such long lifespans breeding rates might slow considerably. Assuming human females in such a society still produce offspring as they do now and that the whole mechanism of creating new humans is not confined to a lab, then it might be that each woman only produces one child every 4 centuries. This slow trickle of new humans into a society might lead to virtual social stagnation. Technology would still advance of course but without the benefit of young blood to spur things onwards in big leaps progress might slow to a much more measured pace. The implications of this and other bio-technologies are of course meat enough for a story all of their own much more so than interstellar warfare.

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    I haven't written any sci-fi. Honestly, it's not one of my favorite genres (though a good book is a good book, and there's some good books that happen to be sci-fi). I write mostly adventure/teen stuff (because I think kids should read more, and hope they can find things that are as magical to them as Where the Red Fern Grows, Hatchet, etc. were to me).

    I also like a good horror/suspense/supernatural story, and am a huge fan of Ray Bradbury (before you say 'hey! you said you don't like sci-fi!', I tend to not love his sci-fi as much as I love his other stories, but they're still good).

    My real forté as a writer--and really the only kind of story I've been sucessful with--is the kind that starts out, goes for a chapter and a half, then gets abandoned and never finished. I'm a master of those.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Klaus View Post
    Hi all! I'm a long time fan of science fiction. I've been influenced by Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Orson Scott Card, and others. I'm currently writing my own short story and I was wondering about any other posters' experiences writing.
    Hello!

    Did you try and stay scientifically accurate?

    Yes.

    Were you hesitant on bringing in new types of technologies?

    Yes.

    Were you cautious in naming an alien species, or planet?

    Yes.

    How and why did you name them what you did?

    My story started as a speculative history of galactic civilizations, about which human researchers had discovered information. So everything was given human names, indicating their place in the galactic order (as understood by human researchers): Great Powers, Lesser Powers, Servitors. My guiding principle was that for the story to be engaging to human readers, "man must be the measure of all things". So the aliens are named in human terms, by human narrators.

    If there was an alien species, were they malignant or benevolent, and why did you make them that way?

    Neither, but rather inscrutable. The motivations of alien species are only dimly understood by humanity, their interactions with each other take forms and serve purposes beyond our ken, and our own activities are mostly beneath their notice.

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    I've written a Mars story which stayed scientifically accurate. A pain in the backside, but I managed. Didn't get published the 1st time around [lack of market for such a story at the time]; I'll polish it up, try again.

    Am currently working on a sci-fi franchise story; must abide by "laws" of that "universe" but there's room for imagination too. And I take liberties.

    Now I'm going for an entirely different genre which will allow for lots of imagination.

    I like sci-fi, appreciate the "stickler" writers [to a point].....but dislike "retentive" types [if you get my drift]. If it can't be FUN to write, why bother?
    Dip me in ink and toss me to the Poets.

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    Did you try and stay scientifically accurate?
    More like 'scientifically plausible'. When dealing with theoretical and futuristic technology, accuracy isn't really possible. Technologies change, and scientific knowledge advances through the centuries.

    And if you add alien science and tech into the equation, who knows what's really possible?


    Were you hesitant on bringing in new types of technologies?
    Nope. I embrace it.


    Were you cautious in naming an alien species, or planet? How and why did you name them what you did?
    Well, I realized you can't use Greco-Roman names for every star or planet you use. So names can be brought from other cultures. I put a string of planets in my current project that were given Hindi names, for instance. Another area was given names from Celtic myth. Still others were simply named after the person who founded the first settlement.

    My alien races were just given names from their own tongue.



    If there was an alien species, were they malignant or benevolent, and why did you make them that way?
    My Sf universe has many shades of gray. There are races with conflicting agendas, and therefore are in conflict with one another, as well as the humans. But none are entirely good or bad.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Klaus View Post
    Thank you for your responses. I think I'm going to avoid trying to describe technology as much as possible. Because for one, I know little about the inner workings in present day technology, so how could I hope to describe technology hundreds or thousands of years in the future?
    Extrapolation. You know FTL isn't possible, and that velocities greater than about 10% of c are problematic. Couple of online calculations later, you know it would take x years to travel y light-years

    Perhaps the aliens were already long-lifers, perhaps 200-300 years. But as their colonies expanded, so did their need to live longer. After first, they used various anti-aging drugs. Later, genotherapy. In time, they were living 2000-3000 years, and had expanded ever farther. Democracy was maintained (a religion for them, complete with worship rituals). Include a couple of revolts, the horrible results, and a stronger return to their political roots.

    Enter the humans...

    ...who really foul up the works, particularly with a technical solution the long-lifers never considered, one that allows the humans to go .9999 c. Not fast enough that their relatives don't die, but certainly fast enough to slow the traveller's aging. Sure, they get back a thousand years later, and by the third generation, those crazy humans have developed a tunneling drive, not a wormhole, but a rip, and they ride the rip.

    There you go - there's the title of your book: Ripriders.

    Have fun!

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    Quote Originally Posted by mugaliens View Post
    Extrapolation. You know FTL isn't possible, and that velocities greater than about 10% of c are problematic. Couple of online calculations later, you know it would take x years to travel y light-years

    Perhaps the aliens were already long-lifers, perhaps 200-300 years. But as their colonies expanded, so did their need to live longer. After first, they used various anti-aging drugs. Later, genotherapy. In time, they were living 2000-3000 years, and had expanded ever farther. Democracy was maintained (a religion for them, complete with worship rituals). Include a couple of revolts, the horrible results, and a stronger return to their political roots.

    Enter the humans...

    ...who really foul up the works, particularly with a technical solution the long-lifers never considered, one that allows the humans to go .9999 c. Not fast enough that their relatives don't die, but certainly fast enough to slow the traveller's aging. Sure, they get back a thousand years later, and by the third generation, those crazy humans have developed a tunneling drive, not a wormhole, but a rip, and they ride the rip.

    There you go - there's the title of your book: Ripriders.

    Have fun!
    Edit: If I can do this off the top of my head in six minutes, maybe I'm in the wrong line of work...


  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by mugaliens View Post
    Edit: If I can do this off the top of my head in six minutes, maybe I'm in the wrong line of work...

    Unless you're already a professional SF writer, I suspect that you're right...

    Great ideas. I won't pinch them.

    After conversations on here (this and the "how alien" thread) I'm mulling over stuff in my brain for an advanced alien civilisation and their meeting with humans.

    As I'm of the "emotions as evolutionary necessities" stripe, my aliens are likely to have similar feelings to us - fear, love, anger, sadness and the derivatives/combinations thereof (though I could have fun inventing alien ways of showing those feelings) - but their culture and language could be quite different due to their unique development.

  25. #25
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    In my last story line, I used a what if from the past, that being, what if the Soviet union married the LK lander with the U500, (which became today's Proton). For that I had to research the soviet space programme, hence adding lots of links so people could read a lot of history if they chose.

    I also referenced M theory and the 11th dimension

    For my next project I have been reaching back to Greek Mythology and Loyalist Terrorist groups among other things.

    Wikipedia is a good source for getting basic facts right

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Klaus View Post
    Hi all! I'm a long time fan of science fiction. I've been influenced by Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Orson Scott Card, and others. I'm currently writing my own short story and I was wondering about any other posters' experiences writing.

    Did you try and stay scientifically accurate? Were you hesitant on bringing in new types of technologies? Were you cautious in naming an alien species, or planet? How and why did you name them what you did? If there was an alien species, were they malignant or benevolent, and why did you make them that way?
    I'm working on several series of stories, all on spec right now. One's based on humans finding alien tech and going on a field trip (yes, I'm keeping it vague). The other one's based on the near-future human tech and absolutely no aliens. The latter is more a vehicle for promoting investment in space, by using hard SF and realistic technologies, and educating the young on reality instead of fantasy. The former is about exploring philosophical and teleological questions with the help of alien perspectives, a la Babylon 5. As for the name of my aliens and their locations, I tried to determine the likely phonemes pronounceable with their anatomy, and picked some simple monosyllables that sounded good, gave them a history for the use of the word. Then I spelled it as if in the midwestern-US dialect with no special letters or gratuitous apostrophes or ridiculous diphthongs.
    Et tu BAUT? Quantum mutatus ab illo.

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    In my last story line, I used a what if from the past, that being, what if the Soviet union married the LK lander with the U500, (which became today's Proton). For that I had to research the soviet space programme, hence adding lots of links so people could read a lot of history if they chose.
    I know you linked to your story in some old thread, but I can't remember which one.
    The greatest journey of all time, for all to see
    Every mission makes our dreams reality
    And our destiny begins with you and me
    Through all space and time, the achievement of mankind
    As we sail the sea of discovery, on heroes’ wings we fly!

  28. #28
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    Actually I put the link in this thread however the link was to a different storyline I originally did in 1988 and revised in 1993. I do not see links to my mystical realms stories there, but I referenced them.

    If you are really interested I could put in a link to that particular storyline, but it is Season seven, so there are quite a few back references, including references to two side tales I threw in as well between Season Six and Season Seven.

  29. #29
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    Making up the technobabble is usually the easiest part. Telling an engaging story can be hard. As Mugs noted

    one that allows the humans to go .9999 c. Not fast enough that their relatives don't die, but certainly fast enough to slow the traveller's aging. Sure, they get back a thousand years later, and by the third generation, those crazy humans have developed a tunneling drive, not a wormhole, but a rip, and they ride the rip.
    Which is a variant on Heinlein's Time for the Stars, or van Vogt's Far Centaurus. Not to say it couldn't be excellent (Ripriders is a great title, BTW), but without something to touch the human parts of us I probably don't care all that much. As Donald Barthelme wrote,“The aim of literature is the creation of a strange object covered with fur which breaks your heart.”

    In, say, Clarke's The Fountains of Paradise (the hardest of hard SF), would the story have had as much punch without that last line, "Why do you call it the Tower of Kalidasa?" In Bob Shaw's Light of Other Days are the physical properties of slow glass at all important? In Asimov's The Ugly Little Boy does all the time-travel hoochy-coochy matter compared to "And stasis was punctured and the room was empty"?

    I read enough technical manuals at work. I want to end a story thrilled, or guffawing, or crying.

  30. #30
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    I'm interested.
    The greatest journey of all time, for all to see
    Every mission makes our dreams reality
    And our destiny begins with you and me
    Through all space and time, the achievement of mankind
    As we sail the sea of discovery, on heroes’ wings we fly!

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