beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I've been watching Continuum and Doctor Who, and reading about Legends of Tomorrow and The Flash, so I've been thinking about time travel morality.

And it absolutely depends on the physics of time travel, in ways that seem sincerely difficult to determine for certain sure.

It's always about free will and self determination vs assorted definitions of the greatest good for the greatest number.

Read more... )




That's a very long way to say it
but
if a story does not give us the rules of time travel, we can't tell if the consequences of a travellers actions are good or bad, and we can't evaluate them in a time travel context.

If the rules aren't consistent it gets worse.

And seeing as we don't have time travel or any ability to know what happens elsewhere in the multiverse, we're pretty likely to evaluate actions in a simple way, where saving people is a good thing.

Even if it overrides their choices.

Or might butterfly all of history so whole family trees don't get born.

We can't know all that, we can't even call it a short term long term problem, so we're just going to sit there and sulk that someone could be saved so they should have.




My favourite thing that Legends failed to do? The approach I'd take with that crew? Play as much as you can in the gap between history and happened. Treat all of time as a heist where you have to avoid the cameras. Steal people out from under. Crew a ship with ghosts, whose only impact on the timeline thereafter has to be just as secret as their rescue. Steal the Acheron and make the name mean something.

Then you consider changing history to be a risk, but changing time to be a challenge.




But there's also the time traveller's dilemma, Reverse Flash edition: history says you did it. Do you change things and risk a paradox, do you fight fate and find out the hard way how it herds you, or do you consider the record to be sufficient reason to go ahead and do it? Read more... )



Time travel stories at the simplest ask: Even if we could know for absolutely certain what the consequences of our actions are, do the ends justify the means?

But time travel stories are not on the whole that simple.

So they pit free will against fate and choice against survival maths and generally get messy enough you can't tell if they've done good, and neither can they.

... putting them right back in the fog we linears have to live in anyways.





I get hung up on what we could go back and change, and should probably take a holiday from time machine stories to practice the here now a bit.

But they do allow explorations of possibilities not much available elsewise.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
So, I read a story where the Earth's entire colonisation effort was something like thirty women, and they were going to get implanted with preserved embryos on their first day there because they might be the whole hope of survival for the human race.

... which bothers me on several levels.

Read more... )

Obviously if everyone is women you do what the computer tells you and grow whatever was frozen well enough. Er, whoever.

How long would they keep up the Ladies Only plan?

I mean if the plan is to get as much genetic diversity as possible out of the frozen embryo stores in the ship and there's some kind of time limit on that, you'd want to make sure there's plenty of wombs to go around. Would you get everyone out in a single generation?

If you're aiming for ten thousand colonists, even if you have multiple births routinely and soak the risk, that needs a really big first gen pool. So you'd want to keep up the embryos plan for multiple generations, without losing any of the earlier generations. You could do that with donor sperm and embryos. Or with a lot of social stuff to make sure your great grandchildren are still interested in decanting old world people.


also one of the mathier pieces says "the consequences of the increased medical risks of late childbirth have not yet been considered." It wanted to stretch the generations on a generation ship by having kids around 40, but, wow is that a biggie to leave out of your math. I mean, your chances change substantially over time.

Read more... )

But only the first 200 would be volunteers who up front believe themselves willing to act that way. The future survival of the human race would depend on their reproductive behaviour. Their choices would be severely constrained.

And to get all the embryos out of storage in the shortest generations they'd need to get their daughters to act the same way. Which seems... unlikely.

Read more... )



Hard science fiction that sets out a space colony as that baby focused without thinking through how they're actually going to feed the babies is just bad.

I mean, maybe they all get pregnant before they've got a crop going on the grounds that if they starve to death it's all one anyway, but... no.



Also the science problem in the novellette I read was far less interesting to me than the social consequences of the background setup. Read more... )


I think one big factor for viable colony size calculations is something like, if we send people who act pretty much like people of that cultural background do, how many do we need?

Like, we'd need to include murder rates from somewhere.

You do not get perfectly behaved people. No matter how you filter them at the start.



And the cultural changes would be massive even in the first generation kids. I mean how many immigrants feel like they don't really understand their children?

And if the future of the human race depends on women's reproductive choices, it's kind of more likely to work if you start with what those choices *actually* tend to be. First gen you could filter for people that want big families - though not for people that want big families once they start having them and are surrounded by them - but second gen will do as they will.

How do you design a colony socially so it does what you need genetically?



Clue: you do not stick thirty women on a one way trip and keep them pregnant from the first month they get there.




Hard science needs to at least glance at soft science or it requires the ridiculous.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I don't know if I've written this up before - I searched but didn't find - but I'm bored, so:

Goa'uld biology and what it implies for the structure of System Lord civilisation.

Was prompted to the topic by a comment Melannen made in her thoughts about siblings and sustainable populations: "If only 1/1000 people are queen mothers, they each have to have 1000 children."

What we know about goa'uld reproduction seems to mostly be in the episode about Hathor?

Where we see her in a single 'birth' make a hot tub full of goa'uld symbiotes.

So how rare are goa'uld Queens?

Read more... )


There is something wonky in the reproductive cycle of the goa'uld
and in the Watsonian way it must be driving their civilisation.


The way I figure it is that Queens are super rare.
System Lords are so competitive because they're competing for Queens
and their method is 'hey baby, check out the size of my host pool'.

But Ra imprisoned Queens, Hathor in a host and Isis just in a jar.

So some of the oldest and most powerful System Lords also try and control the Queens, perhaps bestowing or withholding to control their subjects, and some of those Queens are having none of it but mostly failing in their attempts at independence.

Apophis & Amaunet, Baal and Nirrti were all trying innovative approaches to the host problem, not just increasing the pool but making it more species specific, better able to host, and more useful. They had varied results and failed for reasons as much social as scientific, specifically that SG1 kicked their arses.

None of them seemed much fussed by killing symbiotes in Jaffa or out, which might bork my theory, but might just indicate that as a species they've never much cared until an individual was a potential reproductive partner. And maybe there aren't many of those. Much more competition than co-operation, then.

The host pool is also crucial for their extended lifespan, since without a sarc they need multiple hosts (see Tok'ra) and even with one they might need an escape pod (see Lo'taur). Controlling the availability of hosts seems ridiculous, given how many humans there are, but we see how wrapped in ceremony a new implantation is and how many hosts have to be rejected. Going among the humans, who have no biological ties to the symbiotes, is high risk. And they still have to sort them for suitability. Sending Jaffa out for a first sort and making sure the potential hosts are outnumbered by Jaffa lowers the risk. And enables the System Lord to better control their subjects by knowing when they implant and controlling when and where they can try it.

All of this developed in reaction to an original environment where their host species tried to eat them on the regular. They would remember from their earliest hosts what it was like to eat their own species. And they would kind of expect relationships with new species to be antagonistic. And bitey.

The genetic memory would freeze a lot of reactions and the sarc freezes individuals, so it takes many many host generations for a goa'uld to change. But change they must have.



The System Lords as a society and the goa'uld and Tok'ra as biology are reorganising in reaction to their version of First Contact, the meeting with a new species, and the new technologies and ideas that came out of that.

They're fascinating.



... or they could be, if they weren't mostly just being evil because evil, and then wiped out.

*sigh*
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
NSFG meets downstairs at The Ribs of Beef from 8pm, topic from 9pm

1st and 3rd Weds of every month through 2014

Wednesday 5th February - Open Meeting - bring ideas for future meetings
Wednesday 19th February - “Here be Dragons” (to tie-in with the Dragon
Festival)

Topics cover science fiction and fantasy, as well as whatever else comes to mind, TV, movies, books, comics, etc etc

everyone welcome.
beccaelizabeth: TV studio audience turned into big white bunnies. (audience bunnies)
I dreamed I was a weekend warrior on FTL ships. It was kind of like being a reservist now, but sending you on training missions involved relativistic effects. The main difference between that and full time armed service is that you and your friends were at least initially planning on coming back down. After the first few times you skipped a year just to get to somewhere that needed extra hands you either quit or developed a unique relationship to local time. You skim the years, your continuous relationships all to others who work with you, while time skips out from under you whenever you go to work. Planet side people are rapidly foreign, yet people who choose to live that way seem to prefer it.

I was autistic spectrum. People are always foreign. I could cope with the time skips the same usual way I cope with everything. Not rapidly enough for combat, but with plenty of useful skills for the rest of the time.
Read more... )



So all that makes an excellent setup for a space horror story, or just exploring civilisations where travel between stars really seriously depends on people caring about each other. Cold physics can get you out, but empathic navigation gets you home.

I'd need a bunch of characters and a specific plot though. And an autistic spectrum point of view character, which would make it difficult to introduce said other characters, since they'd all be pretty baffling to her.

In the dream I had to share a dorm with a hyper religious person and someone who accused all the others of being stoned or drunk. They'd put all the, er, interesting people in together. What would a space ship do with their crazies, if they knew they pulled them out off course? But what would be good to do, if a major danger was all thinking the same so long they stop being able to do anything else? Too many crazies scatter the ship focus, maybe get them lost out in the Dark. But there would be such a thing as too few.

Possibilities.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Right then. I need to figure out how many Mind Emulates I can run on a Gestalt Brain Matrix, and how smart they can be. And the rules say several things and have errata. So I'm going to put them all in here, and then I am going to poke them until they make sense.
Read more... )

199,595 people experience 100 years in the last 10,000.
Then the Matrix crashes a complexity.
Suddenly there's only 19,959 people around, and they're still only experiencing 1 day for 100 of ours.


If they all went dormant while up to 86 component minds got out and pushed, or hunted for the 4 minds they're missing to make up their world again... that's a lot of monsters in the basement. Possibly very smart monsters. Possibly many daft ones instead.

Read more... )

My math might be wrong. But it's pretty.

Still need to do some deciding, but it looks like it's a very small world, in the basement. It could be planet sized to look at, but in population, small.



Woah, I've been working on this for a lot of hours, and it's just useless imaginary maths that I've probably got wrong anyway. Oops?

Still, it is absolutely stuffed full of story idea. I think I like it.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
My college units this semester are Dissertation Preparation, National Cinema and The Short Story. Read more... )

ANYway, The Short Story does not look promising, but, I have a lot of books of short stories lying around. And that's without getting into the thirty year solid collection of Analog. So I got a recent SF anthology down that I hadn't started and I've been reading.

I have previously got into arguments about the definition of science fiction. (I spend three hours down the pub every two weeks talking about science fiction, naturally this comes up). I have said that science fiction is all about exploring the way new technology shapes lives. I've said it in a variety of phrasings, but I figured, the tech changes, and people change in response to that, and then we have story. I have been unenthusiastic about definitions that reckon science fiction is all about the props. There are many stories set on spaceships that are not, to my mind, science fiction. I've been known to get sniffy about it.

I might have to revise that quite a lot.

Read more... )

I guess the basic problem has been said long since: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
So any sufficiently advanced science fiction is about magic.

Push my definition of science fiction only a step or two out, and we've run into my definition of fantasy.

I just read a short about how stories about Mars shape how people react to Mars.
That's not the only sort of world we've been dreaming on a long, long time.
As soon as it's technologically possible to make faerie, people are going to do it. Remake themselves or their avs and just... go.



So I'm left with a conundrum. Anything with the trappings of science fiction, the star trek kind with recogniseable humans on big metal starships, I no longer find a plausible extrapolation. And anything plausible isn't exactly what I'd been thinking of as science fiction.


Having twisted my brain in a knot I should probably go to sleep.

Then wave a little surrender flag on my definitions and go back to writing stuff like I've been watching: humans charging around the universe in tin cans.
beccaelizabeth: very goth red and black butterfly (butterfly)
I dreamed that a superhero archer showed an interest and had grand plans for me but on closer inspection they were the same usual plans that leave out all the useful parts. So then I spent the rest of the dream explaining All About My Disability. There was a speech. It started out being about how you can't just come out about being disabled, because no matter how out you think you are, the default assumption of the world is still set the other way, which is pretty much why x is a disability in the first place, since the world isn't set up to make it worky. So, with each and every person, there comes a point where you either have to come out or know they don't know you. And while there's some things where you could just let it slide and try to pass, some plans go smash right into the realm of cannot and out of spoons error, and then suddenly you have to, and you don't know how they'll look at you afterwards. Great big speech. Woke up in an utterly foul mood, convinced nothing will ever work ever again.

I know I said I wanted awake to be better than asleep, but that wasn't quite the way around I had in mind.

So. Sod all that.

I been working on my other planet. The one the stone circles lead to. I reckoned they'd be smaller and more advanced in biotechnology. So, for why? I decided the planet they're living on lacks fossil fuels and most easily mined mineral deposits. Like, you can't just go dig for iron and get reasonable amounts of iron. It's always going to be difficult to get together. So the iron biology needs is going to be top priority iron, and you can't just have chunks of it scattered around being chairs or something. They might have free gold, maybe other stuff we'd consider super precious, just because pretty. But they're going to be massively impressed with our biologically necessary minerals. Trade gets really simple that way around. So, big empty planet, no convenient places to dig for energy or metal, tech has to take a different path. Plus the first settlers there were terraformers. So they were set up to think in the long term, to think in terms of making a place suitable for life, and, to a certain extent, of making life suitable for the place. They think in integrated ecological systems. They're going to be massively unimpressed with what we've done to our biosphere. They're small because it's more efficient, and because limited resources don't make for maximum possible growth. They're perfectly healthy to be going on with, but they're not spending biological resources on just having longer levers in their limbs or something. They can grow levers. They can grow most things, given time. There were people growing bridges on a BBC nature documentary, that's a good start on the mindset this lot will have. Sure it'll take a couple of generations to get something useful grown, but after that it'll last a few centuries, and everyone knows how useful it will be, so they keep working on it. But they aren't a people without urgency. They work crops and raise animals, biology has plenty of built in urgency.

I can't decide if their messenger technology should be purely biotech too. Do they have electricity at all? Would they understand about radio? How high tech do I want their biotech to be? Something that will sustain a civ we recognise as equal to out own, only different. Could messenger pigeons really be part of that? Well super pigeons that can cross the continent in a day could do a lot of good messaging.

They have photographs and film and microfilm. Where do they get the light from to illuminate them? Do they still burn things or did they develop solar power to imitate their favourite foliage? And do they have any equivalent of the internet?

I decided language goes in a pill. Because there's only so much story you can get out of the early stages of translation, and you can always have mistranslation stories. But I was thinking, I'd like to play with accents. This only works as properly acted stuff, it's no fun on paper, you can't write an accent. You can write different lexis and logically any Trade language in a pill would have a different set of words available, and a limited set. You'd end up having to talk around things to get your Trade words to work right. But, if you have actors and speaking, I'd like to play with accents, so instead of having a conlang to be the Trade, they just all switch to speaking in the linguist's accent. Like, there's people from every region of Britain there, all this variety of accent, but the linguist did all the work developing the pill, so when the Trade gets talked, all the new planet people talk with his accent. Only to show that everyone who took a pill is also talking Trade, they all talk with his accent too. It's like the bit in Doctor Who where Amy and Vincent have the same accent so they must be from the same place. Only longer lasting and probably not actually funny. The linguist's accent would have to be one that's invisible most of the time. Like, I'm tempted to make it very RP, or posh English, but posh isn't quite the same as culturally dominant. So he'd sound like middle class English, and it would only sound odd when everyone else switched out of their regional accents to sound that way too.



Right. Useless worldbuilding over for the day. Breakfast, then studying.
Three hour exam. Arrgh arrrgh arrgh.
beccaelizabeth: Blue Beetle, Ted Kord, cartoon style, bored, using one of those bats with the ball attached. (Bored)
Am bored. Should be studying. It's Saturday and I don wanna.
So...

Say the first British expedition through the teleport circle has a couple of dozen people. What expertise needs to be represented?
Read more... )

If I'm making adventure parties I should get the GURPS books out. If I'm making story seeds I should keep on figuring out who knows who how and why they're going to get pulled into component atoms and thrown at an unknown world.

Read more... )

They'd be trying to pack the maximum skill set in the minimum people, having drawn from people who don't mind dropping everything to take a wild chance. Tricky.



I did 50K words of a book that isn't halfway finished last summer. Why am I spinning up whole different 'verses?

... because it's easier than anything I'm supposed to be doing, or indeed adding more words to the long already thing.

... okay, time to do something else.


*Edited to swap some names around
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I know when people want to write wildly unlikely Stargate Atlantis alikes they just do and post it as an AU. But while attempting to sleep the people in my head started being a version of the expedition that started from now and had watched the TV series Stargate, and indeed Atlantis. Therefore calling them John and Rodney is a bit too meta for me. So my brain, while poking around for names a bit like Rodney but definitely not Rodney at all, came up with Rhodri.

So then my expedition has Rhodri and Sean. And suddenly it's British. Read more... )

So, Rhodri and Sean, arguing about whether the stone circle is a stargate or a transmat, making bets on probability of finding a Federation that just hasn't asked us to join yet. Trying to pull together... probably not a couple of hundred people, this being British, but at least a couple dozen people willing to step through a stone circle and vanish.

You could get so many reasons to want to do that, from so many frames of reference. You'd have the people arguing they're in a fantasy, or horror, as well as science fiction. You'd want to bring people with skills on a variety of tech levels, because you have no idea if you're going to be figuring out advanced physics or just trying to get food and water out of your environment with hand tools.

There's totally story in there.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Reading fics set on alien worlds I've started to get a bit annoyed that the go to background for really incomprehensibly alien aliens is something that looks either a bit tribal or a whole lot Japanese. The Japan thing irritates especially when the whole fic is translated from the alien language of the alien world in another galaxy full of aliens that haven't spoken to us in ten thousand years, but when they still have weird untranslatable words, oh look, that looks a bit familiar, other galaxies have a Japan. And it's not just the thing where grabbing a library book from a different shelf would be about a bazillion times more original by now. There's a lot of history to grab from. Interesting things could happen at random. But no, same old same old happens.

So here's a challenge: Write an alien world based solely on your daily experience. Things that you personally see in your ordinary day to day. Preferably things associated with your class and social groups. Write that as alien. It'll be about a billion times richer, if you can manage it.

... yes, this is like why I also like urban fantasy and hidden SF like Torchwood, but sideways of it. That's adding aliens to the familiar world, not quite the same. What I'm suggesting is stripping the veil of familiarity and seeing one's own culture from its building blocks, and how difficult to understand it has been, without this many years of practice.

The simples way is to write it from the point of view of a character who didn't grow up on Earth. The good trick there is to make it so it's the silly people they're observing that end up looking alien and strange, rather than just making a laugh at the point of view character for not understanding.

The very good trick way is to tweak the presentation just enough that it looks thoroughly alien and strange without stepping outside of your daily commute. Life is deeply weird, humans are pretty incomprehensible, and not so much of what we do is based on logics. There's all symbol sets and conventional behaviour and design choices and architecture and transport that shape our behaviour in ways that only go invisible because, well, our brains have better things to do than chew over the same old same old. We're all weird incomprehensible aliens. Make a world out of that.

Besides, put an SG team on my bus ride home and you'll get story out of it, even if it's just them figuring out where to sit and all the assorted students, mothers&babies, pensioners, and people taking the bus back from work at odd hours of the day have to react to the weird dudes with the inconvenient backpacks. You can get a ton of worldbuilding out of the contents of the average bus. Even the existence of the average bus. And I'm only starting with the bus cause that's where I do most of my staring into space.

So, challenge: Write your world as alien. See what happens.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I got stuck on my story again because I am trying to figure out wormhole physics, relativity, and psionics.
I know I can only look up the two of those that exist.
But I need to understand them at least a little before I can decide what the rule is on the third.

I think the rule I've implied on the last 36000 words involves instant communication over light years. I meant it to do that.

But then you get (a) time distortion near light speed and (b) instant travel through the wormhole so (c) you time travel when you go back home through the wormhole. (I was going to pretty much ignore that. As long as ships don't do loops at light speed I figure they would pretty much ignore that. You go through the gate, why would you care if you travelled through time to do it? Nobody goes the way that doesn't involve gates.)
(... not on purpose. I know two lost ships in this story. oh dear.)

So, if she's instantly connected, does she have instant communication with the past / the future?
... do those words actually make any sense once you've got a wormhole network?

I think I broke my brain.

I only wanted to write about the sex.

It grew a plot. It grew a giant plot.

Now I need to understand the rules and figure out if my psionic network is, necessarily, as far as the rest of humanity is concerned, precognitive. Which would suck, because then predestination effects kick in. And then the only reason things happen is that you saw them happen that way and knew they would. And then there is no free will. At least for telepaths.

... I could write that story but I didn't think I was.

Okay, I will make a rule. Telepaths going really fast can't hear their people because of the time distort. When they slow down again they hear them through the nearest gate because it's many times closer than the not-through-the-gate version.

Also, most telepaths can only talk to particular people, and if the time distortion/time travel effect has gone long enough, those people are probably dead at the far (future) end.

There. Tidy.

... does that even make sense?

Bother it.

Onwards!

Enders

Aug. 3rd, 2011 03:33 pm
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I keep on getting bits of background on my spacer characters. Like, what games they play at school. It pretty much has to be the battleroom game from Ender's Game, but they'd just call it Enders. The enemy's door is down... but that only makes sense to kids raised in gravity.

If you mix dirtsiders with stationers with fleet born with merchanters you get minimum four different ways to relate to gravity, and if you add belters or whoever you hypothesise as being mostly freefall then that's five.

People born on planets get an idea of down as a constant, of falling meaning down, and that makes sense to them.
Stationers live in spin gravity that is constant in a given area but varies by deck, whereas merchanters have spin gravity that spins up and down variably. So how hard 'down' pulls you depends on both where you are and when it is. Both of them have to adjust to things falling down-and-away, not what we think of as 'straight' down. Like living on a hill all the time. Or in a bowl. I could never quite figure that out.
Both merchant and fleet kids grew up with burn gravity, the kind where the engines kick the ship up at you, but only fleet can spend fuel so profligately they can have near-constant thrust. Fleet kids live closer to planet conditions than station kids, their down is just down, but it can be stronger or weaker depending. Sometimes very much stronger. And sometimes when they manuever the ship kicks sideways. Often enough to get used to the idea that sometimes walls jump out at you.
Belters experience all those conditions when they put in to station or get boosted out somewhere, but they spend a lot more time in freefall than any of the rest.
So all of them have different relationships with gravity, and the enemy's door is wherever the hell it is, variably, with expectation of 'down' kicking off in a different direction any minute now.

They would not design the same game. And they would not play it the same way.

Plus they'd all have muscles and reflexes optimised for different roles within the game. You'd develop something a bit like rugby where what position they play goes with what shape they are. Sort of.

There would be kids who were better at flying/falling and there would be kids who were better at throwing them.

Manuevers would be something like trapeze art or floor show gymnastics, depending what the gravity was doing. You'd get kids kicking off from each other to change direction mid flight. You'd get people launching in pairs or groups so they could change vector unpredictably, or you'd get them intercepting each other already out there, like the world's most swooping rugby tackles. You'd have kids with some kind of anchor who have the whole job of boosting other kids and changing vectors for them, catch and throw.

and then you add guns. If they're little hand held thingies they can't do much but shoot, but if they're long with a t sort of thing going on then they can hook in to each other, bash against each other like I said about the morris dancing, hook on the surroundings, give you extra leverage. Be a tool in themselves, not just a point and click. Even if you could have a tiny next gen phaser you'd want a big nightstick sort of thing so you can have more options.

The playing field would depend on what they wanted to make an analog of. Free floating or circle spinning lumps to play planet or rock would be for one set of challenges, thinking of yourself as a ship, using the gravity to slingshot into new orbits. But to train for in ship fighting you could have any configuration likely to be found inside or around a ship hull, like warehouse racking or sensor vanes on a magnetic surface or whatever plants grow up there, trees even. And you'd give the kids magnetic boots, or not, or some of them with and some without.

To get used to the idea of finite fuel you could have backpacks... would super soakers work as a propellant system? Small finite thrust, but in any direction and without cooperation.

... my society would want to get cooperation in bone deep, so they'd keep that trick for the olders.

Add to this the fact every last one of them would have read the Ender series... wait, no, actually that would only be true of my lot before the War. So lets just say all the tricks from there would be very familiar.

Oh, it would be grand.

... you'd probably get kids with broken necks fairly often, but this is the far future, they can fix that pretty good too.

... now I'm wondering if I just figured out what happened to one of my pilots. it beats the hell out of half pipe basketball...
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
So I was thinking about starting a colony on another planet
as you do
and trying to plan out what you'd need.

I went looking on the internet for other people's plans, but I think I lack the keywords. I found some very sketch outline stuff about colonies on planets that were not terraformed. I was thinking something more like Stargate where you could go live somewhere that looked kind of like Vancouver. Big, green, lots of trees. So your basic air and water are covered. But nothing much more complicated than trees, so everything humans would use you'd have to bring with you.

I read a Stargate Atlantis fic where the things you need list started with 'olive trees'. And trying to poke the GURPS rules to make sufficient food for a spaceship come out I found a lot of places saying potato and beans are good to eat. And personally I like eggs and mushrooms so I'd take enough to make sure breakfast was sorted. But basing my plans on things I personally eat will come up against that thing where I'm pretty sure I don't eat all the things that are good for humans. I hear green is a good food group.

So
If you were planning a colony to go to another planet
one way trip
no resupply
take people and supplies and expect to look after yourselves forever after
how would you find out what you'd need?
and what would you take with you?

(The empty planet scenario makes me twitchy in ways connected with the word colonies. On Earth it was never, ever empty. On Earth the story about going to empty places and making them good was a cover for some really foul stuff. Telling stories about the empty planets out there waiting to be colonised gets into some really awkward narratives. But, it's space. Space is big. It might be empty. And if there's any life, it seems to spend a whole lot of time inventing trees. We could go find somewhere in the middle of its tree phase. It's all logically possible. Just... sort of squirmy.)

(Also, intruding on the ecological development of another planet is logically an ethical Thing. But I'm just going to hop over the terraforming phase because it takes forever and doesn't seem to lead to people on the internet talking about how you make a functioning community full of people. People are where all the stories live.)
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
CSS Incorrupt hits a mine. The mine wants to chat.

I just figured out why he doesn't just want to explode. :-)

... yes that would have helped rather earlier.

It also told me what the genre is (other than SF) and what point of view the story has to be in (and stay in).

Now I have no more excuses. I should just sit down and write.




Now I have to name the character thus far known as 'the Welsh Mine'. I know he's played by Gareth David Lloyd in my head. Lloyd will do. My spellchecker knows it and there's alloyed jokes to be made.
beccaelizabeth: Lady Frankenstein plugs her brain in (net access)
They're scary in there.
People that refuse to believe Read more... )

Okay, now I've wandered off into thinking about raising an army and fighting vampires because it's less scary than reality.

Story of my life.

:-p
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Right. I have been trying to fix my spaceship so it doesn't do the thing the Enterprise always does of having a few named officers and a lot of people wandering around who may or may not be officers. And Miles O'Brien. He was chief petty officer, but only sometimes. But since I have watched a lot of Star Trek, and not much else, I feel I understand who is the boss of who out of Captains through Ensigns, but I have no idea who all else is around. Even if I'm just going to file the serial numbers off the Enterprise I want it to make actual sense. Not necessarily match, but have words in the right orders and look like it could work.

So what do all the other people do, and what are they called?

It would really, really help if I could get the hang of the real world stuff. Since that does make at least a working sort of sense. Reality has good continuity, usually.

So I looked at the Royal Navy website. Read more... )

I think I need a book. 'Royal Navy for Dummies' or 'Life in a ship if you're not the Captain'. Or possibly just the glossary and a little flow chart.

*big sigh*

Read more... )
ANYway

Now I know some words, I need to find out how many of what words are likely to be on a tiny ship, and make a little organisation chart for my spaceship.



Or, obviously, I could write that romance I was planning and ignore the whole rest of the ship. That would be simpler.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
So this explorer ship is sent out with the magic fuel tank, the stargate that refuels constantly from a planet sized tank. Maybe the Fleet is wasting a potential ecosystem, or maybe they're using meltwater from under the glaciers of a highly volcanic moon. The ships just know the water keeps coming. Its fall gives them electrical energy and pushing it out the back gives them thrust. Firehose ships.

They look a bit like the Gherkin building, though this Explorer is only half the height. The outer shell is advanced materials, tougher than diamonds, but it looks like glass. The inner shell is designed to stop laser weapons, so there aren't many windows for the crew. There are airlock doors in three places, above between below. There's also a collar or two for the attitude jets. The main engine is underneath, the thrust defining which end is under. But if they're generating power from the fall then the fuel tank, the stargate and its pond, will be up in the top. Big crystal gherkin with waterfalls flowing down inside. Okay, probably not actual free flowing waterfalls, probably great big pipes, but either way, could be pretty.

Read more... )

I'd say poking around with ship design is more fun than actual writing, but getting the hang of the ship design nailed down some plot I needed and suggested a lot of other things that happen in reaction to that event. Physics can be fun that way.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I decided that my spaceships would go FTL only through having stargates. Those gates would exist in pairs, so you have to take the far end all the way out at sublight and only then can nip through. They would be wormholes, playing with gravity, so you just sort of fall through really. And they're not reprogrammable, only paired, so if you want to get anywhere it's like riding the railway with interchanges and stations and all.

Then I realised: the main limit on reaction drives is how much fuel you can carry around. But if you're carrying half a stargate with you then you only push the mass of the gate around but you never have to stop for supplies or fuel tankers cause it just goes through the gate. So what if you just put one end of the gate under an ocean on an uninhabited world? You ride the firehose through space! Even if the stargate itself is not pushed by things going through it, it would continuously refuel your ship. You'd have a fuel tank that never emptied. Your main problems would be getting rid of the stuff, including getting rid of salts or impurities or fish or inconvenient marines who find the back way in to the ship. Probably you want a small tank and a hot engine to deal with the marines and the fish. Otherwise you could just let a distant planet's gravity push water out your back end. Just like waterfall power.

So then I was thinking, ships like that wouldn't need generators, except for backup. They'd be hydroelectric.

Until they deplete a planet. That would probably take a while. I don't know, it would depend on the planet.

If stargates are scarce then not many ships could play this game. Since my stargates can spin small or wide then such a ship being captured would let people go back through their fuel gate and emerge on the refuel planet. You'd probably want to put the fuel gates somewhere thoroughly inhospitable on both ends. Above a volcano you'd get a head start on your hot water. Geothermal hydroelectric spaceships.

All this is thoroughly ridiculous but I think it's the logical consequence of the first ridiculous thing, the tethered wormhole stargate pairs. Especially if falling through such a gate adds to your speed, which I already decided it did. You'd have all the push you needed right there.

I wanted the gates to spit you out so you couldn't blockade by sitting in the middle but had to be far enough back other people could get in and start a fight. It's no fun if someone can close the door. If the two sides are both trying to control the size of the gate then they just cancel out. I also decided the gate always spits you out the middle, so if you go in at the edge and out at the middle the spin-and-stretch can tear you apart. Threading the needle requires precision, and skilled pilots. And there's a reason to keep the gates small and send small ships or ship trains. Get it too big and your outsides get squished towards your insides too hard and fast. There's a sweet spot of varying size that puts a maximum on what size ships can go FTL. Because I wanted small communities, not FTL cities, much less FTL planets.

So anything trying to get through a fuel gate would spin-and-stretch if the gate was really small and the calm area was tiny. It wouldn't have far to travel to get to the center, but the gate would want to push it into a very small area, so it would still be unconducive to comfortable travel. Anything sneaking in that way would have to be pretty tough in the first place.

Geothermal hydroelectric spaceships with a door back to a planet they can use instantly in an emergency. Hmmm, you wouldn't want your fire exit to exit to an actual fire, so maybe not on top of a volcano? Depends if you're more worried about entrances or exits.

You'd still end up with a ship that had a tiny fuel tank and only backup generators yet still an endless supply of fuel and energy. It would look like ultratech or a reactionless drive to bystanders, if they hadn't thought of the trick.

It would also leave them in trouble if the fuel supply ran out somehow. Or if the other end of the gate was somewhere hotter than ocean. Or colder, it would slow right down. Or if there were vacuum on the other side, then fuel would fall the other way. There would have to be a tank with valves for reserves, but there's no way it could handle the v the endless fuel tank could give the ship.

So, one of those ideas that's great when it works, but really disastrous when it stops.

Perfect.

... if I've understood physics at all. I only mean to tweak it the once, the tethered wormhole gate pairs. Everything else is meant to be ordinary physics. But I've only read bits of the 'for dummies' version.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I'm filing the serial numbers off the Enterprise NX01 so I can have Malcolm go out on the ship hull to deal with a mine. So I need to rename it. Enterprise is a core virtue of the USA and the Federation, having to do with hard work in risky ventures, with some connotations of business and making money. Plus there's the less subtle Enter Prize. Renaming the ship is therefore an opportunity to show the core virtues of the made up world I'm working on.

CSS Incorrupt
Commonhealth Star Service

Read more... )

Captain Iteza of the CSS Incorrupt.



Does that sound good?

Read more... )

Ships are hard.

Why am I inventing a ship just so I can throw Malcolm and Beatrice at each other?

... because the mine started talking with a Welsh accent and I cannot resist a pun...
beccaelizabeth: Ethan Rayne smiles (Ethan smiles)
Today I invented a 16 floor spaceship
just so the cryo pods could be on the 13th floor.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I sat down with a story idea. Read more... )

So then I wandered off to look for actors to be everyone. ... because otherwise I'd just start writing actual story, and who wants that? Read more... )

Any suggestions? If you were filling up a starship for a five year mission, who would you want around? Or at least, who would you want them to look like?

Read more... )

I'm going to go look at pictures, maybe design an explorer ship.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
My ARGOS CD rack has been successfully undelivered.
Apparently they only gave the undelivery guy the name of the building, not my flat. Given that there's at least 60 flats that's less than helpful.


I am making a chart of alien hunting organisations from different TV shows. My hypothesis is that, since they're all super extra secret, they could all exist at once and not know it. This could obviously lead to mass xovers and subsequent hilarity. Though it would require explaining how they didn't notice the global invasions the other organisations vanquished.

For Doctor Who I have got:

Torchwood, founded 1879 by Queen Victoria, doesn't think it answers to elected government or indeed that elected Prime Ministers should know it exists. Branches TW 1, 2, 3 and 4, plus at some point Torchwood India and hence logically other Torchwoods in other former colonies. Captain Jack Harkness, who has been there more than a century and gets sent on international missions on his own, probably counts as his own branch, and indeed set up as one when everyone else at 3 died. Jack believes his chain of command is, well, not very chain like. He might, possibly, answer to the Queen. He doesn't answer to much of anyone else.

The Forge, in Big Finish Audios, been around since at least 1901. Catchphrase 'For King and Country' even in eras without a noticeable King. Also called
Department C-4
and had something to do with the founding of ICIS, which tried to take over UNIT

The British Rocket Group, run by a bloke called Bernard, may or may not exist in the DW 'verse. If it doesn't it's a cultural reference / joke by characters in the DW 'verse. If it does it contributed personnel to
The Intrusion Countermeasures Group, who worked with the 7th Doctor about a Dalek incursion in 1963. They were more military, but British.

LONGBOW, the League of Nations Bizarre Occurances Watch, preceded
UNIT, the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce. Somewhere between the late 80s and early 200s it was renamed
Unified Intelligence Taskforce, stopped wearing the UN blues, and went a bit creepy with the prison Tosh was in and Homeworld Security and a nasty attitude. Still an international organisation.

Department C-19 is either an administrative name for the British bits of UNIT or a British government department that oversees UNIT. They ran the Glasshouse. They nick alien tech and try and make it do cool things. The usual. They have a closer relationship to elected government than Torchwood and are more British than UNIT as a whole. I haven't seen the relevant episodes to know much else.

A bloke called Frobisher gets reports from UNIT and takes them to the Prime Minister. Torchwood also talk to him. When he wants people killed he has a set of pet black uniforms to do it. They were trying to infiltrate Torchwood. Organisation names either unknown or I've forgotten.



The Crown, British Military, civil service answering to the prime minister, and United Nations groups all seem to exist in parallel, and don't get on. Some of them think they can give orders to the others. The others do not agree. So there's a lot of grinding between the various British alien hunters even under ideal circumstances.
... nothing involving The Forge is ideal circumstances.
... nothing involving Torchwood is ideal circumstances either.
... it is possible the jurisdictional contests are more hazardous to health than the alien invasions, some years.



Those are all British or operating in Britain.


UNIT has a base in New York and people with American accents around (probably), but UNIT and America send separate military representatives to a crisis or two, and America tries to take over first contact from UNIT.
Again, jurisdictional grinding.

Could the flip from United Nations to Unified might be because the USA pulled out and disagreed with something about the way the UN were organising things? Or didn't want to share their toys.
... partly I want to say this so the SGC is what the US do with the money and expertise they're no longer contributing to UNIT. Xover time...

But we know the USA have their own alien related activity:

Area 51. United State military project. Had a couple of encounters with the Doctor. The President knows about them and shows up sometimes. They have a memory wipe gas in the 1950s but it completely erases all memory, not just rewinds like retcon.


Some really rich individuals accumulate alien tech so they can reverse engineer bits, or just because they're obsessed with it. But that's beyond the scope of this.



Did I miss anyone in the Doctor Who 'verse?

Do we really only know about Britain* and UNIT and Area 51? And yet we still have so many to play with!
(*has DW gone to Northern Ireland? I can think of Scotland and Wales and England stories.)


We can theorise some about alien tech in other countries: Britain brought all the things Torchwood India salvaged back to Britain before giving India back to itself. If that was their usual way of doing things, Britain has the historical alien relics of really quite a lot of the world. A lot of places would only have what arrived since Britain stopped nicking their stuff.

Torchwood was set up by and answers to the Queen. Lots of places have our same Queen.
(A Commonwealth Realm is a country which has The Queen as its Monarch. There are 15 Commonwealth Realms in addition to the UK: Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Papua New Guinea, St Christopher and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Tuvalu, Barbados, Grenada, Solomon Islands, St Lucia and The Bahamas.)
Do they have our same Torchwood?

Britain weren't the only ones with an empire. Other colonial powers might have concentrated alien tech the same way. Superpowers would concentrate resources too.
Assuming alien tech is really rare, it takes that kind of concentrating to get anything much useful together.
But it might be really common in the DW 'verse. It certainly seems to be around some parts of London or the Home Counties. In which case just about anywhere might have successful alien tech salvage operations.



If DW is mostly about British organisations that makes it easier to start playing with xovers. There's a lot of world not colored in yet.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Am currently writing from the point of view of a human who didn't grow up on Earth. He needs to describe two other characters. To describe on Earth now is pretty simple, one is Asian and one is African. But, slight problem, he's never been to Earth, and wouldn't have much reason to have more than the vaguest idea of what the continents would be called.

Read more... )

So, I went for 'bronze' and 'dark'.
And then I thought, hang on, their spaceship has bronze? Is bronze big in space? Read more... )

So now I need two words - and only two - that connote slightly martial and somewhat mysterious, to both my readers and this dude from a far away planet.

That means I kind of have to design his planet.
For two words.

... obviously only if I'm being picky and obsessive about it, Read more... )


Even bronze and dark are just conventional markers, but they're ones that are actually in use now, rather than trying to engineer some for the future. They'd be invisible. They'd probably work.
I should probably just go with those, really.


... it's fic that I am making, I could just grab some pictures and say 'these two'. But that feels like cheating somehow. I wonder why? Partly because of the lost opportunity for character voice in the descriptions. But just in general, if I made up a 'cast photo' and wrote it script style I'd feel like that was... admitting I couldn't do it the words way? Hrm. But it only matters depending on what effect you want, what you want to make. Is no cheating in arts.

Brains are weird.


... also, if I tried to do photos, I would crunch on the thing where I'm writing like Malcolm Park is an asian guy cause I want some variety in my main characters, but in my head I just borrowed Malcolm Reed. In writing it's easy to cheat that. In pictures he would never look right ever. :eyeroll:



ANYway... I don't think I got anywhere after all that thinking. But it's a bit of a general problem: set things way the hell in the future. Describe people. What's the point of reference? What's the distinguishing features? Do we just admit we're writing in 20th century English and use the current words? Or do we worldbuild down in the descriptives?

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beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
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