Hey everyone, long time no newsletter. Not sure where my mind is. Life got busy with kids starting a few new sports, and I forgot to update you all. Well, here is the news.
What I’m Writing
I finished another story. It was a flash fiction submission for a contest sponsored by LTUE. It’s set on an O’Neil cylinder which, if you haven’t kept up with some of my past emails, is a giant space habitat that generates rotational gravity equivalent to Earth’s. They are a fascinating concept that I hope to explore more in future stories.
The prompt for this story was “be careful what you wish for.” It seems like there is a lot of that kind of sentiment going around with everything going on in the world. I think we humans have a tendency to be short-sighted, and we make decisions based on our perceived identity or because we want to belong to a group. A few specific examples might be the recent elections in Hungary and what’s been going on in Russia and elsewhere. It seems like many populist authoritarian leaders are getting a lot of support. Not sure why that is, but it doesn’t seem like it ends well.
This story was a very brief exploration of these topics centered on a man going to visit his aging mother. I hope you like it. You can read it here.
What I’m Learning
I’ve still been doing a lot of research into space habitats. The more I learn, the more I’m convinced they are a better solution than trying to terraform an existing planet. I get it; planets are cool. David Bowie didn’t write a song about there being life on a giant rotating structure in near-earth orbit. But space habitats make so much more practical sense.
For one, we have no idea what kind of effect zero or low gravity will have on the entire life cycle of human beings. It could be completely catastrophic. We don’t know. And having to return to Earth for childbirth seems like it would be a non-starter for any colony trying to be self-sustaining.
We don’t know what kind of crops we can grow or how we can obtain food on other planets.
We also don’t know what kind of psychological effect living on a completely different planet will have. Maybe that day/night cycle will mess with our circadian rhythm so that everyone goes insane after a few years.
We have complete control over the environments with space habitats, and we can make it as close to Earth as possible. We could have Earthlike soil, gravity, animals, and light. There would be a few weird things like the ground rising instead of falling away. You might be able to look directly up and get a bird’s-eye view of a sporting event happening on the opposite side of the rotating structure. There would be some weird things with the Coriolis effect. But all those are minor compared to trying to terraform an entire planet.
If you ask me, it seems like a much more attractive and feasible option.
What I’m Reading
I’ve almost finished all of the Revelation Space series books. They were all good. I’m on the last one now. It’s called Galactic North and is a prequel to the rest of the series.
I do most of my reading via audiobook while doing other things like washing dishes, going for a run, or playing video games. I also generally have something on Kindle or paperback that I’m working through a little bit slower. This past week I finished A Case of Conscience by James Blish. It won the Hugo award a number of years ago. Let me tell you; this book was dense. I’m glad I read it on Kindle because I have not used the dictionary feature so much in a long time. One of the main characters is a Jesuit priest. He is sent as part of a mission to an alien planet populated by a race of large, intelligent reptiles. I won’t spoil the story for you, but the religious, ethical, and political concepts explored in the book are fascinating. It was first published in 1958, so some of the predictions for the future are a little bit off. 3D TV was a big flop, for example. But I would recommend it if you are looking for a book that will make you think.
Well, that’s all for now. I’ll see you next week.