When I was 14, I thought the perfect man was Tom Swift Jr.
Of course, in admitting this I am dating myself. It has been decades since the last of this series was published – which was a series for boys, so I was actually helping myself to my little brother’s books – but what Tom delivered, and Nancy Drew hadn’t, was adventures in science.
Not that I was a science-y kind of girl but I grew up in the opening years of the Space Age. As a family, we’d gone to a local park and all laid on our backs to watch Sputnik soar overhead. We watched the first American space ships blast off on television – in black and white as we didn’t have a color set. We watched men first walk on the Moon. We watched Star Trek and Lost in Space, the original TV series. Got fascinated by Star Wars. Watched Battlestar Galatica, Farscape, Firefly, Dr. Who. I’ve also gone out to peer at the night sky to watch gleaming brightness of the International Space Station soar by overhead.
I find the new discoveries of distant planets fascinating, the advancements in telescopes that can see far back into the past (as that’s what looking off into deep space is, only now having the light of something that happened millions of years ago finally reaching us) alluring.
And while I am not about to run off and become a physicist or an astronomer (the math involved would probably kill me), I love finding out about what we once didn’t know existed and about the possibilities that the future will bring.
What are some of those things? Well, is warp drive possible? What about time travel? Not “is there life on other planets” but what kind of life is there on other planets?
Having an inquiring mind – and finding research not only intoxicating but addictive – I discovered Dr. Michio Kaku and a few other physicists who manage to make their fields of study a bit more understandable to the non-mathematically inclined – well, to me, at any rate. Dr. Kaku is a theoretical physicist, which means he looks at what fiction writers have dreamed up and determines what is needed before – or even if – such things can become reality.
The really nice thing is that, according to Dr. Kaku, all it takes is time and a few enormous leaps in technology to achieve nearly everything fantasy writers (those who don’t stick with Middle Earth type settings) can dream up.
In the early 2030s, NASA is focused on a manned flight to Mars, though not a Mars landing for colonization. Mars One, on the other hand, is a non-governmental group that expects to have a robotic built habitat already assembled on Mars for the first colonists to check into when they arrive in 2032, followed by the second group of colonists in 2033. That’s only 16 years from now for those first Earthlings to set foot on the Red Planet.
It’s akin to when Europeans set out for the New World back in 1620 for the Plymouth Colony, or before that for the settlement of Bermuda (1612), Santa Fe (1610), Quebec (1608), Jamestown (1607), the failed and lost colony of Roanoke (1585), Santo Domingo (1496), or the Vikings’ brief settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland (around 1000 CE).
It’s been a long time since our world had undiscovered landmasses that begged for colonization. The Mars expeditions – whether governmental or privately sponsored, like Mars One – return mankind to a time when “moving” meant there was only a slim chance that the adventurer would ever see the family and friends left behind again. There was danger ahead. There was history to be made. There was that undeniable call of adventure.
Fortunately for we writers of fiction, we can have the excitement, the threat of danger, the thrill of the unknown being met, tackled, and survived, without going through astronaut training, traveling for six to eight months (depending on where Earth and Mars are in their orbits around the Sun) in what equates to a high tech “tin can”, then adapting to a foreign and unforgiving landscape. The astronautical colonists who will be facing all this should definitely not have indulged in marathons of space disaster movies or TV episodes (particularly not “The Waters of Mars” episode on Dr. Who) prior to departure. Hey, but we can!
And to get ready to plunge into the intoxicating possibilities that science does provide us (and will continue to upgrade for us in the future) we can send our characters into the great unknown in our place. Go to a “galaxy far, far away” or, as Captain James T. Kirk reminds, head out “to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.” We do it from the comfort of our own home, from within the fevered imaginations of our minds. In place of crew members, we have characters, we have our muse. Our prime directive, however, should be to not offer up situations or possibilities that are scientifically impossible.
Your story doesn’t have to be one of science fiction to have a space ship deliver characters to the scene where the tale plays out. This new world they land – or crash – on could have a population that harkens back to one much earlier in Earth history. Or be a different version of Earth! They could be more hunter/gatherer or early agriculturists, or have chosen agriculture or technology that improves or revolves around agriculture. But you had to get your off-world characters there, and for that you need science. Science that has a reasonable chance of working.
Fortunately, if we don’t have it right now, there is a chance of developing it in the future when our own technology has grown to a point where it can be accomplished.
That might mean harnessing wormholes so that we can travel faster than the speed of light – which is pretty darn fast but not all that fast considering the distances to be traveled in our universe, much less beyond the edge of our universe, or into other dimensions, or to jump to parallel worlds or back in time or forward in time. Will it take the sort of technology that can drain a star (like the most recent Death Star in Star Wars: The Force Awakens)? Or use a singularity (a black hole) to power a ship as the Time Lords of Gallifrey did in creating T.A.R.D.I.S. ships in Dr. Who.
Fortunately, there is a workshop for all of this! Even more fortunately, the workshop is here at SavvyAuthors and begins this coming Monday, April 24th! Convenient, right?
We’ll dive into wormholes, sort out fuel for vehicles traveling through space, visit the possibilities for time travel, or to parallel worlds or other dimensions. We’ll talk multiverse, hyperspace, the time-space continuum, and other wibbly-wobbly timey whimey things like stargates.
We won’t touch down on Mars, nor Eris nor Sedna nor Makemake (all places in our own solar system) but we will set off on a great adventure that touches on all types of geekdom physics. You don’t need galoshes if dark matter is stepped into, but when skipping though things that deal with string theory it might be well to keep your eyes on what’s beneath your feet to avoid tripping.
No math problems will be given. No degrees in futuristic possibilities are needed. Treatment for intoxication, should you become as addicted as I am, must be sought elsewhere. First you need to join me for TIME TRAVEL, PARALLEL WORLDS, ALTERNATIVE DIMENSIONS, AND SPACE TRAVEL STORY WORLDS.
Beth Daniels (aka Beth Henderson and a few other pseudos) has crossed the publishing threshold of 27 years since the first of her 29 romance novels was published. Slipping out of romantic comedy (both adult and YA) and historical romance, she’s recently reinvented herself for the world of fantasy and mystery as J.B. Dane and in Steampunk as Nied Darnell. A workshop presenter with Savvy Authors and within the RWA online universe since 2010, she’s concentrated on sharing what she’s learned – and what’s she’s passionate about – with likeminded novelists, be they published or pre-published. She is a self-confessed research junky who insists that research fuels her muse’s machinations for so many storylines she’ll likely croak before writing them all. Croaking is still decades away, thank goodness.
Writing a single novel is just the start of a career in fiction. What comes after it is THE NEXT BOOK, and then the next, and the next, and… The trick is to continue to deliver what readers expect to find from there on in. After all, even Will Shakespeare had elements he kept because they were pleasing to audiences. THE NEXT BOOK is the guide to recognizing what needs to be kept and what needs to be changed when spinning a new tale.