1. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Is your world impossible?

    Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by Wreybies, May 22, 2014.

    As everyone knows by now, I've always got the little Sci-Fi theatre on in the background as I work or forum. Ah, the joys of being semi-retired. ;)

    Watching The Chronicles of Riddick right now. The title contains the word chronicles, which brings the film to an immediate 50 out of a possible 100 points, but that's not what I'm on about in this thread.

    A portion of the film takes place in the Igneo System (groan...) on planet Crematoria (kill me now!) and it's this planet that is the final straw in a film I love to hate. A planet is presented to the watcher that is so close to its sun that the sunrise causes a dramatic, explosive, pyrotechnic reaction across the landscape.

    [​IMG]

    Yet, the planet has a breathable atmosphere.

    Why?

    Why in the universe would this place have an atmosphere at all, let alone one breathable to humans?

    This planet is impossible.

    And there are many impossible planets in Science Fiction. In Robert Silverberg's Majipoor series, the planet of Majipoor is described as being rather larger than Earth, but with less gravity because somehow it is "fluffy" inside. Sorry, no.

    Have you written, or are you writing, an impossible planet? Does it matter to you that it be impossible? Is this overlookable to you or no?

    Discuss. :)
     
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  2. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, I for one adore the Chronicles of Riddick and have watched it at least five times :D It's a perfect movie, visually. I always assumed (in the background of my mind) that if the atmosphere was impossible, they must have had some kind of inoculations a la Star Trek to cope with the radiation and low oxygen content, or some such. I assume the Elemental is using some kind of tech for the whole fading out, billowing thing, then you have the Necromongers, they are half-spirits or some combination thereof, by the time I got to world building issues with Crematoria, my disbelief was greatly suspended. What matters most however is that Riddick is gorgeous. A perfect man, imo.
     
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  3. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Someone said that in my little red ridinghood on Mars story - Big Bad Zoof - water couldn't just float off. I lol - ed, I mean really, the characters were mining on Mars for a strange rock, survived dust storms, lived in houses from the bones of dead bugs, could breath the air, and had to wear heavy boots to keep them from floating off. It was all nonsense but the water thing was pointed out. And why did I chose for it to take place on Mars and not some nameless planet? - because I liked the smoky red landscape the word Mars brought to mind. I wasn't out for accuracy just bizarre entertainment.

    That's why I love fantasy more than sci-fi.
    Sci-fi ( no matter how absurd )conforms to existing notions. Fantasy bends them. But sci-fi-ers are strange, they allow certain ideas that don't make any sense like spaceships - they're not economically the most possible - and nail other things like sounds in space.

    I don't know much about science so certain things don't bother me, only logic. Like in Prometheus when they took off their helmuts in the cave that bothered me - especially when I knew they were only taking them off because they were in a movie and didn't want to play the parts with their helmuts on.
     
  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    In truth, I love The Chronicle of Riddick, as a guilty pleasure. The original Pitch Black suffered equally in the the way the planet upon which the story takes place is utterly impossible as a planet where humans could walk around and breathe. I actually think of both of those films, the second one in particular, as performance art. The second film is visually lush and sensual, almost sexual. Riddick is a fetish unto himself. ;)

    ETA: Not surprising at all that The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury was animated by Peter Chung who did the original Æon Flux. That series was always bordering on soft-porn. :)
     
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  5. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    I'm one of those people who looks over impossible things; I care more for the story and characters than to shout out "Hey, that's wrong/can't be done!" This can be hard as a writer, though, because I have to make my worlds somewhat believable for my readers to appreciate it, which is why I had to scrap my sci-fi book - I don't have a clue about science, so I was just writing 'cool' things.

    Like peachalulu, I'm currently sticking to general fiction and fantasy. :oops:
     
  6. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    That's hilarious, @peachalulu. I've been thinking for a while about why it is some impossible things bother people and other equally impossible things don't. But I don't have an answer.

    Maybe there isn't one, maybe it's purely an individual response. Or maybe people can make more sense of some things than others. Unobtainium made more sense to me than the lack of water on Tatooine.

    The floating water was a contradiction and had other issues while the bone houses and breathable atmosphere could be overlooked in a terraformed Mars or a Mars from a different universe.

    I have no idea why some things bother me while I have no problem suspending reality for others. Another one was Contagion vs Outbreak. Neither movie (I didn't read the books) had the progression of a pandemic technically right, but I could overlook that for the sake of the story and the timelines. It was the politics that bothered me. The idea the government would be on a pandemic fast enough to wall people in with some military action was ludicrous in Outbreak. But people with no idea how a pandemic would be detected and spread might more easily buy that story premise.

    In Contagion, it was ludicrous anyone with access to the vaccine wouldn't make sure their families got doses. Of course they would. But the story was realistic how corruption with fake vaccine might occur. And development and production of vaccine was realistic while the stupid idea of finding the source monkey with the miracle antibodies in Outbreak was downright annoying.

    I'm still trying to pin the specific reasons down for suspending belief or balking, but I'm leaning toward it being an individual thing in any case.
     
  7. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    In CoR in particular, I think what made me sort of twist my nose was that the atmosphere is a referenced element in the story, the fact that the underground prison facility needs to raise this vent system in order to refresh the air. Riddick says, "So they do go topside, to swap out air," as he sees his way of escape. Had this not happened, I doubt I would have questioned, but it drew attention to its impossible self.

    [​IMG]
     
  8. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    Not a planet, but I have a vague recollection of a spaceship (The Potato?) in one of Joe Haldeman's books that was larger on the inside than it was on the outside. Impossible, but I think he made it work.
     
  9. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I liked Pitch Black, The Chronicles of Riddick wasn't too bad - but I must say I love Vin Diesel the big hammy hunk. ( Should I even mention I watched all the The Fast and the Furious movies. ) The only impossibility I didn't like about Pitch Black was what the hell were those creatures eating? A zillion bird/bat/things and no other creatures? Just bones to suggest there had been. I know they were cannibals but still, could that even happen could they procreate enough to sustain their numbers.
     
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  10. rhduke
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    rhduke Contributing Member Reviewer

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    I've written about a world with floating mountains. Didn't Avatar have those? Don't remember. Yeah it's impossible but it's such a fun thing to describe. That's what I like most about writing sci-fi, coming up with things we've never seen/experienced and figuring out a way to make it sound plausible to the reader.

    Also Pitch Black is one of my favourite movies.

    Yeah there wouldn't have been that many if they were feeding on each other for centuries. I mean the fossils that were there and the fact the entire planet was sand, makes me believe there wasn't anything to eat for at least.. I dunno, a really really long time. Either the creatures had some kind of super hibernation mode or there was an underground ecosystem. But of course the writer didn't think that far..
     
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  11. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Also, even if there had been life, if there's nothing producing O2 as a waste product, the free O2 will deplete very quickly from the atmosphere. Oxygen is the whore element. It hooks up with everything that will give it the time of day.
     
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  12. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Oh, I so agree with all of this. Except even Vin Diesel couldn't get me interested in Fast and Furious. :p
     
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  13. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Funny thing about Pitch Black, while it was obvious there was an issue with credible food supply, it wasn't important. There was an issue with lack of water on Tatooine, but meh, twas a minor issue.

    The monkey source of magical antibodies in Outbreak ruined the movie for me. I couldn't get past the ridiculous premise. I might have been able to overlook the military quarantines, figuring it wasn't right but maybe some version of military oppression during a pandemic is realistic. But if all we needed were some antibodies from a previously infected animal we'd have a cure for every infection on the planet.

    So, degree and limits to overstepping the bounds of reality appear to matter.
     
  14. Bjørnar Munkerud
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    Bjørnar Munkerud Contributing Member

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    What constitutes "impossible" is, in all fairness, debatable. Especially in fantasy and such where, by definition, there's something going on that can't quite be explained by rules applicable to the real world. Is it even realistic that other "worlds" (whatever that means in each individual story) would have laws of physics identical to our own? Should we expect every other universe not to have gravity, or magnetism, or four dimensions? I don't really know.

    I'm currently writing a science fantasy novel set mostly on a fictional planet, but also on Earth. In one sense they are in two different universes: they are unreachable through normal means (if we could even call spaceships normal), one is magical and the other isn't (one guess which) and they were created in very different ways, but they also feature the exact same physical laws, magic can be used in the exactly same way in both, it's possible (through a portal) to travel between the two, and there even are humans (speaking English!) on the other planet.

    Some of those characteristics would be ridiculous on their own, but considering a magical being (a billions of years old omnipotent goddess) is the instigator to both planets/universes, the story's actually "believable" (except for the fact that it features a billions of years old omnipotent goddess ... ). Considering this, my story is merely a story that features supernatural elements, and is as such "impossible", yet still/otherwise functions inside its own rules. After all, willing suspension of disbelief is one thing, while all-out surrealism is another. We all love plots on this forum (I hope). And to have a plot we need a coherent story that makes sense in its own context. It doesn't, however, have to be real or even have any correlation with how things would actually happen in real life.

    As such I feel like we, in this context, should use the word "impossible" to mean "unrealistic within the framework of its own story". Merely referring all speculative fiction, or possibly all fiction in general, makes the word useless to convey any new meaning. So, if you can't get over the Majipoor gravity inconsitency thing, just forget the "fluffy" remark and decide for yourself that in that universe objects of a sufficient size generate enough of a certain kind of "energy" that makes it's own gravitational pull smaller. There's no logic in not going to whatever extreme necessary to enjoy a story as much as you can, after all. I truly believe that, BTW.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2014
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  15. rhduke
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    rhduke Contributing Member Reviewer

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    Maybe the planet was already "dying". Kind of like how Mars might have lost its atmosphere to become a dusty planet. The vegetation and wildlife may all die, but it would still take some time for the atmosphere to leak out into space. Maybe? meh. Had I stayed in a space science major, I might have actually been able to take a guess at how much time it would take.

    Also it's kind of hard to imagine a planet/moon getting eclipsed in complete darkness, especially since there were all those other planets around to reflect the light from 3 suns, like moonlight. I'm not complaining, I just like thinking about these things :p

    Yeah I agree with this.
     
  16. nippy818
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    nippy818 Active Member

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    I like they way the Universe is described in The Hitchhikers Guide Series it was about a mattress i believe. The Universe is Infinite and thus impossible things can happen. Infinite room to grow infinite possibilities.
     
  17. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Wasn't it about a towel? :p
     
  18. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I recently wrote a novelette about a world that had several different biochemical realms that were utterly incompatible with each other. A frog could live happily in one pond, but if he hops to the next pond over, he might die horribly of how poisonous the new pond would be to him. A storm might produce a nourishing rain over one area, but if a high wind blows the clouds over another region, the rain turns to salts that prevent plants from growing there for years. It even got to the point where, when the characters drilled into a cave, the combination of cave atmosphere with the outside atmosphere produced spontaneous combustion.

    This was fun to write, and resulted in a couple of serious problems for the human explorers.

    So far, though, the story has been rejected by a couple of magazines and is out there with another - I'm waiting for word as we speak.
     
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  19. Robert_S
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    Second of my books takes place on a dune like world. Very little vegetation, but it has enough air for there to be a military training post of 25,000.
     
  20. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Well, it's not so much about a loss of atmosphere as the fact that oxygen will quickly bind out of gaseous state because it is so reactive with other elements and compounds. Even today O2 is only 21% of the gas that makes up the atmosphere. It's been higher in the past, as much as 30%. Earth has had an atmosphere since the very beginning, it just wasn't always a breathable atmosphere for humans. It did not always contain free oxygen and was made up of other gasses.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Oxygenation_Event
     
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  21. rhduke
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    rhduke Contributing Member Reviewer

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    Interesting, thanks for the info
     
  22. AJC
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    AJC Active Member

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    I agree with your line of thinking, though with some caution. Even if your story takes place in an alternate universe with different laws, it should be internally consistent. I've seen plenty of cases where the author violated the logic of his fictional universe, and it makes me think that he didn't spend enough time thinking about what he was writing.
     
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  23. Bjørnar Munkerud
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    Bjørnar Munkerud Contributing Member

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    You must have misunderstood me, because I agree with you.
     
  24. AJC
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    Right, I see that now. I quoted and replied to your first paragraph without reading the rest. My apologies.
     
  25. Bjørnar Munkerud
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    Bjørnar Munkerud Contributing Member

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    No problem.
     

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