Month: December 2017

What You NEED to Know About Science

One thing that people think about science fiction is that you have to be an expert in engineering and physics to write it. You don’t, you just need to know where the stoplights are are.

By stoplights I mean things you can’t do, or if you do you must do with forethought.

As for the laws of physics there are really only a handful you need to be wary off. This is not saying you can’t violate them, but if you do it will have a big impact on your setting and you should think about it.

The first of course is faster then light travel. I will say that technically are a few ways around this that do not violate the laws of physics, but they tend to require exotic matter (matter with negative mass) or something equally unlikely.

Also be aware that you would be hard pressed to find a way to go faster then light in the real universe that would not also work as a time machine.

The second of course is time travel. Violating causality is probably the first or second thing most scientists would say if you asked them for a list of impossible things. No plot element causes more problems, for the love of god if you use this think it out.

The third is conservation of energy and momentum. Also known as not getting something for nothing. If something is being powered, where does it get the power? If something is moving what pushed it?

You don’t have to do math but if you have a machine doing something think about the kind of power it uses and what that means. If you have a ship move half the speed of light that takes a lot of power, it does not matter what kind of drive system it uses.

Lastly try not to go against the grain of science. By this I mean make your fake science SOUND like real science. Science in its most basic form will be the same in a thousand years as it is now, the thought processes will be the same because we will still be studying the same thing (the universe).

Review: The Dark Forest (4/5 stars)

I finally got around to reading The Dark Forest, the sequel to The Three Body Problem.

Before I go on I will say that I am going to be spoiling the hell out of The Three Body Problem and will be give some light spoilers of The Dark Forest (only the very start of the book though).

The Three Body Problem was set in the current day, or at most in a few years in the future. It very much resembles exploration sci-fi, or a good mystery. You get hints about what is going on, and the truth is revealed only slowly.

The Dark Forest is different, it is set first in the near future, then a little bit in the future then centuries from now. We see the results, both social and technological, of what happened at the end of the last book.

I feel the best science fiction is defined by the problems it presents. In The Dark Forest we have a society that has almost all of its scientific progress blocked, we can make things bigger and more efficient but can’t make any real basic advances thanks to the sophons. We know that an alien invasion is about four hundred years away, they have a fleet of a thousand ships and are much more advanced then we are or can become.

The central problem is that again thanks to the sophons we can’t have any secrecy, they can literaly see anywhere and can decode anything we can encrypt. Our only advantage is that we can use deception, they can’t (they read each other minds, so keeping secrets is just not in their nature). But how to use that advantage? The U.N.’s answer is the wallfacer project.

The wallfacer project uses the one place we CAN still keep secrets, the human mind. They give four people almost unlimited power and authority, and immunity to all laws. They are then asked to come up with a way to win the war, the only restriction that they can’t tell anyone.

I won’t go into more detail, you really should read it yourself, but I will say that Cixin very much does not neglect the social aspect. What kids of stresses we would be put under, what that would do to us as a people ect.

In some ways it resembles older scifi that explores consequences more and uses action less.

On Goodreads