Even in the Future, Not Everyone Has Everything and It Doesn’t All Work Either

Even in the Future, Not Everyone Has Everything and It Doesn't All Work Either

I’m editing my first NaNovel right now. I’m thinking about how a restaurant would work in the future, what would actually change, and really, in the background…? I’m thinking not so much.

Tomatoes still have to be chopped, cheese shredded, dishes washed. Sure, machines exist to do these things, but machines cost money that maybe a restaurant owner wouldn’t have to invest. And on a frontier planet with lots of eager workers (which means cheap labor) and high import costs, why wouldn’t you just hire somebody to do all that stuff?

But the technology exists, some will argue. Why don’t they use it? You didn’t think about that!

This is one of the problems I run into, writing sci fi. I remember talking about this book in the NaNo forums way back when. I mentioned they were out in the middle of nowhere and unable to contact civilization, and someone attempted to call me on it.

Everyone has cell phones now, why wouldn’t they have them in the future?

Well, dear, because cell phones are not magical talkie-things; they need a network. If no one has been out in the wilderness building cell phone towers, there will come a point in the journey where cell phones no longer work.

Satellite phones? Do they have any satellites? It’s the future, you know.

Sure, they have a few satellites. But if a cell phone is enough to call everyone you know (who lives in the city) why would you just happen to have a satellite phone?

GPS? How can they be lost?

Knowing exactly where you are on a map is helpful, but anyone who’s ever used GPS knows that it doesn’t tell you everything you need to know. Also, no Google street view car in the untracked, unexplored wilderness. If a terrain feature can’t be seen from a satellite picture (due to, I don’t know, TREES?) it’s not yet known. So it’s knowing where you are on a blank map with “Here Be Monsters” scrawled on it. Not so incredibly helpful.

This idea that technology is both pervavise and infallible is not only silly, it’s dangerous. I liken it to the belief a lot of people seem to share that having a gun protects you from being shot. That’s not how it works, people. If it were, we would lose a lot less soldiers.

A gun is not a shield. Neither is a cell phone. And apparently some people have never suffered a low battery at an inopportune time. (Don’t get me started on people who never run out of bullets.)

Ahem.

I don’t know if it was the same person or someone else who critiqued my idea for a stretcher with a low-powered anti-gravity unit with “anti-gravity doesn’t exist, won’t ever exist.” I was delighted not long after to stumble across the theory that dark energy may be anti-gravity.

While I’m talking about naysayers, I’d also like to mention I had a know-it-all acquaintance who used to affirm with absolute certainty that it was not possible to travel faster than light. Things like hyperspace travel could not exist, because that would mean traveling faster than light and that was not possible. As if some omniscient traffic cop was out there to stop us.

Yeah, well, the speed of light isn’t as incontrovertible as maybe we thought.

Sure, I write soft SF. I still take my science seriously, man. :D

Writer’s Guide to Creating a Science Fiction Universe.

Writer's Guide to Creating a Science Fiction Universe.

Despite my last post on “Grist for the Mill” I know that I don’t feed my muses as much as I ought. I’m pretty busy trying to stay on top of my job, my child, my college career, my publishing career, still talk to friends once in a while–there’s just not a ton of time there for reading and watching movies. I know I should do it, but how to fit it in?

Well, apparently by getting snagged by an awesome book at a really not-good time.  Picking up this book at the used bookstore may be the best two minutes and nine dollars (gift card!) I’ve spent in a while.

It’s twenty† years out of date (in science, especially in this century, that’s a lot). It has an annoying habit of going “look! this is interesting, you could write a story about this!” while my brain is going “no, you idiot, over here–THIS is a story!” But.

It’s a great breakdown of the fundamental science an SF writer needs to know in order to not look like an idiot. It’s collected and cited and clearly written, and while I haven’t learned a great deal (I am an incorrigible science geek already) the way it’s presented, all together and in logical order, has really got my brain a-going.

This book is giving me ideas for the Dream’verse, but I’m already well into what they call “imaginary science” for that. Hyperspace, artificial gravity… I had stories I wanted to tell, and it wouldn’t work if my characters couldn’t “planet-hop” almost at will. I made that choice long ago.

So now I want to start another series, one that sticks to actual science from the start. Mass drivers! Spinning space stations! Ships that use acceleration/deceleration for gravity and if they aren’t changing speed everybody floats! Terraforming taking a thousand years or more! One slow step at a time into space…mmm, sounds awesome.

I’m more than halfway through already, and this book is a fascinating read. Cosmic strings are like a black hole, but instead of being a point, they’re a line. How freaking cool is that? It’s also making me want to read more, by mentioning that “Frederick Pohl did this in this story” and “Isaac Asimov did this in this book.” I’ve always called myself a sci-fi fan, but I haven’t read many of the classics. It’s characters I care about, and anyone will tell you (whether it’s true or not, I don’t know) that “classic” sci-fi is about ideas, not people.

Apparently it’s time to expand my horizons a bit. Yay!


†We will completely ignore the fact that I read “1993″ as the copyright date and then thought it was TEN years old for days…

The Random Research Stage

The Random Research Stage

I’m working on Lukas and Alan for Goodreads. I’m researching a lot of things I didn’t know I was going to need to know. Rescued Greyhounds. Old cemeteries (and the difference between a cemetery and a churchyard!) Lightning strikes, Chinese Crested dogs, and the Underground Railroad.

It’s a lot of fun. It’s also slow going, because every few paragraphs there’s something to know that I don’t know. (The characters are mostly college students with completely different interests from mine, and I didn’t know a month ago that I’d be writing this, okay? Also, the deadline is a little over a month away.)

So anyway. Things I don’t know. I like learning, so it’s not a problem in any way but time. But when I try to explain to my kid that she should pay attention in Social Studies because one day she’ll wish she remembered more about the Underground Railroad…

Yeah, it doesn’t go over so well.

I love SCIENCE

I love SCIENCE

“Advanced civilizations may live safely inside the supermassive black holes in the galactic nuclei without being visible from the outside,” he says.

oh em flippin’ gee.

Such a civilization would be subject to huge tidal forces and  energy density that builds up in these stable orbits as photons become trapped. There’s also the problem of causality violations, which some cosmologists predict would afflict this kind of weird space-time.

My brain. It is in love.

What is a causality violation, and can I keep one as a pet?

SCIENCE!

I love science. It’s so…science-y. So sexy. The internet is indeed for porn. SCIENCE PORN. (Do you have that song in your head now? You’re welcome.)

It seems attempts at making babies in micro-gravity may encounter difficulties not experienced in Earth’s gravity. Interesting. I may not use that in my current SF universe–in the Dream’verse they use false-grav (No, I’m not a hard SF writer. Go read David Weber explaining Warshawski sails SEVEN HUNDRED TIMES if that bothers you)–but I may write another universe someday. And it suggests some interesting things for a fantasy universe as well.

“You might see land masses and mountains made up of diamonds,” the lead researcher Dr Nikku Madhusudhan told BBC News.

Ooo…now there’s something I can use. The discovered planet is a gas-giant, but apparently a rocky planet with diamond mountains is completely possible. Wish they explained exactly what the amount of water available had to do with things, though…

Ah well, that’s what research is for.

The problem with wandering about looking at shinies, is, of course, that so much shiny exists. From that BBC article, I went to this one, and saw this.

freaking awesomely huge iceberg

Tell me that doesn’t get the muses going!

I’m sure that, umm, at some point, I’ll, uhh…get around to writing again. Yeah. Just let me read this article about flashing snails

So Frakkin' Cool

ZOMG, I love science.

KD Sarge




KD Obsesses Over Stuff

Tom Hiddleston in a tux

Tom Hiddleston Invites You to Tumblr

Stuff

Status
Status

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KD Reads Stuff


Polar Star
Magic's Pawn
The Mote in God's Eye
Startide Rising
Raymond E. Feist's Magician Master
Changes
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Rimrunners
How to Teach Physics to Your Dog
A Christmas Carol
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Murder at the Vicarage
The Golden Compass
The Lorax
The Dragonbone Chair
Calvin and Hobbes
The Elvenbane
Wikis For Dummies (For Dummies
Foundation
Hunting Season