Late Night Downloads and Star Smashing

Crazy times yesterday, let me tell you.  So many things happening all at once, and coming to a head today and tomorrow.  It keeps a girl busy, you know?

Though there’s been little mention of the activity, the editing on Couples Dance continues.  Two-thirds of the chapters are now clean and done, with four remaining–which means not a lot of work, right?  Wrong!  Three of the four chapters are among the biggest in the novel, accounting for almost half the story–about twenty-four thousand words total.  That mean there is considerable editing ahead of me, even if it is only four chapters.

Up to this point the editing has been great, and I’ve learned to look hard at what I’m doing and make certain things are right and tight.  I’ve caught a few bad quotation marks, lost words, stuff that just doesn’t seem right.  I’ve removed the “suddenly”s and “very”s from the story.  I’ve even taken a couple of passes at two chapters because I was certain tenses were all messed up, and I wanted to sleep on the story before looking at it again.

Editing is fun.  Really, I wouldn’t lie.  Yes, it sounds like a lot of work, because it is, but your story needs this work.  It needs your eyes to fix things like spelling and tenses and things that, when you read them, simply don’t make sense.  The editor on the other end of the Internet can’t always know what you, the write, wanted to say, and you lose time if they’re sending you a block of text with the notion, “The hell is going on here?”

That’s time taken away from the work in progress you’ve got before you at that time.  And you don’t want that.

Not only that, but once more I’m up early with things bugging me.  This article I’ve spoken of–well, a couple of them, actually–I’m laying in bed and it’s like four AM, and there are idea flowing through my head that simply won’t let me sleep.  And out of nowhere comes this thought:  “Hey, if I make that Lensman sunbeam gun, will that 9.15e10 megatons per second of energy it generates really destroy a planet?”  Most people wake up imagining some warm hotness lying next to them; I’m thinking about blowing up planets with a sungun.

You know where this is going, right?

Once the computer was up I start the Google, looking for a calculator to convert megatons to joules–and, what do you know, I find it.  I plug in the above number and end up with 3.82836e26 joules of energy.  Now, you’re probably wondering how do I know if this is enough energy to blow up a planet?  Because I wrote an article some time back about using energy weapons in science fiction, and I gave the amount of energy needed to overcome the “binding energy” of Earth’s gravitational field and let the planet come apart completely.

And that number is 2e32 joules.  Now, it is said that the energy from the Sunbeam is designed to melt the planet, so if you look at the energy being delivered, yes, indeed, in about a minute or two you’ll deliver enough energy to melt an entire planet to the point where it’ll pretty much come apart.  Maybe.  It might be a little more than that, but the concept is workable.

I’ll leave the proof of concept to you.

Interstellar Aspirations

The head is fuzzy today because I didn’t sleep well last night.  Most of that seems due to strange dreams I had involving traveling, which is probably president as I have an upcoming trip.  Said fuzziness is making thought difficult, which means I almost didn’t start writing today’s post–

Almost.

As a friend and I mentioned this morning, you can write, or you can talk about writing.  Of late I’ve been editing a novel, because my backlog is such that I need to get things out.  Here I am, then, getting things cleaned up when I find the time.

But there is other writing as well.  I do articles from time to time, and I was asked if I’d do something about aliens for a website.  I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a good alien builder, because in order to get it right, you gotta spend time getting everything right.  You gotta have a star, a world, an environment, and then see if your creature makes any sense.  It goes a little beyond the Star Wars/Star Trek ideal of, “Hey, it looks like a blue bug speaking Yiddish, which makes it an alien!”  Like anything else creative, it’s a lot of work.

I’ve sat on an idea for a month now, something I’ve wanted to turn into an article, but one thing or another has gotten in the way of developing those thoughts.  Maybe in the next few weeks I’ll find the time to write it all down and get it submitted, but for now I’ll work on other things–

Last night, however, I was on a Lensman kick.

The Lensman Series was one of the first great space operas, and though it might seem a little dated today–okay, it’s a lot dated–it’s still a great deal of fun.  A bit dry in many places, but when you read it you see the beginnings of what most people take for granted when it comes to titanic battles in space.  The Lensmen novels became famous for creating so many titanic weapons that the trope Lensmen Arms Race was created for those stories where owning a fortress the size of a small moon means you’re some kind of special loser, pal.

What I was really looking for was information on the aliens in the novels.  Because when E. E. Smith wrote these novels, it wasn’t just humans who wore the Lens that allowed them to do some pretty fantastic things, but there were a lot of aliens in on that Lens action as well.  And not one of them had an aversion to the color yellow . . .

It’s just that finding information on said aliens is a lot of work.  Because the Lensman series is “Golden Age Science Fiction,” the information available is limited, because it’s one of those relics of old school sci fi that aren’t read that much today.  So hunting down all the information I need to write an article is going to involve a lot of digging–

But I’ll get it done, because . . . aliens?