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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • 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 written despite that.

    You are guaranteed to get some things wrong in science fiction. Every bit of your story has subtle implications about what could have happened before, what might have happened at the same time, and what would have happened later as a consequence. Any new invention will have a number of obvious implications; but in the real world there will be a number of unobvious ones that somebody would have thought of. (There is a corrollary here with free source - with enough eyes, all consequences are shallow.) Get millions of minds thinking about applications and there will be more than any one person would think of by themselves. The best you can hope for is to think up almost all of the obvious ones and enough of the subtle ones, so that you to keep the readers interested, despite missing some of the not quite so obvious implications.

    • 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