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Progress On Next Book

Sea sick. It happens. You feel your stomach roll around with the waves, the color drains from your face, and you lose the lunch you just paid for. Because a little boat is bobbing up and down on choppy waters. That’s easy enough to manage – by the way – keep your eyes on the horizon. All you need to do is anchor yourself – and the motion of the ocean becomes less of a witch’s potion. But where do you look if there is no horizon?

Space and the sea – both inhospitable frontiers. It’s no surprise writers have used the ocean as an analogy for space since the very beginning. It is even called a ‘space ship’ – that little vessel that makes it across the vast space.

As I was writing some scenes the other day, it occurred to me that the problems of space are slightly more complex than the problems of being on the ocean. I don’t even mean the tech – obviously there are major challenges, in terms of power, in terms of radiation shielding, in terms of life support, out there.

But even assuming we have all that (and we’ll have it too, someday, you can bet on it) – the challenges of a single person trying to orient themselves are infinitely bigger.

You might avoid sea sickness by keeping your eye on the land or the horizon – but in space there is no horizon. More: there is no up, or down. Up or down apply to a gravitational surface (the people on the North and South Poles all take a jump up – and travel in diametrically opposed directions). In a vessel floating in the nothingness, there is no up, or down. There is no North, East, South or West either.

Also, we’ve recently learned that empty space is hardly empty. There are a lot of things going on in there, even if you remove the dust and debris. Like the oceans have calm days, and killer waves – so radiation moves through the vast expanse.

I’m simply writing some fiction, learning my science from the more capable minds around me. But what I’ve discovered, through thinking, is that the tech won’t be enough.

The old sailors – hardy, salty, stoic folk who could sacrifice and do without and sometimes endure the unthinkable – well, we’ll need those kinds of people if we’re ever going to make it anywhere interesting. Even with the tech.