Sep 032009

I managed to punch out 1,700 words last night. At the end of it, I was not terribly happy nor inspired by what I had written. None of it mattered. The premise informing this particular story had a very loose foundation. The more I chipped away at it, the more unfulfilled it left me feeling. Prior to writing, I did some free association brainstorming, writing down thoughts as they occurred to me with respect to the baseline premise. Alien aggressors turned into rebellious colonies, which turned into heroic revolutionaries and thereby became the protagonists.

After writing with that as a baseline, feeling comfortable with my parallels to the Revolutionary War, I began mulling over why, exactly, the same generic paradigm would make any sense. Why would colonies in other solar systems want representation in the terrestrial government? What could the colonies offer that the terrestrial government would tax? As far as I know, there are few things to be found outside the solar system that cannot be found in abundance inside the solar system. This led me to think about dispensing with FTL entirely (hooray for harder SF!) and confining the story to colonies within the solar system, where trade to and from Earth would be a much bigger deal.

Once you’re within a single solar system, though, issues like stealth/surprise attacks/etc. become impossible (there ain’t no stealth in space). It also brings up the question of why a colony would be able to muster a force sizable enough to contend with that of the governing body. Colonists taking up arms with soldiers who are more or less on equal footing is one thing. Colonists fielding spaceships hundreds of meters long with nuclear arsenals is another matter.

The net result of all of this is that I either feel like I’m writing bullshit, or I paralyze myself with so much doubt that I don’t write anything. I ended up writing bullshit last night.

  2 Responses to “Plot holes, meet thought holes”

  1. Ok so after reading your post I came up with a bunch of ideas, and while thematically they may not fit I still think they work with your wanting to stick to hard sci fi, so maybe some will give you inspiration:

    Take the war out of space. The revolutionary war didn’t really take place at sea. Sure there isn’t much stopping the other side from nuking the colonies from space, but if realism is what you are going for I don’t think that there is much you can do about it other than putting them on dramatically even footing, so give the antagonists some reason they don’t want to nuke the colonies.

    You may be thinking of the wrong war. Rather than thinking of the revolutionary war, think the civil war. One of the major issues in the civil war was that a majority of the generals in the army were southern not northern, this lead to a huge collapse of command structure in the union army until grant took over. Maybe the colonists staged their rebellion only after they had the guarantee of a handful of senior crews that they would bring over their ships, maybe they don’t get a ton of ships, but maybe all they need are the best ships (its probably less hard sci fi, but how many times has “prototype new awesome model puts a large number of older models to shame” happened? Multiply that 10 times over and maybe you have a way to have a smaller army fight a bigger one)

    There isn’t stealth in space? Lies! Sure you can’t hide a ship, but James Bond is no mother fucking ship. I find the idea of hard sci fi space wars very boring, its just computers playing chess against each other, on the other spys and saboteurs ins space seem totally awesome, and don’t violate the laws of thermodynamics. Maybe they get some ships that way, maybe they cripple some.

    You might be thinking of the wrong war pt. 2: America vs. The British Empire in space may be hard, but America vs. the Taliban is easier. What if the good guys have a way to nuke earth, it may not be a full out war on even footing, but neither the US vs. Iraq, or Pakistan was either. (At this point I would like to say hello to the FBI or whatever agency looks for hot words posted on the internet, I’m sure you’re reading after that last sentence.) Look into the gundam series, every one of those is about a war between colonies (but these are more space stations than planetary) and earth, they aren’t hard on their Sci fi, but I think the plot summaries may give some inspiration.

    I have no clue if these are some of the ideas you’ve thought of, but hopefully if you don’t want to use any of the ideas they at least inspire you to come up with alternative to bullshit. Also always remember:

    • These are all excellent ideas and I may steal some of them in the future. 😉 However, I realized that part of the fundamental problem wasn’t the “backdrop story,” which a war tends to be, but the “character story.” Without a character story, the backdrop story is totally pointless. Once I found the character story, my original backdrop story (involving aliens) recrystallized and become writable.

      The story, incidentally, isn’t hard sci-fi in the sense of 2001, but rather that whenever I break with real science, I try to make it plausible and consistent. I have two particular pieces of technology in this setting that are “impossible” (FTL being one of them), but I’m trying to keep them as plausible and consistent as possible.


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