1. Xeno
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    Xeno Mad and Bitey Contributor

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    Balance Between Planets and Galaxies

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Xeno, Mar 15, 2009.

    Hi, I know the title isn't really going to explain much, but I hope I can get you to understand my problem. My book is a sci-fi book (actually the same one that I came onto the forums almost a year ago to ask about, how long is it going to take me to start it?) with action set in both outer space and on planets. What I want to know is, how could I get the right balance so that both worlds seem huge? I don't want the characters to just go, say,

    "He's on Earth."

    "Ok."

    As if just knowing something's on Earth tells them exactly where it is. Does anyone have any advice on this?
     
  2. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    What do you mean by wanting both worlds to seem huge? Do you mean different planets, or space and Earth?
     
  3. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    The distance becomes apparent when you show how much time is involved to travel between the two locations. If you're talking about a human government, then you can probably bet that Earth will be in the center of it somehow being that it's our home planet. People throughout the other human colonized world's would know of earth, maybe not it's exact location but its existence would be something they would know. Just let the action flow and let the reader know how long it takes to travel.

    For example, even with super high-speed h-space jumping capabilities, it still takes ships in my world several days to cross 100 light years...little bits of information like that go a long way to helping the reader understand the size of your world.
     
  4. Xeno
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    Xeno Mad and Bitey Contributor

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    I guess I should have made it clearer. I mean I want it to have the same sense of scale that we have today, e.g., one planet cannot be defined as one location. Do you get what I mean?
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I'm not really sure what it is you are asking, so I guess you aren't conveying it well even in the form of a question.

    But I'll take a guess. Having your main character locate his friend (Let's call him Waldo)in a busy train station might be difficult. If he could be anywhere on the planet, it becomes mind-numbingly difficult (now think Osama bin Waldo). And yet, a lot of science fiction treats it as if "Waldo's on Ganymede" is enough to track hinm down in the time it takes to fly to Ganymede - which is fine if there is a single habitable bubble there the size of an Old West mining town. But why would a crash site on Dagobar happen to be within a couple miles of Master Yoda's hovel?

    Most SF writers either have no concept of the scale of space, andthe objects scattered throiugh out it, ir they downplay it for the sake of the story's pace.

    The only way I can think to convey scale to te reader is to let the reader experience some of the frustration of dealing with the scale. Scanning a planet for a single life form should NOT take mere seconds, even if it's the only life form to be found. Hell, it may take hours or even days to find a sizeable colony!

    Is this even close to what you are asking?
     
  6. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sorry, couldn't apply the impulsivity-brakes. (At first, I wrote "impulse-brakes" but I was afraid you'd mistake "impulse" for "sub-space" spacecraft engines . . . LOL)

    Like Cog, I'm not sure what the OP is asking. Might want to clarify the question.
     
  7. Xeno
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    Xeno Mad and Bitey Contributor

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    Cogito you are a GENIUS! That is EXACTLY what I'm asking! Thanks for the advice, I'll keep it in mind. :D

    I had planned to just do something like:

    "He's on Earth."

    "Can you be more specific?"

    But I think your idea is much better so thank you very much! :)
     
  8. rory
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    rory Contributing Member

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    Possibly, you could try having each planet divided into quadrants or areas to make searches more manageable? Something like "Captain Soandso, last seen on Earth, Area 3."
    The areas could be as large or small as you like, or maybe have their size based a percentage of the planet size.

    Not sure if that'll be helpful, but I do know what you mean. It's kinda like just saying, Oh I'm from Canada, when more precisely I'm from Alberta, but someone from Africa may not know a place called Alberta exists, let alone that it is in Canada.
     
  9. Vayda
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    Vayda Senior Member

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    You should consider that people do that on Earth today with the planet vs countries. I mean, if you're looking for someone, and I say "John? He's in Italy" does that give you any real indication of where John is? No, of course not. But what's your reaction going to be? "Italy? I'll take the next flight to Rome!" if you need to find him.
     
  10. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Wouldn't they have a longitude latitude system? And a 3d space system using coordinates?

    He was last seen in the Milky Way Galaxy, Alpha 501-230-140, planet Earth, 29 51 57.76N, 31 12 57.51E.

    Or whatever.
     

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