Welcome. This blog was started three years ago by four aspiring writers who are now three published authors of novels and short stories (Barbara Elsborg, Dawn Jackson, Arlene Webb) and one multiple award-winning writer (Laurie Green). We blog to keep readers updated on our new releases or other random topics. We hope you enjoy your stay. :] Coffee?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Blog Chat: Science and Star Travel

We're a bit excited that Barbara's current WIP is a Science Fiction Romance/Erotica. A couple of months ago, we got into a discussion on some of the scientific vrs. fictional influences of the niche subgenre.

For your entertainment, here's an edited version of our discussion...

Flick - 15. Jan at 03:08
I need a hand with some sci fi stuff - In Lucy in the sky - Three has to tell her his job and where he - or his ship - is from. I'd put “I’m not a terrorist. I’m a supplies officer for the SS Beagle, out of Ventura 5, Eexon solar system, Bowman galaxy.”

But several critters felt it was too tame. That Beagle didn't work. I did have my reasons for using Beagle - Darwin being one and it sort of links to the origin of the bigger ship his shuttle takes them to but do you - or Arlene or Dawn - any help is welcome - have a better idea for how I can put this? Do I need to use strange words for example?

I'm a supply officer for the Xenothik, out of Deltan Solar System - is that any better? I've already explained how Three can speak English - the translation chip - not trying to invent the wheel there though there is more to that than meets the eye, but apart from throwing in the odd phrase like - Legolian snakes or Jeepon balls - is there more I should do?

Dawn - 15. Jan at 03:59
Quarter Master, Barbara. He's the the Quarter Master. But you can twist that around a bit and make it your own unique position. Quarters Officer. Provisions Master...

I have a ship called the Mobius, inspired by science. One called the Martian Destiny. Another called Baby. So if you want to call it the Beagle, do. The Mobius comes from the Mobius strip that you twist and attach to itself to make it one continuous piece. Now that I come to think of it, I don't have a name for the blasted ship in IGBH inc. Oh damn. Now that's going to bug me.

If I had my dang atlas of the universe, I'd help you out with some names. But alas, it's still packed, hanging out at my MIL's. I used the Andromeda as it's massive and one of the closest galaxies to Earth. But, Laurie may have a better one.

Ya know, Laurie's going to get after you for outer galaxy to galaxy travels. LOL.

I still keep my stand on science. That all science has is roots in fantasy and that what we say is impossible, only becomes science when we prove that we can, and make it so. Many things deemed fantasy or impossible a hundred years ago, are now science.

Ooooh something to blog about on RR.

Okay, off to work.


Laurie - 15. Jan at 08:15

Whew...okay, reallll quick. LOL

Dawn said: "Quarter Master, Barbara. He's the the Quarter Master. But you can twist that around a bit and make it your own unique position. Quarters Officer. Provisions Master... I think that's one word: Quartermaster, but, with land troops its correct, but in naval terms it means navigator. I love Dawn's suggestion of Provisions officer. An alien culture wouldn't necessarily use these terms, but still might use terms that are similar concepts in English."

As for Beagle, ta heck wif the critters, Barbara, especially if you have a purpose for the ship's name. Who says they don't have a word like "Beagle" that means something else, or he's using a term in English that's close to the true name of the ship. I think what's important is that it's an easy to pronounce name that when the reader sees it is going to know "that's his ship." Some of these SciFi writers who come up with outlandish names just because they look weird are shooting themselves in the foot, IMHO.

As for coming from another galaxy, yeah, you're going to get my spiel. I think it has taken something like 30 years for one of our robot research ships (Voyager, I think) just to reach the edge of our own solar system—our nine or so planets and sun. Imagine the time frame needed at today's speeds with today's conventional propulsion systems to reach just the next solar system, not to mention deeper into our own galaxy or across it. There are so many stars and so many solar systems right here in our own galaxy (I think it's like...I don't know 300 billion stars or more) that if you took just a tiny fraction of all the stars and said they had solar systems with planets, and then just a tiny fraction of those planets and said odds are they would probably have conditions similar to Earth to support life, you are talking about 30 MILLION inhabitable planets in our galaxy alone. Why have your alien originate from another galaxy (which is so impossibly distant from our own galaxy it's mind boggling). The nearest is what...something like a million years away traveling at the speed of light? So in other words, if you could travel at the speed of light, which Einstein's theory says is the fastest you can travel under the laws of physics, it would take a million years just to get there. Would your space voyagers even be human in that huge span of time or would they evolve under these conditions into something else? That's just about the entire span of human existence since human-like bipeds came to be. Now, that isn't to say there might be other forms of travel discovered, such as the use of wormholes (I use something like this in Draxis), but again, it's believed wormholes connect point to point within our galaxy because of the forces of gravity and the nature of space, dark matter, black holes, white holes, etc, but I don't think I've ever heard of it applied to traveling to other galaxies. Even Star Trek had a situation where the Enterprise was thrown out of our galaxy on course for another, and the crew acknowledged the distances were so vast even at "warp drive 10" they'd never reach it. But, all that said, this is Science Fiction, so if it's important for your characters to come from another galaxy then go for it (but again, why not this one with 30 million odd planets to choose from?) then you can create your own transport system. Maybe they slingshot from galaxy center to galaxy center using some as-yet-unknown energy source generated by the dense stars and gases at the center of the spiral, but then they still have to travel the enormous distances across our galaxy to where our tiny little solar system is out near one of the arms. I'm throwing out stuff from the top of my head, but you can go Google "distance to next galaxy" or "number of suns in the Milky Way" or "life on other planets" to get more detailed, precise info.

*puff, puff* LOL

So there you have it. Remember, though, I'm lean much more toward the realist side of Sci Fi than the fantasy side, and so far I haven't even incorporated aliens into my SFR, only human subspecies that colonized and evolved specific traits on other inhabitable planets (subspecies in P2PC and the genetically-fixed Malibu beach boy race of Draxis) within our own galaxy. Dawn's characters do come from another galaxy. It is Science Fiction, so you can take whatever liberties you like from generally accepted physics, but don't forget I'm on a campaign to put the science back in science fiction. LOL I like to keep things as plausible as possible, though my drive systems in both P2PC and Draxis are really a stretch of the imagination.

Whew...see what happens when you get me started? LOL

Oh..one thing though. For centuries man considered Earth at the center of the universe, until that got tossed on its ear. (Very insignificant planet circling an insignificant star in some insignificant galaxy. It's humbling, isn't it?) so would he refer to his own system as Ventura 5? Wouldn't it be Ventura 1 or just Ventura. ORRRR, has his race been colonizing? If so, then Ventura 5 works, but he might refer to his home world or even system, at some point.

OK, make me stop.
*pulls hands from keys and forces herself to hit "enter"* hehe


Flick - 15. Jan at 08:35
hehe - Thanks Laurie. Well I hadn't even thought about the galaxy implications. It doesn't need to be a different galaxy. I can take that out. I won't be going into the detail that you have about the sci fi stuff - for a start - I'm less interested than you - I just need to create a world that works - well it will all be on a space ship I think BUT I don't want to put my foot in it or do something stupid to make it seem silly rather than fun. So galaxy can go. Its not important.

The issue of the supply officer - quartermaster etc - its hard when you only use English language in these - yet you need to describe alien culture - to find the right balance of how to use English. Swearing and basic sex words are a case in point. Even with a translation chip - using f—- and c—- feels completely wrong to me but what else can I use? Once Lucy has used them - Three can pick them up but its still tricky.

Thanks for all that input Laurie - boy I lit a fuse there!

Laurie - 15. Jan at 09:54
OK, I just HAD to go look a couple things up. LOL In naval terms (which Star Trek and most of the other Sci Fi series have adopted as the logical military branch to adapt to space) a quartermaster is called a purser. They have quartermasters but in the Navy it applies to a navigator. (I still use Nav in P2PC because it makes more sense than Quartermaster which the non-military readers may not understand).

And since I hate spewing info without verifying it first (which I just HAD to go do LOL!)...

The nearest galaxy is Andromeda at 2 million to 2.2 million light years away. Whew!

The Milky Way galaxy is about 100,000 light years across, with 200 to 400 billion stars. The nearest possible planet now "discovered" (jury is still out if it meets habitable criteria, but possibly) is 20 light years away (sounds close in comparison, but see below on light speed verses conventional speeds). The nearest star is Proxima Centauri, and it would take Voyager (there are actually twin Voyagers launched in 1977, Voyager I and II heading out on different paths), now leaving our solar system after about 30 years, another 73,000 years to reach it with its propulsion system (because its traveling no where near the speed of light, and those speeds may not even be possible). If Voyager could travel at the speed of light, it would still take over four years to reach the nearest star at those speeds (over 186,000 MILES per SECOND which would take a little over 1 second to reach the Moon from Earth—okay, a second and a quarter to travel the 238,900 miles). And of course, the stars don't stay in one place, either, so Proxima Centauri will move a bit in 4 years and move a lot in 73,000! The logistics are boggling.

I think the estimates on 30 million inhabitable planets came from Carl Sagan, but can't locate the info right now. Many, many scientists agree that the chances of life elsewhere in our galaxy, statistically, are anywhere from very probable to 99.99% certain. Finding them, however, would be like finding a needle in a haystack that covers the landmass of the Western Hemisphere. The sheer enormity of space is something we have a lot of trouble grasping.


I may have to copy and paste some of this to Spacefreighters. LOL

Flick - 15. Jan at 11:55
Stop - I'm drowning!!!!!! LOL Thanks Laurie

Laurie - 15. Jan at 14:56
LOL...had to post today's quote.

Imagination is the one weapon in the war against reality.
- Jules de Gaultier

Yeah, that's my motto.


Dawn - 15. Jan at 16:39
I could have told you Andromeda is the closest at 2.2, since I researched the heck out of that spiral galaxy for BioM. LOL

Laurie, you're still thinking in terms of Earth technology for propulsion systems. Ya know, like I said, how do you know we don't have advanced civs on other worlds that have propulsion systems that make ours look like they're prehistoric???

LOL Oh, I do so love to goad you into these little discussions. When you open up, you really open up.

There's a fine border between Sci Fi and Fantasy. It all boils down to if time can be manipulated. If time can be manipulated, anything is possible. And can matter be manipulated? The human body "beamed" from one location to the other? Don't restrict yourself to a physical plane when thinking of space travel. IMHO Our bodies may be solid, but that doesn't mean someone else from another worlds is. Their molecules may move faster.

I still say you'd have gotten burned at the stake two hundred years ago for using a cell phone or flying on a plane. Science's roots is in fantasy. All science was fantasy, until it became proven theory. Therefore, outer galactic travel may not be as impossible as scientists believe.

Takes a deep breath.

But I have to say, I love your purist tech, Laurie. It's the bomb.


Laurie - 15. Jan at 16:58
LOL Dawn. Yeah, not like I didn't push the envelop on physics with both P2PC and Draxis. I'm fascinated with the science behind astrophysics, but only to a point. Start talking about complex mathematical theories and formulas and my eyes cross and my brain wanders off to play alone. LOL

But my points isn't so much that other life forms positively couldn't come from other galaxies, but that there's SOOOO much room for civilizations in individual galaxy neighborhoods why would they need to cross ginornous voids to find other life? I think we originally got into this discussion over Darius being from another galaxy?

And as for fantasy and technology crossovers, a lot of the technology we have today came from people who grew up on Star Trek as kids and got excited about the "fantasy" technology on the original series, so became engineers and scientists and pursued making it real technology. So I still say, if you can imagine it, there's probably a way, somehow, that it can be made to become reality. I've never much liked the word impossible.

OMG, I'm so scienced out today.

OK, better run and try to get at least one crit done.


Flick - 16. Jan at 02:14
You two ought to post this discussion on the blog!!!

Laurie - 16. Jan at 05:11
LOL Barbara. I never thought of that. Good idea.

Editors Note: And here it is. :)

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