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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The Great Novel-Dictating Experiment

This is day two of my experiment in dictating my novel. I am using the dictation software that came with my Mac. It is a secondhand Mac that I bought a few years ago. There is similar voice dictation software built into the old Windows computer I had previously, but I didn’t use it. Whether you have a Mac or a PC, Google around to find info on the voice dictation software that came with your computer.

So far I have done 1000 words on each of the two days I have been working this way. There are a few little difficulties but I am overcoming them.

You may think that you have to memorize a lot of commands in order to use the dictation. That’s not so. Since you’re going to be editing anyway, you can add many features such as additional punctuation, quotation marks, and other things. You can start out just saying ‘period’ and ‘comma’ to add the most essential punctuation, and saying ‘new line’ or ‘new paragraph’ to add line or paragraph breaks. Actually, using the Extended Dictation on Mac, you are supposed to say “Press return key.”

One problem that dictation software has is with proper names. If your main character is named Tom, Harry or Adolph, dictation can spell it. But if you have strange character or place names, as an fantasy or science fiction novels, dictation cannot handle these names. The solution is to add a placeholder name. Use common names as substitutes for your characters strange real names, or the names of your fantasy cities and planets. Yes, it is silly to have a planet named Iowa when its real name is Glariniafini. But it’s a good workaround. You can just do a find-and-replace during the edit phase.

Fast flow writing

You may have heard about the importance of fast flow writing. This is writing really fast, without worrying about spelling, punctuation or getting all the details right. Dictation was made for fast flow writing. You can produce a lot more text with the fast flow than with more careful writing. Since correction is required in either case, you might as well write faster in the first draft phase. Forget those commas and semicolons! Just write!

I am currently writing this blog post with Extended Dictation, directly on to  WordPress. It’s not as easy as writing it on Scrivener first, and then cutting and pasting. But it is far easier than typing it.

A little trick

Sometimes when I’m dictating a sentence, it clearly misspells a word. Or it gets my words wrong. Often it’s because I didn’t speak clearly enough. When I see this, I just dictate the sentence again more clearly. I can just delete the sentence that did not come out well. Sometimes I’ve said a phrase or sentence three times before Extended Dictation came up with the best that it could do with the sentence in question.

I am still using the dictation that came with my Mac,. I downloaded something called Extended Dictation, which means I can dictate without being connected to the Internet. It works fairly well. At this point I don’t think it’s worthwhile to spend $300 on DragonDictate since I don’t know how long I am going to continue to write this way. The Extended Dictation works well enough for my current purposes.

And so that is my blog post for the day. I hope it will inspire anyone who’s experimenting with dictation software on their own. Please share your experiences in a comment.

 

Link

Use your voice to enter text on your Mac

Dictating your Novel

A number of authors of books on how to write faster have suggested using dictation software to write your novel. Is this really a good idea? Isn’t writing supposed to be about, well, writing? Or could dictating help you write faster or better or overcome Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

I have thought for some time of buying DragonDictate. This is a software which allows you to dictate your text. But I have discovered that both Macs and PCs come with dictation software built in these days. I am dictating this blog post with the dictation that comes on my Mac.

It is awkward. It is a new skill that I have to master if I want to write this way. So far, my work tends to be more prosaic and boring if I dictate it. But I’ve only been doing this for two days.

I have written a post in my personal writing diary using this method. It’s awkward. I think I said that already. I have also started a new WIP using only dictation. I did about 800 words this morning, and after revising, I ended up with over 1000. I feel like it might work for me.

Using dictation is one way a writer with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can continue to write. By dictating, you can avoid having to use your poor abused hands.

You also have to learn a few voice commands. For example, you have to use the words ‘period’ and ’comma’ to add punctuation to your text. (The dictation software did not handle this previous sentence very well.)

Is this worth doing? Even if you don’t have any physical disabilities that make typing hard?

It could be, if only as a change of pace. It’s doing something different. If you feel like a failure when writing the normal way, dictation might be a way to revive your interest in writing.

Can it increase your writing speed? It can be fast, but you have to wait for the software to catch up with your words. And you have to go over to make corrections. But I think I composed this blog post in a shorter amount of time than normal.

Have you ever tried writing with dictation? Did it work for you? If you want to give it a try, do an Internet search on ‘dictation’ or ‘voice to text’. You will find something that will explain how to activate dictation on your own computer. Practice a while. It may be something that is useful for you.

Can we be TOO creative? #writing

I worry a lot. Like what if the end of the world isn’t zombies but vampires, post-nuclear mutants or Democrats? I also used to worry about not being a real creative person, but just some hack who only has the most commonplace of ideas, but is too dull to know the ideas are dreck.

I don’t worry about that second one any more, though. My real problem is that I am too creative. And that wreaks havoc on my writing productivity.

Here’s how it goes. One morning I have a killer idea for a writing project and I get started. I get enthusiastic for a day or a week or for two weeks. And then it hits. Another killer idea. And it’s better than the old idea. Or at least it’s less familiar and and seems all shiny and new. And so I switch projects and have one more abandoned writing project for my file.

What about you? How many creative projects do you have lying around half-finished? Do your new ideas get in the way of your old ones so nothing gets finished?

I remember reading an employment ad where the prospective employer was looking for a worker who was a ‘self-starter.’ I guess that’s better for business than a worker who had to be started by a supervisor with whips. But when you are working for yourself, maybe it’s better to ask if you are a self-finisher. Because finishing is the thing. No one ever gets the first three chapters of an unfinished novel on the best-seller lists.

I wish I could trot out a shiny new solution to this old problem that would fix everything without any effort or willpower. But that’s not the real world. You just have to make yourself finish things you start. And I’m terrible at that. Long ago I had writing projects that I worked on for weeks before I gave up on them. Lately it seems I can come up with a brand-new writing project every writing day. I guess that’s why I write short poems and blog posts so much. At least I know how to finish those.

What about you? Does your burgeoning creativity get in the way of getting your creative projects finished? Do you have a good way to overcome it?

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.

Cyndi Carter: Faith is a Gift (guest post)

Today’s post is a guest post by Cyndi Carter, author of the fantasy novel ‘The Road Home‘, which I am currently reading.

Everybody loves getting gifts. Shiny, neat packages, wrapped with ribbon and topped with a bow. Sometimes people get stealthy, take a gift marked for them, and start shaking it to see if they can guess what’s inside. And it’s not just children – adults do it too. There’s surprise, excitement, and pleasure, both for the recipient of the gift as well as the giver of the gift.

When I was a child, I spent most of December waiting on pins and needles for Christmas to arrive. What was in the burgeoning numbers of boxes piled embarrassingly high under our Christmas tree? On Christmas Eve, my brother and I tore into our pile of gifts at breakneck speed. And on Christmas morning, there were still gifts from Santa to open.

Have you ever seen someone who didn’t like getting gifts? I have. I watched a kindergarten class exchanging small gifts just before Christmas. The gifts were piled in the middle of the circle of children sitting on the floor, and they were to take a present from the pile when the teacher called their name. But there was one child who, when his name was called, just sat there, staring straight ahead. Even though the teacher encouraged him to go get a present, he remained immobile, staring fixedly in front of him, the entire time.

In Ephesians 2:8, Paul says that we are saved by grace through faith. He goes on to say that we don’t even have the ability to have faith – it’s a gift from God. It’s not having faith in faith, but faith in Jesus. In Romans 3:22, he says that our righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ. From start to finish, it’s a gift from Him. And after we place our faith in Jesus for salvation, and acknowledge Him as Lord and Master of our lives, we live each day by that grace and faith. We can’t do anything under our own power. Things we do part from faith in Him leave a taste as satisfying as cardboard.

I believe God offers the gift of grace and faith to each and every person. However, not everyone opens that gift, or receives it. Just like that kindergartener, we can refuse to open the gift. Sometimes it’s because we don’t even want it or believe it exists. Maybe we don’t believe the gift is ours (“You must have gotten me mixed up with someone else who deserves this gift”). The result is the same. The gift is actually ours, but we leave it sitting there, all wrapped up its paper and bows, unopened.

My friend, open that gift of grace and faith. Tear into it the way my brother and I did at Christmas. Shred the bows, rip the paper off. Because the gift is yours, if you’ll only open the box.


Hi! It’s Nissa, back again. Thanks to Cyndi for her guest post, and also thanks to the new people who signed up for my newsletter, which is coming out tomorrow. It includes a kitten picture, a book recommendation, and a little blogging secret I’ve learned. If you want to sign up, either use the dreadfully annoying pop-up or go to: http://eepurl.com/FN2hr before tomorrow morning.