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chaoticset (2105)

chaoticset
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JAPH. (That's right -- I'm not Really Inexperienced any more.)

I'm not just here, I'm here [perlmonks.org], and here [javajunkies.org] too, I ramble randomly in my philosophical blog [blogspot.com] and my other blog [blogspot.com]. Soon I'll come in a convenient six-pack.

Journal of chaoticset (2105)

Tuesday July 15, 2003
11:41 AM

Reasons, Reasons

[ #13465 ]
When I went to see my father, he noted that some of his friends have cabins/camps/whatnot in rather secluded areas, and suggested that, if it would help me to try to write fiction again, that I could spend a week or even just a few days there. I declined.

My father is of the belief that my "calling" in life is writing, that I'm meant to be churning out novels. To some degree, I believe that myself. I've been unable to really write any significant fiction for at least three or four years now, though, and one of the reasons is orbital mechanics.

I don't grok orbital mechanics. Never did. Apparently never will, it seems. And it bothers me that I'm going to charge off into the world of fiction without the tiniest clues about whether or not planets can be where I'm tossing them. It bothers me so much that it's one of the reasons I stopped writing.

Not writing has given me time to do other things (code) but has reduced drastically my ability to communicate effectively. No longer can I improvise a stream of unmarred English, no -- now it's nearly stuttering speech, stops and gaps and wrong words where once it was just flow, flow, flow.

So I also worry a little that I've lost the knack altogether, that I'll never really be able to write the way I used to and talk the way I used to. I hope, in some fashion, that I can do these things again, and if it requires writing from time to time, so be it. Maybe something good will come out.

I have no grand point. I muse upon these notions because I spent a few minutes reading a posthumous interview with Philip K. Dick, which I reproduced on my personal wiki because, well, I don't know if it's going to be there in a year, and I think my wiki's got a good chance of being something I could replicate at home or in a more permanent fashion. That, plus, it's damn cool. It reads pretty real, considering that it's all a series of quotes spliced with fabricated questions.

Philip K. Dick was always the kind of writer I wanted to be. (Well, him and a few other people -- Connie Willis, Alfred Bester, Roger Zelazny (within this same theme, Zelazny finished writing a book that Bester started before he died -- posthumous collaboration.)) Still is. If I can write, I want to write about the future as I see it, and (ideally) I want to make the future as I see it.

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  • * Don't let the fact that you don't understand something bother you enough to preclude you from doing something you love. You can either ignore it or face it. Ignore - just forget about it for now. Write as if you know it, come back to it later with someone who understands. * Face - combine with your love for code. Search for code on arbital mechanics, tutorials, anything. Write some code to simulate stuff. The ultimate goal - write a program that helps you place planets correctly :-) * A cabin in a seclu
  • It is not critical that you get the orbital mechanics right for most stories - even stories where they are significant.

    Consider Anne McCaffrey's Pern books which have crazy orbital mechanics, but an interesting culture and people that you are happy to revisit.

    Or, even if you try really hard to get it right, you can still make a mistake. For example, Larry Niven got the orbital mechanics wrong for Ringworld and had to handwave around that in the first sequel. I've still continued to buy every book he's w

    • Larry Niven, and others, have the benefit of having friends in the know. Larry Niven in particular has made extensive credits to people who have helped him get the mechanics, physics, biology and even entomology right.

      Good Sci-Fi, while being very based in science, also has a good story. Get the story right and you can do the reasearch and fill in the gaps later. Some Sci-Fi can go into too much scientific detail and lose the plot completely.

      I always think back to an interview with Robert Smith of The C [thecure.com]

      • For example, Larry Niven got the orbital mechanics wrong for Ringworld and had to handwave around that in the first sequel.

      Actually, the fact that the Ringworld orbit wasn't stable became a central plot element of later sequels.

      So, even getting things wrong can be turned into an advantage, if you work on it.

      I would suggest to chaoticset that he should not be a perfectionist. It's better to have bad orbital mechanics and a good story than a bad story and good orbital mechanics. Good oribital mechanics