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thisiskortny5
05-15-2016, 04:13 PM
So I'm writing a science fiction set on another planet and I'm trying to come up with some new terminology that differs from ours. So obviously I know the word revolution means when the planet completes its orbit around the sun but can I use that word instead of 'years'? I was thinking of shortening it also to revs like someone is seventeen revs old.

Albedo
05-15-2016, 04:20 PM
If it's a planet going around a sun, Why not just say 'year'? Maybe append the name of the planet: 'Blarg-years' if you need to differentiate them from Earth-years.

But yes, you can use revs if the meaning is clear through context.

thisiskortny5
05-15-2016, 04:44 PM
Oh. Just trying to change things up a bit. I've been saying years while writing it but I've read in other books the change Some things like that.

Kjbartolotta
05-15-2016, 07:50 PM
I like using metric time myself, which is useful for a spacefaring society. IIRC, Vernor Vinge, Scott Westerfield and Charles Stross use it, as well as countless others.

If you're interested I have my own chart I put together mixing the classic Greek/Latin prefixes with Sanskrit ones, since they have names for every configuration of numbers imaginable. The space opera type setting I made this for has a distinct Indian flare to it, but you'll see I have more Western equivalents.

Prana-second

Sahasraprana- 1000 seconds, 16 mins 40 secs. Sahasra, or Kilosecond
Muhurta- Three kiloseconds, auspices and traditions attached. 50 minutes Trisahasra.

Ayutaprana- ten thousand seconds. Two hours fourty two minutes. Ayutas. Myriasecond

Tithi- One hundred thousand seconds, 27 hours 46 minutes. Laksha, Lakh.

Prayuta- One Million Seconds, 11.6 days Megasecond. Paksa

Kotiprana- Ten Million Seconds, 116 days, Myriasecond, Kotisecond

Ayana- two Koti, seven months 22 days, approximately, ceremonial functions

Vrndaprana- One hundred Prayuta, 1160 days, three years four months

Abjaprana- One billion seconds, 31.7 years. Gigasecond.

Kharvaprana- Ten Billion seconds, 317 years. Terasecond



So, I'm not even using years, in this case it's the seven-month long Ayana that's the closest stand-in. You could just go with cycle or revolution (neither terms that I love).

Brightdreamer
05-15-2016, 08:20 PM
Beware of smeerps.

If it's essentially a year, don't feel you have to call it a njuulwhar'it or something just to sound "alien." You're already presumably translating their language into English (or the Earth language of your choice) for the convenience of your human reader, so unless there's something very specific or culturally significant about their concept of their planet's circuit around their nearest star (as opposed to the run-of-the-mill Earth-type orbit), go ahead and use "year."

That said, if you really want to call years something else, "revs" sounds nice and simple. "Cycles" is also a popular one. I've also seen more primitive cultures use a season to mark the passage of a year "sixteen summers old" or "fifty winters ago"; that's usually reserved for nonspacefaring races, but if your world has placed extra significance (particularly religious) on seasonal cycles, the habit might persist into the rocket age and beyond.

L. OBrien
05-15-2016, 09:11 PM
I like the way that "revs" sounds. It's simple, easy to understand, and makes sense as a unit. Though if your years are approximately the same time-span as earth years, I wouldn't worry about changing things up. On one hand, "revs" adds flavor. On the other, if 17 revs = 17 years, you're giving readers another jargon word to keep track of.

The way that I've been going about it is "standard solar years," since my sf project deals with a couple of off-world colonies, so all time is measured relative to the homeworld. It's assumed that, the homeworld being in the habitable range of a yellow star, ssy are roughly equivalent to earth years.

thisiskortny5
05-15-2016, 09:17 PM
Thanks everyone :) I think I'll go ahead and use years to simplify things. Kjbattolotta that is extremely cool system you have set up!

blacbird
05-15-2016, 09:23 PM
Of course, for consistency, if you're going to replace "years" with "revs", you'll probably want to replace "days" with something like "rotats". In real reality, planetary scientists working with the various Mars missions, use "Martian year" and "sol" for those two concepts.

caw

jjdebenedictis
05-15-2016, 09:33 PM
I would not use "revs" because that's short for revolution, which to my mind is the rotation of a body around an axis contained within itself, and what you're talking about is an orbit.

I'd use something like "annum" because it'd be clear to the reader that means year without implying it's an Earth year. If the exact details are important for the reader to know, you could have characters discuss it, e.g. "Oh, crap. I can't think in annums yet. What's the conversion factor again?" "3.2 annums in one Earth-year."

King Neptune
05-15-2016, 10:01 PM
Units of time get sort of sticky when one is based on another planet, and when Earthlings are operating on many planets. Weeks and months cease to have any general meaning, and the definition of a day varies. Even if you switch to Julian Date Number, there's the matter of alien days being of different length. In the long run, we will have to switch to a universal unit of time; the period of the vibration of a standard molecule, or something like that. Until we do that, I think that saying year with a suitable modifier will have to serve, as long as one knows how to convert that to some local time period. And that's another thing; we may have unversal units and local units also. There something useful about a local day as a unit of time, even if the day is only thirteen Earth days long.

Roxxsmom
05-15-2016, 11:26 PM
How far in the future is it? I'd think that in a futuristic setting, people would bring some of their traditions with them, and call the time it takes for their planet to travel around their sun a "year," though the local year would differ from an Earth year. I've read SF where the "universal" year ends up being called something like "sols" or "Earth years," and the local year just becomes a year.

How important it is to differentiate depends on whether your characters' culture is planet bound or whether space travel between planets and/or planetary systems is enough of a thing that residents of ships and of different planets would need a standard time measurement .

It's also a matter of whether the culture in the story has lost contact with Earth and is on its own. Then, the local year would likely become just a "year," and time measurement would become referenced to that planet. But people may not invent a new word, or even if they did (and they were actually speaking a new language too, since it had been so long since they broke off), there's that whole translation principle that speculative fiction writers get to think about. Is it easier to just call a year a year?

blacbird
05-15-2016, 11:30 PM
I would not use "revs" because that's short for revolution, which to my mind is the rotation of a body around an axis contained within itself,

Nope: http://www.astronomy.ohio-state.edu/~pogge/Ast161/Unit4/movearth.html4

caw

morngnstar
05-15-2016, 11:42 PM
Is it set on only one other planet, with a non-spacefaring civilization, or on multiple other planets? If there's no other planet, I see no reason why they wouldn't just call it a "year", or their language's equivalent word (which you translate, like every other word of their language except any culturally-specific terms that wouldn't have an equivalent). "Revs" sounds excessively mathematical, which is fine if you mean to characterize the civilization as excessively mathematical.

If you have an opportunity, you can mention that the year is somehow different from ours, like say it has 418 days divided into 9 months. But be careful of doing this in an "As you know, Bob," kind of way.

blacbird
05-15-2016, 11:52 PM
If you have an opportunity, you can mention that the year is somehow different from ours, like say it has 418 days divided into 9 months. But be careful of doing this in an "As you know, Bob," kind of way.

You need to be careful about these kinds of things. "Year" and "day" are based on purely planetary motion, but "month" is less clearly so. On our planet it was originally based on lunar revolutions, but that doesn't sync comfortably with "day" and "year", and since Roman times, for most of us, it became a more arbitrary calendar issue. If your planet has more than one satellite, using the orbital cycles of those is likely just to be too complicated; if it has no satellite, it's a moot point. And seasonality is also important, but that depends on the angle of planetary axis relative to planetary orbit; and even planetary orbit (as we now know) may be highly irregular; Earth's is elliptical, although close to circular. But exoplanets have now been discovered with highly elliptical orbits, which would play hell with planetary climate.

Lots of options to consider.

caw

noranne
05-16-2016, 07:09 AM
Units of time get sort of sticky when one is based on another planet, and when Earthlings are operating on many planets. Weeks and months cease to have any general meaning, and the definition of a day varies. Even if you switch to Julian Date Number, there's the matter of alien days being of different length. In the long run, we will have to switch to a universal unit of time; the period of the vibration of a standard molecule, or something like that. Until we do that, I think that saying year with a suitable modifier will have to serve, as long as one knows how to convert that to some local time period. And that's another thing; we may have unversal units and local units also. There something useful about a local day as a unit of time, even if the day is only thirteen Earth days long.

We have that already. The official quantity of a second is divorced from solar or sidereal time and is based on the frequency of Cesium radiation. But in practice, people are always going to use their own relative time. Sort of like how here on Earth, in our day-to-day lives we use our time zone but for comparison we reference things to GMT.

blacbird
05-16-2016, 07:14 AM
We have that already. The official quantity of a second is divorced from solar or sidereal time and is based on the frequency of Cesium radiation.

Correct. But it didn't start out that way. It started as a matter of dividing a day into 24 hours, each hour consisting of 60 minutes, each minute consisting of 60 seconds.

caw

King Neptune
05-16-2016, 05:00 PM
We have that already. The official quantity of a second is divorced from solar or sidereal time and is based on the frequency of Cesium radiation. But in practice, people are always going to use their own relative time. Sort of like how here on Earth, in our day-to-day lives we use our time zone but for comparison we reference things to GMT.

Yes, the second is on that basis, but the day is not, nor are hours or minutes. The unit is there, but the other units are based on the day; humans are very conservative.

dragonfliet
05-17-2016, 07:24 PM
The only time I like anything other than year is when we are talking about a non-human culture, and then only to emphasize a difference in cultural ideas. Because all humans will use year (and then adapt things, so martian year, earth year, etc., etc.) and cultures will have to come to a common understanding--and earth language communication would certainly default to year, though perhaps alien language communication between the two might be revs or whatever.

The reason is that we tend to stick with what works, and most of the time, these kinds of changes feel like an author feeling they NEED to change a random word to a random other word, even though the meaning is essentially the same. It feels gratuituous and not needed. It's more interesting to read new words about new concepts: a good example, I'm fond of the difference between a fortnight and two weeks: in one, the two week period is a SINGLE block of time (a fortnight), whereas in the other, it is TWO blocks of time (two weeks).

Myrealana
05-17-2016, 10:08 PM
Turn, cycle, revolution.

Count summers, or winters.

Or, just call it a year. It may not sound exotic, but your readers will understand you, at least.

Roxxsmom
05-18-2016, 12:27 AM
My preference when writing speculative fiction is to assume that terms for the passage of time are translated in the same way the fake culture's other common, everyday words are "translated" for the reader. Exceptions would be if there were a logical, culture or world-relevant reason they'd use something else. For instance, a word like "month" wouldn't make sense in a fantasy world that has no moon (or has two moons), and "year" and/or "day" might not work as well if the world's rotation and orbital period is really different from our own.

With SF, of course, the culture might very well continue to use technically outdated words for units of "universal" time that doesn't mesh with anything on the planet where the characters live. I've seen terms like "Earth standard years" etc. used as a contrast with "local years," where the latter may eventually become the default reference for "year" by characters in the story.

I guess what I'm saying is if you want to make up completely new words for measures of time, seasons, compass points and so on, have a story-relevant reason for doing so.

thisiskortny5
05-18-2016, 06:48 PM
Instead of starting a new thread I figured I ask the smart people already in this one. If Earth was for whatever reason uninhabitable, post-apocalyptic, and people were relocating to New Earth, what do you think it would be like in terms of ethnicity? Obviously the population would be very small and only, I don't know, maybe 500 people would be able to relocate. Would they be able to repopulate? Over the decades and centuries it seems like the ethnicity would be limited. Any thoughts on this?

King Neptune
05-18-2016, 10:20 PM
Instead of starting a new thread I figured I ask the smart people already in this one. If Earth was for whatever reason uninhabitable, post-apocalyptic, and people were relocating to New Earth, what do you think it would be like in terms of ethnicity? Obviously the population would be very small and only, I don't know, maybe 500 people would be able to relocate. Would they be able to repopulate? Over the decades and centuries it seems like the ethnicity would be limited. Any thoughts on this?

Five hundred to rebuild the species? That probably is too few to do a good job, but it probably could succeed. I think I have read that there would have to more than three times that number to be sure of having all the genes that are in use now.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toba_catastrophe_theory
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimum_viable_population

There are doubts about it, but the Lake Toba eruption is thought by some to have almost wiped out humans (I think they were just hoping). The minimal viable population for humans probably is within the range for all vertabrates, but whether it is five hundred or five thousand is theoretical.

From what I have read of it, I think that the Tova event wasn't nearly as bad as some have claimed, and there probably were several tens of thousands of humans in many different parts of the world, but there isn't much good data.

jjdebenedictis
05-18-2016, 11:46 PM
We're already getting more and more ethnically diverse and mixed in all countries that would have the technology to consider travelling to other worlds in our solar system.

By the time Earth has the technology to get to other stars, we'd be even more mixed, even if an apocalypse had happened recently.

Distinct races happen when humans are isolated from one another for tens of thousands, if not millions of years. A limited population will interbreed with whoever is there, i.e. people are not going to hold out for a nice Korean boy because their family is Korean. They'll look for a good mate, period, because there won't be all that many options.

So, in summary, I think the whole population -- both on the abandoned Earth and on the new colony -- will be ethnic stew. Nothing else would seem very realistic unless there'd been some serious, racist genocide built into their apocalypse.

benbenberi
05-19-2016, 06:25 PM
When you're dealing with population regrowth from a very small starting point, you can get extreme Founder Effect results that aren't immediately obvious. The circumstances that produce the very small founding population could seriously skew its "ethnic" composition relative to the general source population, & inbreeding over generations in this limited pool could either accentuate or minimize that.

For an interesting look at ethnicity in a not-extremely-distant space-based future, check out the Expanse series by "James Corey" (Leviathan Rising is the first.)