1. Meteor

    Meteor Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2012
    Messages:
    125
    Likes Received:
    17
    Location:
    Maryland

    Sci-fi Fantasy on a "plane"?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Meteor, Apr 10, 2016.

    Hello everyone and thank you for taking the time to read this post.

    So like the title says I was wondering your opinions about stories that involve planes rather than globes. Flat Earth versus sphere Earth I guess is the simplest way to break it down. I was just mulling through the further reaches of my imagination and thoughts when I came up with the idea. There aren't a lot that I know of to be honest so I wanted to ask what you guys think about the idea. Would it be possible to make this setting work? I went on and did some digging before I came to ask the question and its some interesting stuff. While I'm not inclined to agree with the idea I have to admit, our modern laws of physics put the existence of such a universe in the realm of possible outcomes. Your thoughts?

    Thank you again for taking the time to look at this post and I really look forward to any responses.
     
  2. plothog

    plothog Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2013
    Messages:
    654
    Likes Received:
    531
    Location:
    England
    The Discworld series is set on The Disc, which is a flat world (sat on the back of four elephants, sat on a turtle.)
    It's only occasionally relevant to the stories, but it works just fine as a light fantasy setting.

    I'm less sure if it'd work if you try to base it on science rather than magic.
    In our universe, gravitational forces pull planets into spheres.
    Maybe a universe with different physical laws could produce a flat planet, though I don't know what effect those laws would have on everything else.
    Maybe your theoretical science abilities are up to producing something convincing. (Mine certainly aren't.)
     
    jannert likes this.
  3. jannert

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    8,970
    Likes Received:
    8,668
    Location:
    Scotland
    It might be possible, in a sci-fi world, to have living platforms constructed by sentient beings that are so vast they act more or less as living 'planes.' However, if one covered another, there would have to be a source of light, etc. But maybe a single living platform above water or a desert or something of that nature?
     
    Oscar Leigh likes this.
  4. Mumble Bee

    Mumble Bee Custom Title. Contributor

    Joined:
    May 18, 2015
    Messages:
    1,128
    Likes Received:
    1,834
    First off, if this concept doesn't feature snakes, you're wrong.

    Also, you're setting could be on the back of a turtle, enough people would get the reference to what you're trying to do through that that spotty physics wouldn't be too big of a problem. ('turtles all the way down' for reference)
     
    Oscar Leigh likes this.
  5. tonguetied

    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 23, 2014
    Messages:
    568
    Likes Received:
    230
    Location:
    Central Florida: land of fire and sand
    Gravity issues would make a plane concept lean towards fantasy. However if you based your story on the rings of Saturn for example, maybe do something like jannert suggested where the bits and pieces are tied together with some sort of structure you could literally have a planar setting. The reality is that the gravitational pull from Saturn would make the residents of said place stand in line with the plane which would truly have some depth.

    Pure fantasy: the life of a soundtrack on vinyl :)
     
    Oscar Leigh likes this.
  6. Wreybies

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    20,769
    Likes Received:
    12,602
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    In Science Fantasy I cannot see why not. My only question would be how impactful it would be to the story? We know we live on a sphere in real life, but we are small enough animals that we don't actually perceive the sphere-ness of the planet. For all intents and purposes, it's a flat plane. I know it's not. Of course it's not. But that's how we engage it for being so small in comparison to its surface area. Science had to prove to us that it's not a flat plane against our intuitive perception because of small clues hinting at the fact that the planet is indeed a sphere, clues that go pretty much unnoticed by people living their day-to-day lives.

    How would a plane-world affect your story in a way that isn't already pretty much what we engage now?

    ETA: Please don't read my question as a dismissal of your idea. Larry Niven told very compelling stories in his Ringworld novels where the nature of the structure upon which the stories were taking place was integral to the stories. He made the ring-world itself a driving force. It wasn't just window dressing. What I'm saying is, never mind plausibility. Who cares. Perhaps the meat of a story such as you are pondering is in the nature of the plane-world itself, how the denizens engage it, what they know about it, what they don't, etc. Follow?
     
    Oscar Leigh likes this.
  7. Guttersnipe

    Guttersnipe Member

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2016
    Messages:
    40
    Likes Received:
    39
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    One of Steven Baxter's constructions, in one of his stories, is a huge (10,000 km?) disc, big enough to have significant gravity. I don't think his had an atmosphere, but there's no real reason it couldn't. I think that, gravitationally, up would be perpendicular to the surface only at the center. As you walk towards the edge, you'd have to lean outwards. The edges might not be livable. Of course, you can just make the disc bigger.

    I'm just visualizing it, not doing any math, but I think this effect would be less pronounced on a thicker disc.
     
  8. doggiedude

    doggiedude Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2016
    Messages:
    1,471
    Likes Received:
    1,264
    Location:
    Florida, USA, Earth, The Sol System
    I have to agree with the above. Forget plausibility for a minute and ask yourself if this is something you need to include for plot purposes or is this something you want to throw into a sci-fi story only because it sounds cool.

    Oh... but snake creatures on a plane world would be awsome!
     
    Oscar Leigh likes this.
  9. Meteor

    Meteor Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2012
    Messages:
    125
    Likes Received:
    17
    Location:
    Maryland
    Wow you guys kind of took the whole snake thing right out of my mouth haha! Well I was aiming for the idea that the whole universe is a plane, massive and ever ongoing. The pockets, if you will, are the habitable portions and are covered by a firmament.

    The firmament plays somewhat of an important role to the story. Mainly because I want the world to be undergoing an invasion. Every plane has a physical entrance in the story. It's this entrance the invaders exploit to attack the Earth. This led the people who fought the first war to use mass explosives to seal the entrance. Now the only way into the plane(or out)is to penetrate the firmament. A feat seen as nearly impossible(at least from Humanity's perspective)until an alien mothership appears in the sky over old Australia.

    I guess I can somewhat skimp by with minimal explanation? I'm also considering changing the setting from Earth to a more suitable fictional location. I suppose it has some importance considering I'll be bringing up the firmament.
     
  10. tonguetied

    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 23, 2014
    Messages:
    568
    Likes Received:
    230
    Location:
    Central Florida: land of fire and sand
    While I fully agree with Wreybies I was thinking Meteor was going for two dimensional, too long since I read any Discworld to remember but I thought they were truly two dimensional beings. It now sounds like the concept is a chunk of earth that is largely a flat area with the possibility of mountains and tunnels, etc. That still leads to the ability to dig your way to "China", it will be interesting how Meteor plans on utilizing this planar world, do satellites orbit in circles above the same side of the plane, do they ever go to the dark side of their world, could a meteor strike punch a hole through it? A lot of possibilities with radically different outcomes from our spherical world if you apply our physics.
     
  11. ToeKneeBlack

    ToeKneeBlack Banned

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2014
    Messages:
    407
    Likes Received:
    124
    A flat disc earth with artificial gravity could work in a Sci-fi / Fantasy setting.
    Gravity on the edge of the disc would naturally be lower than the gravity nearer to the middle, so having a device or network of devices designed to "even-out" the gravity would do it.
     
  12. doggiedude

    doggiedude Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2016
    Messages:
    1,471
    Likes Received:
    1,264
    Location:
    Florida, USA, Earth, The Sol System
    How about a world that's flat and really thin... Coming soon... Balance Beam!
    It will keep you on the edge!
     
    Oscar Leigh likes this.
  13. Meteor

    Meteor Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2012
    Messages:
    125
    Likes Received:
    17
    Location:
    Maryland
    Hm, well I certainly have a lot to consider. Thank you everyone for the advice. I look forward to putting out the story, or at least part of it in the near future.
     
  14. Robert Musil

    Robert Musil Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2015
    Messages:
    517
    Likes Received:
    432
    Location:
    USA
    Just wanted to point out that, if your surface gravity is provided by the plane's mass, then if it is massive enough to give you 1 g in the center it'll be self-rounding, i.e its own gravity will crush it into a sphere before too long. Unless it's made of some fantastically strong material.
     
    tonguetied likes this.
  15. tonguetied

    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 23, 2014
    Messages:
    568
    Likes Received:
    230
    Location:
    Central Florida: land of fire and sand
    Not that it matters but I am wondering why people think the gravity would be significantly less at the edges than the center, I am assuming a uniform thickness was Meteor's plan. If the gravity is weak at the edges then centripetal force will fling them off into space if the disk is rotating in line with its plane. Plus the gods will use it as a Frisbee. :)
     
  16. Rob40

    Rob40 Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2016
    Messages:
    103
    Likes Received:
    50
    Location:
    Colorado
    Nobody has mentioned the movie, 'Erik the Viking' ? It's mythology/fantasy and they sail their boat off the edge of the world. becuase it's all set in the world they knew, they didn't know anything as roundand gods were real beings they searched for. You can have a flat plane all you want but the way to integrate it is to figure out how the people and nature interact with a flat world. If you can plan what's off the edge of the world, then you can make the rest of the flat word come to terms with it.

    my offering: the edge of the plane is where punishment is dealt by throwing offenders off of the world into the sky. Now, plan the rest of your world building. :)
     
  17. Meteor

    Meteor Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2012
    Messages:
    125
    Likes Received:
    17
    Location:
    Maryland
    Hm, I know I'm returning late but, I've also been considerablly busy. I noted that there are a few comments that say a plane would eventually crush itself into a sphere. Based upon my basic understanding of gravity it is a downward force, not an inward force. I want the concept to be believable and make sense at the same time, could someone explain it to me better please? I want to know if I need to change how the laws work in my stroy. I've done some solo looking but, well I can't seem to get a straight answer. Thank you again.
     
  18. Robert Musil

    Robert Musil Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2015
    Messages:
    517
    Likes Received:
    432
    Location:
    USA
    Well, speaking only for myself, it wasn't clear to me if your plane existed in a universe with our laws of physics, or was sort of its own thing.

    If it exists in our universe, with our laws of physics, then strictly speaking there is no absolute "down". Unless your plane is hovering over a larger body with its own gravity. Gravity pulls things towards centers--the center of planets, or stars, or galaxies. That is all that we mean by "down".

    For a plane sitting out in the universe somewhere, assuming uniform density, the center of gravity will of course be in the geometric center of the plane. That is why gravity would be greater there than at the edges--just as gravity is (ever so slightly) greater at the bottom of the ocean than at the top of a mountain. The closer you are to the center of mass, the stronger the gravity gets.

    For bodies over a certain mass, the gravity at the center is strong enough that it can overcome the structure's internal rigidity--no matter what shape it starts out as--and pull the rest of the mass in towards it. Since the matter making up the body is all attracted evenly, it will eventually smooth itself out into a spherical shape. Well, technically an oblate spheroid, but whose counting.

    When this happens to body is said to have achieved hydrostatic equilibrium, and this status is actually one of the criteria for classifying a body as a planet vice a planemo or planetesimal or something else. Apparently the lower limit for this to occur, for a non-icy body, is a diameter of 400 km: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrostatic_equilibrium#Planetary_geology
     
    Meteor likes this.
  19. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,494
    Likes Received:
    5,671
    Location:
    California, US
    Check out Flatland:

    [​IMG]

    EDIT: Is the inability to link to Amazon working as intended, or a problem with my computer?
     
    Oscar Leigh and Meteor like this.
  20. Dearest Mothership

    Dearest Mothership Member

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2016
    Messages:
    61
    Likes Received:
    44
    ... unless the plane had its own artificial gravity. Then the force of gravity would be perpendicular to the plane. :whistle:
     
    Oscar Leigh and Meteor like this.
  21. Robert Musil

    Robert Musil Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2015
    Messages:
    517
    Likes Received:
    432
    Location:
    USA
    Well. Your artificial gravity would have to also cancel out the natural gravity, or you'd just be adding on top of it. Unless the plane is made out of some substance that has no mass.
     
  22. Meteor

    Meteor Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2012
    Messages:
    125
    Likes Received:
    17
    Location:
    Maryland
    Cool stuff, thank you guys a bunch for coming back to that question! I haven't completely made up my mind though, I'm leaning towards changing the laws of physics so it could work in a universe like ours.
     
  23. Oscar Leigh

    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2016
    Messages:
    5,644
    Likes Received:
    2,371
    Location:
    Inner West Sydney, Australia
    :superlaugh::superlaugh:
     

Share This Page