Worldbuilding Wednesdays: Geography of a space station

So, does a space station actually have a geography? Well, Tiberius Base is pretty big, so, yes, it does. It’s a space city, really.

This is a post in the Worldbuilding Wednesdays blog hop. Join us!

The Core

The core of the Base is a hollow-out asteroid donated by The Diggers. The Diggers are a True Alien race— not humanoid— and they are classified as Fernal Aliens. In other words, they can’t or don’t communicate with humanoids normally. But in this case there is another alien race, the Tsanan, who are Bynal Aliens— they do interact with humans— and they are able to communicate with the Diggers.

The Core is the center of the Base but it is covered in artificial constructions. The Base is in levels and has artificial gravity emanating from the bottom of the sphere. I might mention that in my current WIP Tiberius Base is in the late stages of construction and a lot of the interior is still being build or adapted for its intended used. Tiberius Base is built and owned by the corporation Fortunate Dragon, which is based in the Terran Empire, in a subdivision ruled by Chinese people.

The Docks

There is a double-ring of docks around the ‘equator’ of the station, where ships can refuel, undergo repairs, or trade cargo. At the Docks level, most of the facilities are related to trade or repair, as well as lodgings for those who are visiting the station. There are also security officers aplenty, because there are also some spacemen’s bars being set up and trouble is anticipated.

Topside

This is the ‘top’ of the station although designations like ‘top’ and ‘bottom’ are arbitrary. Topside is where the well-to-do will live and work when the Base is fully operational. A home in Topside is considered very exclusive. The rooms don’t just have many rooms. Most have their own gardens build in— and they are not practical gardens, but are filled with difficult-to-grow exotic flowers, usually. Though one eccentric grows nothing but varieties of day-lilies in his. A few of the more posh spots also have a second garden for the practical purpose of growing herbs and vegetables for the kitchen. The Topside shops and restaurants are the most desired locations and people of all levels of the station use them.

Midside

The levels just above and just below the Docks level are devoted to the homes and workplaces of the middle class. The homes are not luxurious but are nicer than those in most space cities. The ‘downtown’ shopping district is also located in upper Midside. The great ‘street’ which makes up the shopping area has streetcars. It is also where the Base’s forest is located. All Bases and starships have a forest, but the one on Tiberius Base is larger than any forest previously set up by Terrans. During mushroom season, mushrooming in the forest is a popular activity, but one heavily controlled by the authorities. On other stations there have been murders over poaching mushrooms (they were morel mushrooms so it was justifiable homicide.)

The Dome

It is a tourist attraction really. There are a lot of transparencies (like glass but tougher) so you can see out into space. There is also a grand colored transparency like an abstract stained glass window. My main character Ping was in charge of the project of installing the transparency. The Dome area leads into Midside’s ‘downtown’ area. It is also the entrance to the ship’s forest.

Bottomside

Bottomside is dedicated to the most practical operations of the base, like the sewage system. There are also the homes of the menial workers. These homes are NOT posh and there are actually barracks for the unmarried workers. The only shops and restaurants at the Bottomside level are a few cheap places that cater to the poorest. Most Bottomside residents shop and eat at Midside. The station management makes shop spaces available there at low-enough prices that most folks locate businesses there.

 

Why Christian/Catholic Authors shouldn’t write smutty books

Sexy

Everybody does it, these days. Sex scenes in fiction are oddly considered ‘realistic’ and some unfortunate readers refuse to read books without them. But a Christian (includes Catholic) author must not do it.

Note: the book cover above was chosen at random. I don’t know the author or if the book is as ‘sexy’ as the cover indicates.

Why not? Plotting a sex scene involves cultivating a sexual thought, on purpose. In Christianity that is called ‘entertaining impure thoughts.’  HAVING impure thoughts is not the sin– we have no control when we wake up from a sex dream and continue having sexual thoughts before our self-control can assert itself.

There is an old Catholic story about a teen boy who goes to confession and can’t think of what to confess. The helpful priest asks if the boy has been entertaining impure thoughts.  The boy, wanting to be truthful, says ‘No, Father, they entertain ME.’

Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, and many other fine authors that we all should read managed to write novels without having their characters go at it sexually all over the landscape. Dickens even wrote prostitute characters without resorting to sex scenes. Why today’s authors think they are better and more realistic than Dickens because they write their sex fantasies into their fiction I do not know.

A Christian is called to be pure. Why? Because sex is too holy to be taken casually. God instituted marriage so that believers could live out their sex lives in a pure and holy way. Marriage— and the sexuality that comes with the marriage— is symbolic of the relationship of Christ and the Church. What part of that makes you believe that writing out sex fantasies in our fiction is OK?

Some people think that you need explicit sex scenes to be ‘realistic’.  It would also be ‘realistic’ to have an explicit scene of your character’s next bathroom visit. But it would also be crude and disgusting to many readers. Do we really need to know if Harry Potter did a number 1 or a number 2?

Another reason against sex scenes is the unintended effect we may have. We write a gritty, realistic rape scene that is as unsexy as we can make it— and some teen uses it for whacking-off material. Won’t that warp the young person’s sexuality? And what about the recovering sex addict? A sex scene, unexpected in a Christian author’s novel, may cause a relapse.

A very pragmatic reason against sex scenes for the Christian/Catholic author is that the reader base for Christian fiction overwhelmingly prefers traditional fiction without sex scenes. What do you do when the Christian readers reject you? Secularist readers won’t like you unless you reject all your Christian values in a way you probably don’t want to do.

Finally, writing a sex scene can be overly revealing about you-the-writer. It’s hard to write a sex scene without drawing on your own personal sex experiences, if any. And even if you are innocent of experience, folks will figure that you are doing that kinky sex thing you wrote about.

I should at this point admit that when I first started out writing I tried to write a porno. I had to buy some porno books to get the sex scenes right. I wrote one chapter with a lesbian scene and then lost interest in the project. I realize now what a mistake it would have been to have continued with that project.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8 KJV

 

 

 

 

 

 

Worldbuilding Wednesdays: Food

Yet another post in Worldbuilding Wednesday, a blog hop sponsored by Rebekah Loper.  This week our topic is food.

Food supply is an essential for many worlds, yet authors don’t often think about all the difficulties involved. Our culture discourages involvement in food production. I read about a promising farmer’s son who was told in high school he would be ‘wasting his life’ if he studied agriculture in preparation to take over the family farm.

In my WIP Tiberius Base, the setting is a space city— like a space station but much larger — which is called, not surprisingly, Tiberius Base. The city is still under construction, but it needs to support the needs of a crew of builders and of some administrators supervising the project.

Tiberius Base is very large. It is built around a hollowed-out asteroid which was given to the human base-builders by the Diggers, a true alien race (not humanoid). The humans don’t understand the Diggers and cannot directly communicate with them.

Given the large size of the base they can do a lot of food production on their own. Since the population of the base are meat eaters there is no question of imposing vegetarianism. There are large facilities which grow hydroponic grasses which are fed to cattle of various sorts, as well as artificial pastures, which are rotated almost daily. A small number of pigs are kept in order to recycle food waste. Chickens are kept along with the cattle and they clean up spilled feed and provide eggs. Some ducks are raised also.

The base was started by Asians, mostly Chinese, from Earth. So rice is grown on the base on a large scale. The straw from the rice plants is used as cattle bedding. When a large group of Catholic workers are imported, a small amount of wheat must be grown so they can make their own communion wafers.

Sprouting is a vital food source. Sprouting seeds are imported from various worlds and sold nearly at cost by the station administration. Most households on the base do their own sprouting both of salad sprouts and of bean sprouts or lentil sprouts. There are also commercial operations which supply sprouts to restaurants and cafeterias.  The sprouting habit is the major source of vitamins and minerals to the average station inhabitant.

Hydroponic facilities grow a variety of vegetables, including oriental veggies that most Americans would consider exotic. A few orchards on the base provide fruit.

Every space city has at least one transplanted forest at the heart of it. Tiberius Base has an exceptionally large one, as well as three smaller parks. The forests/parks are traditionally seeded with mushroom spores so there are many inhabitants of the base who go mushrooming regularly to supplement their diet. A mushroom growing center will likely be added to the base at some point to supply those who had bad luck mushrooming.

Lower income people on the station have a rather boring diet of beef or pork, rice, and locally grown veggies. Higher income people can pay for imported canned food or frozen meat grown on a relatively local planet. The richest can buy exotic meals from many different cultures specially preserved for the high-income consumer.

The hydroponic growers and the meat producers are sensitive to the desires of the consumers, even low income ones. If they import a group of workers who want more cauliflower or more chevon (goat meat) they are likely to look into ways to produce it. The employers of the low-wage workers, who do such things as move cargo from docked spaceships or do menial tasks around the station, think it very important to provide their workers with decent food to keep their morale up.

Worldbuilding Wednesdays: Economy — Feudalism in the Zombie Apocalypse

Worldbuilding Wednesday, a weekly blog hop by Rebekah Loper, is today, and our topic is the Economy. Economy is an all-important topic in worldbuilding which is often neglected— who wonders how Frodo managed to pay Samwise? But I’ve only just written a post about the economic collapse caused by the zombie apocalypse which happens in the third book of my as-yet-unwritten Revenant Nation series.

So I’m narrowing the focus to one aspect of the new economy— feudalism. Because if you don’t own land or any form of wealth when the Zombie Apocalypse hits, all you have is your labor power to sell.

The new wealthy of the Zombie Apocalypse world are the people who control food resources— farmers. Imagine a typical dairy farmer in Menominee county, Michigan— there are a few such farms within walking distance of my house. They will still have their herds once the Z.A. hits— but lack of fuel and electricity means that they will be needing greater supplies of labor.

Human beings who survive the zombie carnage in the cities and larger towns will need work to provide food and a place to stay. It is almost inevitable that arrangements will be made, trading the labor power of workers for a place to build a cabin and a supply of food.

The workers will be at first fully unskilled— how many people know how to harvest grass for hay using a hand scythe or even a horse-drawn hay cutter? But with practice the survivors will become skilled peasants of the European type.

The farmers will be expected to supply some of the food needs of their workers, perhaps giving them a cut of the milk, butter and cheese harvested. But the new peasants will be expected to produce some of their own food through gardens and the like.

I have read that in Ireland the peasants subsisted on their potato crop plus what they got from the family cow. At least until the potato famine came along. Although a diet of potatoes plus butter, milk and cream is nutritionally horrible— too many carbs— it was able to sustain life. The new peasants of the Z. A. world will likely have to discover a similar way of basic subsistence to survive.

The wealth of the farmers will depend on how near they are to transportation of their goods to a market. Some farms— cultivated by the military to feed the troops— will be supplied with fuel and operate in a nearly normal method. Other farms, without the market, will mostly be about feeding their workers.

At first, most of the purchases people make will be in the form of barter. Perhaps some people will be able to install solar or alternative electricity in exchange for long-term food supplies. It will probably be a few years before a stable currency is reestablished.

In addition to food and/or a chance to produce one’s own food— one can’t garden without a home to garden from— a farmer will probably have to provide a degree of protection. The Z. A. world will likely be full of would-be Negans who would love to enslave other people. A farmer who arms some of his trustworthy male workers would be able to fight off most threats of that sort.  New peasants choosing a farmer for a ‘master’ would take into consideration the ability of that master to protect his workers.

Worldbuilding Wednesday blog hop: DEATH!

Death is a part of life. The last part. It’s also today’s topic in the Worldbuilding Wednesday blog hop, which is hosted by Rebekah Loper on her blog Fantasia Hearth

In my WIP series Revenant Nation, which is a near-future political dystopia with zombies, people start out with attitudes on death that are pretty much that of Americans today. They leave death and the handling of bodies to morgues, funeral homes and churches. The Rosa party, the faction which is making it a dystopia, prefers cremation and party-dominated secular funerals. The Settlers, a rural faction, has members who experiment with do-it-yourself burials, cremations, and eagle-burials on their own land. (Eagle-burial is when you tie a corpse in a tree and leave it for the eagles.)

The spread of zombie infection changes burial customs. Corpses have to be handled promptly in case they were infected. In the Rosa party dominated cities they are disorganized and most infected corpses rise as zombies. In the area dominated by the Settlers, smashing in the skull of the dead person with a sledge hammer becomes part of the death rites. In Catholic families, on the order of the current pope who is in exile in Northern Wisconsin, a blessed sledge hammer is used. After a while, this becomes a part of the death rites even for people who are known to be uninfected. (It’s not like TWD where everyone is infected.)

Large numbers of zombie corpses are killed (or should that be re-killed) by shots or blows to the head and are then left somewhere— often a paved area— to dry out during warm days of summer. When they are dried out somewhat the corpses are burned.

Mourning procedures change depending on if a person died of the infection, turned, and killed people as a zombie. Some communities ban the wearing of mourning bands for someone whose corpse killed people as a zombie.  Others use a charcoal gray mourning band for such cases. People in the Judeo-Christian faiths tend to not blame the dead person for what his corpse did as a zombie, but are concerned about the feelings of those who lost family members to zombies.

Spiritual aspects: among religious believers with afterlife beliefs, a person is held to have died and his spirit gone into the afterlife at clinical death. The zombie that may arise from his body is considered its own entity, more animal than human-like. IT is widely believed that a person is not responsible for evil actions performed by his zombified corpse. Anti-religious types like those in the Rosa party often insist that the zombies are not risen from death, that they are the same person they always were only with brain damage. They are wedded to the idea that humans have no soul and that nothing happens after death. Which is why Rosa ruled regions can’t cope with zombie infestations effectively.

This has been a post in the Worldbuilding Wednesdays weekly blog hop. It runs from July 26 to Aug. 1. If you are an author currently doing worldbuilding, it’s a great opportunity to get inspired to do more work. Join us at http://rebekahloper.com/worldbuilding-wednesdays/ and sign up.

 

The dollar becomes worthless when the zombie apocalypse hits

If you are a fan of The Walking Dead, here is one thing you never saw— a character pulling out a wad of dollars to buy something. And that’s actually a feature of any real zombie apocalypse of TWD severity— the dollar will become worthless. Why? Because the US dollar, like other global currencies, is fiat currency. It’s money because the government says it’s money. But when the government collapses because of the zombie threat, who is going to trade food or survival supplies for your fistful of dollars? No one.

Once the zombie apocalypse is truly upon us, we will have to rely on barter. John has a large supply of bullets, Maisie has a large supply of bags of split peas. They swap. Mike has a spare milk goat, Barry has a crossbow. And so on.

Some people may be able to trade their work for food. Christie the mom goes to Bill the dairy farmer and offers to do hand-milking and other chores in exchange for some of the milk. They work out how much work is required for a gallon of milk and make the deal. A dairy farm will probably attract quite a few laborers who will work for food and a spot in the barn to sleep. And they will need the labor once the fuel and electricity supply is out.

After people get more settled— when they know where their next meal is coming from— people will want the benefits of a cash-based economy. They will want a wage that they can spend on what they want. Most likely, the new money will be gold.

During the survival phase, no one is going to trade you a bag of corn for a bunch of gold coins. You can’t eat gold. But once people either learn the skills to hunt or grow their own food, they will want other things, and a means of exchange is more convenient than barter. In barter, the person who has the thing you need may not be willing to take what you have to offer for it.

Gold IS money, in a lot of ways. Survivalists and independent types often keep a supply of gold coins on hand in case of a crisis. So it’s going to happen that some people are going to start taking a risk on the value of gold coins. Initially perhaps on items for enjoyment, such as an antique table or a piece of jewelry. Only after gold coins start being traded regularly will you be able to buy essentials— like a new gun— with it.

The trading value of gold will fluctuate wildly at first. People who didn’t understand economics probably didn’t even take gold coins when they found them in abandoned shops or homes in the beginning. They were more concerned with finding food and ammo. But once gold coins have value, people will be finding gold coin hordes, and each discovery of large amounts of gold coins to come into circulation will lower the value of other gold in circulation.

This will disconcert those who believe in gold and the gold standard, but similar things have happened before, as when the Spanish brought home the gold treasures of the New World. That lowered the value of the gold already in circulation in Europe. But economies adjust to fluctuations in the gold supply. In time gold will become the currency of choice in the zombie-haunted world.

What about silver? They are always hyping silver on TV as being almost as good as gold. Well, it isn’t. Silver fluctuates wildly as sometimes silver is a popular investment and sometimes it wasn’t. Silver can boom and bust to an extent that gold can’t. After a gold economy is established among survivors, silver may be desirable for small purchases. But it will be difficult to establish how many 1 0unce Silver Eagles it would take to trade for a one-tenth ounce Gold Eagle coin. The exact amount will ultimately be determined by local communities of survivors. And they may not take other silver, such as historic coins, as they would take a common Silver Eagle (minted by the US government, as are Gold Eagles.)

Is there a zombie apocalypse novel in your future? If so, how will your characters deal with the probable economic collapse?


A blog post I read today

GirlZombieAuthors: Dr. Bowen Mystery, AuthorFest! The blogger, C. A. Verstraete, is the author of Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter and has a new book out involving Dr. Bowen, Lizzie Borden’s doctor.

How many zombies are in a zombie apocalypse, anyway?

In Memory of George Romero (1940-2017), inventor of the modern zombie film. Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine on him….. (Because we don’t want him to come back as a zombie!)

I remember watching a much-censored TV version of Night of the Living Dead as a kid. The zombie outbreak in the film was a local one, and was caused, as was everything in the Sixties, by mysterious radiation. But what about the REAL zombies? Or, OK, the more realistic ones? How do they grow from a local problem to a cool global zombie apocalypse like in The Walking Dead?

Most of us assume the zombie condition is caused exclusively by bite-to-bite transmission. That is, a person is bitten by a zombie, dies, turns, and goes on to bite others. But can this mode of transmission lead to a global outbreak? I mean, it wouldn’t take more than a few transmission events before people got the clue that it was a really bad idea to leave zombie-bite victims unattended. If human beings were to routinely shoot newly dead zombie victims in the head— or maybe all newly dead— a zombie outbreak wouldn’t likely reach outbreak levels. It might become a part of the death ritual— like the way they smack a newly dead pope in the head with a silver hammer…. (I wonder which pope became a zombie so they had to institute that ritual?)

There perhaps needs to be alternate methods of transmission in order for the zombie condition to spread to apocalyptic levels. In The Walking Dead the theory is that everyone’s infected, so that death from any cause will spread the zombie condition. Once people know this one would think that it would become a universal rule to crack the skulls of dead people just in case, but that doesn’t seem to have happened. I blame big government. They were too busy setting up refugee centers and military controls to do the right thing and spread the essential zombie-prevention information to the whole population before the lights (and TVs) went out.

Perhaps the zombie infection is like the Black Death of the Middle Ages. In the initial form the plague was spread from rat fleas to humans. But then as the infection grew worse in the cities, it began to spread human-to-human through coughing and sneezing caused by the infection.

The primary initial method might be something other than zombie bites. After all, there has to be a first zombie somehow unless the zombie condition is endemic and present in the population at a low level all the time. In my much-delayed zombie story, the infection is spread by inhaling or otherwise consuming a plant symbiont. The infected person will either develop an acute infection and rapidly become a zombie, or get a “slow burn” infection, which will allow the person to live with the infection for years and only become a zombie after natural death.

With a second method for spreading the zombie infective agent, one can achieve very large numbers of zombie far more rapidly than if you need a zombie to bite every victim. If you want to wreck the world with zombies (in fiction, I hope) a second infection method will get the apocalypse going quicker.


Blog posts I’m reading:

Daniella Bova: What Happened to Common Decency

Fiction Notes: Series Tips: Characters, Timeline & Plot

Girl Zombie Authors: Lizzie Borden’s Doctor #Paranormal #Mystery – Almost here!   – Christine Verstraete writes about her latest, soon-to-be-published zombie novel. Girl Zombie Authors is a multi-authored blog by, you guessed it, girl zombie authors. Meaning girls that write about zombies not girls that ARE zombies, I’m guessing.