Worlds of Science Fiction

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.

Drake Equation

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.

 

Thunder Moon Tussle (Excerpt)

Introduction

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

Prologue

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.

 

“You’re kid­ding?”

 

“Seri­ous­ly,” Mil­ton answered. “It would make a far bet­ter story.”

The ridicu­lous sto­ry that Mil­ton is ref­er­enc­ing is called “Mor­gan’s Road”.  It is free to read and down­load, here.

The Third Data Point

Introduction

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.

Sins of the Son — a vignette by Torn MacAlester

Short science fiction by Torn MacAlester

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 Tus­sleit is avail­able on ama­zon in paper­back and kin­dle formats.

Pho­to by Nick Wehrli from Pex­els

sins of the son

The Farthest Star

Short science fiction by Torn MacAlester

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.

 

 

Apollo 14

Short science fiction by Torn MacAlester

Pho­to by Bri­an McGowan on Unsplash

 

 

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.

Read More about Apol­lo 14 here: Sci­ence of Golf and Outgassing

 

 

 

Video of Mis­sion by Home­made Doc­u­men­taries:

Science of Golf and Outgassing

Thunder Moon Tussle received a Five Star Review

Short science fiction by Torn MacAlester

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:

https://www.speakuptalkradio.com