SCI-FI WEEK #2: Explain everything


With the sound of the alarm ringing in his ears, Colonel Daringman leapt from his seat, taking full advantage of the reduced gravity environment of Fleet Ship H546-X, a 0.8G inertia field generated by the constant rotary movement of the ship’s internal shell which was separated from the blastproof exterior by an atom-thin layer of vacuum and electromagnetic repulsor fields, and ran down the corridor. He was in the aft section of the ship, where the living quarters were located, and it would take him several minutes to reach the command pod located at the ship’s fore (a location chosen for optimal visibility through the quantum-shielded plexipanels in the event of a failure of the ship’s short-range reconnaissance feedback systems).
‘Grakhl!’ he cursed, breathing heavily and tasting the now-familiar tang of the ship’s recycled and subtly ionised air, which was composed primarily of nitrogen, carbon dioxide and oxygen, but also contained trace amounts of argon in order to prevent malfunctions of the infinitesimally small nanobots which also swarmed in its invisible flow.

11 comments:

  1. Is Colonel Daringman a Klingon with his Grakh and his Drakh?

    :-)

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  2. "subtly ionised"... that's pretty sexy, actually.

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  3. That's "Grakhl." "Grakh" is not a curse, it's just the word for "power-plant engineer's apprentice training program."

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  4. What do you mean? I found all of that extremely interesting. Especially that fact that it had trace amounts of argon and why.

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  5. I think the issue is when the explanation is given - not the fact that it is given. This is supposed to be an action scene (the alarm ringing, leaping to his feet)- the action gets totally lost in all the background detail.

    How and where to explain the sf elements of sf is one of the hardest parts of writing it.

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  6. Anonymous pressed a sequence of lettered keys on a device in front of him, causing electrical impulses to be translated into ASCII text values. Shortly, he would move his mouse in such a manner that the position of the cursor displayed on the screen in front of him would co-incide with the area labelled "Post Comment", and depress the left hand button on his mouse, which would initiate a sequence of events that would result in the text sequence generated by his key-pressing being transferred to the How to Write Badly Well webserver. As he typed, he applied gentle pressure with his feet against the floor, within which the wires that powered his computer and would transmit his message were laid in aluminium ductwork, covered by pine boards and a nylon pile carpet, and his chair rolled gently backwards on wheels whith which it had been equipped for precisely that purpose.

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  7. So. Much. INFORMATION.
    Oh, Daringman and all of his manly and daring adventures.

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  8. Sci-fi shouldn't explain any technology. When we write now we don't say "James spoke into the cellular telephone, a device capable of transmitting his voice as a digital signal across towers created for... blah blah blah". It's just "James called Sarah".

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  9. There's a very good example floating around somewhere in which a character's flight from New York to California (or similar) is explained with masses of "As you know, Bob" style infodumps, as if air travel were something the author had made up and were keen to explain.

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