Research help, please?

Specifics about craft, talent, technique, etc.
Fobok1
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Research help, please?

Postby Fobok1 » Wed Sep 07, 2016 1:30 pm

This may or may not turn into a story that I end up submitting, but I'm not sure where else to ask. When it comes to science-fiction writers, this seems to be the best place to ask for advice. :-)

Could anybody perhaps recommend some good articles, or even perhaps stories or novels, that might make good research about the colonization of a distant habitable exoplanet? Specifically, I'm thinking a colony travelling on a sleeper ship, with no expectation of any further contact with home. I'm trying to figure out how many colonists might be sent, what kind of supplies they might bring, etc.

I'm aiming for the harder side of sci-fi with the story -- though not completely -- but I don't have much experience researching for those kind of stories, so I'm not even sure where to begin. Most of the articles I could find were about more near future colonizations, like Mars.
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kentagions
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Re: Research help, please?

Postby kentagions » Wed Sep 07, 2016 10:00 pm

Hi Fobok1,
Quick research found these:
http://www.centauri-dreams.org/?p=19669
https://sciencefictionruminations.wordpress.com/science-fiction-book-reviews-by-author/list-of-generation-ship-novels-and-short-stories/

Drive: How does the ship start, stop and turn? This question also speaks to destination. If the destination is known, then the drive can be constant, then a flip at the halfway point to slow down. If the destination is unknown, then the operators might not want to travel so fast that turns take tens of years once a destination has been chosen.

Biggest problem IMHO: Running into stuff along the way. Star Trek has deflector screens (whatever those are). Science has F=ma, which is a long lever arm at extreme velocity. Little bitty things can do a lot of damage. In one SF story that I wrote, my crew swiped Europa for water, power and a shield. This also has a lot to do with the drive question since there might be things out there that are too big to safely absorb a hit from.

The social and psychological questions are your playthings. Most generation ship stories deal with problems arising from isolation. NASA carefully screens candidates because they don't want nutcases in charge of billion dollar equipment, so they might have research available.

Sustainability is a current catchword in business, but it is the only word for a colony ship. Building to last several generations worth of teen hooligans has fueled many stories.

A last bit of research that must be done for complete scientific accuracy is soil science. Plants that sustain us are themselves sustained by soils that contain a myriad of bacteria. Life support systems for water and waste and air and its filtration are all well and good, but soil dominates the world of food as humans know it. And soil will dominate exo-colonization efforts.

Sleeper ships? If illness or injury has ever forced you to remain in bed for an extended period, you know that remaining in one position has its problems. Skin can become necrotic after less than one day if a coma victim is not moved. Authors create stasis fields and suspension tanks and all manner of soft science fantasy to deal with the problem. I avoid sleepers, but there are lots of stories that involve rotating shifts and bad stuff happening in the mean time.

My favorite is the Ringworld series by Larry Niven.

Have fun,
Kent

amoskalik
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Re: Research help, please?

Postby amoskalik » Thu Sep 08, 2016 6:43 am

Then of course there is the "just send seeds (plant, animal and human) and let the robots get things started" approach. I can't think of specific examples at the moment, but I know I've read more than one story that uses this concept. Some of the problematic wrinkles explored here are what is the first generation of humans like if they were raised exclusively by robots, how do the robots feel about this arrangement, etc.
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Fobok1
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Re: Research help, please?

Postby Fobok1 » Thu Sep 08, 2016 6:10 pm

Thank you! All extremely useful info. This is extremely helpful. Now, to get to figuring things out. Thanks again!
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