Tag Archives: futurism

My Novel Needs a Machete

Today is day three of my editing binge, and things are going…okay. When I took a long, hard look at my completed beat sheet, I discovered that the last third or so of my novel really isn’t that great. In fact, it’s almost tangibly worse than the first two thirds, so bad that I don’t think there’s anything for it but to strip it entirely and write in new stuff from scratch.

So I’ve come to accept that. To make a novel, you’ve got to break a few paragraphs. Gamely, I laid into trying to figure out what I wanted to actually have as my ending – there’s no time for shortcuts, like in my first draft. I need to know exactly what to put in there if I don’t want to have to do this again, and I don’t want to have to do this again.

What I’ve been discovering is that I took a heck of a lot of shortcuts my first time through. The whole “no plot, no problem” philosophy of NaNoWriMo is great as far as it goes, but it has definite problems – even when I knew that things weren’t working out, I still plowed ahead just to get the words on the page. Well, I’m not a complete neophyte anymore. I should’ve taken the extra time to look things over and actually decide how I wanted to proceed, maybe even discuss them with some other folks.

Well, lessons learned from next time. I’m still confident that I can make Fugitives from Earth, if not great, at least satisfactory. It’s my first time, after all – better to make the mistakes now.

Ah, time for some links:

  • Mars500 Mission Reaches the Red Planet
  • The brave folks of the Mars500 mission have locked themselves in a completely isolated “spaceship” in Moscow, where they will remain for about 500 days before “returning to Earth.” This was in 2010; just today they reached Martian orbit, and the lander with half the crew aboard is headed toward the Martian surface. Fun stuff – for more info, check out @mars500 on Twitter
  • Genetic Algorithm Car Evolution
  • This is possibly the most awesome thing I’ve seen in awhile. Starting with a random polygon and some wheels, this Flash program learns how to make the optimum car for any of several tracks using an evolutionary process. The cars that make it the furthest the fastest will “interbreed,” and the ones that don’t make it so far will “die out.” Add in a dash of mutation, and you have a surprisingly engaging demonstration of evolutionary processes.

Mars to Stay

I just happened to find this cool Wikipedia article while doing completely unrelated research. The idea of Mars to Stay is that the best way to establish a persistent colony on Mars – and prevent politicians from chickening out – is to send the first people over there without a way to come back. Bizarre, you say? Well, I kind of like the idea.

The idea isn’t that it’d be a suicide mission, even though it would be considerably dangerous. Instead, older astronauts would be selected with the idea that, already having a full life on Earth, they wouldn’t mind spending their last twenty or thirty years on the red planet paving the way for future colonists. They would receive regular shipments of supplies and additional colonists while they worked to develop the infrastructure for in situ resource utilization. They’d extract water from the soil, mine exposed metals, grow crops, and dig habitats for what would hopefully be a continual influx of new colonists.

Once the colony reached thirty or forty people, they would have a sufficiently stable genetic pool that they could start to grow themselves “the old-fashioned way.” Maybe in vitro fertilization would help here; I’m not sure of that.

I’m like 90% sure that this will never happen, just because it makes a terrible sound bite. Who would have the political will to send people to another planet to die? Not in this Congress. Never mind the fact that you would probably have thousands of volunteers, and even if only one tenth of one percent of those turned out to be suitable you’d have crew for a dozen missions.

Anyway, there’s cool stuff in that article, so I’d recommend checking it out and reading some of the editorials it links to. This is really what space travel is all about – humans will have to leave the Earth eventually, and daring exploits are needed to get the job done.

Should We Fear the Aliens?

I once heard a great quote that went something like this: “Humans are either alone in the universe, or we are not. Either way, it’s a wonderful thing.” Not everyone agrees.

Specifically, one of the headline articles – “Study: If We’re Not Alone, We Should Fear the Aliens” – at Space.com last week believes that unless humans are alone, we are should be afraid. Very, very afraid. Needless to say, I don’t agree with the sentiment. Continue reading