Mars and beyond.

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April 8th, 2015 at 6:41:12 PM permalink
rxwine
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 130
Posts: 6321
Well, now I have a story idea, that you can use freely but probably won't.

The title, (which in the beginning gives no real clue) is "Threshold"

It's based on the discovery of dark/matter/energy giving us the secret to communication across the Universe. (maybe it works like clapper balls where you push in one part of space and that motion is conveyed in the exact way. After all, you only need tiny dashes and dots to communicate, or 1s and 0s.

With the discovery, we (the people of Earth) discover we are the 191st civilization to reach the "threshold" (get it? Cap'n Obvious says) of advancement to use the knowledge to communicate with the other advanced civilizations.

1st part of the story is the mystery revealed in "dark" substance. You don't tell the reader yet what the secret is.
2nd part -- additional drama involved once we become the 191st member. Could be anything.
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April 8th, 2015 at 7:35:43 PM permalink
rxwine
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 130
Posts: 6321
Here's another story idea which borders on the ridiculous and maybe Flash Gordonesqe camp.

Earth is threatened by a really really large space rock.

Solution: we equip the moon with rocket engines and force it into the path of the rock.

Of course, there is green cheese rain when the moon is messed up, but better than a total apocalypse.

trivia

Quote:
"The Moon is made of green cheese" is a statement referring to a fanciful belief that the Moon is composed of cheese. In its original formulation as a proverb and metaphor for credulity with roots in fable, this refers to the perception of a simpleton who sees a reflection of the Moon in water and mistakes it for a round cheese wheel. It is widespread as a folkloric motif or meme among many of the world's cultures, and the notion has also found its way into both children's folklore and modern popular culture


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Moon_is_made_of_green_cheese
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April 9th, 2015 at 6:24:05 AM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 345
Posts: 12534
Quote: rxwine
Solution: we equip the moon with rocket engines and force it into the path of the rock.


Good one. But from a realistic standpoint, it would be cheaper, faster, safer and easier to equip the rock with engines and move it.

Still, I vaguely recall an old movie, possibly European or Asian, where what's moved to avoid a rock is the Earth herself. I think the Moon is obliterated when the rock strikes it first (which would make it a planet-sized rock).

If you want to learn more about moving large astronomical objects, look up Larry Niven. In "A World Out of Time" we're shown how Uranus (or Neptune?) was moved so it could be used to move the Earth. In "Bowl of Heaven," we're told how aliens move a star.

Quote:
Of course, there is green cheese rain when the moon is messed up, but better than a total apocalypse.


There's a charming Wallace & Gromit cartoon where they go to the Moon for a "Cheese vacation." They almost lift off before Wallace remembers to bring along crackers :)
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April 9th, 2015 at 7:02:09 AM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 345
Posts: 12534
Quote: rxwine
Well, now I have a story idea, that you can use freely but probably won't.


One rather depressing and drawn out novel by Frederick Pohl waaaaaay back in the 50s, tackled the notion of the steady-state universe as a power source. Since then, the steady-state universe theory has been thoroughly demolished. This serves for me as a cautionary tale against using cutting-edge cosmology as a basis for a story. At any time your story is subject to suffer the same fate as the theory.

Quote:
The title, (which in the beginning gives no real clue) is "Threshold"


I'd call it "Beyond the Threshold" and set it a long, long time after it has been reached. See, discoveries take an unholy amount of time to develop practical applications. Sagan short-circuited this in "Contact," but I don't think I could pull it off. Setting the story long after the discovery, however, allows you to talk about it in detail, even to tell the story of how it was discovered (maybe at a museum exhibit!)

Quote:
It's based on the discovery of dark/matter/energy giving us the secret to communication across the Universe. (maybe it works like clapper balls where you push in one part of space and that motion is conveyed in the exact way. After all, you only need tiny dashes and dots to communicate, or 1s and 0s.


Maybe dark matter particles are made up of sub-particles (akin to Quarks to Protons) which only spin faster than light, and having them move about at sub-light velocities produces dark energy, yadda, yadda, yadda, they can be used to communicate faster than light (the yaddas are for the "theorizing" needed to explain things).

Quote:
2nd part -- additional drama involved once we become the 191st member. Could be anything.


Aye, there's the rub.

There have been many, many, many stories about first contact with aliens. Many themes have been covered, ranging from metaphors to honest speculation. You don't need to find something new, but you need to find, and develop, something that will be interesting for the reader.

The contact can be the payoff. One cardinal rule is the payoff must be HUGE, or at least impressive. Some authors got away without good payoffs, but such stories leave me thinking "so what?" when I read them.
Donald Trump is a fucking liar
April 9th, 2015 at 2:28:58 PM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 345
Posts: 12534
A good example of a very, very long buildup with a tiny, tiny, tiny payoff is Spielberg's much overrated "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." Even the "extended" version with about 60 seconds of footage inside the alien ship.

"Contact," IMO, also has a small payoff.

Offhand for first contact movies that's all I can think of. If we think of TV or short stories, there are much better themes and payoffs. Just think of the original Twilight Zone series. Doesn't "To Serve Man" come to mind at once? I'm trying to recall the title of a Niven story that's just outstanding. The aliens come to peacefully trade, and a barkeep stumbles upon their secrets (damnit, what's it called??)
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April 9th, 2015 at 3:26:24 PM permalink
rxwine
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 130
Posts: 6321
I'm a fan of aliens with hidden agendas. Mysteries.

It is disappointing if the mystery gets a bigger buildup than it deserves. Sometimes you can fool people with a double twist though.

I guess a big no no in my opinion is using a SF device to fix the plot hole. The story runs into a dead end, and you fix it with time travel. That's where science fiction fails the story. But I don't object to time travel per say, just as a solution to poor plot resolution.
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April 9th, 2015 at 5:30:43 PM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 345
Posts: 12534
Quote: rxwine
I'm a fan of aliens with hidden agendas. Mysteries.


In the Niven story there's no hidden agenda. Only a few secrets. BTW it's called "The Fourth Profession."
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April 11th, 2015 at 1:44:10 PM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 345
Posts: 12534
Another hypothesis about the rarity of Earth:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/jupiter-destroyer-of-worlds-may-have-paved-the-way-for-earth/?WT.mc_id=SA_SPC_20150409

Edited to ad: And that's also why it would be wise to keep Saturn in Saturnalia ;)
Donald Trump is a fucking liar
May 2nd, 2015 at 2:16:16 PM permalink
rxwine
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 130
Posts: 6321
This may dampen enthusiasm for volunteers to Mars.


Quote:
In the study, published Friday in the journal Science Advances, scientists bombarded mice with doses of charged particles that simulate those that astronauts would be exposed to on a trip to Mars. The researchers' goal was to see how the brains of the rodents changed afterward, and the results weren’t exactly heartening for future space explorers.

Charles Limoli, a radiation oncology professor at the University of California at Irvine, and his team of researchers found that the mice weren't as curious and became confused after they were blasted with radiation. The mouse brains were also physically altered by the radiation.

The researchers involved in the study concluded that astronauts' cumulative radiation exposure during a Mars mission, which would likely take up to three years, might have cause them to have difficulty focusing or performing certain tasks. The source of the particularly harmful radiation exposure isn't the Sun, but rather galactic cosmic rays — charged particles mostly sent out into the universe during the explosions of dying stars. (Radiation from the Sun can also be dangerous, but it is easier to protect astronauts from.)

“This is not positive news for astronauts deployed on a two- to three-year round trip to Mars,” Limoli said in a statement.


http://mashable.com/2015/05/02/mars-astronauts-brain-damage/
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May 2nd, 2015 at 3:12:47 PM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 345
Posts: 12534
Quote: rxwine
This may dampen enthusiasm for volunteers to Mars.


Maybe. The news to me is some actual hard data obtained experimentally. Some sort of shield will be necessary. Ideas include big electromagnetic fields (which have their own problems), water tanks (which have their own different problems), and others (each with some distinct drawback).
Donald Trump is a fucking liar
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