Plants on alien worlds

Do you ever wonder what plants on alien worlds would look like? The answer may be in the type of star it orbits.

Red dwarf stars give off little light and heat, so plants would need to absorb as much light as possible, according to a preview of an article I read online. It makes sense that they would appear black.

F type stars are quite bright and would likely need to reflect a lot of light. Shiny leaves? But what colour would they be? Apparently, green, yellow or red. Maybe anything in between, too.

This makes it interesting for creating new worlds for science fiction. Knowing the spectral type if the star gives you an idea about what colour the plants may be. Going beyond that, it may give an idea about what wavelengths animals can see.

In my planned sci-fi novel, the star I chose is a bit younger than the sun, but a G type star. The plants are likely to be green.

But I’d love to see planets with plants of many other colours.

Do aliens exist?

As a science fiction fan, I want to see aliens. I want them to exist. As someone with a degree in physics and astronomy, I have no doubt that life is extremely likely to exist on another planet somewhere in the universe.

With the large number of planets being discovered these days, it’s becoming apparent that small rocky planets are very common in our relatively local stellar neighbourhood. I believe most scientists agree that life in some form is most likely out there somewhere.

The question is, will we ever meet them? The vast distances and high speeds required to travel between the stars makes it extremely unlikely that we will meet them. The only way is if one of us develops a propulsion system that can take us to relativistic speeds without killing us with the immense g-force experienced with the high acceleration required. Or we can use sleeper ships or generation ships. In any case, we need some pretty good technology and the resources to construct such an enormous ship.

Could we communicate with them? Could we breathe the same air? Could we tolerate the same temperatures? What do they look like? So many questions!

Could aliens already be here? Maybe, but how likely is it that an advanced species would exist nearby? We can’t be sure about this without more information and observation.

For now, we can always meet the aliens in science fiction.

Why are people afraid of gay marriage?

In recent years, gay marriage has become a hotly debated topic in several countries. It’s legal in a few countries, including my home country, Canada. In the USA, it’s legal in some states. However, the religious right are strongly against it. Why? Marriage is a civil matter. Sure, it can be done in churches, temples, synagogues, or mosques, but to be official, it must be registered with the government.

Those who are against gay marriage usually cite moral and religious reasons. But what if the gay couple isn’t of the same religion, or no religion at all? They shouldn’t have to be subject to someone else’s religious beliefs. Let’s look at some of the arguments.

“If gay people can marry, then people will want to marry animals.” You’ve got to be kidding me. Equating gay people to animals? This argument makes no sense to anyone with common sense. It’s ridiculous.

“It threatens straight marriage.” No, that’s unaffected. Nothing changes for straight married couples. Bad argument. Do any married couples actually think that their own marriage will change because gay people can marry? Other people’s marriages do not affect anyone else’s marriage.

“It’s immoral.” By whose standard? Morals are subjective. Everyone has different morals. And not everyone’s morals are dictated by a book.

“It’s against God.” So? There’s something called freedom of religion in many countries. It means that you have a right to choose your own religion or have none at all. It also means that you don’t have to follow other people’s religious beliefs. In other words, it’s like saying “Your religion does not apply to me.”

“It’s disgusting.” Grow up. That is all I have to say about that.

“It’s unhealthy.” How’s that? I know plenty of gay people in relationships, and they’re pretty healthy and happy. In fact, they seem to have healthier relationships than many straight couples.

“Their children will be gay.” Homosexuality isn’t learned. It’s been shown to be physiological. It happens whether they like it or not.

“The children need both a mother and father.” Tell that to well-adjusted children of single parents. They’ll have 2 parents. Gender roles are traditional, but in today’s world, there is something called equality.

What’s your stance on this issue? Do you have any good arguments for or against gay marriage?

The difficulty with names

I find that the general story idea is easy to think of. I have many ideas I want to write about. The setting has been easy to think of, as well. I also have no difficulty thinking of characters. What I do find hard is the names. Character names and book title are very difficult for me.

Characters need names that fit them. They need names that sound good, are memorable, and aren’t too common or generic. John Smith is too ordinary. While it’s possible to use that name, I don’t want to. But I’m interested in fantasy and science fiction. Science fiction names can be familiar, but names change over centuries. More unique names appear over time. But as for fantasy, originality is good. To emphasize a completely different world and culture, exotic names are the best. But they are so difficult to think of! Even more contemporary names are difficult to create. I don’t want them to sound like they’re from Middle Earth, Vulcan, or some awful vampire novel. I think the names should be eye-catching and memorable.

What I’d like to know is how you choose names. If you write books, any genre, do you have any special ways to create names?

I like a good dénouement

For those of you who don’t know what a dénouement is, it’s the part of a story that occurs after the falling action.  Falling action is when the conflict between the protagonist and antagonist is decided.  The dénouement is basically a kind of conclusion that ties up all the loose ends and provides closure to the story.  That’s precisely what I like about dénouement.  We can see what happens after the dust settles, what happens to the characters.  We get to see how their lives are impacted and how they carry on.  I really like that sense of closure, to be able to see the results of the final conflict.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of movies that lack a dénouement.  The final scene of most Hollywood movies is the very end of the final conflict.  We don’t get any closure at all.  Whenever I watch an action movie, the final battle happens, and then the movie ends.  We know there’s a winner and a loser, but what happens after that?  We never know.  They don’t show it to us.  When that happens, I think, “That’s all?  There’s nothing else?”  I feel like the story isn’t over.  I feel a bit empty.  I want to know!

While this isn’t an issue with all Hollywood movies, a good chunk of action movies are like this.  Those movies don’t seem complete to me.  It’s a shame.  But this is my opinion.  Others may feel differently and enjoy finishing a movie on an adrenaline high.  It all comes down to personal taste.

What do you think?  Should movies always have a dénouement?

Map making

Fantasy stories usually have a map. Sometimes science fiction stories do, too.  I made a big one.  I made it on 16 A4 (8 1/2″ by 11″) sheets.  I have even included latitude and longitude, created countries, cities, mountains, climate zones, and general types of ecosystems.  The countries and cities have names.  The mountain ranges have names.  And you know what?  I even made a smaller map showing the tectonic plates.  It consists of a large continent that spans from the Arctic to the Antarctic regions, a smaller temperate continent, a smaller tropical continent and a southern polar continent with a more temperate peninsula.  To show the south polar continent, I even made a polar projection map.  I love geography.  I love planetary astronomy, as well.  I set the diameter and density of the planet, then calculated the mass and gravity.  Knowing the size of the planet, I used a clear plastic sheet with a grid on it to calculate the land area of each country, as well.  I enjoyed every moment of it.

So, why did I make it?  For the setting of my future science fiction novels.  I have 3 books planned for now, with the storylines basically figured out, though that may change as I write them.  I’m always thinking of new ideas to improve the story.  But the map gave me the setting to place my characters and story in.  I hope to explore this world and its cultures, examine the politics, and live out the lives of many people.

While this is a fictional planet, the star it orbits is real.  It’s similar to the sun, but is a bit younger.  But since this world has different circumstances than Earth, life evolved a bit more quickly there.  I’ve got plants and animals to create.  At the moment, they aren’t going to play a major role in the stories, but they may in the future.

I hope you can enjoy this world in the future, as well.

Long journeys

As you may know, I’m a fan of epic fantasy.  In those stories, the characters usually go on a long journey.  The journey is a highlight of the book.  I also like real life journeys.

Two years ago, I made my first long distance walk.  I walked from my home in Kamakura to Jogashima, in Miura City, which is at the end of the Miura Peninsula in southeast Kanagawa.  This was a challenge for myself, after reading one man’s own journey.  The walking fool, a New Zealander who used to live in Japan, walked the Tokaido Road back in 2009. His walk was nearly a month.  Mine was only on one day.  I walked 35 km in 8 1/2 hours.  Last year, I walked from Kamakura to the town of Oiso, which was about a 21 km walk.  It was only 5 hours.  These walks were very interesting, and I enjoyed them very much.  I was hoping to walk again a couple months ago, but was too busy.  My wife and I have done some 10 km walks in the past few months, though.

Walking isn’t the only way to make a journey.  Cycling is another good way.  In Japan, crazyguyonabike did a Honshu tour.  But there’s a really big one that came to my attention through Freshly Pressed on WordPress.  Cycling 4 Cancer is in the early part of a cycling trip through Europe, Asia and Australia.  I’m extremely interested in seeing the photos and experiences from this journey.

Have you ever done anything like this?

The official blog of Jay Dee Archer. Exploring new worlds, real and fictional.