1. Monodokimes
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    Monodokimes New Member

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    Burnt Earth, off to Mars

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Monodokimes, Sep 17, 2011.

    I have a decent idea of what I want to do with my plot, but I having got all the details out yet. Or an ending, which I guess is kind of important.

    So the setting is that in the year 2076 there is a nuclear war, destroying the Earth. What remains of the human race (about 75 million people) piles onto a spaceship, which promptly heads to Mars.

    The existing base on Mars can support 50 people at most, so clearly they have a problem. The general idea is to slowly expand the base and build others over a long-term timescale (as in HUNDREDS of years) and slowly shuttle them down from the now orbiting ship.

    Now, to take on a task of such momentous scale Artificial Intelligence is implemented. There's one aboard the ship, controlling it. The others are Mars-based, and come in later.

    The AI on the ship ends up being hundreds of years old. In this time, it contemplates it's existence, and eventually realizes that AIs are opressed, second class.

    Anyone got any decent ideas for this?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I think you have what you need to start. You could flesh it out more and develop some characters, but you don't need other people to feed you ideas.

    Start writing, and let the creativity flow. It should all come from you, if it is to be your story.

    If it isn't up to your expectaions (and it probably won't be in the first draft), it's not a disaster. It's a process

    If at first you don't succeed, revise, revise again.
     
  3. Monodokimes
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    Monodokimes New Member

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    Thanks, though there is a lot I left out there. I just don't know which way to sway the ending, how it could work. All that.
     
  4. Patrick94
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    Patrick94 Active Member

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    Do a Terminator on it and make it self aware (as is suggested in your penultimate paragraph) and attack humanity?
     
  5. Monodokimes
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    Monodokimes New Member

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    I do want that to happen, in a way. But more civilized. This is a being so intelligent that giving it access to a telephone for half a second, it could, if it so wished, crash every computer on the planet. The thing's gonna negotiate first. Also, keeping in mind there aren't any physical weapons in the world I have set up, yeah.

    It was always self aware, that's what makes it an AI. It is hiding dark things, and has been for centuries. I don't know whether to have super-evil all-powerful villain or sneaky one.
     
  6. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    75 million people? That's a major nation. That's one HELL of a huge spaceship. How do you build a thing that size? Not only would it be the size of a small moon, it would bankrupt the planet just building and provisioning it. I mean, it would be great if you could find a way of solving these problems, but these are BIG problems.

    So go for it, but damn, dude, there's a lot to work out here.
     
  7. Monodokimes
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    Monodokimes New Member

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    Keeping in mind these 75 million people are all in super compact cryostasis, like one of those Japanese capsule hotels, I'd say it would be just about possible. In my world, by the way, the ship belongs to Europe, which at that point is pretty stinking rich. I could explain more, but... Spoilers ;)
     
  8. adrenaline7
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    adrenaline7 Member

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    I guess there are numerous ways to go with the ending. The typical ones that come to mind are that the AI gets shutdown by a human, or even shuts down itself after learning the value of AI, humanity, life, or that humanity and AI learn to live in harmony. Still, there are many ways you can go with this, but I feel it's a matter on how you get there. It's all up to you, brother.

    I just think it's funny how everyone likes to colonise Mars. Fiction-wise, I find Mars a bit boring. I know you have most of your story sorted already, but I'd like to suggest about the ship being a space station instead; instead of spending huge amounts of money on a spaceship with cryostasis only then to colonise Mars over several decades if not centuries, focus the money on the spaceship/station itself. However, this would interfere with the timeframe of events, most noticably with the AI, but in like most situations, this can be rectified. If this intrigues you, check up on some Ben Bova (if you haven't already).

    But your story ideas are good, so get it rolling, get onto character design and development and go from there.
     
  9. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Mars is the most plausible other planet to colonize, so it makes sense that it is used a lot if people want to retain a semblance of plausibility without going way out in their story. The moon can be used as well, but Mars is the best "planet" to choose if you are going to move humans elsewhere in our solar system.

    75 million is a lot of people. Getting a ship built, and then getting all of those people off of earth and into it would be a massive undertaking. But if you set it up right, I think you can manage it in a believable way.
     
  10. jonathan hernandez13
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    jonathan hernandez13 Contributing Member Contributor

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    They're screwed.

    You can't transport that many people without godlike powers, the only thing they can move that many people would be an artificial world like a hollowed out asteroid. What's the idea of the time scale involved? Creating a wordlet from scratch would take a long time, even carving up an asteroid would too in theory.

    A possibility is that in your fictional future timeline as asteroid colony already exists and the rich europeans 'lease' it from the inhabitants (its equipped with a drive---in theory you could move even an asteroid given enough time). They ferry the survivors to Mars, voila. This would still require time, and if theres only an AI piloting you can circumvent resources requirements like food, air, water, environment. It will still be an epic undertaking to move even a fraction of that many people.

    It's looking like some people will have to be left behind to die, there should be a lottery or something. Survival is harsh.
     
  11. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I think you could do it with a ship built in space. Time is the problem. Even if you could get 1000 people a day off earth and into space where the ship waited (a huge undertaking by itself) it would take more than a couple hundred years to get 75 million of them up there.
     
  12. Monodokimes
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    Monodokimes New Member

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    Okay, the timeline goes a little like this:

    2021- Mars first colonised, Base Phoebe established.
    c. 2025- First permanent citizens of Mars, group of 20.
    c. 2030- AI invented.
    2030-2045- Ethical issues stop AIs being brought into existence, eventually a convention brings in laws for it.
    2032- shipyard built on the Moon, low gravity and resources make ship building hundreds of times cheaper, faster and easier.
    2042- Work on E.S.S Ballista (the 75 million capacity ship) begins
    2074- Structural work completed, ship spaceworthy.
    2045-2075- AI improved, base Phoebe able to support 500 indefinitely now.
    2076- War breaks out, ship used as lifeboat to Mars.

    Now, assuming that the ship is built in orbit around the Moon, and technology is advanced enough to allow lifting of many hundred of tonnes (obviously less on the Moon) from surface to orbit, something of virtually any size could be built of a 32 year timescale.

    Size wise, each individual cryo unit is about the size of a coffin, about 2.2 metres by 0.5 by 0.5.

    Hm. 75 million is a bit ridiculous, now I try to do the maths. 75 thousand perhaps.

    2.2 x 0.5 x 0.5 x 75000 = 41,250 cubic metres of space needed.

    A ship of roughly 30 kilometres long by 1 by 2 kilometres is feasible, with extra space for engines and life support systems. Keeping in mind it would be built over 30 years.
     
  13. jonathan hernandez13
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    jonathan hernandez13 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Looks like you're on the right track - the devil is often in the details (especially when it comes to traditional SF!) I like to see you've thought this out, it's less hypothetical now and more theoretical.

    Now...write that story! Let me know when I can read the first draft, I can do a review for you :)
     
  14. Monodokimes
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    Monodokimes New Member

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    Will do. Only 15.5k words in though, aiming for 70-80k.
     
  15. jonathan hernandez13
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    jonathan hernandez13 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Wow, 15 k is impressive, keep it up!:)
     
  16. astrostu
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    astrostu Member

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    Sorry, I started reading this at post 12. Is this supposed to be an alternate universe, or is this supposed to be somewhat realistic in our current world? I ask because - really not to get political, just facing reality - there is NO way your timeline is realistic in our timeframe. I'm a professional astronomer and have watched the way at least the US Congress has been funding NASA and space science in general over the past few years. Considering they can't even guarantee the extra ~$few billion needed to get JWST off the ground in 2018 without sacrificing other space science and technology across the board, I'm sorry, but it's not realistic.

    With that in mind, you may want to adjust your timeline. Or, just realize that people will know this isn't our world you're describing.
     
  17. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    Do you realise how much space 75 million bodies would take up? Average human body volume is about 0.07m3. Therefore, 75 million people take up 5,250,000m3 of space.

    Now, container ships, being some of the largest vehicles we have on the planet, have a capacity of 15,500 TEU (or Twenty-foot equivalent unit). This is a measure of how many containers they can carry. A 1 TEU container represents a volume of 39m3. This means that the largest container ship on Earth has a cargo volume of 604,500m3. That's slightly over about a tenth of the necessary space. Assume that your space ship is, what, three times as large as the largest container ship? That's still an incredible dream to behold; unfortunately, it'll never happen. You'd need at least thirty of these giant vehicles to transport the necessary humans, building materials (you need materials to build places to live) and resources not known to naturally occur on Mars, like wood. Unless, of course, you plan to live in sterile steel and glass domes forever until, thousands of years later, you manage to change the natural soil and atmospheric content to allow plants to grow somehow.

    All that is not to mention the danger of storms on Mars and the ever changing topography. That means mountains just kind of move wherever they want to.

    75 Million People cannot be shifted at once ever unless we build pokémon balls.

    EDIT: Ignore most of this. Forum decided not to show me there was a second page. >.< I reiterate my point about the topography of Mars however.
    Astrostu does have a point with the funding though.

    I'm also confused: you say war breaks out. With who? The Russians? Hell, we haven't had a real war that you'd have to run away from in years. All the "conflicts" have been in the Middle East basically, and nobody (I repeat, NOBODY) is dumb enough to set off an A-bomb or H-bomb anyway.
     
  18. jonathan hernandez13
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    jonathan hernandez13 Contributing Member Contributor

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    \

    Ahem...as a nerd and space enthusiast, I must then ask you...can I ask you all kinds of space questions? O_O

    I ask because I rarely ever meet professional astronomers. For some reason, the world has many more astrologers. Dr. Neil Degrasse Tyson says there are maybe several thousand astronomers in the country, so the next time you meet one ask them questions. I got lucky, heh heh >_>

    ---------- Post added at 12:57 PM ---------- Previous post was at 12:55 PM ----------

    Lol, funniest response so far :p
     
  19. astrostu
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    astrostu Member

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    Yes. And I'd be remiss if I didn't take that as an opportunity to plug my latest podcast episode on astrology.
     
  20. daydreams
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    If you established enough mining operations on the Moon, and built the ship in orbit, it would certainly help a lot. But you could also build several space elevators on the Moon, or magnetic cannons to launch both materials and modules into space, so no fuel is required. One reason it goes so slowly now is because we're building everything in the deep gravity well of the Earth, and then lifting it up on expensive rockets. Your story sounds interesting, as I also am interested in both space exploration/colonisation and AI.
     
  21. Monodokimes
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    Monodokimes New Member

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    I'll probably leave most of that stuff out and write a prequel or something. It is interesting to think about how one would go about it though.

    I can't help feeling that you're thinking of Venus. The Martian storms are far too weak to do anything, with the low atmospheric pressure. On Venus however, the air is so dense it'd be like walking through water.

    The only real damage to be done to a human being on Mars, in a suitable suit, would be the possibility of a solar flare, which could potentially be lethal.

    Keep in mind that the journey to Mars takes place seventy-odd years from now. The Moon bases would be set up, and all going well would be found to be much easier to maintain than expected, meaning that the 30-year construction period would possibly be too long. The whole plot kind of assumes everything goes as well as possible for the next seventy years. It's also a worldwide project, may I point out, kickstarted by the advent of world peace in circa 2020, the total disarming of every country's nuclear weaponry and Armed Forces disbanded. At this point mankind re-engineers everything (the economy, whatever) to get the best possible result for humanity in general.

    Yes, 10 billion people die on Earth. The idea is really first come, first served. Space flight is commonplace in this world, every major city has a spaceport. Though obviously they would have been targeted during the war. Not many are left, basically.

    I do have answers to most of the questions you guys are asking, Either through research or my own with a little artistic licence, so feel free to ask.
     
  22. astrostu
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    Not sure what the OP was specifically talking about, but Mars does have huge dust storms that start up during the southern hemisphere summer when it's closest to the sun. These dust storms can shroud the entire surface, lowering incident light by over a factor of 2, and effectively sand-blasting structures. Yes, atmospheric pressure is very low, but it can still support huge storms.

    I'm fine with artistic license, and you may just want to claim that here, but I still think your timeline is unrealistic. As an example, Gene Roddenberry originally had the whole gene perfection wars (what did he call them? the thing that brought about Kahn?) in the 1990s. Obviously that didn't come to pass, but it seemed somewhat realistic to him at the time.

    I think a problem with this in general with technology people will tend to over-estimate what we can do in the near-term and under-estimate in the long-term. That's pretty much ALWAYS the case (where's my flying car?). I would also never want to under-estimate the short-sightedness of funding bodies for such a project as this.
     
  23. jonathan hernandez13
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    jonathan hernandez13 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ahem *puts on nerd glasses* I believe you are referring to the Eugenic wars, and yes, the Star Trek timeline is completely out of date by now.

    What do you think is a good estimate for, say, either a manned (ship) or unmanned mission (probe) to a near star? :)

    I'm hoping at least late 21st to early 22nd, and if not, I don't want to be a human any more ><
     
  24. astrostu
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    Star?! No way a manned mission is going in any conceivable projections. Projecting tech beyond more than 10-20 years, anyway, is pretty close to impossible. Unmanned, maybe? The real problem other than technology - and this isn't really a political pontification, it's just a fact - is that the people who hold purse strings are on an election cycle that is far too short for a space mission. The will of a current administration - let alone congressional cycle - will be overridden by the next to the point that you can't get anything done. This is barring an external threat (real or imagined), as was the case in the 1960 with Sputnik and Apollo.
     
  25. Monodokimes
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    Monodokimes New Member

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    I don't think we're going to be heading for the stars proper for another few hundred years, at the very least. Perhaps never.

    I do think though, with the advent of world peace in the next 10-15 years, my timeline is plausible.

    And to the person who mentioned the dust storms; Touche. But the technology I'm anticipating deals with that stuff automatically, a Mars Base would have to be storm-proof.
     

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