There’s something about colonisation that fascinates me. I’m not sure what is exactly, but I just cannot get enough of it. I love seeing different writers perspective on what it means to survive within the confines of a colony, and I’m not all that fussed about the location either, be it underground, on land or in space.
These images are courtesy of a real estate article on Doomsday bunkers. According to the article, which was posted in April 2012, four of these apartments had been sold, allowing the purchasers to flee to a safe haven if a catastrophic event were to occur. It certainly looks appealing from where I’m sitting, but I can’t help but wonder what the ‘reality’ would be like after a few years – or decades – of being cooped up in such a confined space.
The series I am currently reading is about as far away from Forge’s colony as I can get. It’s in space, or to be more precise, the Terpsichore asteroid in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
Richard Penn’s Asteroid Police combines adventure and mystery with hard (factual) science fiction. In the first book in this series – The Dark Colony – we are introduced to Lisa, a young policewoman charged with the role of ensuring order is maintained, and it is, until she has the misfortune to make a rather unpleasant discovery.
As yet I am only part way through reading this book, but I’m finding the science in this book quite fascinating. Penn has clearly researched his subject matter well, and there is a good balance between story telling and factual information.
Another book of interest from Penn is Spacetug Copenhagen, book one of the Steps to Space series. I don’t know about anyone else, but as a child, I always imagined we would be living on other planets by now (I have an overactive imagination).
This book uses present day engineering and science to show just how close we are to that vision. It’s set just fifteen years in the future, has a luxurious hotel in orbit, and judging by the series title, will feature the birth of a space colony.
As with The Dark Colony, it’s a fascinating (and addictive) read, especially when the source of inspiration is cited as an amateur space program.
The Copenhagen Suborbitals are a non-profit, amateur based space endeavor, funded entirely by private sponsors and donors. They build suborbital space vehicles – designed to pave the way for manned space flight on a micro size spacecraft, and on a micro size budget (Copenhagen Suborbitals)
My thoughts on colonisation
Despite the distance, and very different placement of the two forms of colony, there are several elements common in both books:-
Limited Resources (and the need to use what is available)
Regulations and order
Restricted living conditions
Penn and Forge have colonies that have been established over a period of time, and both have a futuristic placement, although the Asteroid Police series is closer to our present timeline then Toys and Soldiers.
If you are interesting in reading these books, please click on the images and you will be taken directly to Amazon. I, in the meantime, shall continue to search through the masses of self-published books for a land based and underwater colony environment (please feel free to comment if you know of any).
Ashlyn Forge: http:ashlynforge.com
Richard Penn: http://lockhand.org/
Copenhagen Suborbitals: http://copenhagensuborbitals.com/
Books featuring a colony:
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Biometrics combines technology with human features, such as fingerprints, DNA and eye retinas, as a means of developing secure systems for authentication purposes, while also having the potential to track and monitor individuals. Much of what was once deemed science fiction has become a reality, but as our understanding of science and technology increases, so too does the imagination of the writer, and biometrics still plays a key role in science fiction films and books.
In the X-Files, a series featuring two FBI agents investigating unexplained events, Dana Scully is abducted by ‘aliens’ and a chip inserted into the base of her spine. According to this X-files.Wika article, ‘branched DNA was added to Scully’s blood during her abduction. This highly sophisticated form of DNA had the possible applications of being a tracking system, the developmental stages of a biological marker or part of an effort to graft a human to something inhuman’
In the 2012 film Total Recall, Douglas Quaid awakes from a dream with the belief that his life is in danger. He goes on to discover a communication device (phone) embedded in the palm of his hand, and as we all know, phone’s can be used to trace the user’s location, leaving him with no choice but to cut it out of his palm.
Authorisation / Identification
I can think of a couple of films where access to a secure area is granted through the use of biometrics. In Demolition man the use of the eye retina is two-fold: It firstly allows a prison warden to pass through the security barriers within the prison complex, and secondly, it allows a criminal to escape – but not before he physically relieves the warden of his eyes.
The removal of body parts is only one means of deceiving what should be the perfect security system. Copying fingerprints and recording the spoken voice are far less traumatic, while in Gattaca, the main character seeks to deceive a system that classifies individuals with the use of DNA.
It divides society into two classes – the genetically elite, and the inferior. Vincent Freeman is assigned to the latter group, but has always dreamed of going into space. Unfortunately for him, this is a role reserved for the elite. To achieve his dream, he attempts to fool the system with the use of somebody else’s DNA – if only it were that simple.
In Vincent’s case, there’s much more to his gamble then merely fooling the system, there are physical behaviours to take into consideration, and they aren’t as easy to manipulate.
I’m not sure how common place biometrics are in the real world, but from a creative writing point of view, there is so much you can do with this, whether from an identification or tracking perspective. Both present day and futuristic settings can take advantage of biometrics – no point in making life too easy for our characters now, is there?
Science/Fiction Blogs participating in the A-Z challenge:
I have quite a fascination for them actually. Not the type travelling harmlessly around the asteroid belt though, oh no, I like the concept of one hurtling towards Earth and threatening to wipe us all out, and more importantly, what we would – and could – do about it.
We’re making advances in space travel, sending probes and what not further out, preparing to send people to live on Mars, identifying planets that could quite possibly sustain life… but what are our chances of stopping (or diverting) a killer asteroid?
I’ve watched films with this concept – Armageddon, Deep Impact, and several b-grade movies on the sci-fi channel whose film names escape me, possibly because they were beyond awful.
[spoiler] In Armageddon, a drilling crew lands on the approaching asteroid, somehow managing to drill through titanium plate and blow the rock to smithereens.
The crew of Deep Impact aren’t as lucky as Team Armageddon. They only manage to blow the asteroid into two pieces, and while the larger part cruises off into deep space, the smaller part enters Earth’s atmosphere with some amazing special effects, and with a lesser destructive force then the whole.[/spoiler]
Near Earth Objects
Nasa’s Near Earth Object Program was established in 1998 with a view to identifying near-earth asteroids larger than one kilometer. The chart on the left shows the total number of near-earth objects in relation to those over one kilometer.
The chart below lists recent close approaches.
While the chart seems to show quite a few close approaches, the asteroids that get a mention in the media are usually the ones that come closer than the norm, such as asteroid 2012 XE54 in December 2012 – a mere 143,000 miles away.
The tracking carried out by the Near Earth Object Program appears to be a preventive measure, as NASA ‘works with partners in the U.S. and around the world to detect, track and characterize NEOs, especially those that might pose a threat to human populations’ (source)
Physical protection from asteroids
There is a Wikipedia discussing methods of Asteroid impact avoidance, such as nuclear devices and deflection, but as I am unsure how much is fact, and how much is speculation, I’m going to pass on mentioning them for now.
Science/Fiction Blogs participating in the A-Z challenge:
Against my better judgement I have decided to have a go at the Blogging A-Z (April, 2015) challenge, not that I needed much encouragement – a simple ‘Michelle, are you doing this?’ from a writing acquaintance was enough to send me flying across to the website to check it out (and sign up).
As I’m in the process of trying to get this website up and running, I thought I would focus on themes within the Science Fiction genre (and shall do the same with fantasy at the next one).
The ‘rules’ are pictured on the image above. You blog a letter a day – except Sundays.
The challenge itself looks very popular, and at the time of writing 1,365 bloggers have signed up. If you’re interested in joining in, you can find the details here: Blogging A-Z (April, 2015). Signups close on 2nd April, 11.59pm Eastern Standard Time.