Posted by at 16:49  2 Responses »
Sep 242009

I’ve often wondered why re-entry heat shields on spacecraft were such a big deal. The massive fireball that results from re-entry is due to the tremendous speed with which the spacecraft re-enters the atmosphere, resulting in aerodynamic heating (and not, as Mr. Stokes points out in the comments, due to atmospheric friction as I had originally written). Slow down, and you don’t have that problem.

After some digging, the answer was obvious. You need fuel to slow down. Where’s that fuel come from? That’s right: Earth. In other words, you’d have to take it with you to begin with, making your launch vehicle that much heavier. It’s more efficient to use the atmosphere itself as a giant brake, thereby necessitating heat shields.

Another mystery solved. You’d think I would’ve been able to figure this out, but it’s plagued me for years.  Part of the problem, no doubt, is the contamination of various pop sci-fi properties that conveniently ignore the problem of fuel (I’m looking at you, Star Trek).

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. Continue reading »

Tonight, He Writes

 Posted by at 13:39  No Responses »
Sep 022009

I’ve been trying to write a short story every other night or so for the past few weeks, with moderate success. However, the urge to build something more concrete has crescendoed. Thus, tonight, I’m going to start writing my second novel.

The first novel, written last year for NaNoWriMo, is not something that I would ever dream of publishing in its current form. The story is far too linear, the protagonist too inconsistent, and the ultimate theme not something I’m happy with. I might revisit the premise at some point in the future. The objective of that novel was not getting published, anyway, but rather to prove to myself that I had it in me to write a novel. I did, so it achieved its purpose.

The novel I start tonight is the result of a story that has been percolating in my head for about 13 years, in various forms. It’s a sci-fi epic in the best tradition of sci-fi epics.

We’ll see where it takes me.