How important is the science??

Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by Stephen1974, Sep 26, 2021.

  1. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber Contributor Contributor

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    I haven't read the Venus stories. I liked the Barsoom ones, although if I remember right it wasn't a magic carpet, it was a sacred Apache cave.

    that's fair, yeah, and pulp fiction was more a format than a genre.
     
  2. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    I have a confused half-memory that he wrapped himself up in a carpet or something? And fell asleep and then woke up on Barsoom. I might be confusing it with something else.

    Yes, I do remember it being in a cave where he was pinned down by pursuers, and maybe wild animals as well?
     
  3. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber Contributor Contributor

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    No, I think you might be half-right because there was a magic carpet in the movie. I don't know if you saw that?
     
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  4. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    I did. Actually there was an earlier movie as well, made by the Sy-Fy channel and if I remember right starring Tracy Lords as Dejah Thoris? Not that any of us know who Tracy Lords is of course. And if you look into it there's a long history of attempts to make movies, all of which failed for various reasons.

    But I don't remember the movie very well. Did they fly on the carpet? I just remember him being wrapped in it when he teleported to Barroom. No spell check, I really meant Barsoom. But it's possible in the story it actually got unrolled and used like a more traditional flying carpet?
     
  5. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Senior Member

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    Well, those of us that do, know you misspelled her name. But the only reason I know that is because of her music (also there is another forum where her name is a banned search term and subject for obvious reasons. It was sort of in the forum's initial TOS which I thought was weird but it makes sense not to risk violation of laws).
     
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  6. Thundair

    Thundair Contributor Contributor

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    First, I would ask myself if there are legitimate issues that you could fix. If it is self-published, you could pull it back and make changes. I would try to use beta readers in that genre. I had to pull my book back and get a professional edit. Even after several beta readers and my feeble efforts of correcting everything, I wouldn't worry about the naysayers. They will always be there. Find a positive vibe and ride that out through your carrier. I've had multiple top ratings for my book on Goodreads, Kindle and Online book club but then I got this one..
    Screenshot 2021-09-19 190900.jpg
     
  7. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    I only know of the song she did with the Utah Saints I believe in the Mortal Kombat movie. Pretty good stuff.
     
  8. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber Contributor Contributor

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    not sure.
     
  9. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Ok, I remembered them flying around on something, but now I believe it was a flying ship.
     
  10. SapereAude

    SapereAude Senior Member

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    John Carter was transported to Mars by teleportation.

    Actually, his physical body remained on Earth and his vital essence somehow inhabited or created a new body on Barsoom -- exactly how this occurred was never explained, but that's the way it happened in the books. (Yes, I have read all of them, and I have downloaded all of them from Project Gutenberg.)

    In fact, there's more of a supernatural/metaphysical aspect to it. The first book in the series was A Princess of Mars. From the start of Chapter 1:

    He then recounts the story of running from the Apaches, hiding out in a cave, and then (for unexplained reasons) awakening to find himself paralyzed. Then we get this:

    And then:

    Bottom line: There was no attempt to offer a scientific, or even pseudo-scientific, explanation for how John Carter traveled to Mars (Barsoom). He just did -- and that was that.

    But remember the context of the times. The first book was written in 1912. Spiritualism was growing in popularity in England and the United States, and included not just talking to the spirits of the departed but also physical phenomena such as table tippings. Consequently, I respectfully submit that the mass psyche was prepared to accept (at least on a literary level) the concept of someone basically transmogriphying to Mars. Science had nothing to do with it; it was a metaphysical acceptance.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2021
  11. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    I think the carpet thing came from elsewhere, possibly one of the knockoffs of the Barsoom series. My bad.
     
  12. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Got it! The carpet thing actually comes from one of the first Mars books, called Gulliver of Mars, by Edwin Lester Arnold. Apparently it set the prototype for this kind of story. And the protagonist was wrapped in a carpet and got teleported directly to Mars.

    Obviously some first-rate science there!
     
  13. Chromewriter

    Chromewriter Active Member

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    Gotta say I haven't read the books for John Carter, but the movie was pretty mediocre.
     
  14. Travalgar

    Travalgar Member

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    I'm not, and I'm going to check it out! And sorry if I appeared defensive; I didn't mean to come off sounding twitchy.

    And what have I done? It seems like I've started a John Carter bandwagon. :eek:
     
  15. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Lol that was mostly just me pushing that wagon, and it's over now.
     
  16. QueenOfPlants

    QueenOfPlants Active Member

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    Hm, I think it depends strongly on the scientific knowledge of the reader.
    I have a very good scientific knowledge, so it tends to shatter my suspension of disbelief if something is wildly wrong.

    On the other hand I also enjoy settings like in Star Trek or the MCU, where they just explain everything with technobabble.
    I wouldn't say that implausible science makes something a bad book per se, but it can easily render it a bit silly and embarrassing.

    I think the trick is make it seem AS IF it could work. Unless you're writing for a very scientifically illiterate audience.
     
  17. naruzeldamaster

    naruzeldamaster Senior Member

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    Fictional science is only bad when it doesn't make sense.
    In one of my future projects the magic is rooted in science, the 'glyphs' are mathematical formulas.
    a jet stream of water's formula would be something silly like Fish symbol + Acceleration + mass. (that doesn't make sense, but for the most part they're meant to be silly)
    More powerful spells are actual formulas though, like E = MC Squared for example. I actually need to research some formulas that could be used for spells lol

    My advise is that if it doesn't make sense to you, it likely won't make sense to the reader. So even if you have to use technobabble to explain things do it in a way that sounds logical.
     
  18. QueenOfPlants

    QueenOfPlants Active Member

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    Oh, oh, oh, be really careful with that one! :D
    The mass to energy conversion is extremely effective. You can accomplish that by matter-antimatter reaction, which produces a helluvalot (physics specialist term!) of an explosion.
    Only convert extremely tiny amounts of mass into energy at one time. A nanogram will be enough for most applications.
    For manipulating temperature, pressure and volume of an ideal gas (or, with some compromises any gas that approximates an ideal gas), I recommend the general gas equation. You can switch the symbols around to choose the parameter you want to change.
    But be careful: Deepfreezing or explosively decompressing the air around opponents will end in a messy human sludge on the floor.

    If you want to do transmutations, there are innumerable chemical equations and you can even make up your own. Just take care that the mass is conserved and the number of atoms in each reaction is conserved or you will experience unpleasant side effects like a sudden leak of chlorine gas or the conversion of excess mass into energy (see above).

    Electricity and magnetism can be manipulated with the Maxwell equations (which are a bit more advanced, so only well practiced magic users will be able to cast lightning from their fingertips.

    The master discipline is general and special relativity, with which you could manipulate space, time and gravity. Extremely difficult and advanced stuff. The actual math behind it is expressed in the Einstein field equations.

    If you want to do reality warping, you must of course use quantum mechanics, which has a couple of important equations, for example the Schrödinger equation. But this is a field of magic that is not only dangerous to the integrity of Reality, but also to the sanity of the mind. I recommend against dabbling in these arts. The field is also subject to ongoing research.
     
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  19. naruzeldamaster

    naruzeldamaster Senior Member

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    Oh don't worry, if I ever get around to making the game (just writing the story for now after my current WIP is finished) E= MC Squared will be a very costly ultimate spell, probably the only one in the game that can hit the damage cap.
    I don't want to hijack the thread with this discussion so I'll make a thread elsewhere (maybe in setting development? seems right) but I'd be interested in hammering out some ideas to refine.
     
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  20. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

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    You're talking about the flip phone, right? But we're still a long way from developing a flip phone that can communicate with other systems in orbit hundreds of miles away without the need for cell towers and the like. So Star Trek is still ahead of its time.

    Kurt Vonnegut once remarked that most science fiction writers didn't know squat about science. But they only needed to know a little more than their readership, and hand-wave the rest. Asimov decided that he needed to have interstellar travel in order to tell his story, so hyperdrive was invented from whole cloth. Vonnegut did the same thing in Sirens of Titan, when he invented a power supply called "Universal Will to Become" but he then wrote mockingly of it, as if to let the reader know that it was just a flight of his fancy.
     
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  21. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    But the design of flip-phones was also based on the Star-Trek communicator. In a way it just shows how prescient Roddenberry was (or whoever designed that particular prop). Once again, a science fiction author predicts the future and is damn close to correct. Society largely became Star Trek, everybody walking around flipping open their communicators and able to reach anybody, anywhere on the planet, instantly.
     
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  22. Stephen1974

    Stephen1974 Active Member

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    Indeed. Just like sliding doors was based on Star Wars and the Jedis ability to manipulate objects - at least, thats what I tell myself every time I go to asda.
     
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  23. MartinM

    MartinM Member

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    @Xoic & @JLT

    Flip-phones I agree with both your comments made. Science Fiction does inspire Scientists to invent products from imagination. However, that was not the point in my badly worded scribble for @Stephen1974.

    The reader needs to believe in the technology that underpins the story. It’s about the story and not the tech itself in most cases. The Star Trek flip communicator looked good and felt plausible to the point where you didn’t even marvel at it after the second or third time of use. You are focused on the story.

    I mentioned Battlestar Galactic (BSG) in exactly the same way. The ships in both series having a 1G environment with no explanation is annoying as well as an FTL McGuffin. A good tale will allow these irritants to be glossed over. What really kills Sci-Fi for me is flawed protocols and procedures rather than unimaginable tech. However, this could make a story dull and boring.

    Star Trek is criminal for this, sending out key officers to investigate an anomaly. BSG is significantly better but the use of fighters and the short distance of fleet battles is awful. The writers are literally transporting WW2 Navy Carrier tactics into space. Its ridiculous, but the story is strong enough to overpower this. A good research source is the Atomic Rockets site.

    ALIENS probably hits everybody’s top ten SCI-FI movie/story list. It built on its predecessor’s gritty oil stained low-paying job of working in space in the near future. A rescue mission using bad ass space marines and an observer set off on a very plausible cause. The marines feel and look real with great character building on the ship. The tech all feels real and warn in. The platoon work as a team with individuals having different roles as one would expect to see.

    Here the storyline of Evil Mega-Corp blaming its employee to then finance a military rescue mission seems odd. The subplot is they want the creature for military tech development at the expense of the billions it cost to terraform the planet LV-426. The story now makes no sense at all. Mega-Corp privately believed Ripley and her account of the alien creature.

    Mega-Corp knowing how many eggs they were on the crashed alien vessel (Ripley’s debrief) on LV-426 only sent fifteen or so Soldiers. Kill or capture one creature fine, but with the outpost going dark implies multiple threats. The team itself without any intel jump into a dropship and head straight for the compound…. And so on.

    So, with a weak story and laughable procedures, why is ALIENS loved by such a wide audience? The basic believability of the soldiers and how they interacted with one another. Everything felt too real. Soldiers don’t act and look like stormtroopers, they’re individuals with different traits, grudges, and egos. The tech used feels right, not overpowered but requiring team work. This is the major part of the hook, at no point does the tech become the focus until Ripley climbs into the yellow cargo loader. Its all about the characters trying to survive with internal dynamics a factor.

    Apologies for the length.


    MartinM
     
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  24. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Not really relevant, but this is cool:

    "Leonard Nimoy was fond of telling a story at conventions. He explained to the audience how he was sitting at a table in a restaurant. His cell phone then rang. Nimoy pulled out the flip phone and opened it — much to the amusement of those around him. It was real life mirroring what was once fantasy. The actor laughed when he realized the visual impact of what he was doing. Spock was using his communicator once again."

    Source
     
  25. MartinM

    MartinM Member

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    @Stephen1974

    In your opening point I would also have issues like the reviewers with the book described. I have not read it, but reading the amazon reviews tells a story. It’s a multi-book series so people do like it. Over 2,000 reviews with 65% at 5 stars and only 2% with 1 star or just 41 people think its garbage. Its worth looking at the comments… Good and Bad.

    Many state it’s an interesting concept and cover design. The author has a good and engaging writing style; however, the story makes no logical sense. He as a real following obviously with the number of volumes in the series. People like to read his work. Looking at the basic technology gaffs present I’d probably bet a good portion of his audience read STEAMPUNK/Fantasy as well. The reason why I say this, is as a reader going into the story accepting it’s a different physical world. They’re already willing to accept flawed logic in that reality. I personally have little interest in it, preferring Neal Asher or Alister Reynolds.

    It is obvious he can write in an entertaining way. More Science Fantasy than anything else. This series in a STEAMPUNK world completely works, but probably wouldn’t get the same pickup. The only reason I’d ever read this book is to understand his writing style, that is probably all.

    Just my amateur opinion only


    MartinM
     

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