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Captcha
02-10-2012, 06:42 AM
I anticipate rolled eyes. But this is just a minor point in my plot, so I don't think I need a full, elaborate back story for it all...

I'm setting a story in the future, and I want one of the characters to have been raised on some sort of space colony. I want the Earth:Colony relationship to be fairly similar to the Europe:North America colonial relationship, minus the genocide (no existing lifeforms in my space colony, please - at least not sentient ones).

But I don't want a totally science fiction, expanses-of-the-imagination setting, if I can avoid it. So I'd like to have the colony be as technologically non-amazing as possible. I like the idea of it having a fairly limited population, and therefore fairly limited technology; I'd love it to be pretty much agrarian, or at least resource-based, with technology-injections when a ship arrives from Earth.

Ideally, I'd like the colonized planet to be Earth-like. Not identical, but I'd really prefer that the colonists not live in climate-controlled domes, or whatever. I'm trying to contrast the life on future Earth, where things are technologically advanced but morally corrupt, with a simpler, purer lifestyle on the colony. (Shut up! It's my story - I'll make it less hokey as I go!)

So... I think I should probably send my colonists out of the solar system. But that's pretty huge, right? To advance technology to the point where we can travel to an Earth-like planet in a way similar to the way Europeans traveled to North America (ie. a couple months of uncomfortable but not prohibitively dangerous travel)? Would it be more likely that we'd develop the technology to somehow terraform closer planets to be hospitable to humanity?

I'm looking for a couple lines, here, just enough to make it all make sense. My character was raised on a non-Earth colony where he lived a happy, free life until the oppressive corporate forces of Earth came and brutally crushed his freedom. I want a sort of Boston Tea Party, but I want the British to win. So where was my character living, and how did he get there?

Help?

dolores haze
02-10-2012, 06:51 AM
Perhaps he lives on a Goldilocks planet (http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2010/09/29/possible-earthlike-planet-found-in-the-goldilocks-zone-of-a-nearby-star/)?

Captcha
02-10-2012, 07:04 AM
Perhaps he lives on a Goldilocks planet (http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2010/09/29/possible-earthlike-planet-found-in-the-goldilocks-zone-of-a-nearby-star/)?

Definitely that idea. But given that everyone over there (on that site) was so excited about finding this planet, which was only 20 light years away, I'm getting the idea that I'm going to have a hard time convincing anyone that there's an even better planet even closer...

So I guess my real question is:

Which is likely to happen first...

- the ability to travel at speeds dramatically faster than the speed of light (or to use worm-holes, or something... my knowledge of worm holes comes almost exclusively from John Crichton, and I should confess that a lot of the time when he was talking about worm holes, I was looking at his ass);
- or the ability to manipulate the environments of closer planets to make them significantly more Earth-like?

benbradley
02-10-2012, 08:31 AM
Definitely that idea. But given that everyone over there (on that site) was so excited about finding this planet, which was only 20 light years away, I'm getting the idea that I'm going to have a hard time convincing anyone that there's an even better planet even closer...

So I guess my real question is:

Which is likely to happen first...

- the ability to travel at speeds dramatically faster than the speed of light (or to use worm-holes, or something... my knowledge of worm holes comes almost exclusively from John Crichton, and I should confess that a lot of the time when he was talking about worm holes, I was looking at his ass);
- or the ability to manipulate the environments of closer planets to make them significantly more Earth-like?
There may be different opinions on this. Someone in another recent thread said there would be FTL and going to the stars in 50 years but I don't believe it, and I doubt it would ever happen (FTL depends on a LOT of currently known physics being wrong). Terraforming Mars to the point that it has a breathable atmosphere would take hundreds of years, but I'd bet on that well before FTL travel.

Looking over your OP, I'd suggest an O'Neill Colony. This would absolutely be high-tech, in space, likely orbiting Earth 100 to 300 miles up just like the current International Space Station, but instead of three full-time inhabitants, this could have 300 or 3,000 people living on the inside of a big rotating cylinder, most likely among plants designed to grow to provide them food (and who knows, maybe to grow enough food to ship some to Earth - it's a lot easier to send something to Earth than from Earth into space). The "sky" would be the other side of the cylinder which would have more plants, perhaps alternating with windows so the sun could shine in. Here are some "artists renderings:"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_High_Frontier:_Human_Colonies_in_Space

Yes, it would all be high-tech, but I think you could get away with glossing over that stuff. Was there a job he had on the colony?

Terraforming Mars or Venus (the next likeliest planet) would be hugely expensive and take hundreds of years to do, after the project started. An orbiting colony in low-Earth orbit could be built in maybe 20 to 40 years.

Drachen Jager
02-10-2012, 10:23 AM
Probably the most realistic somewhat near term colonization we could manage would be a terraformed Mars.

The Mars Trilogy handles that quite well I understand, though I haven't read it. I don't know if it's the method they use in that series, but the most accepted method I've heard for terraforming Mars is to use solar sail craft on comets and asteroids with lots of water, impact them into the planet to form oceans and an atmosphere. With the right atmosphere mix it could be quite liveable, though colder than Earth.

Buffysquirrel
02-10-2012, 03:02 PM
You can't have a nearer habitable planet than the nearest star to the sun, which is Alpha Prox, some 4.22 light years away. You could have a rogue planet, but without a star to heat it up, I'm not sure you could live on that. So the suggestion of an artificial colony orbiting our sun makes sense to me.

Fresie
02-11-2012, 01:42 AM
You can't have a nearer habitable planet than the nearest star to the sun, which is Alpha Prox, some 4.22 light years away. You could have a rogue planet, but without a star to heat it up, I'm not sure you could live on that. So the suggestion of an artificial colony orbiting our sun makes sense to me.

I was just about to say the same thing, too. Maybe they can change the orbit of a bigger asteroid or other to draw it closer to the Earth - say, between Earth and Mars.

I love your idea! It sounds like a story of moral choices which is always a good thing. Good luck!

rachelmachelsmachel
02-11-2012, 11:11 AM
Make them live on a terraformed (sorry for the verbing) Callisto (moon of Jupiter). Faster than light travel is fundamentally impossible in many ways and living on Mars or the moon is a little cliche I think.

Plus you would get kick ass views of Jupiter and it's other moons on Callisto and could sound really smart by talking about orbital resonance and tidal flexing and such.

(also this way I'd have someone to talk to and could finally say I have a part time armchair astrophysicist career)

blacbird
02-11-2012, 11:20 AM
Terraforming Mars or Venus (the next likeliest planet) would be hugely expensive and take hundreds of years to do, after the project started.

Terraforming either of these nearby planets is a physical impossibility for all kinds of reasons. A "biosphere" kind of community on Mars is just barely feasible, but the resource cost of that is prohibitive.


An orbiting colony in low-Earth orbit could be built in maybe 20 to 40 years.

Possible, as the International Space Station has at least somewhat proved practical. But, again, the resource cost is enormous. The moon might just be possible as well, but faces even larger cost problems.

Now, you're writing fiction, and lots and lots of writers of fiction have overcome these terrestrial reality problems via imagination and good writing. Go there, and worry no more.

caw

Al Stevens
02-11-2012, 11:24 AM
Idea 1: The other planet is Earth in a parallel universe and we've learned to move between universes.

Idea 2: Earth has a twin planet that orbits the sun on the other side of the sun. We never knew about it because it was obscured by the sun itself. Space travel beyond our orbit revealed it. Now if I can figue out how the deep space probes missed it...

Al Stevens
02-11-2012, 11:27 AM
I think idea 2 comes from an old Twilight Zone episode. The other planet was a mirror image. Left was right, etc. Might have been the Outer Limits.

robjvargas
02-11-2012, 11:43 AM
I think idea 2 comes from an old Twilight Zone episode. The other planet was a mirror image. Left was right, etc. Might have been the Outer Limits.

It was a whole movie. I know it as Journey to the Far Side of the Sun. I was aware it didn't start that way.

Wikipedia article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doppelg%C3%A4nger_(1969_film))

geofish
02-11-2012, 01:28 PM
Both terraforming Mars and traveling to another star system are somewhat but not completely implausible, so you should pick the one that works best for your story.

If you choose terraforming, you will probably need to use a setting where biotechnology has advanced to a point far beyond its current level. Communication with Earth will be pretty much instant, but travel will still take a long time, so the colony will be a bit independent, but probably won't develop it's own culture.

FTL travel is generally considered physically impossible, but in a world where energy technology has made a great leap forward, it's possible to travel at a significant fraction of the speed of light. Google Epsilon Eridani for a star ~10 lightyears away that is thought to possibly have some planets. If your world has spaceflight at 50% the speed of light, it would only take 20 years to get there, and with time dilation, it would seem much faster to the travelers.

Wormholes and other types of teleportation are common devices which will allow you to get your characters to any planet in the universe. This requires one giant leap of the imagination, but might make for an overall more plausible story, since you don't have to explain the terraforming technology, or how one of the closest stars to earth just happens to have a habitable planet. Another advantage for your story is that this method of travel would probably most closely mimic the situation with colonial America. If you make it so that you have to travel at sub-light speed to get to the ends of the wormhole, it could take a few months per journey, and no messages could be sent unless they were carried by ships, just like in the pre-radio days.

Keep in mind that all of these devices have been done plenty of times by science fiction writers in the past, and it may be worthwhile to check out some of their work to see how they can be presented plausibly.

Captcha
02-11-2012, 04:00 PM
These are great ideas, guys - I'm reading, thinking, reading, thinking...

Thanks!