Journey to Ariadne Part 1 Is Now Available!

It’s been a long time coming, but part 1 of Journey to Ariadne is now available from my website.  It’s already been posted, but this is the 2nd revision.

As you may know, I am writing my first novel (actually, more like a prequel novella) and posting each part to my website to give readers a background on the world I’ve created.  This will also give an insight into the writing process, as I will be posting 2nd drafts of each part.  The final product will be put together, edited extensively, and published through e-book retailers at a very low price.

In the meantime, please enjoy reading part 1!

Colonising a World: Energy

Is electricity absolutely necessary?  No, but with a technological society, clean water, reliable light, and heat require power.  And if they want to travel anywhere without taking weeks, they need powered vehicles.  So, electricity is needed.

There are several options for generating electricity.  Considering that the colonists likely want to avoid using polluting fossil fuels, they’re out.  And on a world like Ariadne, there’s no guarantee that there is an adequate supply, as the world is only 3 billion years old.  Renewable sources are needed.

Hydroelectricity

Settlements near rivers can use the power of the water.  Large dams aren’t necessary, as the settlements are small.  A much simpler system could be utilised that would use the movement of the water to turn turbines containing magnets.  It’s clean, safe, and has low impact on the environment if small enough.  Larger systems can disrupt the local environment and harm aquatic animals, however.

Wind Power

Wind turbines can be used to generate electricity.  Small ones can power small devices, but large ones would be required for an entire town.  They can be rather unsightly, though.  Not only that, they could injure flying animals, and may be noisy.  They’re also unreliable when there’s very low wind.

Solar Power

Great for areas with abundant sunshine.  Solar panels can be placed on the roofs of buildings to power those buildings, but also a larger solar power plant could be constructed to power an entire town.  Low impact for the environment, as it doesn’t harm anything.  However, colonists must find the materials to make additional solar panels.

Geothermal

This is an excellent source of power, but only viable in areas that have hot springs or volcanoes.  Other areas can’t use it. It is low impact, and should be used in those areas.

Nuclear Fusion

In the time of the Ariadne colony, fusion was used widely on Mars.  Fusion is low impact, non-polluting, and does not produce radioactive waste.  It’s an amazing source of power that uses an extremely abundant fuel, hydrogen.  The trick is storing it and extracting it, especially if deuterium or tritium is used. Unlike nuclear fission, there are no runaway reactions resulting in meltdown, no uranium or plutonium.

So, what’s the best option?  In the early days of the colony, solar is a good choice, though a simple hydroelectric generator is a good option near rivers.  If there are fusion generators included in the colony’s manifest, these can be set up in the primary settlements.  And of course, in the seismically and volcanically active areas, geothermal is a great choice.

What would you choose for a source of electricity in a colony?

I Get My Best Ideas Where?

I wish I could get my best ideas while I’m sitting at my computer ready to write.  But it rarely seems to happen that way.  I get my inspiration in places where I have less man-made stimulation, it seems.

My best ideas come in three places:

  1. The majority of my ideas come in the shower.  This is one place where I can’t do anything about the idea except just remember it.  I then write it down after my shower.  Maybe it’s because I feel the calmest at that time.
  2. Many of my ideas come while I’m outside walking.  I have nothing to write on!  If I’m on a long walk, I have the risk of forgetting my idea, unless I spent a significant amount of time developing it.  That happens often, though.  I get an idea and run it through my mind while I’m walking.  This is my ideal idea development time.
  3. The third is the most irritating, and probably very common for many people.  In bed before going to sleep.  I can rarely remember these ideas!  Why does this happen?  I wish I had some kind of notepad I could write on while I’m falling asleep, but my mind and body aren’t in any condition to respond that way.

Where do you get your best ideas?

When Writing Becomes Difficult

I’m sure most writers have writer’s block.  Well, sometimes, the writing just won’t come out for other reasons.

In my life, I tend to have problems writing because I can’t concentrate on anything at home at times, mostly due to my daughter.  It’s difficult to write when she’s around.  When she sees me on my computer, it’s her cue to come over, point at my computer, and shout, “Anpanman!”  It’s her favourite TV show and she loves dancing to one of the songs.  I can write after she’s gone to bed or while she’s napping, though.

But another thing that makes it difficult is when someone you’ve known for a long time passes away.  I learned this morning that an old high school classmate of mine passed away from skin cancer.  She’s a mother of two young children, so I’m also thinking about them.  Robin, you were too young.

We weren’t close, but it still makes me stop and think.  I may write another post tonight, if I have the time.  I’ll probably work on Journey to Ariadne during my break at work, though.

The 2014 Sci-Fi Experience is Soon

2014sfexp300In January, I joined the 2013 Sci-Fi Experience hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings.  Well, the 2014 Sci-Fi Experience is starting a bit earlier, in just a few days.  It’ll run from December to January, and I plan to participate again.

I may have to hold off on my next review so it’ll be part of this.  But I should have more this time around because I have several shorter books coming up, and I hope to get more reviews done for it.

I find this a good opportunity to find other reviewers and enjoy their reviews.  And I love the comments!  I’m really looking forward to this.

Colonising a World: Shelter

When establishing a colony, it’s very important to have some kind of shelter ready.  However, permanent shelter takes some time to build, so something temporary needs to be available from the beginning.  But for a colony of 15,000 people, how can it be done?

Assuming we’re using the initial settlement for Ariadne, it’s on a generally flat coastal plain with grasslands and forest nearby.  Building houses takes quite some time, but construction can start soon after settlement.  In the meantime, the colonists may have to camp.  One option is tents.  Depending on the climate and the possibility of extreme weather and dangerous animals, this may be a risky thing to do.  But in a stable situation, it may be the easiest.

The transport shuttles could also be converted into temporary shelter that could hold a few hundred people, albeit in cramped conditions.  They could be outfitted with kitchens that could feed everyone, though that may be a difficult thing to do.

Another option is to build large structures with easy to assemble prefabricated parts that were transported on the ship along with the colonists.  This may be the best and safest idea.  Although it would likely look like they live in big warehouses, they can be kept safe from the elements, have some conveniences such as industrial kitchens, washrooms with toilets and baths (once connected to a water supply), and some entertainment.  It may be like a huge dormitory, but at least they have a place to stay.  It’s temporary, though.

Over the first few months, a large amount of construction will be taking place, including housing, power facilities, water facilities, schools, hospitals, public gathering places, and more.  But the houses are something that people will really look forward to.

What would they make the houses with?  They could use local trees, though they wouldn’t know if they’re similar to Earth trees.  They could plant bamboo and use that.  It’s strong, fast-growing, and quite flexible, not to mention a source of food.  If the area is seismically stable, using stone or brick is another option.  As the settlement is located near a major river, clays should be abundant and very useful.

Larger apartments may also be constructed, and these would require strong metal frames.  Thankfully, iron should be abundant, and concrete should be easy to make.

In the 22nd century, construction techniques would likely be much better, more energy efficient, and use more environmentally friendly materials.  New technologies and materials may be developed for the colony, as well.  These may be an option, but it’s likely that early colonists will go with the simplest and easiest ways of building homes.

If you could build a house on another planet, how would you build it?

Star Trek versus Star Wars

This is one of those eternal debates, like Coke vs. Pepsi.  They have staunch fans on both sides and not many are in the middle.  For instance, I prefer Coke.  Pepsi is okay, but it’s sweeter and gives me a bad aftertaste.  Coke tends to refresh me far better.

As for Star Trek and Star Wars, I’m on the side of Star Trek.  That doesn’t mean I don’t like Star Wars.  I do, and I’m interested in the upcoming movies.  But I’ve been a big fan of Star Trek since I started faithfully watching it around 1990 with The Next Generation.  I had seen the original series before, but that was back when I was watching Saturday morning cartoons.  It wasn’t until I was starting Junior high school that I began to appreciate it.

Star Trek has it all, a vast history with numerous species and cultures all working together for peace.  It’s an ideal future, except that there are enemies to contend with.  The kind of society in Star Trek is something I’d love to live in.  Going to another planet would be fairly easy.  It was written to be like a utopia.  Of course, it’s not perfect, but it seems to be a far better life than we have today.

Star Wars tends to have more fantasy elements to it.  While I prefer reading fantasy over science fiction, I’d rather watch science fiction over fantasy.  Star Wars feels less realistic to me, more fantastic, more dramatic.  Dramatic is okay, but sometimes it’s over the top, like Hayden Christensen’s acting.  I do really enjoy the original trilogy, though.  It’s fun to watch repeatedly.

However, I find the depth in Star Trek to be far more engaging, making it number one to me.  It’s only logical for me to pick Star Trek.

How about you?  Are you a Star Trek or Star Wars fan?  Leave a comment, and live long and prosper!

Will it Be Possible to See Comet ISON?

I’m beginning to wonder if it’ll even be possible to see comet ISON from where I live.  I live in a city, and it’s certainly not possible to have dark skies here.  I can’t go out to the countryside, as the only countryside around here is inaccessible during the night (no trains), and the view toward ISON is back over the heavily populated Yokohama area.

Right now, ISON is considered to be just visible if you’re in a dark skies area and if you have very good eyesight.  It should brighten, but as it does, it gets closer to the sun.  As it gets closer to the sun, it gets more difficult to see.  NASA is saying that now may be the best time to see it.  It’s kind of disappointing, but that’s the way it goes.

I remember seeing Hyakutake from the car in 1996.  The sky was dark and it was evening.  It was nowhere near the sun at that time.  Very visible.  Hale-Bopp was even better when I saw it in 1997.  It was after sunset, and still light out, and I was on the roof of the Elliott Building at the University of Victoria with my astronomy class.  What a view it was!  It was incredibly visible.  Best comet I’ve ever seen.

Have you ever seen a comet?

Colonising a World: Sex

Simply put, sex is one of the most important things to ensure that a colony is successful.  No, I’m not going to describe sex.  This post is safe for work.  What I’m talking about is maintaining a healthy population and sustainable population growth.

Let’s assume that the initial population of a colony is 15,000 people.  That’s not a lot of people to populate a planet.  But over time, it can result in millions.  In the beginning, everyone will be busy with setting up the colony, construction, establishing farms, and getting everything up to a comfortable standard of living.  But what about sex?  Of course, they’ll do it.  They need children.  But how many children per family?

My answer is however many they want.  Two children are required to maintain a population.  However, if they want the population to grow, and for people to spread around the planet, they need to have more than that.  It wasn’t so long ago that industrialised countries had a high birth rate, especially in the baby boom after World War II.  This contributed to a big boost in population.  A colony world needs a baby boom.  The population could easily double in a very short amount of time if every couple had two children.  But the death rate would be extremely low, as it’s unlikely that there would be many elderly people in the early stages of the colony.  As new communities are established, more children are needed to ensure future generations are able to maintain their towns and cities.

But what if people have ten children?  Is that too much?  They’d be spending so much time raising the children that it may be difficult for people to work.  Would this mean a return to more traditional stay-at-home parental roles?  I don’t mean women staying home.  Either the mother or father could stay home.  This would decrease the productivity of the population.  This would need to be resolved.  However, it’s unlikely that many families will have ten children.  In any case, it’s quite possible to have childcare specialists to take care of the young children until they’re old enough for school.

In today’s society, many parents are afraid of their children getting hurt or abducted by a stranger.  This is highly unlikely in the case of the colony.  It’s a close-knit community that is working together to take care of everyone.  Children are likely to have more freedoms, and so develop a healthy independence.  Older children can help taking care of the younger children, whether their own siblings or their neighbours’.

In the centuries after colonisation, this kind of population growth is unlikely to be maintained.  Societies should understand the impact of overpopulation, and try to maintain healthy population levels.  It’s essential in keeping the world’s environment healthy.

My question for you is this: How many children do you think each family should have?

Thanks for Visiting, Even for Just One Time

I’m fascinated by statistics.  WordPress does a good job with providing stats for blogs, and one that’s interesting is the Views by Country stat.  I get a lot of views from a handful of countries.

There are two countries in particular that I get about half of my traffic.  Those are the USA and Japan.  The first is obvious, as most English speaking internet users are American.  As for Japan, well, I live in Japan.  A lot of my regular readers are foreigners based in Japan.  The third country also takes a good chunk of my views.  That’s Canada, my home country.  Most of my views are probably from friends and family.  The next two also are pretty significant, the UK and Australia.  They’re both English speaking countries.

Then things drop off quickly and it’s mostly non-English speaking countries, though there are some that speak English.  Rounding out my top 20 are:  Germany, Norway, India, the Philippines, France, Singapore, Greece, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Italy, South Korea, Brazil, Ireland, Taiwan, and Spain.  Most of them are pretty populous countries or have a good number of English speakers.

But what about the countries I’ve had only one visit from?  I’d like to give them some love.  There are 18 countries (although two are overseas territories) that have had a single person visit this blog only once.  And for this list, I’m going to link to a blog post related to each place, if one exists.  Maybe you’ll find an interesting new blog.

  1. Kenya (English speaking African country)
  2. Moldova (not very well-known, but was part of the USSR)
  3. Bosnia and Herzegovina (formerly part of Yugoslavia)
  4. Jordan (would love to see Petra)
  5. Honduras (Spanish-speaking Central American country)
  6. Bermuda (not a country, but a British territory)
  7. Sri Lanka (island country south of India)
  8. Mongolia (I find this country fascinating for some reason)
  9. Sierra Leone (African country that had a civil war 11 years ago)
  10. Mauritius (small country in the Indian Ocean that was home to the dodo)
  11. Papua New Guinea (north of Australia and shares an island with Indonesia)
  12. Reunion (an overseas department of France)
  13. Tunisia (north African country where parts of Star Wars was filmed)
  14. Czech Republic (surprisingly few people from this eastern European country visited this blog)
  15. Malta (English speaking island country in the Mediterranean)
  16. Belarus (a former Soviet republic)
  17. Trinidad and Tobago (an English speaking Caribbean country)
  18. Nigeria (an African English speaking country with plenty of difficulties)

I hope you found something interesting in those countries.  Oh, and please come back here for a visit!