Writing Right with Dmitri: Looking Up and Around
This month's Create challenge involves space. The main reason for this is Expedition 42, the ISS mission currently underway. Due to the significance of the number 42 to science fiction fans everywhere, the astronauts and their colleagues decided to dedicate the mission to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. They even made a poster of themselves dressed as characters from the story.
This isn't the first time that science fiction has inspired real-life activities. At least one NASA astronaut has confessed that Star Trek played a role in her decision to become a space shuttle pilot and off-world explorer. That's gratifying to the writers, actors, and others involved in producing such fiction. Writers can return the compliment by using the activities of these RL heroes as inspiration for our stories. One good turn deserves another.
This week, why not take a few minutes to acquaint yourselves with the plans and projects going on in the space program? You might find an interesting story idea. You might also find food for thought, as you reflect on the interactive nature of our shared reality in this solar system.
Here are some ideas to get you started.
What's Going on Out There?
What's it like aboard the ISS? What are they doing with their time? Here are a few videos.
- First, a classic: Chris Hadfield's Space Oddity video. Nothing like music in space.
- Can they grow plants in space? They can, and they do. Now, what can you do with that? Remember Pierre Boulle's Garden on the Moon?
- What's eating like? Chocolate pudding cake, yum.
- What about sleeping and going to the bathroom? This, too, is cool. Check it out. Now imagine an astronaut dreaming in her sleeping bag…
- What would happen if your astronaut lit a candle in zero g? Go find out. Let it enflame your imagination.
That's a lot of science, yeah. But you're a writer. You know what to leave out, and how to make it interesting. Now, don't you?
What about strange new worlds? What's going on over on Mars?
- What's the Mars Mission all about? What will they find out there?
- What's the view like there? Watch Siding Spring pass Mars.
- What about the rovers? Would you like to write a story from the point of view of a brave little robot? Check out this report on Curiosity, the little rover that can.
- Of course you want to make up wild stories about what they find on Mars. It takes only seconds of searching YouTube to find the nutcases inquiring minds at work, such as this 'archaeological sighting' on Mars. This sort of thing annoys NASA, but it can be gold for the speculative writer. After all, you're not being peer reviewed here.
Finally, of course, there's the near-miraculous event in which science fiction has become science fact. We speak, of course, of landing on a comet. Compare these two video clips:
- The bold European move to land on a comet. Thrilling, and real.
- The Star Trek version. Okay, they made a snowman with Vulcan ears. They fell into a crevasse and had to be rescued by the annoyed Vulcans. But it gives you an idea of where you can go with science.
This month, you really owe it to yourself AND h2g2 to try your hand at something space-minded. Get out there and explore. Then let your imagination go to work.
- Where do you want to go?
- What do you want to do when you get there?
- How enjoyable/harrowing/just plain tedious is the trip?
- Did anybody learn anything?
The closer humans come to actually making these speculations into realities, the more exciting and intriguing the questions become. Space exploration is opening new vistas for us all. Remember: without writers, all that science is just a data dump. It's up to us to make it interesting to the rest of them.