Science Fiction: Space Colonization stories

When we watch science-fiction series like Star Trek and Star Wars, it is assumed that somewhere in the universe there are Terran space colonies. There are Earth-type worlds were Earth human people grow crops and manufacture goods. These worlds support the larger culture of the series.

But where do these colonies come from? How were they formed? What kind of people went to the colonies? Did they go voluntarily, or were they required to? These are the kind of questions you must answer when writing a space colonization story.

One of the first questions is that of government involvement. Are the first colonists on the new world subject to an all-ruling government? Or are they, once they arrive, able to form their own government? We can look at examples of colonization from our own world and, in the United States, from our own history.

The Pilgrims that came on the Mayflower took it for granted that they could make some of their own governmental rules. They did not believe that they had to enforce the primacy of the Anglican Church. They were of course dissenters from the Anglican Church, and they built dissenting church communities, feeling they had the freedom to do so.

Some space colonies might be heavily supported by the home planet. Goods from the home planet might be brought to make the colonists’ lives easier. On other colonies, the colonists might be dumped with a handful of primitive tools, and allowed to survive or not by their own efforts period

Medical support is one thing that colonists may need to live without. On our own world and in our own culture, hospitals are available both for emergencies, and for routine events like childbirth. Women tend to expect high levels of medical care during pregnancy. They expect advanced interventions in cases where something goes wrong. In some cases, they expect genetic screening, followed by the termination of the lives of imperfect unborn infants. On a space colony world, women may not be given much medical support at all. Pregnancy terminations may be considered taboo, especially if done for the limitation of family size. Colonies must have an expanding population to survive. Routine abortions might make this impossible.

A big question is whether the colonists are volunteers, exiles, or draftees. Volunteer colonists may seen as the ideal, but very many people might wish to avoid giving up their whole lives to come to a primitive world. If life is made hard for certain minority groups, such as practicing Christians or Jews, these groups maybe willing to leave Earth to gain the right to practice their religion in peace. If colonists are drafted and taken against their will, they will be very disaffected, but will not choose two fail to survive just to spite those who ordered them there.

A big part of any space colonization story is the surprises. A planet is a very large place. There may be lifeforms or other dangers which have not been detected prior to the arrival of the colonists. The colonists will have to cope with these dangers on their own, whether they like it or not.

Many space colonization stories start with the very first days of colonization. Others may start years or generations after the beginning of the colony. It all depends on what the authors’ interests are. And the readers. What kind of colonization might you like to read or write?

This blog post has been written using the Enhanced Dictation available on a Mac computer. It is considered a good practice to use the dictation software on blog posts, emails and note taking, to make it easier to dictate the novel. Dictating is a skill that must be practiced.

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Why do zombies want to bite us? Nutrition or Reproduction?

Why, exactly, are zombies so darn eager to take a bite out of humans? On the Walking Dead, zombies have it good. They survive all sorts of injuries except direct shots to the head, some zombies have been locked in rooms for years before Our Guys find them and the zombies are still doing good without food for all that time.

We assume they want to bite us because they are ravenously hungry and want to consume our flesh for food. But zombies don’t seem to need food to keep going. How hungry can they be?

Plus, zombies don’t have a beating heart or working lungs. They don’t need air to survive. They don’t even need their bodies to survive— remember Herschel’s head? So we are supposed to believe they have functional digestive systems without functioning hearts and lungs to support them?

Without a functioning digestive system, what zombies eat would just accumulate in the zombie gut until the undigested mass got so heavy that it would overtax the fragile zombie skin and tissue and the guts would fall clear out.

But there is another reason zombies might have an instinct to bite: zombies cannot reproduce sexually. You’ve never seen a pregnant zombie giving birth. If a male zombie tried to have sex with a lady zombie, could he even do it without breaking off vital bits?

The only way a zombie has of making more zombies is to bite a human. And he can’t bite off too much. If zombies ate a human right down to the bones it would not be able to reanimate as a functioning zombie.

So, when a zombie is coming at you with intent to bite, it’s not that he thinks of you as food. It’s just that the zombie really likes you a lot and wants you to join the herd. It’s flattering, really. But it’s best to blow the zombie’s head off anyway.


What’s new: I’m on Wattpad now. Wattpad is a social media for readers and writers, where writers share stories and other things for free. My profile on Wattpad: https://www.wattpad.com/user/NissaAnnakindt I’m currently putting up one of my poetry books for free there, but I’m working on a zombie story to put up there.

 

How to show Christian worldview in fiction, part 1

When asked what they like about Christian fiction, people often say ‘it has a Christian worldview.’ They don’t say ‘when I read the book it felt like getting a really nice sermon.’ But how exactly do you go about showing a Christian worldview? This series of posts will help show you. [Note: ‘Christian’ here includes all followers of Christ, including Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Lutherans, Anglicans, Moravians, and LDS.]

One essential is this: Christian fiction takes place in a certain type of world. In this world, God is real, discoverable, and loves you. What does that mean?

God is real. Not maybe real or might-be real, or real-for-me-not-for-you, but real, like a nuclear explosion and the science behind it. The secular world likes to divide the world like this: there are the hard-nosed, logical, scientific-method thinkers who are all secularists-like-me, and the airy-fairy ‘spirituality’ sort who make a ‘leap of faith’ into the land without logic. Don’t you believe it. For the hard-nosed logical, scientific-method Christian, becoming a Christian isn’t based on ‘blind faith’ but on a logical examination of the evidence.

God is discoverable. There are two ways God is discoverable by man. One, God has revealed Himself in certain events— such as the deliverance of the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt. The events of that delivery— the ten plagues, the parting of the Red Sea— are commemorated among the descendants of the Israelites, modern-day Jews, to this day. And there is the event of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. There have been people who sought to debunk Christianity by examining the events of the crucifixion and resurrection as recorded in the Gospels, who have instead come to the conclusion that Christianity is true. There are also the words of prophets raised up by God, who in many cases have predicted events that have come to pass.

Another way that God is discoverable is through nature. St. Paul writes that even the Pagans have knowledge of God. “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.” Romans 1:19, 20

God loves you (& all mankind)

We believe that God is not a Creator who made us, lost interest, and moved on to other things ages ago. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16  God, for whatever reason, cares about us, not only as part of a collective like ‘the children of Israel’ or ‘the Church’ but loves each of us as individuals.

What this means for fiction

Christians, real or fictional, don’t have to be embarrassed about our belief in God when faced with the local atheist. Atheists are not better than us, smarter than us, or cooler than us. We should look on an atheist the way we look on a guy who hasn’t learned his multiplication table all the way through yet— as someone who does not yet know vital facts about the world.

Christian fiction writers should not perpetuate the old myth of the logical atheist/secularist and the emotional/illogical ‘person of faith.’ This trope needs to die, disappearing like a soap bubble in the light of the truth like a vampire in sunlight.


Part 2 is coming soon  — in two weeks, on April 9th. But if we have enough response with people sharing, Tweeting and otherwise spreading the word about this post, I may get on the ball and get it posted in one week.  Comments this post are, as always, welcome.


Wattpad: I am syndicating my poetry book, Where the Opium Cactus Grows, on Wattpad. My profile there is: https://www.wattpad.com/user/NissaAnnakindt

One of the books I’m reading on Wattpad is Unicorn Western by Sean Pratt and Johnny B. Truant. It’s kind of like Stephen King’s Dark Tower. And like High Noon. Not Christian fiction, but so far it is a fun story.

How to write like uber-popular author Louis L’Amour

Louis L’Amour was born in 1908 and died in 1988. The heyday of his writing career was in the 1950s and 1960s. But— a few weeks ago I went into WalMart in the book section to find a Louis L’Amour book still available.

What is the secret of Louis L’Amour’s fiction-writing power? Why is he, a writer known for writing Westerns, not the most popular genre today, still on the WalMart buyer’s mind as someone to keep in stock? It may be in the nature of the very first book Louis L’Amour published.  A book of his poetry called Smoke from this Altar.

You see, here is the difference between writing a novel and writing poetry. In a novel there are thousands of words, and a writer who worries overmuch about whether word 27322 is exactly the most powerful and best word for that position doesn’t finish many novels. Words and sentences in a novel can be bland or dull, so long as the action in the novel keeps coming and you find ways to make readers identify with the characters.

In a poem, every word counts. A novel can have unnecessary words, sentences and even paragraphs so long as they don’t interfere with the flow of the story. A poem must not have a single word that does not serve the poetic purpose. The words in a poem must be powerful and evocative. Even the sounds and rhythms of words must be considered in a poem.

So what happens when a poet, or someone who loves and reads poetry, writes a novel? The language gifts of the poet may find their way into the prose, making it more powerful. Here is an example taken from L’Amour’s ‘The Sackett Brand.’

“The trouble was, when I walked out on that point my mind went a-rambling like wild geese down a western sky.

What I looked upon was a sight of lovely country. Right at my feet was the river, a-churning and a-thrashing at least six hundred feet below me, with here and there a deep blue pool. Across the river, and clean to the horizon to the north and east of me, was the finest stand of pine timber this side of the Smokies.

Knobs of craggy rock thrust up, with occasional ridges showing bare spines to the westward where the timber thinned out and the country finally became desert. In front of me, but miles away, a gigantic wall reared up. That wall was at least a thousand feet higher than where I now stood, though this was high ground.”

Lest you think the above example was too descriptive, rest assured that someone gets shot by the end of the page. It still is an action-packed western. It’s just that L’Amour knew how to use language very well, as a result of his work as a poet. So he could through in a good bit of description that could bring the West to life.

If you are curious about the poems of L’Mour, his book ‘Smoke on the Water’ is available and so you can see for yourself. But until you get so far, here is an example poem that tells a Western story.

I have three friends, three faithful friends,
more faithful could not be-
and every night, by the dim firelight,
they come to sit with me.

the first of these is tall and thin
with hollow cheeks, and a toothless grin,
a ghastly tare, and scraggly hair,
and an ugly lump for a chin.

the second of these is short and fat
with beady eyes, like a starving rat-
he was soaked in sin to his oily skin,
and verminous, at that

the crouching one is of ape-like plan,
formed like a beast that resembled man:
a freakish thing, with arms a-swing,
and he was the third of that gruesome clan.

the first I stabbed with a Chinese knife,
and left on the white beach sand,
with his ghastly stare, and blood-soaked hair,
and an out-flung, claw-like hand;

the fat one stole a crumbling crust,
that he wolfed in his swinish way-
so i left him there, with eyes a-glare,
and his head cut of half-way.

we fought to kill, the brute and i,
that the one that lived might eat,
so i killed him too, and made a stew,
and dined on human meat.

and so these three come to visit me,
when without the night winds howl-
the one with the leer, the one with a sneer,
and and one with a brutish scowl;

their lips are dumb, but the three dead come
and cough by the hollow great-
the man that i stabbed, the man that i cut,
and the gruesome thing that i ate.

their lips are sealed, with blood congealed,
but they will not let me be,
and so they haunt, grim, ghastly, and gaunt,
till death shall set me free.

i have three friends, three faithful friends,
more faithful could not be-
and every night, by the dim firelight,
they come to sit with me.

Superversive Press: What’s a Superversive Anyway?

It’s like popcorn. I got one book from Superversive Press, I looked at the ads for other Superversive Press books in the back, and I just had to buy another one….. I’m still jonesing for 2 more Superversive books but can’t probably buy them this month as I’ve had unexpected expenses.
What does ‘superversive’ mean anyway? It’s obviously related to the word ’subversive’ somehow. I looked at the Superversive web page and found several essays on the ’superversive’ movement. But it wasn’t until I asked around for a short definition that L. Jagi Lampwright Wright told me: “Subversive is change by undermining from below. Superversive is change though inspiration from above.”
One of the projects of Superversive Press is Astounding Frontiers, a science fiction periodical. I have issue #1 which was published in July. My author friend Declan Finn has a story in the issue, and I thought it was epic. There were also stories by Patrick S. Baker, Lou Antonelli, Erin Lale, Sarah Salviander, John C. Wright, Ben Wheeler, Nick Cole and Jason Anspach.
I also have the anthology Forbidden Thoughts, which has this on the back cover: “You are not allowed to read this book. Don’t even think about reading this book. In fact, just forget about thinking all together.” So of course I had to read it.
And then there is “For Steam and Country” by Jon del Arroz, which is a steampunk novel about a girl who inherits her dad’s military airship in a time of war…. I haven’t finished it as I keep getting distracted, but I really liked the first third of the book.
It seems that most of my friends in the Conservative-Libertarian Fiction Alliance are involved in Superversive Press. I hope the effort succeeds because so far I love Superversive Press’s books. I hope readers will give some of these books a chance.

Superversive Links:
Superversive SF: Science Fiction for a more civilized age
What is Superversive Press?

MAGA 2020 & Beyond

Superversive SF Facebook Page


Would you please do me a big favor? My Facebook author page is Nissa Annakindt, poet, Aspie & cat person . I’m frustrated because I haven’t had new ‘likes’ in a while and my posts don’t have much ‘reach.’ So if you and a couple other people could ‘like’ my page and ‘like’ three posts on the page— at least I can see if that will help. Thank you so much!

How to Research a Genre #writing #genre

Whether a writer is trying a new genre or continuing in an old genre, genre research is a good idea. Lawrence Block, who wrote ‘Writing the Novel: From Plot to Print’ gives some instruction on how to do this research.

Block gave the example of how he did research for writing mystery short stories for various mystery magazines that in those long-ago days were plentiful. He admits voraciously reading through every magazine of that type he could get.

Since Block encouraged young writers to start with a novel since the short story markets had almost vanished, he suggested reading 8-12 books in the genre. But when he got more specific he suggested starting with six books by six different writers, some established writers in the field and some newer ones.

I would suggest a little more organized approach. Step One: Google the name of the genre. You want to find out: are there alternate names for the genre? Who are the big name writers in the genre right now? Who were the classic writers that were active earlier in the genre history? Can you find any current list of the best-selling books in the genre?

Don’t skip this step if you have been writing in the genre, have been reading the genre since age 8. You need to expand your knowledge and can’t do that sticking to the same old websites and same old writers.

After the research, pick some books. Pick 2-3 books from the current best-seller list, 2-3 books from current authors in the genre, and 2-3 from newer, less known authors.

In the book, Block gives as his example gothic novels. This was a sub-genre of romance. When I was a girl, there were whole sections of just gothic novels in shops. Then the genre pretty much died. The top writers of gothics started calling their books ‘romantic suspense’ or some such thing. I thought it was kind of interesting that Block just randomly picked a doomed genre as his example genre. It shows that a writer needs to be flexible in genre matters.

If you chose ‘science fiction’ as your genre, and you are a Christian, should you limit your reading to just Christian science fiction? Not really. Christian fiction in its broader sense— including not just Evangelicals but Catholic, Lutheran, and even Mormon authors— is still a limited group. Most Christians read more secular novels than specifically Christian ones.

Of course in the science fiction genre we are plagued by a lot of ‘award-winning’ authors that have no interesting ideas but are filled with Social Justice Warrior (SJW) conformity, and just the right kind of non-diverse left-wing diversity with a touch of fashionable hatred for ‘religious people’, mainly Christians and Jews.  If you are picking random books by random authors you may get stuck with one of these books. If the author is a newbie in the field, feel free not to finish the book, but if he/she/they/zie are well-established and actually make the genre best-seller lists, you may feel the need to force your way through it for educational purposes. I’d suggest rationing the poison, and reading a bit of something you actually LIKE after to get the stupidness purged from your mind.

Block suggests in the book that you don’t just read the books, but you write outlines of them This helps you see the structure of the book.

How do you write outlines for a book you are reading? Keep a notepad nearby. When you finish a chapter, write the main things that happen in the chapter. Page back so that you get all the character names right. Make sure that your chapter notes run to several sentences so that you get the main points covered.

When you finish the book, go through your chapter notes. If you have written a longish paragraph for each chapter, try to condense it down to two sentences covering the most important things. The desire is to end up with a tighter outline.

Now, read your draft 2 outline. Can you detect the three acts of the three act structure? Or the doorway of no return and the mirror moment that James Scott Bell speaks of in his how-to-write books?

After you have read through several books in this way, answer some questions. What do the books have in common? What is the minimum that readers of the genre expect, to show that the book IS in the genre? What are some plot elements that are so common in the genre that they might be stereotypes?

If you are trying a genre for the first time, genre research is essential so that you are able to actually know the genre requirements and expectations, and meet them. A more practiced writer in a genre may do research in order to renew their enthusiasm, and to detect changes in the genre. This is important if you tend to read the same authors over and over for years, and are reluctant to try new authors.

The problem with #Superman as a fictional character #writing

Superman. I like him, perhaps because I come from an era when comic books were safe for kids. But there is one interesting think about Superman. As he was originally conceived, it was very hard to write interesting stories about him.

Superman was basically invulnerable, with no weaknesses. We felt he was quite heroic, but everything was so easy for him, was he really heroic after all? He could pick up street criminals by the bunch and drop them at the jail. Of course he probably had to go back to pick up eyewitnesses so the criminals could get convicted. But it wasn’t really a challenge for him.

The writers of Superman added kryptonite so that Superman had a point of vulnerability. It’s kind of silly that rocks from Superman’s destroyed home planet would be harmful to him. And that so many villains could obtain kryptonite. But by making Superman vulnerable— at least to one thing— it made it easier to identify him. And he could be really heroic by taking real risks in order to save someone.

The other thing that the writers of Superman had to invent were supervillians. Ordinary, realistic street criminals were too easy for Superman to defeat. So there had to be villains with superpowers of their own, or who were evil geniuses who could figure out how to seriously endanger Superman or thwart his efforts.

The rule we should learn from this is a real hero needs to be vulnerable in some way, and needs to have an opponent who can actually harm or defeat him.

This can be a problem in some fantasy fiction. Writers might create heroes with amazing magical powers so that the reader wonders: why doesn’t he just use his magic? Unlimited powers in a hero lead to boring stories where the hero is unchallenged. Or unrealistic stories where the hero doesn’t attempt to use his magic powers to accomplish his goals without any real reason to not use this power.

A villain that seems too powerful to defeat does work in fiction, as long as the author plants clues that the villain has a weakness, a limit to his powers, or a way to be defeated. The Harry Potter series works in part because we know Lord Voldemort had limits. He couldn’t just sit in his lair with magic wand out, chanting ‘Aveda Kadavera’ and have his distant enemies all drop dead. We know from the beginning of Harry Potter that Lord Voldemort was defeated once, and that he had opposition as well as supporters.

Writers that don’t think their story through, give both villain and hero non-unlimited sets of abilities, and arrange defeats-of-villains that make actual sense in the story world don’t manage to create entertaining stories.