Month: September 2017

Large Paradigm Shifts

Humans have shifted how we think on a basic level many times, this is one thing to understand when writing anything set in the far future. If you want to show someone in the year 3,000 AD you need to try and think of how he will be different, not just in body but in how he will think.

To explain what I mean I will detail out a few paradigm shifts we have gone through.

The first is the age of enlightenment in Europe. The short explanation of this is that it’s when we changed from assuming things that we did not understand were supernatural to assuming they were understandable scientific phenomena. This sounds simple but it is not, it changed everything about our civilization.

The second is who people identify with. In a very real sense civilization happens when people decide they belong to more then just their family. At first this might mean their tribe, but then it grew to a city, and the city grew to into a nation.

What shifts do you think will happen in the future? Could we even accept them today if someone came from the future and told us about them?

What You Need to Write Good Science Fiction

An impression I get sometimes is that people think you need to be an expert in a dozen fields to write good science fiction. That simply is not the case, I would say there are two areas you must be conversant in.

The first is of course science. You do not have to be a scientist, you need to have a firm grasp on the science you are using, and be willing and able to research the details you don’t know. Never forget that the science can lend you plot points, a greater understanding helps you do more then just make a realistic story.

I advise you to at least get to the point you know what is and what is not possible under our current understanding of science. Even if your talking soft sci-fi you want to know what you can just handwave as easy (say a supersonic aircraft) and what you need to put some thought into (how FTL works in your setting) can make a big difference.

The second, and it was almost the first, is history. Knowing history does two big things for you. First you gain an understanding of how human societies work. For example we know that large scale communism does not work, every time it has been tried it has failed badly. This means if you wanted to have it work in your story you would have to know and address why it would work in your story but not in history.

The second thing it gives you is a grab bag of idea’s and concepts that have been done before, and that you know work. For example if you wanted a large scale empire that ruled for a long time you could look up examples from history, and either base if off one or combine them. In the least you would know what to and what not to do.


All These Worlds by  Dennis E. Taylor

I finished the book less then twelve hours after getting it (and about half of that time was working) It is quite good.

It does conclude all the major plot lines of the previous two books, the others, the Deltan’s, the Pav, the Brazilian probe, and the humans on the earth. It does this with grace and without feeling rushed. And of course it also does not resort to technology that resembles magic or similar easy outs.

The book explores further on the idea of clone divergence and how the various Bob’s will be spending eternity.

It would be interesting if the next book picks up a couple centuries down the line, to see how far the Bobs will have gotten and what they will be doing.

All my reviews on Goodreads

Updating Technology

One thing that any science fiction set in the far future has to do is not only have new technologies but to improve the ones we have.

This is often neglected in areas that are not flashy. This requires you understand how the technology works in the most basic way, and to know what holds it back.

For example let us look at guns. Guns as they are known today have been around for a while, I would be surprised if they were that different in practice in fifty years then they are today.

However if they were significantly different I would say the change would have to come from the way in which the round is accelerated. If we ever make hand size rail guns then we could see rounds move much faster and be much smaller. Gunpowder has a limit to how much force it can impart, the only limit a rail gun would have would be how much power you can carry with you and how strong your materials are. This could mean that each round could have the same force as a modern round but it would weigh only 1/10th as much so you could carry ten times as many in one clip.

Another example is planetary travel, meaning cars, trains and planes. The biggest hard limit to these is the speed of sound, while I doubt we will ever see cars able to routinely get close to the speed of sound, planes and trains do it often.

That is the reason bullet trains don’t travel faster then they do. If you wanted to travel to the other side of a planet faster then sound without this issue you would have to either leave the atmosphere or find a way to not produce a sonic boom. Leaving the atmosphere could mean going sub-orbital or it could mean you have a tube on the ground with no atmosphere that a bullet train goes down.

Lastly if you wanted to have collage degrees free, you could just have thing work like they do now, or you could change how collage works entirely.

If I were to write a near term sci-fi where free collage was a major part of the society, and seen as vital then I would not have collage work as it does now. Right now it is very inefficient and does not take much advantage of the information age.

You could create an online system where you had several lectures for each class, you could pick the one that worked best for you. If you had questions you could ask any number of people who are hired for that task, or other students online. You could take a test to pass the class at any time. This would be about as cheap as you could make it, at least if your working at a large scale.