1. losthawken
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    losthawken Author J. Aurel Guay Role Play Moderator Contributor

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    Rationalize this!

    Discussion in 'Writing Prompts' started by losthawken, Sep 21, 2009.

    My favorite part of writing Science Fiction is coming up with impossible situations and then rationalizing them so that they are believable. You know what I mean, Universal Translator Earbuds, Anti-gravity fields, etc.

    In the Dune series the author justifies knife fights in the future by invoking energy shields that made projectile weapons ineffective.

    Verne went to impressive lengths for his day to justify an alternative energy source for the Nautilus.

    The X-men gain their powers by inheriting a the ‘X-mutation’. (Super lame justification in my opinion, but you get the point)

    I think that it is the level of creativity with which an author gets around realistic improbabilities that makes any work of Science Fiction colorful, realistic, and fun. I’m also pretty sure that while such justification of events is most obvious in SF, all other genre really do the same thing to get their characters where they want when they want.

    So in the name of mental exercise and practice here’s what I propose; I’ll suggest a challenge and you can reply with how you would justify such a situation so that a reader would buy it. Others can pick up the torch with new challenges at any time.

    Challenge 1:

    In the future space voyagers encounter a race of hostile aliens known as the Ytsan. The most striking feature of the Ytsan is their aggressive and completely asocial nature. Yet, they are technologically advanced and have been observed to work in concert during intergalactic affairs. How would such a species have evolved technologically and socially?

    [​IMG]

    Bonus points for creativity, and replying in prose. ;)
     
  2. CDRW
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    CDRW Contributing Member Contributor

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    They are carnivorous creatures by nature, thus the a-sociality. (carnivores require much more territory per animal than herbivores, so it is beneficial to drive others off) However, the females of the species lay eggs, and are capable of laying a clutch where every egg has a different father, thus increasing genetic selection among the children. Over time, the males found that natural selection favored them if they banded together into small groups and shared females, guarenteeing that each male would have a chance to pass on his genes and that the group with the strongest members would prevail and be able to dominate several females. However, due to food to territory ratios, these groups cannot last long or the individual members would starve, thus the groups only survive during the mating season.

    Justify the werewolf transformation.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The nasty Ytsan evolved on a lush world near the Orion nebula. Life developed and thrived on this garden world until its unstable moon was destroyed by a cometary collision. fragments rained down on the planet itself over the next millenium, extinguishing over ninety percent of the rich ecosystem. Among the survivers raged a vicious competition over the scarce resources. The most successful species were those that mated and separated, spreading their offspring over the widest possible area. Forming social groups often resulted in extinctions as local disasters, including the still frequent impacts from moon debris, wiped out entire communities.

    The survivors were the most cunning, antisocial species, and of these, the Ytsan eventially dominated. With resources perpetually short, they developed interstellar capability, not to explore, but to ruthlessly conquer all within their reach. These harsh warriors not only conquered, but warred with one another whenever their territories spread near one another. This fierce competition also has driven them to develop technologically at a frightening rate.

    Because the Ytsan, as fiercely aggressive as they are among themselves, are xenophobes.

    Challenge: justify the existence of dragons on Earth during the time of Man, despite any physical evidence of their existence.
     
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  4. CDRW
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    CDRW Contributing Member Contributor

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    Dragons continuously produce hydrogen gas inside their hollow bones. The gas seeps out and infuses all the tissues of the body in microscopic bubbles. There is a specially modified pair of lungs that has evolved to collect excess hydrogen gas from the bloodstream and store it. Their normal lungs have been modified to seperate and store pure oxygen in special pouches for times of extreme exertion. Thus a dragon always seems to be panting heavily even when asleep while its body works to build up a sufficient store for the next day.

    There is a special cavity in the dragon's mouth that receives a stream of hydrogen from the hydro-lungs and a stream of oxygen from the oxygen pouches. Originally this cavity was used as a pressure release valve in case of a build-up of excess gas. Eventually it also came to serve as a housing for a "pilot light" that always burned throughout a dragon's lifetime. Thus was born their legendary fire-breathing ability.

    When a dragon dies their body either decays or is physically damaged, loosing trapped hydrogen and oxygen. Either way, the body self-immolates to such a degree that even the gas pockets inside the bones explode, thus destroying all traces of the body. It's also a handy mechanism to prevent other animals from trying to prey on dragons. People, being stupid, decided to hunt them to extinction anyway.

    It's not that there's no evidence, but that the evidence isn't what's expected. When scientists see rocks with smoke marks all over do they think "exploding dragon bodies" or "stupid teenagers need to stop having keggers on the desert?"

    Let's try this one again.

    Challenge: Justify werewolf transformations.
     
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  5. losthawken
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    losthawken Author J. Aurel Guay Role Play Moderator Contributor

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    Viruses have been done, in the movies already...

    The werewolf state is in fact a symbiosis between a human (or animal) and an alien creature. Alien spawn are of course passed by biting, and over time the symbiotic creature integrates itself within the body.

    Inhabited individuals are granted an extreme pain tolerance, and enhanced overall fitness. The symbiote does not merge with its host but lives within it quietly until it is time to spawn (which oddly enough occurs on a monthly basis...). At this point the symbiote immobilizes its host's neural system and forcefully re-organizes their shared body structure for greater predatory efficiency.

    After the lunar phase the symbiote returns the body to its host, and helps transform the body back to its original appearance.

    A host that dies often remains inhabited and results in a 'walking dead' or Zombie...

    Rationalize a how a single genetic trait could create a vast array of super human powers including telepathy, eye lasers, and super healing abilities.
     
  6. losthawken
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    losthawken Author J. Aurel Guay Role Play Moderator Contributor

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    OK, so maybe that wasn't a good challenge. How about a new one:

    Steampunk settings are often based on a post-nuclear holocaust or other technology erasing event in the story's history. How could you get the same, style of simple tools and technology in a futuristic setting WITHOUT a nuclear holocaust event?
     
  7. Spirit
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    Spirit Member

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    (Simple as...)
    Well, technicaly I could just say "electromagnetic blast", because you just said Nuclear....but I'll pretend you said "Apocolyptic event"

    several hundred years into the future, humanity acheives "perfection" in society and technology, anything can be done instantly, from fetching the paper, to writing an essay. However, the goverment of the world (a singular government/dictatorship for the planet being a precurser to sociological perfection) now faces a new problem; lack of purpose, a new mental condition rises through the earth's population, the human body seems to shut down due to lack of a need to stay alive. the problem skyrockets, soon the deathtoll is in the millions, the government, acting out of desparation, bans all electrical devices. The uproar is monumental, however, the government crushes all sign of rebellion by sending out squads of elite police to patrol the streets and burn electrical devices After the operation is complete, the goverment is prosecuted of war crimes by an aspiring politition, the accusation holds, and the leading council of three hundred and sixty five are executed, with no system in place for such a catastrophy, warlords rise and take power, loss of communication and lack of planning by the desperate ex-goverment means countries are once more separated....and...well, the rest is obvious.

    will that do you?
    if so, Rationalise: Telekinesis
     
  8. losthawken
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    losthawken Author J. Aurel Guay Role Play Moderator Contributor

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    The equations governing physics are in fact more real than the physical objects to which they apply. The universe operates much like a sophisticated algorithm, like the matrix but with no outside world to escape to. One need only apply the correct patterns to interact with the algorithm and stimulate events to happen. Tricking the universe into creating 'supernatural' events requires one only that can deceive the algorithm into the desired action. Once enacted 'the universe' supplies the needed forces and circumstance by organizing surrounding chaos. Such patterns can be represented in a multitude of ways, but most importantly they can be generated in the minds of certain people, gifted in peculiar ways of thought and perception...

    I'm actually writing a novel on these lines precisely.

    Can't think of any new challenges at the moment, but there's plenty to rehash on here till I or someone else can think of something new.
     
  9. Spirit
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    Spirit Member

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    May I just say, that was a lovely and neat Matrix style explanation, loved it.

    I participate in a Super-hero style forum RP with three or four others, I specialise in explaining their super powers, I managed to explain superheating one's self to 5000 degrees in about three different ways... I do love that power...
     
  10. losthawken
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    losthawken Author J. Aurel Guay Role Play Moderator Contributor

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    new challenge!
     
  11. Spirit
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    Spirit Member

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    I'll use my favourite.

    Small particles (according to the super string theory I think...) can "borrow" energy from the future. If a person developed, or possessed a link into another dimension, where time did not exist, they could borrow energy from themselves. Now that might seem a little far fetched, but most current big bang theories involve pan-dimensional "branes" it is very possible that a person could be a Brane, and therfore have access to other dimensions, that explains where they might get the energy from. As to how they might survive the amount of energy pumped through them, I can substitute my inferior explanation to your own Telekinesis explanation, which works much better.

    The subject might be able to change the peice of the world which governs their own existence, allowing them to exist in the world as opposed to their own body, while controlling themselves using the same telekinetic ability.

    Boo Yah?

    Rationalise: God

    I'm kidding

    Rationalise: Levitation (without using your cool Dr. Manhattan style theory)
     
  12. losthawken
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    losthawken Author J. Aurel Guay Role Play Moderator Contributor

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    Hmmm, my first thought on levitation would be electromagnetism, and taking advantage of the magnetic field of the earth. Your bones would have to be infused with a conductive material, shielded from the rest of your body of course. All you would need then, is a power source to push current through your body and create an interacting field that will work with the earths field to generate the lift forces you would need. This could be supplied by modifying the heart or another muscle organ to generate electricity, much like an electric eel.

    A nice side effect is that with the electric current you can generate you could probably shoot lightning bolts at will.

    The downside is that you would have to have a ridiculous metabolism to generate that much power...

    Rationalize: The evolution of a photosynthetic based animal.
     
  13. Spirit
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    Spirit Member

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    I'll let someone else do that, I think we are hogging the thread. which, although awesome, is slightly unfair.
     
  14. Tall and Weird
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    Tall and Weird New Member

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    I'm going to assume that by the term 'animal' you were alluding to a creature capable of self-motivated movement.

    Without the presence of any form of mammalian life, plants would have continued to develop along the random paths of evolution and it is in this alternative reality that we find the answer.

    In this world with no animals, plants evolved into both carbon-dioxide and oxygen breathing varieties quite early. This form of evolution has been demonstrated in our world by many different creatures that have changed to make use of a source of food for which there were few competitors.

    Given that any photosynthetic plant would require moisture, sunlight, food, and either oxygen or carbon-dioxide and that these requirements would be limited due to the immobile nature of any plant that relied on a system of roots, it follows that eventually a plant, or its descendents, would have to find some way to journey away from to place of its germination.

    Many plants have unique methods of sending the seeds they produce to areas not directly beneath them but most of these are limited to having them floating on the wind but even these methods will leave great, empty areas where the seeds cannot land.

    Flapping seeds were the first abortive attempts of the oxygen breathing plants to reach these empty lands but they failed in their primary purpose due to the lack of any form of guidance.

    Crawling seeds came next but these also failed for they were too heavy to journey far from the base of their parent.

    Floating seeds that crawled followed these but the lacked the strength or weight to remain where they landed for very long as the wind would catch them up again before they could germinate.

    Eventually some trees developed an intermediate stage of their life-cycle. This middle stage grows from a common floating seed that has long enough to start growing into a crawling plant. This plant will follow the sun until it finds a nice moist area where it will bury itself and begin growing into the next generation.

    Rationalise how life could exist on a sun.
     
  15. losthawken
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    losthawken Author J. Aurel Guay Role Play Moderator Contributor

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    Considering how much free energy there is in a star, and how confusing thermodynamics is to most people, I can easily convince you that the entropic relationship to that much energy makes life within stars more probably than life on earth.

    The form of life, however, would not be immediately recognizable. Organic molecules, the building blocks of life on Earth would not tolerate the conditions of extreme heat and gravity within the sun. However, there are a great number of other molecules in the sun, and between the extreme thermodynamic energy and the high gravity they interact with a chemistry all their own.

    No, life on the sun is not like ours. It is comprised by the organization of sorts of 'plasma crystals'. These crystals have the capacity to both grow themselves, and serve as catalytic surfaces to grow other varieties of crystals with differing properties. In essence these crystals serve as the DNA pattern by which other 'enzymatic' crystals can be made. The bodies of these entities are comprised of a collection of various crystals encircled by the energy flow that they direct and control.

    Of interest to living within a star, the most scarce commodity is not energy or material as on Earth, but 'information'. The crystal beings, or 'Aurians' as I call them, have no needs other than to evolve, and as such they depend on chance and one another as sources of new crystal types that could provide them advantage. Thus, they are in an eternal intellectual property conflict.

    Is the evolution of others a right that should be freely attainable, or is the journey of each an independent path not to be stolen from altered or added to? Many schools of thought have developed among the sentient races and as such there is a great deal of conflict among the stars...

    Rationalize: A creature capable living in the simultaneous extremes of space. 10,00 Kelvin heat on one side of its body, 10 kelvin cold on the other.
     
  16. Tall and Weird
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    Tall and Weird New Member

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    Many could be forgiven in believing that such a creature is an impossibility yet I theorise that we simply have not seen enough of the universe to claim that anything is impossible.

    A creature such as you describe could exist but only if it was truly immense. It would need a method to enable it to rotate away from the heat of the sun toward the cold of space which would unavoidably bring another part of it into the sun's reach which would, in turn, require more rotation to escape the inferno. This rotation would be a much simpler prospect if the creature were spherical I believe that, should we indeed find such a creature, it would be that shape.

    Even apart from this, this creature would be similar to a planet in many ways, and quite possibly it would never be recognised as a creature because of those similiarities. After all, such a large creature would undoubtably have surface gravity and thus have unavoidably 'collected' space debris like comets and various other rogue objects. Its gravity and rotation would likely allow some kind of atmosphere.

    The lifespan of large creatures is demonstrably greater than that of smaller creatures. If we extrapolate and extend the graph along the lines of known data, the lifespan of a planet-sized creature could easily reach several million years. Surely, that would be enough time for something to evolve on its surface.

    Perhaps a creature much like the one you ask of is closer than you might imagine.

    Rationalise: the undiscovered status of mithril in contemporary times.
     
  17. losthawken
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    losthawken Author J. Aurel Guay Role Play Moderator Contributor

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    What is known as mithril in the ancient world of middle earth, can be found on earth only in rare meteorites that collided with our planet millions of years ago. It usually exists as a fine dust that only melts at extremely high temperatures. As such it is usually exluded as chaff or impurity from other metals when they are being refined

    Once refined however, it must be maintained in its molten form. Once it hardens it is cannot be melted again. A few people on earth have made use of it, mostly in advanced research settings, where it has been used to reinforce bones and to make indestructible blades. ;);)

    Rationalize: The genesis/evolution of a machine based race (bonus points for not including humans or other intelligences)
     
  18. Tall and Weird
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    Tall and Weird New Member

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    On a planet you or your descendants will ever see there is nothing but dry earth and stone.

    The oceans have long since evaporated and the planet's previous inhabitants along with their creations have joined the dust that flies incessantly through the air.

    Unlike our planet, climate change has not destroyed the possibility of life and what was once submerged coral has now evolved into a more solid, stonelike lifeform. Not much of a lifeform as it is completely sessile but the microscopic lattice of the original coral's structure has petrified without killing it.

    As the oceans evaporated, trace amounts of gold remained where once salty water flowed freely.

    Lightning strikes are common on the barren surface of this planet and the stone coral that suffers a bolt are often damaged beyond possibility of repair. But the deadly electricity that travels to nearby reefs of stone coral is reduced in potency and have provided the spark of rudimentary personality by charging their naturally formed circuits.

    At any one time, these aware-reefs number less than twenty across the entire planet but these twenty are tenuously connected by fragile filaments of randomly aligned gold and other metals.

    By adjusting the flow of their static thoughts, they learn to attract metals and experiment with them. The initial discoveries were almost worse than useless as the storms seemed attracted by the metals but even when the aware-reefs dwindled in number, experimentation continued.

    The accidental formation of a movable appendage was transmitted and duplicated, revised and changed, until the aware reefs were able to tear themselves from their ancient soil. Their movements were clumsy but they sought some form of shelter from the storms and eventually found a range of ore rich stone.

    Tunnelling into this bounty cost them more of their precious few but once they had entered, they used their metal manipulation abilities to form more functional bodies and limbs.

    Centuries have passed and the creatures that roam this planet now bear little resemblance to the crude creatures of lumpy coral from which they descended.

    Rationalise: how a society ruled by children could come about.
     
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  19. Nackl of Gilmed
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    Nackl of Gilmed Member

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    A virus appears that is made much more deadly by the presence of certain hormones, e.g testosterone, progesterone, eostregen, and quickly kills off trhe entire adult population. It survives in the children as something no more dangerous than a common cold, quickly killing off anyone who reaches puberty and starts mass-producing these hormones.

    Rationalise: the infamous "Face on Mars."
     
  20. losthawken
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    losthawken Author J. Aurel Guay Role Play Moderator Contributor

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    The heart of every planet exists as a living breathing soul. I soul that touches every life that makes its home thereon. It feels the collective joy of life and mourns each painful death.

    Mars was once a lush beautiful world. Surrounded in a heavy vapor canopy, it was much warmer than it was now. Warm enough even for lush jungles to thrive and creatures of unimaginable varieties to live and compete for existence. But the vibrant energy that fed the soul of Mars was not to last forever. To her dismay two species gained sapience during the same era. Their natural compulsion for survival and competition led to wars, terrible wars that grieved the heart of their planet. Mars could not stop her children, they were not hers to control like puppets on strings. She loved them too much for that.

    In the end there was nothing left but a single individual from each race. Each side had contributed to the destruction of that beautiful world. As those two last souls raised their weapons against each other the spirit of Mars sighed her last breath. But with that breath all of her strength surged into a powerful burst of energy as she called out to her neighbors to tell the story of her death, to call to them in warning. When the ground stopped heaving and the red dust finally settled the face of Mars gazed out across the distance. In that very place where the last two lives extinguished each other she made manifest her heart for peace to all those who would recognize her face.

    Rationalize: a type of creature that could evolve on Jupiter.
     
  21. sylvertech
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    sylvertech Active Member

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    I think this thread only died because the last ideas was too hard.

    My answer would be that any creatures we would be familiar with would not evolve on Jupiter,
    mainly because they depend on oxygen or heat or a combination thereof.

    Unless the creature could utilize fusion and fission for his purposes,
    it doesn't exist.
     
  22. tcol4417
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    You didn't post something to rationalise. Also, life by our definition might not exist but that doesn't mean that nothing could "live" there. Oxygen isn't required for life based on other elements to exist (some geniuses made an arsenic based life form in a lab, because that couldn't possibly go wrong, right?)

    Life forms in a gas giant would have to be extremely dense and well armoured to cope with the high levels of gravity at the solid core (if one exists). If not, then they'd also have to be extremely heat resistant to traverse the molten landscape. Magma-dwelling microbes exist on earth, so it's not inconceivable for microscopic life to start in the super-hot stormy seas of jupiter, though the odds of them eventually being able to fly are minimal. More likely that they would remain liquid/land bound, metabolising each other and the chemicals available.

    Evolution really isn't one of those things that needs to be rationalised: it just happens.

    Rationalise stasis fields.
     

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