Which is another non-theme, but trying to find a theme for J proved quite impossible (though the odds are I’ll think of something after hitting the publish button…
Anyhow… Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system with a mass two and half times that of all the other planets combined (according to Space Facts). Its primary makeup is gas, and it is therefore known as a Gas giant. Thanks to a visit to an observatory with the children the other week, I got to see Jupiter and four of its moons through one of their telescopes.
It has a total of 63 moons, but the main ones are: Europa, Lo, Ganymede and Callisto
Some fiction exists with Jupiter as a backdrop, although earlier works, such as Micromégas (1752) by Voltaire and A Journey in Other Worlds (1894) by John Jacob Astor IV take place on Jupiter itself, something discoveries since then have discounted as impossible, due to its having no solid surface on which to land, high radiation and high gravity.
A search of Amazon shows there are quite a few independently published science fiction books with Jupiter as a setting/backdrop, with titles such as The Jupiter Paradox, Jupiter Rising and The Lost Jupiter.
In contrast to this, three of the four moons mentioned appear to be a far more likely place for mankind to reach out to (in science fiction at least).
A search on Amazon of independent books featuring Europa, Ganymede and Callisto turns up a search result in the thousands, mostly relating to a colonisation environment (well on the first page anyway), with Europa being the most popular destination. [divider]
An invasion of our home planet is another regular theme in science fiction – Independence day, War of the Worlds and the Day the Earth still to name but a few. As with the other themes mentioned through the A-Z blogging challenge, different writers have different ideas of what an invasion might entail, although it usually involves an alien species. We might be sport – hunted down and killed, an inconvenience standing in the way of the natural resources, or a species to be rounded up and enslaved. Whatever the reason, you can guarantee mankind will fight for its survival.[divider]
War of the Worlds
Based on a novel by H.G.Wells, the recent 2005 film brought the War of the Worlds to the big screen – Hollywood style. In this version, the aliens invading our world buried tripod styled machines deep beneath the surface of our world long before man even existed.
They have returned to claim the planet for their own, at first killing everyone in sight, they go on to capture the pitiful humans panicking beneath their feet…[divider]
In Independence Day, alien spaceships appear over the most populated cities. It takes a while for the powers to be to work out that their arrival is not a friendly one, by which time they manage to lose the majority of their fighter planes, although they never really had much of a chance against a forcefield protected spaceship anyway.
A mentally implanted image from an alien informs them that the invasion is indeed hostile…[divider]
The day the Earth stood still
The alien in this film takes on the human form and claims his intention to save the Earth, although the alien’s definition of save and ours, are two entirely different things. The treatment he receives after being captured and interrogated does not convince the alien that mankind should be allowed to continue in existence.
As a swarm of insect-like nanites sweep across Earth, a mother and child must convince him that mankind is worth saving…[divider]
I’ve chosen to mention three older films so not to give spoilers away about new films (and assume most people will have seen these ones anyway). Alien invasions are very popular in science fiction, for an in-depth list of movies, you can check out IMDb’s Apocalyptic and Alien Invasions listing, for books, check out the alien invasion listings on Amazon.
While this isn’t theoretically a theme, it does play an important role in some science fiction books, especially those with established planets, colonies, and spaceships. Characters need a way to get from planet A to planet B and transverse thousands, if not millions of miles, quickly. Hyperspace is the process whereby a ship takes a short cut from one point in space to another; faster than the speed of light, the journey makes the use of another dimension of space, or a parallel universe, (according to Wookieepedia).
Travelling through Hyperspace results in no apparent effects to those inside the ship, but the stars outside streak into a blur, indicating the passage of their travel, but it is not without problems.
“Traveling through hyperspace ain’t like dusting crops, boy! Without precise calculations we could fly right through a star or bounce too close to a supernova, and that’d end your trip real quick, wouldn’t it?“―Han Solo, to Luke Skywalker (Star Wars IV)
Faster than Light travel
While the Corellian smuggler is able to plot co-ordinates directly to his chosen destination, other characters aren’t so fortunate. In the recent series of Battlestar Galactica, Faster than Light (FLT) jumps are made from system to system as they disappear from one point in space and simultaneously appear in another. In one episode, Solo’s warning becomes a reality when one of their Raptor ship jumps into a solid structure, despite their obvious precision with plotting a safe course ahead.
There is a whole Wikipedia on the subject of Hyperspace/FLT within science fiction, such is it’s popularity. It has a history dating as far back as 1634, when Johannes Kepler, a German astronomist tells a story of a journey to the moon with the aid of demons – years before science fiction was even a genre.
Another popular theme in science fiction. I have read numerous books and watched countless films with Global Warming at the fore, be it snow, rain, ice, wind, tornados, tsunamis, or an all out end of the world as we know it… they all arise from this theme. I’ve learned about the effect of collapsing ice shelves (The day after Tomorrow), the devastating effects of solar flares (2012) as well as ‘witnessing’ a variety of environmental experiments via the films on the Syfy channel, (the acting is bad, the scripts are awful, but some of the concepts are quite good).
So… Global warming is the ‘century-scale rise in the average temperature of the Earth’s climate system and its related effects’(Wikipedia)
Extreme weather conditions are often cited as a direct result of Global Warming, whether we have the hottest January on record or an increase in Hurricanes.
In Science Fiction, extreme weather is frequently the cause of Earth’s impending demise, with characters racing to counter the unprecedented extremes, or succumb to them.
In most of the films I’ve watched with extreme weather scenarios, the scientists are very fortunate in that they have sophisticated equipment to warn them about the incoming storm/hurricane/flood/volcanic eruption etc etc, but refuse to believe the given results – even though the equipment is doing what it was designed to do. There is of course that one character who isn’t fooled, who tries to convince the majority, but by the time they start listening to him/her, it’s usually too late.
The Barren Earth
In my mind, a future with continued Global Warning is that of a barren, drought-ridden expanse of land where little grows, livestock dies and water – or what is left of it – becomes our most valuable resource. An article on CS Globe discusses a controversial scientist’s claim that Earth could be heading towards something he refers to as Venus syndrome, ‘where global warming becomes so bad Earth can no longer sustain human life.’ (source), although his vision is the opposite of mine (rising sea levels).
The truth is, we are abusing the planet we rely on to support life. We’ve become a busy little place over the last one hundred years or so, chopping down trees, dipping into natural resources such as oil and gas, pumping chemicals into the sky… and if the Greenhouse effect is to be believed, it’s going to get hotter.
I did watch a program about this a few years back, and I can’t remember all the details, but I’m pretty sure the scientists were arguing that Earth went through a natural cycle of warm and cold spells – implying that what we’re being told isn’t all doom and gloom, but I suppose time will tell who is right and who isn’t.
Another possible scenario for us (and this one is very futuristic), is that the Earth did indeed achieve the status of ‘Venus syndrome,’ is totally beyond the ability to support life, and those of us who could afford it (or were just plain lucky), have moved on to new pastures. Our technology has usually advanced to the point where we’ve created ships that are capable of travelling great distances, and usually with faster than the speed of light travel, or with the ability to jump from one point in space to another. We’ve discovered new life-supporting planets and have taken what remains of humanity aboard these great ships, although in some science fiction, the journey has already been taken and life couldn’t be better…
Now this is a very popular theme in science fiction. We all have our own perception of how the future might look, whether it’s ten years, fifty, a hundred or a millennium: Flying cars, elite cities, devastated cities, super-advanced technology, back to a stone age lifestyle… the details regarding what our future might look like are left to the discretion of the author. Some are fantastical, with mankind whizzing around the universe in faster than light spaceships, some are based on known technology we have at the present time, some assume we’ve all but destroyed ourselves, and others are expecting an outright alien invasion (to name but a few).
I’d like to think we could progress without blowing ourselves to smithereens, that we could develop technology that will one day see us colonising other planets (preferably without destroying or abusing its natural resources) and discovering and reaching out to other civilisations, because I really do not believe we are have the sole existence. Our home is a wee speck of dust in a colossal universe, as this rather brilliant video shows (you need to click through to see it, the link goes to a public Facebook video and will show you just how miniscule planet Earth is):
And I’m going to leave this post here as I’ve a wad of editing to be getting on with now I’ve finished playing catch up with the A to Z blogging challenge.
End of Time
I was watching one of Morgan Freeman’s Through the Wormhole episodes the other day, and the subject of the documentary was time, or to be more specific, if ‘time’ existed. It discussed a series of concepts, including the theory of relativity, an experiment which manipulated light, slowing it down by a nano-second as it passed through a machine as well as discussing how the concept of ‘time’ was discovered.
It was all rather technical (for me), but very interesting, and it got me thinking about the end of time.
We measure our days (and nights) by the rise of the sun, by the turn of light and darkness. At some point in history, the twenty-four hour day was decided upon, and that is what we live our lives by, along with the concept of weeks, months, and what constitutes a year. These measurements have come about from the study of the sunrise, the stars in our skies and the change in our seasons.
Time is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as ‘The indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present and future regarded as a whole‘ (Oxford Dictionary).
So what happens when ‘time’ grinds to a halt?
As with other themes, I always find it interesting to hear different authors perspectives and found a few books I thought worthy of mention, although I’ve not personally read any of these:
Thief of Time (Discworld) by Terry Pratchett
Time Quake (for ages 10-14 ) by Linda Buckly-Archer
Manifold: Time by Stephen Baxter
City at the end of time by Greg Bear
**Actually, I struggled to find independently published books tackling this theme. There were a lot of books in the Kindle store, but when reading synopsis’ the focus seemed to on religion, while I was looking for books fictionalising the science of the end of time.**