Second ‘Versing

Yesterday was all about playing around.  There wasn’t any writing going on, no novels to edit or develop, so it was all about doing things that might not seem interesting to you, but could be great fun to me.

There’s the whole “brainstorm the story” thing  I’m working on, and while it goes slow–because I have to think about whats happening, to come up with a few ideas here and there, and then line it out–it’s interesting.  I see how the program works, how the whole idea should come together.  If I see something that I forgot, I make a note and tag it back to a certain, particular idea.

I can see how I can use this to work on one character, one that needs more defining than I’m able to give in my head.  I can lay their name out in the middle of the page and start putting character ideas together.  I might only have a couple of weeks to work on it, because this public beta goes up in smoke on 15 September, but that’s okay, because I can save the information off, and even export the map to a pdf or image and show it to someone who . . . well, they’re always a good help.

But the one thing I really wanted was to do The ‘Verse.  By “to do”, I don’t mean engage in some strange sexual congress:  I mean I wanted to design it in my AstroSynthensis program.  I wanted to bring the information down from various sources and load it up in my program, and see what works.

There is a map that’s been created that is now considered cannon, so I decided to use that as a guide.  I mean, you look at the stars and it’s pretty easy to figure out what they should be.  But then I came across a white paper that has just about everything in terms of planetary data, and this helped a lot, because suddenly I have something which makes modeling far easier.

Right off the bat I discovered something:  The ‘Verse is huge.  If measuring the orbit of the farthest star in the system, it’s about forty light hours across.  From the next orbit in it’s about thirty-five light hours across.  Distance between close systems–and by that I mean when they are in conjunction and you are at the shortest distance between their outermost planets–averages about twenty AU, or about three billion kilometers, or about one billion, eight hundred sixty million miles.  That’s in conjunction, which doesn’t happen too often.

What this means is if your little Firefly Class transport doesn’t go really fast, it’s going to take a hell of a long time to get from one place to another.  Having to travel a distance of, say, twenty-five light hours isn’t that bad–if you’re a beam of light.  If you’re not, you could find yourself getting a little bored on your years-long flight.  But we know they have fast ship in The ‘Verse–

They travel at the speed of plot, don’t you know?

The Factual Fiction

Among the genres I play with, science fiction is one I work in a lot.  Considering I have five stories set in a universe of my own creation–four novels and one short novella–it’s save to say that I’m most tat home when I’m writing about people living in a world that is far different than ours.

I like to give advice on world building as well.  One of the area where I think I’m pretty good is in building solar systems.  By far I’m no expert, but I do take some pride in the systems I’ve created using available software.  Yes, some people buy software to help them build scrap books:  I buy software to help build solar systems.  It’s a hobby, one that’s better than cooking meth in the Superlab.

Last night I was chatting with another writer who has asked, from time to time, on help for the systems he’s created for his own stories.  I like helping where I can, because it is fun, particularly when you see the bug you have has taken hold in another.  There was a comment I made, however.  When discussing something that might be just a little on the fantastical side, I said, “I don’t always do things that are fully scientific.  I cheat a little myself.”

It makes you wonder:  at what point do you cross the line from science fact into science bullshit?

When it comes to the systems in my Transporting universe, the majority of them are, I believe, factual.  There is one, however, that I know it pretty much bull, and I don’t mind saying so.  In my stories I have the center of government on a planet in orbit around the great summer star Altair, in the constellation Aquila.  While there is some great science fiction heritage in using Altair as a place to have a habitable planet–one with a green sky, I might add–it can’t happen if we follow the current theories about the creation of solar systems.

You see, Altair is a big star:  an A7 V class.  The “V” means it’s a main sequence star, but an A class means it’s far larger than the Sun.  As such, it should burn through it’s fuel a lot faster than the Sun, which means it’ll live a shorter life than the Sun.  This doesn’t mean that it can’t have planets:  A class stars have been found with Jupiter-sized planets in orbit.  But the likelihood of finding an earth-like planet is rare, if not almost impossible.

Still . . . it’s such an exotic location, you can’t pass it up.  The long year–about 3.65 Earth years for my world to make one trip around Altair–the long day–about thirty-three hours–and the bright star in the green sky . . . yeah, I like that.

It’s not so much science fiction as it is science fantasy, but there are times when you succumb to the desire to throw in a location that’s too good to pass up.  I should know better, but the kid in me can’t help but think that once one of my characters shows up on this world, the first thing he’ll do is crack jokes about looking for Krell.

At least he didn’t get there on the C-57D.  Otherwise he might have ended up on Miranda . . .