Archive for the ‘Speculation’ Category

Ancient Space Travel

October 31, 2011

Does any story that involves outer space qualify as Science Fiction?  Every time I’ve asked this question, the answer I’ve gotten back has been an overwhelming “yes”… and yet I continue to disagree.

Odysseus, now with Sirens!

Traveling to different worlds certainly isn’t a new idea.  Consider Odysseus’ journey or Gulliver’s Travels as examples.  Or, consider examples from fantasy literature; in Michael Moorcock’s Elric of Melniboné the titular character visits other worlds that exist as alternate realities connected either by Gates or by sailing on the ‘Seas of Fate’.  This is exemplary of how most fantasy series treat the topic of aliens and alien settings.  This piggybacked the widespread appeal of mediums like Dungeons and Dragons, particularly their Planescape setting and its whole series of interconnected realities.

Astroarcane’s primary deviation from other fantasy works is that the authors of the universe approach this topic with an armchair-astronomer’s understanding of the universe.  And apparently, that’s all it takes to jump from fantasy to science fiction… at least according to the casual observer.  (This disconnect is why Steph and I refer to Astroarcane as “space fantasy.”)

The idea of a pre-modern society having space travel does not, for me, immediately bring to mind science fiction. I am instead reminded of the Mayan’s weird artwork:

Falling into the jaws of a monster, or flying a spaceship?

Iron Age interplanetary travelers?  Some scholars make very serious claims about such topics.

Heck, Indiana Jones had to deal with these guys, and I don’t think anyone is claiming Indy has gone sci-fi.  If you don’t believe me, re-watch Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and try to convince yourself that the monkey scene isn’t a work of fantasy.


Earth Magic

October 24, 2011

Magic in the universe of Astroarcane was created and developed for the betterment of humanity. Understanding the Elements that make up the whole leads to a better understanding of how that whole will behave.

I am not sure why those mans are on fire.

In the real world, understanding the parts requires studying both chemistry and molecular biology and then applying that learning to the study of human physiology and medicine.

Wizards don’t study the periodic table; instead they study the classical elements (water, fire, earth and air) and their interactions.  Instead of 100 elements and their limitless combinations, only four elements are considered; and how their virtues and properties influence each other.

Hooray for science!

Whoa, whoa, slow down Brian! Where are you going with this?

So, I bring all this up, because it turns out some modern scientists talk about medicine like a Wizard.

Your local Novum Chirurgeon would probably make similar recommendations.  Keep your elements balanced by maintaining proper exposure to each pure element.  Wear some lodestones on your wrists to draw out excess the Earth mana stiffening your joints.

It would seem Astroarcane magic is closer to science than I expected… either that, or some scientists are a little too close to magic.


Home Astronomy and How Tech Shapes Society

July 13, 2011

Got an extra $50k-500k laying around in your pocket with nothing to do with it? Why not take up home astronomy? Check out this NYT article: Adding an Extra Room for the Sky.

Photo by Michelle Litvin for The New York Times

Honestly, I’d love to have an observatory  built right into my home. Maintenance/upkeep would be a murderous expense, I’m sure, but… stargazing! Who knows, maybe by the time this author is looking to step into the real estate market, the tech will have progressed in such a way that this is actually a feasible expense.

Photo by Erik Jacobs for The New York Times

We can only hope!

Thinking about technological advances got me to start thinking about the way tech advances in Astroarcane. An interesting advantage of having two long-lived main characters (starbeings, at least when they have a home star, live for thousands of years; and Milo’s Etheral Mask should give him at least six hundred or so) is that throughout their decades or centuries of adventures we can actually see the galaxy’s society evolving and changing as runic/etc technology advances and expands.

In an upcoming story (tentatively titled “Webs”), Milo and Shaula meet a young Order of Novum wizard who has developed a new runic technique for Astral Gates. If you remember Starlegacy, Gate Rings have a huge heat output that means most of them have to be in space, or be ruinously expensive. Not to go into too much detail, the new technique will allow more surface Gates, at a more affordable cost. In other words, it’s not just the ludicrously wealthy who can have that sort of convenience anymore.

What will this mean for society as a whole? Does the galaxy get just a little bit smaller? I guess we’ll find out over the next few decades in-universe!

A Different Sort of Shooting Star

July 6, 2011

I got really excited when I read this article headline: Star Shooting Intense Water Jets Into Space Spotted By Herschel Telescope (and this article, which has more details and better science: Star Found Shooting Water “Bullets”). I mean really, a star shooting WATER into the depths of space? And look at the lovely picture!

Photo credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / R. Hurt (SSC)

And since it’s such a young (100,000 years old) star… what does this mean for our body of knowledge about the life cycle of stars themselves? About the creation of life in the galaxy? I mean, my goodness, the creation of habitable worlds!

This is such exciting astronomy that I needed to go lie down for a while.

Once I was recovered from my vapors, I started pondering what this might mean for Astroarcane. If you paid close attention in Starlegacy you realized that starbeings as a race have only existed (separate of their dryad cousins) for about two thousand years. But more and more it seems a natural evolution of purpose; as the dryads tend their Trees, a symbol of life and growth and creation, starbeings tend the stars themselves, creators of life on a stellar scale! How cool! I totally planned that!

(Several characters from Starlegacy will be appearing as supporting roles in our current writing project, The Imp Wars. So mysterious, any guesses on who?)

Beautiful Nebula

June 22, 2011

Brian sent me this amazing space-related link the other day. It blew my mind on so many levels. First: nebulas are gorgeous. Second: holy giant stars! Third: this is in what constellation? Scorpio? How lovely! (Spoiler, I named Shaula from one of the stars in Scorpio.)

ooooooooooooh ahhhhhhhhhhhh

The article makes a lot of Green Lantern references (which I love, DC comics rock my socks), but I’d like to offer an alternate fictional explanation (and sneak peek of something not yet published…)

“Shaula,” he said helplessly, his voice a mix of shock and horror. “Shaula.”

Just that, and I knew all that he meant. No “what have you done”; he knew what I’d done. No “how could you”; he knew exactly why I’d done it. Knew that if I hadn’t, the poison would have only spread, spread across the Galaxy; so subtle, so deadly, changing and corrupting and unmaking and…

It was still a monstrous thing. I will not look away from that; I will not dissemble. It was a monstrous, inhuman thing. But then, I am not human.

We looked out together over the roiling cloud of brightly glowing gases and dust painting the black; a nebula that had, just standard days before, been a star. And four planets, a handful of moons, small asteroid belt, oh, and seven hundred thousand human lives.

Milo looked out at the infant nebula, and I watched all the thoughts race across his face. What had been going on here… what I had stopped… had been unquestionably evil, and a danger to the entire Galaxy as we knew it. But what I had done… I watched a part of him balk, try to turn away from it. Watched him face it squarely. Wrestle with the thought.

“I need to think about this,” he finally said. Didn’t look at me.

I nodded, and left him there.

Laser Whips are going to Mars?

June 15, 2011

NASA is claiming that the next big object we’re sending to Mars, the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), is going to be packing some serious firepower.  You guessed it, the MSL is going to have a Laser Whip.

Robot using its laser whip. Image credit: J-L. Lacour/CEA/French Space Agency (CNES)

Well, maybe not quite a Laser Whip, but it WILL have a laser.  Turns out that lasers can be used to identify rocks! Who knew?  I mean, if I was given the option of investigating rocks with either a shovel or a laser, I would go with the obvious choice.  However, I would be wrong, because lasers can tell you all kinds things about rocks that a shovel just can’t detect.

So trusty!

So, in conclusion, if you’re going to be battling any members of the Order of Venom on Mars, go with the trusty shovel and leave the laser wielding robot alone, because someone on Earth is going to get really annoyed if they have another Mars Rover Mishap.