Category: Blogging A-Z Challenge

A-Z Blogging challenge: S is for… Spaceships

Posted November 5, 2015

Spaceships

With all the discussion on this blog about asteroids, space and futurology, I thought it might be wise to take a look at how we’re going to travel to all these wonderful places within the universe – be it through choice or necessity The wonderful thing about science fiction is that we can envision whatever style of spaceship we deem fit for purpose, although there may technical restrictions if writing in the genre of hard science fiction, where the practicalities of present day engineering is crucial.

Follow Indie Scifi fantasy’s board Spaceships – Inspirations on Pinterest.Spaceships may come in all shapes and guises, some of which I have tried to capture in the board above. For interiors, you can check out this board: Follow Indie Scifi fantasy’s board Spaceships – Interior design and ideas on Pinterest. 


Spaceship specifications and capabilities

Spaceship specifications and capabilities depend on the author’s imagination and on the technology available, and also on the level of science being incorporated into the story i.e hard science fiction versus fantastical science fiction, but I have listed below some of the most important elements when considering space travel:

Crew

Food

Leisure

Radioactive protection

Spacesuits

Speed

Suspended sleep system

Water

Weaponry

I shall add to this list as I read / think of things, but in the meantime, here are a few books featuring space craft of various designs:

AL Clark

spacetug-copenhagen

Roque Hunter

Blood-in-the-Fire-ver2-683x1024

 

 

 

 

 

 


A to Z Blogging: O is for… Online Worlds

Posted June 17, 2015

Online Worlds

O was a tricky letter to find a theme for and I swear I’m not cheating. ‘Online Worlds’ is a theme in its own right according to the Encyclopedia of Science fiction, not only that, but I’ve had the pleasure of reading a couple of books using this very theme.


So what are Online Worlds?

Without stating the obvious, they’re worlds that exist online, quite often involving role-play with other users and are never ending as far as I can tell.

I grew up on ‘Make your own adventure’ books, closely followed by Steve Jackson’s Fighting Fantasy books. You’d create your character,Fighting Fantasy select your inventory, gather your experience points and make your way through the book, choosing between turning to page 54 or 112. One would lead to salvation (possibly), the other to certain death. Come to think of it, I never did find a safe passage through the world presented to me, there was a monster lurking at every corner, itching for a fight (with the use of dice, a little turn taking and some honesty).

Incidently, I picked one of these books up at a boot sale recently and tried to engage with my gaming-mad eleven and twelve-year-old.

Ha! No chance!


Minecraft, Roblox, Blockland, not to mention online multiplayer console games, EA’s Sims franchise, city building… all of these allow users to engage in creating and living in an online world. Obviously there will be other examples, but these are the ones I know of personally and I’m sure you don’t want this post turning into an epic saga on the subject.

Online world fiction for young readers

MinecraftStone Marshall has written a series of books based on the extremely popular Minecraft game. My children, along with most (if not all) of their school friends are crazy about this game. The online world is a landscape of blocks, and as far as I can gather, you design, create and demolish bricks to create your own.

Book one of Flynn’s Log: Rescue Island is highly accurate in describing the loading of an actual game – waking in a strange world with the sun getting ready to dip beyond the horizon, and as I’m sure Flynn will discover, Minecraft at night can be a dangerous place to be – especially if you’re on your own.

The recommended age group for this series of books is 8 to 18, and there are four in the series:

Rescue Island (Book #1)

Thorn’s Lair (Book #2)

The Ultimate form of life (Book #3)

Offline (Book #4)

 

For older readers (Young adult +)

I came across a series called ‘The Game is life’ a couple The Gameof years ago. The first one is still free (which is how I came across it), but I went on to purchase and read all the corresponding books in the series, I just couldn’t get enough of this peculiar world.

  • “What if life as we know it was just a game?
  • What if, instead of traditional schools, children learned by participating in a virtual reality simulation, one that allowed them to experience “life” from birth to death — multiple times?
  • What if one player, on his final play, could change the world forever…?”

The book can be complex at times, and there are moments where you have to stop and think ‘where’ you are, but overall I found this (and the sequels) a highly engaging read. It did have some editing issues when I first read it, but the author has apparently resolved them since then (not checked that yet, but I will do as I fancy another read).

The online world in this book is virtual, and I can’t really say much more than that without giving the book away, but if it’s your ‘cup of tea,’ I would highly recommend grabbing a free copy of The Game.


A to Z Blogging challenge: N is for… Nuclear War

Posted June 15, 2015

Nuclear War (and the ensuing ‘winter’)

Protect and Survive Nuclear War

I was watching a program a while back about adverts that used to appear on our television screens during the nineteen-seventies. One advert was produced by the UK government and carried the slogan ‘Protect and Survive.’ I had absolutely no recollection of this, but my mum informed me that it was a very real threat back then, (and maybe it still is, although I’m under the impression that none of the countries with Nuclear weapons dare fire them, lest it blows our planet to smithereens.

It should come as no surprise then, that Nuclear weapons, wars, fallouts and winters should play an important role within science fiction, be it the post-apocalyptic setting the few survivors live in, the cause of a zombie manifestation, or the sole reason for abandoning our planet.

(And I will add some more to this as I come across books depicting these themes)

 


Blogging A-Z: M is for… Military Scifi

Posted June 14, 2015

Military Sci-Fi

Unisol_132 As far as I can gather (as this is one of my least favourite sub-genres of science-fiction) Military Sci-Fi uses futuristic technology and weapons, often to negotiate fights with alien civilisations, or conduct battles in space, although I’ve read many a book where the military is used in a present day setting, usually with a near apocalyptic scenario.

Books in this genre appear to have main characters who are, in fact, military personnel, which means that I’ve been writing a novel in a genre I claim not to be keen on (my novel draft has military personnel and most of the story take place on military premises – who knew?)


Space Opera

Space opera is a subgenre of Science Fiction (and a form of Military Sci-fi) involving romance, melodrama and is set mostly in outer space according to the Wikipedia page on the subject. Clearly I’ve not understood this genre at all (until now), as a lot of television shows I enjoyed as a child, and which instilled me with a life-long interest in science fiction, appear to fall under this category: Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who and Blake’s Seven to name but a few.

So, all that talk about this genre being my least favourite means I’ve been clearly misinformed at some point in my life. It’s a genre I read a lot of, and a genre I have chosen to write in, a genre I love in fact…

 

 

 

 


Blogging A-Z: L is for… Life

Posted April 17, 2015

Life

Or more specifically, Life on other planets.

I do not, for one moment, believe we are ‘alone’ in this universe. Life came into being on our own planet, albeit with a specific set of criteria, but just because we haven’t found proof of other lifeforms, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist… somewhere.
Iconographer1

Alien Life Forms

Science fiction is rich with other life forms, and a quick search through Google images reveals just how wide and vast our imagination is when considering other forms of life – little green and grey men with small bodies and elongated or over-sized heads, human shaped aliens, insects, robots, a jelly-like blob… As with the other elements of science fiction I have so far discussed through this challenge, our vision of what constitutes an alien has changed as our own science and knowledge develops.

 Books on Indiescififantasy featuring alien life forms:

 [show-reviews-in tax=”genre” name=”aliens”]


Blogging A-Z: K is for… Keep

Posted April 15, 2015

Keep

And yes, this really is the best I can do for K. I’ve spent ages trying to come up with a theme, and besides talking about Klingons or Kyptonite, I didn’t see what else I could talk about.

So, a keep, according to The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction is the scifi equivalent of a fantasy novel’s ediface (although I often see the term ‘keep’ used in fantasy) and is a ‘walled, gated or segregated community(source), a little like a compound I suppose.

compound

This image is of a science fiction themed compound/keep designed by Cull_the_Cool for one of the Sims game (I’m not sure which one, but it gives you the general idea).

Keeps’ can be made of whichever material is available, they may contain a small society of survivors wishing to live in peace, a heavily fortified military unit, or perhaps a mix of the two, with military personnel protecting vulnerable citizens.

Quite often keeps will be found in remote locations, and will often involve a life and death journey to reach them.

Keeps’ are popular in science fiction, but I’m clearly not as well read on science fiction as I thought I was, because I can only think of one independent book featuring a keep and that appears to have been withdrawn from sale.

I shall return to this post at a later date with some book recommendations. If you know of any that you believe would complement this post, please do let me know. This is definitely the most challenging letter of the alphabet yet for science fiction themes.

 


Blogging A-Z: J is for… Jupiter

Posted April 13, 2015

Jupiter

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…

jupiterAnyhow… 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.


Jupiter_and_the_Galilean_Satellites

Jupiter’s Moons

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. 


 


Blogging A-Z: I is for… Invasion

Posted April 13, 2015

Invasion

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.


war of the worlds

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…


Independence Dayindependence day

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…


day the earth stood still

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…


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.

 


Blogging A-Z: H is for… Hyperspace

Posted April 11, 2015

Hyperspace

Hyperspace-SWPuzzleWhile 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 

raptor

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.


Further Information

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.


Blogging A-Z: G is for… Global Warming

Posted April 10, 2015

Global warming

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).

Global_Temperature_Anomaly.svgSo… Global warming is the ‘century-scale rise in the average temperature of the Earth’s climate system and its related effects’(Wikipedia)

Extreme Weather

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).

greenhouse-effect-500x295The 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.

Dead Earth

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…

 


Blogging A-Z: F is for… Futurology

Posted April 7, 2015

Futurology

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):

How small is planet earth !If there is no aliens in that huge thing…

Posted by Renaud Margry on Tuesday, February 24, 2015

 

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.


Blogging A-Z: E is for… End of Time

Posted April 7, 2015

End of Time

through-the-wormhole-does-time-existI 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:

Stolen time:

Thief of Time (Discworld) by Terry Pratchett

Splintering Time:

Time Quake (for ages 10-14 ) by Linda Buckly-Archer

Ecological Damage:

Manifold: Time by Stephen Baxter

Fifth element

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.**

 

 


Blogging A-Z: D is for… Dystopia

Posted April 4, 2015

Dystopia

Dystopia is yet another theme of science fiction that intrigues me (and if you’ve been following along with the posts so far, you may have guessed – and quite rightly guessed – that there aren’t many themes I don’t like).

According to the Oxford dictionary, a dystopia is ‘An imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one. The opposite of utopia’  (Oxford Dictionary – online)

In terms of science fiction, a dystopia has got to be the ‘perfect’ society for characters to rebel against. The Hunger Games and Divergent are two of the most recent books to use this theme, but in literature, it goes much further back;

1984

1984

Published by George Orwell in 1959, this novel paints a grim presentation of 1984. An atomic war has  resulted in the world being divided into three states: Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia.

Winston Smith is a bureaucrat, living in London (Oceania). He works for the Ministry of Truth and is responsible for rewriting history, as and when the ruling party require it.

As the novel opens, Winston feels frustrated by the oppression and rigid control of the Party, which prohibits free thought, sex, and any expression of individuality. Winston dislikes the party and has illegally purchased a diary in which to write his criminal thoughts. He has also become fixated on a powerful Party member named O’Brien, whom Winston believes is a secret member of the Brotherhood—the mysterious, legendary group that works to overthrow the Party‘ (Sparknotes)

bbIt introduces the theme of ‘Big Brother,’ the faceless leader of Oceania. Everywhere Winston goes there are posters announcing that ‘Big Brother is watching you.’ While the citizens have been told he is their leader, Winston isn’t sure if he is a real person or just the face of the totalitarian party. Some find his face a comfort, as no matter where they are, he is watching, but to some – such as Winston – he is a threat.

As if that isn’t enough to contend with, Winston makes the mistake of falling in love. Public displays of affection (and free will) are not permitted. He and Julie live in fear of being caught and punished by the Big Brother…


My thoughts on Dystopia

Control seems to be the key to having a dystopian environment – whether through fear, medication or psychology. By keeping low ranking individuals where the leaders want them, by weeding out anyone who might be deemed as troublesome, or incompatible with their chosen method of control, the members at the top of the food chain should be able to enjoy a worry-free life.

Except… an inciting incident is nearly always enough to get a downtrodden character to open their eyes. To move beyond accepting their position in life and see the world for what it is. Discovery of the truth can fuel a character with passion, with the desire to live, as opposed to merely surviving, and they will fight for that freedom.

Sometimes these lowly characters can make it – avenues of escape materialise through a series of discoveries and they exit the book victorious. Other times they do not. The dystopian environment is all there is, but by the time they’ve realised that it’s too late to go back to how things were…


Blogging A-Z: C is for…Colonisation

Posted April 3, 2015

Colonisation

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.

Underground

colonyimage

colonyunderThese 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.

 

 


Space

asteroid belt

Dark-Colony-Cover1-253x380-174x280

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.

spacetug-copenhagenAnother 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).

Sources:

Ashlyn Forge: http:ashlynforge.com

Richard Penn: http://lockhand.org/

Copenhagen Suborbitals: http://copenhagensuborbitals.com/

 

Books featuring a colony:
[show-reviews-in tax=”genre” name=”colony”]


Blogging A-Z: B is for… Biometrics

Posted April 2, 2015

Biometrics

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.scully

Tracking

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’

Total RecallIn 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

demolitionman

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.

gattacaIt 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.



Final thoughts…

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?


Blogging A-Z: A is for… Asteroids

Posted April 1, 2015

Asteroids.

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

knownasteroidsNasa’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. closeapproaches

 

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:

Jeno Marz

paleopix.com

n1Science

 

 

 


Blogging from A-Z Challenge (April 2015)

Posted March 27, 2015

APRIL-CALENDAR [2015] (1)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.