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Beta Readers Wanted for Literary Review

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Comments

  • It's perfectly OK to play around with the science in a hard science fiction novel...but you have to really, really know your stuff before you can do that! Readers of hard science fiction do so because they not only like science but are often pretty knowledgeable...and will be the first to complain about something that is either implausible or outright wrong. Clarke and Asimov both pushed boundaries in their work---but they knew exactly how far they could go. They were also masters of verisimilitude, which is one of the key tools of the hard SF writer.
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/

  • Here is an example. I recently did an illustration depicting Dyson Spheres. Or, to be more exact, Dyson Bubbles, which is one of several variants on the concept. One of these surrounding a star might have a diameter of 2 AU---about 186 million miles---which is pretty darned huge---but would contain no more mass than the asteroid Pallas (3.50 x 10^17 tons). So they are huge, vast, enormous...but not massive.

    Cool! I did something of a variation on the Dysen ring/Ringworld concept myself. The Phillips International Space Halo mentioned in Chapter 1 is a ring that is in geostationary orbit above the equator of the Earth.

    --Michael
  • Hard Sci-Fi does take some good ciphering beyond the aught plus aught equals aught level.

    This is also why I prefer a K-Class star as a setting, a bit easier on the constraints.
    See what happens when you want to write hard science fiction? You have to get your science right!

    I think all science-fiction is on a spectrum in hardness, with something like Star Wars being not at all hard science-fiction, Star Trek being somewhere in the middle to somewhat hard, and Asimov, Niven and Clarke, et al, being the most hard. But even they had their limitations. Niven's RIngworld, which is an inspiration of mine, has its science faults, and in fact, it's so out there that much of the science plausibility is glossed over and never explained, like how a 'variable sword' works. How do you create a stasis field exactly?

    Every piece of technology in my novel has a scientifically plausible explanation, but whether it would hold up against a physicist or astrophysicist is questionable. And that will always be the case. I wrote an article for the appendices about this. There is a pragmatic limit, because if you describe some advanced scientific principle in the future, you literally lack the ability to explain it in sufficient detail, otherwise you would have invented it in the real world! We are all ultimately guessing or extrapolating as to what might be possible in the future. Science-fiction has so frequently been wrong that its incorrect guesses far exceed the accurate ones.

    One common science-fiction trope for which I have yet to hear a plausible explanation is a force field, one that can stop physical objects. How does energy stop such objects? Very tiny charged particles, yes. But missiles and etc? I created a plausible explanation for stopping energy weapons in my novel, an advanced form of plasma window (it's why the ship is coated in a silvery alloy), and I have a idea for stopping physical objects that I'm working on--it might be something that they are just discovering in the current timeline. But, the standard trope is one that is relatively dissatisfying.

    Of course, things like the masses of planets and how they gravitationally interact with one another is another matter entirely. We can get that right, and I plan to, but even that cannot be carried beyond what we currently know scientifically as a society.

    --Michael
  • Papi_SoñolientoPapi_Soñoliento Southern Escarpment Hill Country Librarian
    Michael,

    I've bookmarked a few different calculators so you can devise your planets, work out orbits and resonances, as well as go for the type stellar metallicity / opaqueness that will allow life to not be a long-shot. Let me know it you require assistance.

    As for futuristic devices / technologies, Sci-Fi writers tend to get thought rolling to figure things out.
    Hard Sci-Fi does take some good ciphering beyond the aught plus aught equals aught level.

    This is also why I prefer a K-Class star as a setting, a bit easier on the constraints.
    See what happens when you want to write hard science fiction? You have to get your science right!

    I think all science-fiction is on a spectrum in hardness, with something like Star Wars being not at all hard science-fiction, Star Trek being somewhere in the middle to somewhat hard, and Asimov, Niven and Clarke, et al, being the most hard. But even they had their limitations. Niven's RIngworld, which is an inspiration of mine, has its science faults, and in fact, it's so out there that much of the science plausibility is glossed over and never explained, like how a 'variable sword' works. How do you create a stasis field exactly?

    Every piece of technology in my novel has a scientifically plausible explanation, but whether it would hold up against a physicist or astrophysicist is questionable. And that will always be the case. I wrote an article for the appendices about this. There is a pragmatic limit, because if you describe some advanced scientific principle in the future, you literally lack the ability to explain it in sufficient detail, otherwise you would have invented it in the real world! We are all ultimately guessing or extrapolating as to what might be possible in the future. Science-fiction has so frequently been wrong that its incorrect guesses far exceed the accurate ones.

    One common science-fiction trope for which I have yet to hear a plausible explanation is a force field, one that can stop physical objects. How does energy stop such objects? Very tiny charged particles, yes. But missiles and etc? I created a plausible explanation for stopping energy weapons in my novel, an advanced form of plasma window (it's why the ship is coated in a silvery alloy), and I have a idea for stopping physical objects that I'm working on--it might be something that they are just discovering in the current timeline. But, the standard trope is one that is relatively dissatisfying.

    Of course, things like the masses of planets and how they gravitationally interact with one another is another matter entirely. We can get that right, and I plan to, but even that cannot be carried beyond what we currently know scientifically as a society.

    --Michael

  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    edited January 30
    Actually, many SF authors over the past 3/4 of a century have worked out plausible "force fields." E.E. Smith, for example, came up with a number of ideas---whether realistic or not I am not sure, but they were at least worked out logically. Indeed, there are even such things existing today, if on a small scale. 

    For instance, a magnet swung toward a copper plate will stop cold a fraction of an inch before impact. All of the kinetic energy of the magnet is converted into heat. This heat could conceivably be stored...or converted yet again into other forms of energy.

    In this case the question you asked, "How does energy stop such objects?", doesn't even apply. It is the mere existence of the copper that is sufficient. But given that, one can easily imagine a generated field that would have the same outcome.
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Actually, many SF authors over the past 3/4 of a century have worked out plausible "force fields." E.E. Smith, for example, came up with a number of ideas---whether realistic or not I am not sure, but they were at least worked out logically. Indeed, there are even such things existing today, if on a small scale. 

    For instance, a magnet swung toward a copper plate will stop cold a fraction of an inch before impact. All of the kinetic energy of the magnet is converted into heat. This heat could conceivably be stored...or converted yet again into other forms of energy.

    In this case the question you asked, "How does energy stop such objects?", doesn't even apply. It is the mere existence of the copper that is sufficient. But given that, one can easily imagine a generated field that would have the same outcome.

    Well, I was talking about the typical science-fiction tropes that are well-trodden and appear to always involve some kind of energy field surrounding their ships or other etc. But I'd like to hear more about what E.E. Smith came up with.

    My idea involves the cancelling of inertia of the objects.

    --Michael
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    "Nice artwork! The grey planet coincidentally looks likes the Ch'k li'ak Mind-Hive in my book. It's an entire moon that has been converted into a massive artificial structure."

    Thanks, but the grey planet is a spaceship, to sort of put my point across better :-)

    "As for the engine size issue, it's all relative. Maybe as far as most spacecraft in science-fiction go, 100 meters long and ten meters wide doesn't seem that big, but look at what spaceships we have today."

    Oh, indeed, but are we not discussing SF? And I believe it came to light that the Russians built an even bigger one, but never used it.

     "The Saturn V was 110 meters in length, and I think most people would consider it to be 'massive'."

    Not any more.  http://www.spacex.com/falcon-heavy but even so, compared to say, an aircraft carrier, it is not.

     "Furthermore, if you were looking up at a sphere that was over 10 meters/33 feet in diameter, you would likely describe it as 'massive'."

    Would that not depend how high up it was? Some weather balloons are larger than that, but the higher up they get the smaller they seem.

     "I think you can say that the ship is not very big relatively speaking,"

    Not really much larger than many grain silos on Earth. But if we could put that in to space today, that would be impressive and could be classed as an enormous spaceship.

     "simply because the other ships in the world setting (in a bit of foreshadowing) are generally larger, but then still describe the engines as massive."

    I am just thinking about what other avid SF readers would possibly think - that it's not massive as SF fiction goes. I could give examples in SF of gigantic spaceships, often built by alien cultures, that come across by us simple Earthlings are often described as massive by the space wanders who find them.  Now here is a great example - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rendezvous_with_Rama

     "The main reason I changed it was because the word was used too much, not because it wasn't appropriate."

    Indeed! The older I get the more words I forget! But within Word is a very handy right click thesaurus.  :-)

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    Ah! Dyson Spheres! Now they are big. One could say massive. Peter Hamilton makes great use of the concept with ones that imprison entire solar systems. Read The Evolutionary Void. Although they are not really one craft.
  • Actually, many SF authors over the past 3/4 of a century have worked out plausible "force fields." E.E. Smith, for example, came up with a number of ideas---whether realistic or not I am not sure, but they were at least worked out logically. Indeed, there are even such things existing today, if on a small scale. 

    For instance, a magnet swung toward a copper plate will stop cold a fraction of an inch before impact. All of the kinetic energy of the magnet is converted into heat. This heat could conceivably be stored...or converted yet again into other forms of energy.

    In this case the question you asked, "How does energy stop such objects?", doesn't even apply. It is the mere existence of the copper that is sufficient. But given that, one can easily imagine a generated field that would have the same outcome.

    Well, I was talking about the typical science-fiction tropes that are well-trodden and appear to always involve some kind of energy field surrounding their ships or other etc. But I'd like to hear more about what E.E. Smith came up with.

    My idea involves the cancelling of inertia of the objects.

    --Michael
    Cancelling inertia is exactly one of the concepts Smith developed in detail and used throughout his Lensman series...and he was writing in the 1940s and early 50s.
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    Indeed! I have been reading SF since I could read, and there's little that has not already appeared in SF stories. If one does not, or has not read a lot, of SF, one would not realise that. It is very hard now to come up with ideas and even plots that have not already been covered many many times.

    One thing that is not often gone over in SF is the science, because often it does not exist (yet?) and even if it does, even at the little publicised cutting edge, most readers would possibly not understand it, and may not even care. Any more than most people care about how their car works. It just does. Usually.

  • I turned my back and the conversation multiplied.

    The second draft is much better, as Paul and others have noted, and to some degree the computer becomes a character in a small way. It does make the computer's choices seem more rational.

    I see your point in wanting to eject Dr. Sullivan before he had a chance to do anything about the condition of the ship. If you were inclined to do so, you could make a scene where he is struggling to shake off the effects of the sleep agent in time to get to the controls, but is ejected before he can recover enough.

    Still, it works as is. The point is to get him to the planet, and it does that effectively.

    Regarding adjectives pertaining to size: The size of anything is relative to something else. You need only look at the starbucks menu to see that: Tall means small, Grande means medium, Vente means large. Of course, grande is only grande in comparison to the tall, which in turn is only tall in comparison to the "small" or "short" espresso, which traditionally would have been served in a demi-tasse cup.

    So huge, massive, large, expansive, ginormous, minute, big, really big, really really big... use any adjective you like.

    Regarding a Dyson Sphere: I tend to take the position of many scientists, and hold that Freeman Dyson was, ah, how shall we phrase it, not the sharpest knife in the drawer. In fact, I'm sure that from time to time, folks were wont to ask, "How did a marble get into the knife drawer?"

    The principle failing of a Dyson sphere, in my humble opinion -- except, of course, as a metaphor to suggest a hypothetical civilization utilizing 100% of a star's energy -- is that it would be impossible to construct. To be near enough the star to be useful would require being so low into the gravity well that the structure would tend to collapse inwards; to be far enough to be safe from collapse would render a relatively useless device.

    Further, to have enough matter to girdle a star would require more than a solar system's mass, meaning that many solar systems worth of matter would go into making even a modest sphere, say on the size of mercury's orbit. And that includes any Oort clouds around those solar systems...

    And then we run afoul of the second law of conservation: all heat engines must reject heat, or in another form, You can't use 100% of the energy of anything. There would have to be some sort of massive heat and energy sinks on the outside of the sphere, in order to keep the inside from simply burning away. Which defeats the purpose of a Dyson Sphere.

    So let's just pretend that the Dyson Sphere idea was always only meant as a metaphor, shall we?

    Oh, yes, last topic: Ron's covers are fantastic. He did one for a joint venture between myself and Rick Wilcox. I can highly recommend his skill, artistic vision, and knowledge of the book trade. On top of that he's a nice guy.
  • I wouldn't as sanguine as that about the possibility of Dyson spheres (which come in all sorts of varieties, by the way). A great many astrophysicists take them seriously---even if they might be relegated to a very future technology, much in the way space elevators are. Nor would a Dyson sphere require quite as much mass as you suggest...especially since such a structure would not have to be a continuous closed shell, like a hollow ball (which would be mechanically impossible anyway). For instance, a swarm of satellites encasing a star would have much the same effect, be infinitely easier to construct and require a comparatively small amount of material. That type of Dyson sphere---or Dyson swarm to be more exact---might require only about half the mass of Mercury---and, in some versions, no more than that of a large asteroid.

    And don't be too hard on poor Dr. Dyson! The idea was presented in a paper only two pages long that was meant to be largely theoretical (he freely admits that he got the idea from a science fiction novel). Other authors since then have explored the actual problems of constructing such an artifact.
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Teacher
    edited February 2
    Well, my criticism of Dr. Dyson leans more on things like project Orion. The Dyson Sphere, okay, we'll say that it was hypothetical. But Project Orion was actually attempted, much to my amazement.
  • Skoob_ym said:
    Well, my criticism of Dr. Dyson leans more on things like project Orion. The Dyson Sphere, okay, we'll say that it was hypothetical. But Project Orion was actually attempted, much to my amazement.
    And it even worked! At least as a model using conventional explosives. But what a terrifying concept!
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    The Dyson Spheres as described in Peter Hamilton's stories are just as Ron says. A matrix of satellites creating forcefields between them. Powering them would be a problem though, for us today, but not that long ago who would have thought it possible to have in one's pocket a phone/multimedia/PC not much thicker than a credit card? Or electric cars that are now as practical as ones with an internal combustion engines? Who knows what amazing ways there will be even just 50 years from now for collecting, storing and using power? The amount of 'power' our sun puts out every second is astronomical (pun?) But of course Dyson spheres could be powered by something else that is currently just SF. 
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    I was not aware that Project Orion was tried. But TNT is far safer than nukes though!
  • That depends on how close you're standing.
  • Thanks for all the feedback, guys. I missed a lot of responses because my laptop went out and had to be sent off for repair. No data was lost because I use external hard drives and back up relentlessly.

    Then, my new computer would not log into Lulu.com through Google Chrome for some odd reason. The old install of Chrome did fine, but this one did not. So, I've been forced to return to MS Edge, which is not so bad.

    Anyway, I've managed to connect with an editor that will likely be able to help me with the next phase of my work.

    —Michael
  • Hey Michael,

    Sorry to hear about the computer. I know we've had a few issues with our Lulu single sign on for the forums with Chrome. I personally have a gmail account that still refuses to let me log in.

    Is it looping you back to Lulu.com when you log in or simply showing an error page?
  • More of a case of the former, and yet neither. If I don't log in, I'm fine, and can navigate anywhere I want on the site. However, if I sign in on the main page, then none of the buttons will work at all. I click and click and click and nothing happens, and I'm just stuck on the main page. I can't even get to my Account settings. On the other hand, if I go to the forums first, and then try to log in, it just dumps me back on the main page, and I get the same problem. Amazingly aggravating.

    And yet the prior laptop and Chrome install were just fine. Perplexing.

    —Michael
  • Papi_SoñolientoPapi_Soñoliento Southern Escarpment Hill Country Librarian
    Try entering / signing in from your Projects page. You can hit the Fora from the Learn button.
  • Really odd. One glitch we haven't fixed (or even attempted) yet is that log in for the first time bounces you back to the lulu.com page, when it should send you to the community home page. Our developers put this off because their reworking the entire sign on functionality, so major fixes will get bundled in (I'm told).
    It sounds like you might be getting caught in that loop - it acknowledges your in and Chrome knows its you, but then when you go to navigate anywhere, the site gets confused and thinks it isn't you.
    I tried setting your account to 'verified', but I'm doubtful this is the cause.
    You might try wiping cookies in Chrome (though be careful if you have saved passwords).
    Otherwise, I added your info to the ticket I have open with our developers and I can only hope they can get it resolved in the next couple weeks.
  • Thank you for looking into it, Paul!
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