In September of 2007, I started this blog with a bit of writing advice. A little over a year later, I discovered how little I knew about writing after hearing children’s writer, Lin Oliver speak at a convention hosted by the Minnesota Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Since then, I have shared (with their permission) and applied the writing wisdom of Lin Oliver, Jack McDevitt, Nathan Bransford, Mike Duran, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, SL Veihl, Bruce Bethke, and Julie Czerneda. Together they write in genres broad and deep, and have acted as agents, editors, publishers, columnists, and teachers. Since then, I figured I’ve got enough publications now that I can share some of the things I did “right” and I’m busy sharing that with you.
While I don’t write full-time, nor do I make enough money with my writing to live off of it...neither do all of the professional writers above...someone pays for and publishes ten percent of what I write. When I started this blog, that was NOT true, so I may have reached a point where my own advice is reasonably good. We shall see! Hemingway’s quote above will now remain unchanged as I work to increase my writing output and sales! As always, your comments are welcome!
HEIRS has got to be the single greatest exercise in writing persistence in my long and varied writing career (see “Writing and Air Quotes” for a discussion of my writing career: http://faithandsciencefiction.blogspot.com/2016/02/writing-advice-31-writing-and-air-quotes.html).
So picking up where I left off: “Next time, I’ll look at why I think leaping from Earth directly to ‘interstellar space exploration’ is a BAD idea – and the basis of why I created the SOLAR EXPLORER…”
OK – it’s “next time”!
We are nothing if not an optimistic species.
If you look at the vast bulk of science fiction, it assumes that we’ve already planted colonies on Mars and started mining the asteroids, and conquered poverty, war, religion, and all the other foibles of Humanity.
It assumes we’ll just build starships and leave Earth…BAM!
It assumes that we’ll go into space again…
The clear and incontrovertible fact is that we aren’t going into space in any meaningful way today. We’re not going to the Moon. We’re not expanding the space station. THE EXPANSE is not going to reach us any time soon. GRAVITY isn’t even a possibility because…well, I’m sure there are lots of reasons, but being incredibly ego-centric is probably the main reason.
Your average people can’t get out of their own lives far enough to think more than one Super Bowl into the future. Oh, that’s the ones that have enough cash to live a comfortable life. The rest of the planetary population is starving while political bigots mouth platitudes designed to make their personal lives more comfortable and few, if any, seek to make life better for the people they intend to rule.
Ah – but we’re going to leap from the surface of the Earth and go to the stars in one magical fell swoop, right?
OK – so I’m not really so pessimistic as I sound above. I believe that Humanity will grow into a presence in space, even though that doesn’t include a colony on the Moon in 1999; or Bowie Base Mars in 2059. We’ll get there.
BUT…we aren’t going to leap to something like the Phoenix that arises out of World War III and causes us to meet the Vulcans.
I think it’s going to be long, hard steps into distance travel into space. I don’t think anyone is crazy enough to say, “OK, Alpha Centauri has an Earth-like planet orbiting it! Let’s make a generation colony ship and send it RIGHT NOW!!!”
My thought is that we’ll try a short trip first; a trip through the Solar System that stops at every planet and spends an entire year orbiting each one, supported by a crew of 3000 scientists and their families, facilities, laboratories, factories, and a base to support constantly changing technology. That’s what the SOLAR EXPLORER is in HOTSS: EoE; it’s a first attempt to run a long-term artificial ecology in space. It’s also got a safety net. Earth is close enough to bail out to if things go massively wrong. Supplies can be sent, technology, even rescue ships can be launched (Will they be sent? Hmmm…that’s another story entirely! Michael F. Flynn is the writer who most carefully explored the leap from Earth into space in his iconic FIRESTAR books (Firestar, Rogue Star, Lodestar, Falling Star). He goes from an alternate future that intersects with our real development of the Space Shuttle (1981-2011) but then wildly diverges…with appropriate threats from outer space – and maps out our eventual discovery that there may be hostile aliens “out there”.
At any rate, SOLAREX is a practice run through the Solar System for the sole purpose of testing and developing technology for long-distance space exploration without the necessity of breaking the apparent limit to speed in the universe. Which brings me to my last point: I have broken one law of physics, I think. SOLAREX makes the trip from planet to planet using a “controlled fall” into a microscopic black hole the ship creates with a modified supercollider and manipulated magnetic bottle held out in front of the ship. They can accelerate and decelerate quickly and then push their speed as close to “c” as they want to. This makes a journey from Earth to the Kuiper Belt a matter of hours rather than years. Plus, they can also use gravity assist as they’ll be doing in book 2 of HOTSS, Zechariah of Venus (one third done right now).
The series will be spiced of course, with an alien, prehistoric memory chip that will inhabit an increasingly complex set of robots and…hmmm. I suppose I shouldn’t spill the beans just yet!
I’m not sure there’s much else to look at in the development of the books, but we’ll see.
If you want to read the set in order and haven’t done so already: