Saturday, October 20, 2012

Sci-Fi? Murder Mystery? Decisions, Decisions.....

Just a short writer's update today.

I was full blown into my murder mystery when disaster struck. A humongous case of writer's block slammed into my keyboard, bounced off and hit the monitor, ricocheted and struck me square between the eyes. It wasn't a sight for the squeamish, let me tell you. It was hard to believe since I was 67,000 words into it and my fingers were moving like Data's on Next Generation.

Then, it happened. It was sudden and total. I was staring at the monitor like a calf looking at a new gate. What was I to do? To whom was I to turn? The decision to set it aside was like putting my kid in an orphanage, but I had to move on.

In my non-writing time, I had been putting together a premise for a science fiction story. The synopsis was complete and the characters formed, even down to age, race, personality, and bad guys/good guys with a couple of plot twists. It was waiting in the wings for when I typed 'THE END' on the murder mystery novel.

So, I did the only thing I could. I blew the dust off of it and started writing. I finished chapter two last night and it's going well. I think. I read a few excerpts to my daughter and she told me to not read any more of it to her. She liked it so much she didn't want me to spoil the story for her. That made me feel good about the direction I was heading. The little snot hates everything I write.

I was doing study on theoretical concepts of sub-space communications. When you're talking about interstellar travel, there can't be this hours' long delay between messages. To my surprise, there are a lot of theories out there and I chose the one that sounded best for my story line. I wrote the guy who posed it and asked if I could use it in my novel. He wrote back...surprisingly...and told me to feel free. The funny thing he said was that many other scientists had refuted the theory and told him flat out it would never work. Yeah, well...they told Columbus he was going to fall off the edge of a flat earth, too. Anyway, that's why they call it science fiction. I liked the sound of the theory so much, I kept it in there.

There were other problems I faced. For example, propulsion. I didn't want it to be the stock 'warp engine' like in Star Trek. I decided on gravito-electromagnetic power. For this to work, the ship has to be shaped kind of like a big turd...tapered on both ends. It had to be light in weight, so the hull is made out of reinforced, thick plastic. Another reason I chose gravito-electromagnetic power is that, theoretically, the magnetic shield would also act as its own inertial dampener. In other words, when a craft that large suddenly accelerates, the inertia of its mass will cause it to disintegrate. With the type of propulsion I selected, it produces its own dampening field, allowing the craft to suddenly accelerate with no effect on the structural integrity. During my studies, I also discovered how difficult it would be to leave our solar system in a large craft. Voyager and Viking are very small, but a large craft would have to be extremely careful. First, you have the asteroid belt. Then you have the Kuiper Belt, then you have the Oort Cloud to get through before reaching open space. Theoretically, once there, the danger of accelerating to light speed is in that area there are approximately two atoms per square centimeter. If a ship were to reach the speed of light, it would be like condensing the atoms. The ship would, in effect, turn into a particle accelerator, only in reverse. Eventually, the atoms would come through the matter what it was made of...becoming radiated upon entry, and killing the crew in seconds. This is why an atomic particle deflector is absolutely necessary. This would push the atoms out of the way as the vessel glides through space. I studied oxygen supply for deep space travel, food supply, electrical energy supply, etc. It's all very complicated, but quite interesting. Even though its a fictional story, I want it to be plausible and believable at the same time.

Alas, the murder mystery is gathering dust now. I'll return to it later. I suppose my plan is to finish both at the same time. More news on progress as it develops.

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