Results for category "Science Fiction Blog"

21 Articles

SECTOR 64: Writing Progress Update

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Click to Visit The Book's Smashwords.com Page

Many of you have asked when the next part of Sector 64 will arrive, so here’s a quick writing progress report.

The first and second drafts of book two’s beginning, middle, and ending are complete, but there’s a hitch. I am working with a professional editor recommended to me by my Facebook friend, and very successful author, Scott Nicholson. Based on my editor’s inputs, I am wrapping up an extensive rewrite of book one, SECTOR 64: Coup de Main, which has more than doubled its length. Coup de Main’s outcome remains unchanged. However, I created a separate storyline for Captain Sandra Fitzpatrick. While she is a major character in book two, she played a minimal role in book one. To balance her side of the tale, and to give the reader another perspective on the story’s other characters, I’ve thrown one of the attacking alien ships at Sandy and the West Coast.

While the addition of Captain Fitzpatrick’s storyline has allowed me to seamlessly tie book one in with the events of book two, it also afforded me the opportunity to give the story’s other characters more depth. Sandy’s experiences also give the reader a clearer picture of the apocalypse the aliens visit upon us. While these changes do give the story more depth, I haven’t added fluff. The additions are full of raw action, intense scenery, and heart wrenching emotions.

At fifty-two thousand words, the original SECTOR 64: Coup de Main was more novella than novel. The new story’s beefy hundred ten thousand words bring it to the industry’s standard length for a science fiction novel. Considering this, I will publish the revised story as an epic new novel based on the novella, Sector 64: Coup de Main. Since many of you already purchased book one, and waited a significant amount of time for part two, I plan to announce a twenty-four hour period in which the yet to be named book one will be available for free on Amazon. For those of you who’d rather only read the added parts of the story, I will release a free novella that splits Sandy’s experiences out from the main tale.

All that having been said, I’m still at least a couple of months away from completion of book one. Much depends on my editor’s timetable as well as my own work schedule.

Thanks for your patience. In my ever so humble opinion, it’ll be worth the wait.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013 Dean ColeFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Overpopulation and the New Space Age

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

As popularly depicted in several recent fiction offerings, we face a coming crisis. Over the last several decades, we’ve added a billion people to the world’s population every twelve years. Considering our economy, stock markets, and corporate valuations are growth based, this is great news for our retirement nest eggs. However, at some point in the next hundred years, the irresistible force of growth will smack into the immovable wall of earth’s finite resources and real estate.

Dan Brown’s new present-day thriller, Inferno, revolves around a mad scientist’s deranged solution for overpopulation. Matt Damon’s Elysium portrays a future where the ‘Have-Not’s are left to struggle in the squalor of a dystopic overpopulated world while the ‘Have’s take to living in a utopian orbital Halo-like ring world.

While Inferno’s fictional mad-scientist assumes additional resources will not avail themselves in time to prevent catastrophe, Elysium envisions growth’s substantial economic force leading to off world development. I believe the latter is the likely outcome.

In simplest terms, a reduction in growth creates a recession while a contraction generates a depression. We all suffer during those economic downturns. The stagnation of permanent zero growth would create economic chaos. Elysium’s dystopic vision not withstanding, when the forces of continued growth collide with earth’s limited resources, I believe it will be in our children’s (or their children’s) best interest to look to the stars.

It will also be in the corporate world’s best interest. More than any other factor, I believe the forces of capitalism will take us to the stars. It won’t happen tomorrow, next year, or even in the next several decades. However, at some point in the next century, the negative inflationary forces of improving technology and the need to continue growth will render large-scale space habitation an affordable option, propelling us across the solar system and eventually to the stars.

It won’t happen overnight. Barring a huge leap in technology, or the discovery of new physics that open paths to the stars, we won’t leap directly from our current forays into low earth orbit to interstellar travel. However, as the Samoans populated the Pacific’s scattered islands, humanity will likely spend the next thousand years spreading about the solar system. Through terraforming the inner planets or deploying Elysium style ring worlds, or both, our growth will continue until we’ve completely tapped the solar system’s resources. At that point, we’ll truly reach for the stars.

 

While vast, the Sol system’s resources are finite. Knowing that, we will have long ago identified nearby star systems ripe for human immigration. We already possess the ability to detect the atmosphere of nearby extra solar planets. Hubble recently detected the blue atmosphere of a gas giant orbiting one of our neighbors. In the coming decades, we will almost certainly gain the ability to directly observe some of our galaxy’s 100 billion earth-like planets.

While most, if not all of these events, will take place after we’ve moved on, our current outer space efforts are allowing us a glimpse of the universe our descendants may inherit when our socioeconomic model gets caught between a rock and a hard place.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013-2017 Dean ColeFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Will We Find ET in the Next 20 Years?

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

In a Popular Science article, SETI director Seth Shostak said he believes we’ll detect alien life in the next twenty years. He listed a few ways in which this may come about. Primarily, he believes that SETI’s improving technology and its anticipated ability to search a million star systems over the next twenty years provides the most likely avenue for success.

He also touched on the idea that an alien race might detect the radio signals we’ve been emitting for decades and send a reply. Minimizing the possibility, he pointed out that only a few tens of thousands of stars have been exposed to our transmissions.

If one employs conservative/pessimistic numbers in the Drake Equation, then life is probably too rare and scattered to expect a reply anytime in the next several thousand years. However, if you plug slightly more optimistic values into the equation, you see a galaxy teaming with life.

This later scenario presents exciting possibilities and is an area that warrants further consideration.

Given the relatively slow speed of light (relative to the size of the galaxy) only a tiny fraction of the Milky Way may know we exist. Arguably the most powerful unnatural radio signals humanity ever sent out were our above ground nuclear detonations. Restricted to 186,000 miles per second, that energy has blazed across the galaxy and covered a whopping 66 light-year radius in the intervening 66 years. That’s a bubble of information roughly 122 light-years across.

Big huh?

Not really, it’s only 3/100,000 of 1 % (0.000003%) of the galaxy.

Difficult to visualize? Imagine you shrunk the galaxy down to the volume of the Superdome. Now imagine you’re up in the nosebleed section. At that scale, picture a four-foot-wide beach ball at mid-field. That sphere, a few centimeters over a meter, would represent the 122 light-year bubble of stars exposed to the energy waves emitted from the planet in 1945. It’s unlikely anything outside of that beach ball even knows we exist.

Our galaxy is not as boxy as a stadium. The Superdome’s interior volume is roughly as tall as it is wide. At 100,000 light-years across and only 1,000 light-years thick, the width-to-height ratio of our galaxy is 100:1  Now picture that four-foot sphere from a mile away instead of the upper-deck. And remember that if you’re not in that bubble, all you hear from its center point is cosmic white noise.

Knowing how small the portion of the galaxy is that may know of our existence, consider this: every day that sphere’s radius grows, its surface grows exponentially. In other words, the potential pool of star systems learning of our existence is growing daily, and at an ever-increasing rate.

Complicating the issue is the time a reply would take to reach us. If a civilization decides to beam an instant reply, it will take just as long for us to receive it as our signal took to get to them.

What if 33 years ago—back when that bubble was the size of a basketball—a relatively advanced civilization in our galactic backyard received the signal and blasted a return message our way? We’ll receive it thirty-three years later (today). Therefore, any instant replies beamed in the last 32+ years are still en route.

And that is only if they decide to reply immediately. Considering the signal they received was a nuclear detonation, they may want to listen for a while. After a few decades of I Love Lucy, Gilligan’s Island, Cheers, Seinfeld, and Lost, they decide, ‘what-the-hell let’s say hello to our wacky neighbors.’

Side note: I often muse over the idea that somewhere there’s an alien race agonizing over who shot JR as they painfully wait for the next season of Dallas to reach their planet. Who knows, there may even be a cultural niche of Elvis Presley fans on some remote rock (there’s some bad news heading their way circa 1976).

People and politicians often ask, ‘Why should we spend money listening for aliens? It’s not like they’ll balance the federal budget for us.’ That’s tantamount to a five-year-old saying, ‘Why should I go to school? There’s nothing they can teach me.’ Setting aside man’s innate curiosity and our desire to answer the burning questions—Are we alone? Is there anybody out there?—there are more practical reasons to search.

In regards to social and scientific development, we are assuredly babes in the galactic woods. Any data gathered from alien contact would probably be more enlightening than Pythagoras’ Theorem. Spanning decades, it would be an inefficient discussion, but likely, we would be the prime beneficiary of that interaction. Thus, a tiny-tiny-tiny-minuscule investment (relative to GDP) lands us invaluable knowledge.

In Carl Sagan’s Contact, aliens send us blueprints for a wormhole generator. But saving that, what if they merely said, ‘Hello, here’s the perfect mouse trap’ or ‘free energy and the cure to world hunger’?

 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011-2019 Dean ColeFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Underground Hangar Entrance

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Today’s volume of totally useless trivia: As many of you who read my book already know an underground hangar entrance at Southern Nevada’s Area 51 is the setting for two key scenes in my Amazon Top Rated novel SECTOR 64: Coup de Main.

What you may not know is I based that hangar’s location and description on a feature I saw on Google Earth’s images of the secretive Air Force facility adjacent to Groom Lake.  While researching the novel I did an in depth visual scan of the airfield. If you look at the base’s layout you’ll notice a not inconsequential distance lies between the hangar facilities and the runway complex. I reasoned that if you had a vehicle who’s very appearance would stand out you’d want a shorter path to the runway complex.

During my search I found the feature pictured above. While it may only be a jet-blast shield, its position seemed out of place and inconvenient for that purpose. Usually jet-blast shields are positioned to protect roads and structures from said jet blast. Also, the dirt behind/above it appears groomed as though work had been done there. Look closely and you’ll see parallel dark lines leading into the feature’s center.

I created a Google Earth Placemark for it. Click here to open a Google Map centered on the feature.

What do you think?

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011-2014 Dean ColeFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Why Do We Think We Know It All?

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

As a science fiction writer I try to root my stories in the possible. However, if taken to the extreme of Hard-Science Fiction stories become quite limited. To be sure many an author has produced quite fascinating stories within those limitations, Sir Arthur C. Clarke high among them.

I regularly see reviews and forum comments about various books and subjects in which said commentators make disparaging remarks about authors who have spaceships that magically travel faster than light, communicate faster than light, or somehow violate physics as we know it.

As I said in the beginning of this article, I try to root my stories within the possible, but having the imagination of … well, a writer I imagine that we may not know everything there is to know about the universe.

I do understand that E=MC2 ties space and time together so that you can’t change one part without affecting the other. But we humans who:

  • Don’t know how many dimensions or forces form our universe.
  • What dark energy is.
  • What dark matter is (or if either exist)
  • Why the universe expanded at superluminal (Faster Than Light – FTL) speeds for a time after the big bang
  • Why its expansion is accelerating today

somehow feel certain that FTL travel, communication, or anything else is impossible.

To me it’s as arrogant and assuming as those in the 1800s that said speeds over 100mph would kill you and those in the early 1900s that said travel faster than the speed of sound was a feat man would never accomplish.

Before I present my fictional workarounds (to call them theoretical would make me the biggest pompous ass of all) let me first say that I’m not a physicist, hell I didn’t even stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. So there are likely glaring holes in my fictional workarounds. Also, as an author I generally chose not to put my readers to sleep so these are ideas that, for the most part, do not get explained ad nauseum in my books. Till today they merely floated around in the back of my mind as a self-defense mechanism. They allow me tell myself: “I’m anchoring my tale in the possible.”

The basis for my workarounds: I believe three areas that we as a society are just starting to nibble at, three areas that, once figured out, will either lock us into our piece of the galaxy, or open up the universe to us are:

* Dark Energy:

Its apparent anti-gravity effect. Can it be manipulated?

*Undiscovered Forces:

For every force in the known universe there is an associated particle, either known i.e.: Electromagnetism – Photon, Weak Force – Intermediate Vector Bosons, Strong Force – Gluon … and so on; or hypothesized i.e.:  Mass – Higgs Boson (aka God Particle), Gravity – Graviton … and so on.

CERN’s Large Hadron Collider and the US’ Tevatron have recently hinted at as yet unknown forces. Who knows how many underlying forces may exist and how they might be manipulated.

Electricity and magnetism are two sides of the same coin; Yin and Yang if you will. Manipulate one and you generate the other and vice versa. What if some new force or a new manifestation of an existing force, i.e.: electricity and magnetism, rises from the data and turns out to be the Yin of gravity’s Yang. In that scenario just as you can manipulate magnetism to generate positive and negative electricity, you could manipulate the new force or manifestation of gravity to generate positive or negative gravity.

* Extra Dimensions:

If we fully understand them and how they tie into the underlying fabric of space-time could they open up the potential for my book’s fictional FTL Parallel-Space travel? (again, see Heim’s Quantum Theory)

What about using extra dimensions for communication. Theoretical physicists postulate the existence of additional dimensions beyond the three spatial and one temporal that we perceive. They tell us these dimensions, existing near the Plank level (the smallest theoretical size), have no size in our universe, but are like curled up dimensions existing adjacent to our dimensions throughout the entire universe.

Now suppose an advanced race, has decoded the mysteries of the universe, i.e.: they’ve unified Quantum Mechanics and Special Relativity, they’ve unified gravity and electromagnetism (see Heim’s Quantum Theory), and even taught cats and dogs to live together in perfect harmony. Employing their mastery of the universe they learn how to expand one of those curled up dimensions just enough to accept an energy state. That energy state (say, half of a quantum pair) could then be manipulated to convey a signal, creating a data-stream.

This extra-dimensional dimension has no size other than that created through their manipulations. So this data would have nowhere to travel, but it could be accessed from anywhere in the universe … who says you couldn’t have instantaneous communication across the universe? (at least fictionally)

In Conclusion (Finally)

Once again, I’m not a physicist and I’m sure there are plenty of theories that would rule out most if not all of my fictional workarounds.

The region between proven facts and the waterfalls at the edge of the universe (here there be dragons) is the realm of science fiction and fantasy. While I like to think my work leans away from said falls and dragons, I’m okay if it takes literary license from time to time. The truest measures are my reader’s opinions, and their willingness to suspend their disbelief whilst they roam my universe.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011 Dean ColeFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail