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I’ve been studying the science behind the worlds of science fiction with the intention of using it for world building. I’ve written a series of articles introducing these science concepts. My intention as a science fiction writer was to build a setting where at first glance paralleled the real universe. Consequently, I tried to use the results from SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) and related searches to bracket the extent and technology of alien civilizations that appear in my stories.
The worlds of science fiction are introduced in the article: World Building for Science Fiction.
My approach mirrors some of the discussion presented in this Screen Craft article by Ken Miyamato from 2021: THE CRAFT AND RULES OF WORLDBUILDING IN SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY. I start from a real world present approach by asking: what does science tell me about X? X in this case is alien civilizations.
As some additional information, it might be useful to look at the SETI Institute web site: SETI Institute
Another article reports about some limits established my astrophysics studies: Forbes Article
The Fermi Paradox
The Fermi Paradox is an important question for worlds of science fiction, providing estimates of the expansion of a civilization. I have continued the articles with this on specifically on this question: It Starts With A Paradox.
ScienceTime has produced an interesting video about the Fermi Paradox.
The Kardashev Scale
The Kardashev Scale is a measurement for worlds of science fiction, providing estimates of technological progress. I have continued the articles with this on specifically on this measure: It’s All About Power.
InsaneCuriosity has produced an interesting video about the Kardashev Scale.
The Drake equation is the foundation for worlds of science fiction, providing estimates of alien civilizations. I have continued the articles with this on specifically on this equation: The Drake Equation
Andrzej Dudnik has produced a nice video that provides a nice summary of the Drake Equation.
What follows is a short excerpt from “Thunder Moon Tussle” my novel. It is available at Amazon.com, click here.
Excerpt from Thunder Moon Tussle
Nils Carmike glanced at his friend Milton Johnson across the table containing a half empty fifth and two covered glasses with straws. They took a seat in the corner of the Conrad Station Hotel Bar to avoid the other patrons.
“It’s quiet tonight,” said Nils.
“Yes, it is,” Milton said. The late night meant that most had departed, leaving only the bartender Alex. He was busy watching the stream of the Ducks and the Avalanche battling a third-period two-two tie. “Even Alex seems bored with the game.”
“Yup.” Nils confirmed again. The skylight from above shined the blue beam of Earthlight onto the bar’s dance floor. The two remaining patrons locked in an embrace in the center of the light, as though they were more than just tourists. Nils noted their awkward movements.
Milton picked up his glass, drawing another taste of the drink through the straw. Nils did so, wishing that he could drink out of a glass in one-sixth gravity. Someone told him once that it had something to do with the surface tension of the liquid overwhelming the gravity. Nils watched Milton savor the liquid. Milton set his drink aside and spoke plainly. “You’re still telling stories to tourists for drinks?”
“It’s better than paying my own bar tab. Have you seen these prices?”
“Still, it’s ridiculous. I hope you’ve retired that silly story of me discovering ice.” Milton grumbled as he drew the back of his hand over the three-day-growth of gray stubble covering his face. Though Nils knew Milton had gray hair, he could not recall him looking so haggard.
“It isn’t you,” remarked Nils.
“Yes, I know.” Milton shrugged. “It’s some guy you named Morgan Johnson. You should at least change the last names. It might confuse some people.”
“I made it up spur-of-the-moment. The people wanted a prospector’s story.”
“It’s kind of stupid.”
“It’s one of the crowd favorites.” Nils answered, wondering about his friend. Perhaps it was his imagination, but he never remembered Milton so disheveled or seeming so irritable. Something was going on.
“I cannot believe you’re still telling that fabrication to tourists.”
“It’s what they enjoy,” Nils replied.
“Regardless, I can’t believe you made up that nonsense.” Milt picked up his glass, “Come-on, I left you an ice sample in a lunch pail?! Then you track my ice down by following my tracks all over the lunar surface!?”
Nils shrugged. “They seem to like it. Besides, Alex wants fun rather than reasonable.”
“It’s silly! You should tell the actual story,” Milton grinned.
“Seriously,” Milton answered. “It would make a far better story.”
This summer, we will witness the beginning of a new era in spaceflight with the launch of the Artemis 1 unmanned mission to space. Like Apollo the Artemis program will enable human landing on the Moon. More importantly, the beginning of long term human activities will create a new opportunity. It will enable us to complete the study of the human body and zero‑G.
Why do I say complete? Admittedly, the International Space Station (ISS) studies of the human body and zero‑G have made a clear picture of the effects on human physiology. It is common knowledge that decalcification of the bones is an issue that is offset with exercise. Less well known is the deformation of the eyeball associated with the blood pooling in the upper body. Least widely known is the fact that many genes shut down while others turn on in minutes of the body reaching zero‑G.
These physiological changes could have even more profound impact over longer duration missions. I worry about the combined effects of these changes to the body for a mission to solar system destinations. A crew that could arrive at their destination crippled, blind, and fighting unknown disorders. I wonder if that crew could be effective. So why is the ISS studies incomplete? The answer is: we don’t know how much gravity is enough. Landing on the Moon will help us answer that question.
Human Body and Zero‑G and One-sixth G
The Artemis 3 mission enables a very useful data set. The day before launch and within the first day after launch, a blood sample can be taken. This has been done in the past for Shuttle and ISS missions. They use the blood to perform a genetic test to determine the genes that have been activated and deactivated as a result of entering zero‑G. The only thing different with Artemis 3 is that a third condition can be tested. Within the first day after landing on the Moon, a third blood sample can be taken. Also, this will enable knowing the genes activated and deactivated as a result of entering one-sixth G.
Having the third data point, a curve will begin to appear. The shape of the curve will give insight into the effects of gravity on the human body. It could be either that the body requires nearly one‑G to be healthy. Or at the other extreme, a very little gravity could be enough to counter the negative effects. Either way, we’ll be getting some of that insight with real data.
After longer missions to the lunar surface have been done, the effects of bone loss and blurred vision will be characterized. Ultimately, we’ll have a means to interpolate between Earth’s one G and the gravity of any destination. It will also give sense of the engineering challenges associated with interplanetary travel. If the Moon’s gravity is sufficient to offset much of the effects associated with the human body and zero‑G, a spin gravity of one-sixth G is sufficient to offset these effects. Engineering such a system is left for another discussion.
A vignette by Torn MacAlester: Sins of the Son
My stories are arranged in a timeline of events. See it here. It is the first story from the aftermath of the Yellowstone eruption. These are related events that take place in the same timeline as my novel, Thunder Moon Tussle, it is available on amazon in paperback and kindle formats.
It is fantastic that the farthest star detected is so far away: 12.9 billion light years. As a result, it is not the first star born in the Universe but it does predate the Sun by 7.9 billion years. Though this star is too short lived for life to evolve, but a dimmer star formed at the same time might have been the location of the first life in the universe. If that life evolved into intelligent civilization within 5 billion years (as it did here on Earth), that civilization would be 2.9 billion years old. What kind of civilization might it be?
Check out my article on the Kardashev scale to imagine the civilization that might be so incredibly old and associated with the farthest star. Could this end up being a class III galactic civilization? Maybe its only a class II stellar civilization? Or the civilization might have died out before it reached class I. The questions abound regarding such a civilization.
Science and science fiction are intertwined. Science does not rule out the fantastic. The universe we live in works according to science, but I find it fantastic.
Did you know that Apollo 14 landed at the planned landing site for Apollo 13? The place is called the Fra Mauro Highlands. The Apollo 14 lander, Antares, landed at Fra Mauro near the Cone crater. Part of the mission required an EVA to the rim of Cone crater to collect samples from inside the crater’s rim. The hope was to collect samples from under the Frau Mauro formation as ejecta from the deep cone crater. Lacking navigation aids such as modern GPS, Shepard and Mitchell missed the rim of the crater as they walked up the hill. After a time, Shepard decided they were close enough and collected the samples.
One interesting additional find from the mission samples is a big rock nicknamed ‘Big Bertha’. It turns out that ‘Big Bertha’ is a piece of granite. It is a meteorite ejected from the Earth in the distant past. Granite, unlike basalt, cannot form without significant amounts of water being present.
Another interesting instrument from the Apollo 14 Lunar Surface Experiments Package is the SIDE (Suprathermal Ion Detector Experiment). It measured the mass and energy of positively charged ions. These result from the solar wind hitting the Moon’s surface.
Recently, Thunder Moon Tussle received a five star review. Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to read my novel. I appreciate all of you. I have a special thanks to Russ J., who provided me a nice review on goodreads.com. He called it “a well-crafted science fiction tale,” and “well written, realistic, and exiting” to describe the story.
I also want to thank the reviewers on amazon.com who have provided their thoughts:
London Marion called it “Exciting”,
TRA called it “Worth Reading”,
and an Amazon customer “really enjoyed this book”.
133 AUTHORS JOIN THE FIREBIRD BOOK AWARD CIRCLE OF WINNERS
October 2021 – Speak Up Talk Radio announced the winners of 2021’s third quarter FIREBIRD BOOK AWARDS contest.
One of the winning entries was from Montana author Torn MacAlester whose book titled Thunder Moon Tussle won in the Science Fiction category.
Authors and publishers from around the world submitted their work to the Firebird Book Awards. Two judges from a select panel of 17 judges read each book in its entirety and independently scored each entry. All judges committed to a set of standardized criteria that evaluates the quality of the writing as well as production aspects. Only entries with the highest of scores were awarded the coveted Firebird.
Patricia J. Rullo, founder of the Firebird Book Awards, says, “ we received nearly double the amount of entries this quarter and we recruited more qualified judges from the publishing and writing world. Our judging panel includes a diverse group who represent a cross section of ages, cultural heritage, race, religion, gender, and experience. At Speak Up Talk Radio, our mission is to offer authors a welcome place to promote themselves and their books via book awards, radio interviews, audiobook production, voiceover marketing tools, and podcasting services. We love to support those who dare to share their innermost thoughts with the world. Just one sentence in one book can very well make a difference in a reader’s life. I can’t think of anything better than that.”
Pat adds, “We’ve included a charitable component to our awards by making all entry fees tax-deductible to the author. In return, we personally make and send handmade fun and colorful pillowcases to women and children in homeless shelters via Enchanted Makeovers, a 501©3 tax-exempt organization. All entry fees fund this project. In this way, authors get notoriety for their work while helping to transform homeless shelters into bright and happy homes. It is a rewarding venture for everyone.”
The Firebird Book Awards run quarterly contests so authors can receive recognition on a timely basis. Authors from all genres, mainstream, independent, and self-published are welcome. For additional winning authors, titles, and entry information: