Tag: Essay

A science fiction hiberation pod

Putting an End to Hibernation in Sci-Fi

Galaxy crossing science fiction space operas are pure fantasy. Sure, we call them science fiction because they have spaceships and plasma rifles, but there is little science in even the most hard sci-fi stories. The term “hard science fiction” is rather new. When Arthur C. Clarke was writing his novels and fashioning one of the most influential movies of all time, science fiction was still just science fiction. In fact, Sir Arthur’s definition of fantasy and science fiction had nothing to do with dragons or spaceships, but human desires and fears.

Science fiction is something that COULD happen – but usually you wouldn’t want it to. Fantasy is something that COULDN’T happen – though often you only wish that it could.

Arthur C. Clarke

When I see a new book or book series promoted as hard science fiction, my gut reaction is that it must be boring. My gut is usually right. Endless exposition on the construction of generational ships, or faster-than-light travel speculation is text ignoring the characters I came to engage. I complained about this dull speculative writing in my review of the Arthur C. Clarke’s work. His masterpieces are his short stories, where limited space forced him to focus on the story’s beat and character development. Anything longer, (Rendezvous with Rama, anyone?) and things became sleepy.

The problem with science fiction is that you can’t have a planet hopping adventure unless you can transport your mortal characters across immortal distances. As a writer of “hard science fiction,” you have three choices: hibernation, warp drive, or a generational ship.

The third option, a generational ship, is the most likely option for human beings to travel the stars. But who wants to read about a hundred years of travel before you get to the center of the story’s action.

For a good story, the second option is the best and does not have to be a warp-drive. Worm holes, space folds, hyperspace, and gap drives are all good options. Hard science fiction ruins it, however, by exploring the time paradox of your hero crossing the galaxy in a few hours, while a loved one and human civilization perishes from old age.

The last is the compromise option. Put your characters in to a deep cryogenic sleep, a generational-type ship crosses the expanse, and your characters wake up to carry-on. Seems a safe bet, but I argue it is the worst option. In my review of Children of Time, I shared how it can go wrong.

This article from universal-sci.com discusses human hibernation and how a deep torpor might be useful for crossing the distance from Earth to Mars. It does not draw any conclusions, but one fact is obvious. No matter how deep you sleep, you age. Which means hibernation is the worst option for a hard science fiction story. Not only did you put your heroes to sleep (boring), they died on the trip to save the world.

Stop with the hibernation chambers already. Sleepy people don’t read books.

There is some good hard science fiction available. All of it ignores the galaxy for our local planetary system. Ben Bova’s twenty-five book The Grand Tour is worth your time, and a study in how to do it. If you can get past the fact that the key to Mark Watney’s rescue, Mars’s thin atmosphere, makes the storm that stranded him impossible, The Martian is excellent.

Mother’s Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is an American holiday. Other cultures have harvest celebrations, but the tone of an American Thanksgiving is unique to history. I drafted this essay after the September 11 terrorist attack, while the Iraq war was still young, and the Afghanistan conflict had failed to capture or kill the 911 masterminds. I published it once in that form, then took it down when the theme felt tired.

Since then I have edited this work for exposition, tone, and theme annually, hoping I would capture the mood of our nation as we endure this extended weekend. I rejected my work every year till 2018. The result was the angst I felt over the undoing of civility the 911 attack ushered in is gone. Missing is a paragraph lamenting the loss of American, Afghanistan, and Iraqi mothers must feel at wars fought over theological ideals that lack humanity. Some angst of separation is still here, hints that modern connected society lacks connection. Cleared of those old notions, the result is short, simple, and heartwarming. Then 2020 happened.

Continue reading

A Rotary Phone

The Gun Lobby and Rotary Phones

When I say the NRA, what do you think? The National Rifle Association, but what does that mean? What do they do?

I am aware of the NRA’s long history, but the NRA of today is not the NRA your grandfather, or father joined fifty years ago. Today’s NRA is the lobbying arm for weapon manufacturers. That is all. They are not a great American organization defending your rights till their hands are cold and dead. They are a lobbyist for a trillion-dollar industry that represents everything wrong with our government.

Through the NRA, gun manufactures managed to tie their product to an amendment of the United States Constitution drafted to maintain a well-regulated militia. By focusing like a laser on the latter clause of that amendment, they managed to create a group of customers that put even Apple fan-boys to shame.

Continue reading

Troy in the Underground Salt Museum

Evolution and Salt

My wife and I visited the Kansas Underground Salt Museum in August (aka the Permian Sea). I mention this because evolution, and the need to deny it, is in the news again.

One of the Republican up-and-comers, Marco Rubio  was asked how old the earth is. He answered that he didn’t know, and that it might have been created in seven days.

The scary fact is that he is not alone. According to the NPR article, forty-six percent, or nearly half, of Americans have a nonscientific belief about the creation of our Universe. My question is why? Why does your God deny you salvation because you accept some proven facts? But wait, it gets worse.

Continue reading

Membership Discount

Annual Membership Savings 🎁

Sign up to Dapper Genius News, receive up to 1/2 off* an annual membership, and keep up to date on my latest releases!

I don’t spam! Read the privacy policy for more info.
* Terms and Conditions apply.

Follow Me

© Troy Williams. All rights reserved. Created by Troy Williams.