Monday, 25 February 2019

Magical Science

Hi Guys,

This time I thought I'd turn to a slightly different aspect of writing - magical science. Or put another way, science that simply isn't possible.

Now as you know I write space opera and one of the impossible sciences that's fairly much vital to the genre is faster than light travel. To those purists among you who only read so-called hard science fiction, this is pure fantasy. And who knows, maybe you're right. But maybe, you're wrong. It all comes down to whether the theory of relativity is right. And for my part, while I don't intend to expound in great detail about the problems I find with the theory, I would point out one important fact. It's a theory. Therefore I feel quite comfortable inventing and using various methods of FTL travel in my books.

There are however, other scientific principles that I have a harder time allowing to be broken. One of them as you may know - since I actually wrote a book about it - is the concept of disassembling and reassembling someone and expecting them to somehow live through it. Yes this is the Star Trek transporter! This device, invented because the show was low on budget and they couldn't afford to create sets of shuttles etc, if it worked would actually be a killing booth that murdered a man at one end and created an exact duplicate at the other, Or according to others a nearly exact duplicate with bits of fly mixed in!

Having said that, there are other, similar ideas which for me at least, don't pass the sniff test. One of them, which pops up all over the place, is the idea of somehow uploading your consciousness into a computer to become a digital immortal. To me at least, this is pure nonsense. It will never be possible. Yes you may be able to make an exact digital copy of your brain / mind one day and put it out on a network of some sort. That seems perfectly plausible. But what isn't plausible is that that copy will be you. It'll just be a copy. You'll still be where you were in the real world - though quite possibly dead.

Time travel also falls within the spectrum of impossible science for me. I don't accept that time travel is possible in anyway - and not just because of the inevitable paradoxes it would cause.

And while I'm at it, mirror universes are also out. Parallel universes are fine. But mirror ones where there's an exact duplicate of everyone on Earth living the same lives? No. That's fantasy too. I mean think about it - an exact duplicate universe with just one tiny little change as they all inevitably have? That change, no matter how minor, after its been experienced by every person in the mirror universe for millions of years, is no longer minor. The butterfly effect would have kicked in and it would be extremely unlikely that any single person in our universe would have a duplicate in the other one.

I could go on. I could mention the bizarre mish mash of diseases that turned up in the Helix tv series - none of which made any sense. Or the immense windstorms on Mars that apparently blow people around like confetti when the atmosphere there is only one percent as dense as that on Earth. Then there's the Xelayan heavy worlder from the Orville. Yes she may have vast strength. But unless she also weighs thirty or so tons, when she hits a metal wall with all her strength, she's the one who's going to be bouncing off it!

My point here, is that everyone has different limits to what they will accept as believable, and when it comes to basic scientific principles you have to tread very carefully as authors. Because it doesn't matter how you spin it - whether you try to gloss over the impossibility without any explanation, make up some pseudo scientific sound basis, or simply assert it as scientific fact - the moment you cross these boundaries, you're going to lose readers.

As someone once said, as a writer you can be allowed one impossible thing in a story, but no more. So treasure it and use it wisely.

Anyway, Cheers, for now,