Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Free story idea – Star Jumping

I have a lot of ideas for stories.  Like, if I wrote a novel’s worth of them every month, I’d still most likely die before getting through them all.  I will admit that some of the ideas probably suck, but I think there are some that a good writer could make something of them.  I’ll just never get a chance to.  So, I give them to the world.  If you can make something of these, go right ahead.  And if these are the ideas I’m giving away, maybe check out the ones I keep.

Here in the real world, you can’t accelerate a mass up to the speed of light.  The closer you get to the speed of light, the more energy you need, and it quickly becomes outrageous.  Thanks Einstein.  But what if you could … negate the mass, or cover it up somehow?  That’s a key element in this story.  I don’t know exactly how it would work – you would need to come up with the basics at least for this made-up physics – but the idea is you build a ship with some device that creates a bubble, or field around the ship.  This makes the ship nearly massless for the tiniest split of a second.  During this time, you fire a laser pulse at the ship.  Now, one of the whacky bits of Relativity is that time – to an outside observer – runs “slow” for things moving near light speed.  So this ship – while nearly massless – when hit by the laser pulse, would fly off at near light speed.  The tiniest split second later, as viewed by the ship, the bubble or whatever would collapse and the ship would regain its mass and screech to a halt.  Hopefully slow enough so that the passenger isn’t smeared into a red paste along the backwall.  To the passenger, it would seem they traveled lightyears in less than a second.  But to an observer back at the laser, years may have passed.  The laser would fire, then eight years later you’d get the message from the ship that they traveled four light years: four years for the outward journey and four years for the message to come back.  I’m sure physics people are banging their heads wanting to explain why all of that is wrong.  As if warp drives and lightspeed engines make any sense.

Anyway, this story follows a star jump test program.  The first issue is how long do you set this bubble or whatever to exist, and how do you fire the laser pulse at the right time.  So basically, you build a robotic probe, call it Interstellar A, and it turns on the bubble, you fire the laser, and two years later you get the message that it traveled one lightyear.  So you do a few more test runs with probes Interstellar B through F to fine tune things, over a couple decades. 

But now they’re ready to send the first human to the nearest star, Proxima Centauri.  The plan is once the Interstellar G mission – with an astronaut and the human-level AI that runs the ship – arrive at Proxima Centauri, they’ll set up a robotic miner on some asteroid.  Over a year or so, it will mine needed materials to build a laser system.  It will also mine materials to build a shield for the craft because space is only nearly empty.  Hitting a dust grain while traveling near the speed of light would cause some damage, so the shield the craft had when it left Earth is very damaged and needs to be replaced.

While all that is happening, the astronaut will explore the system.  The ship isn’t designed to land, so it can only orbit any planet and drop probes.  Some of these probes will return with samples, either just rock samples or maybe some lifeforms, if there are any.  Once the laser is built, the plan is for the astronaut to use it to come back to our solar system with their samples.

I image the story will be beautiful descriptions of alien planets along with long conversations between the human and the AI on the meaning of life, and exploration, and whatever to pass the time.  Along the way, the human will point out that they really don’t want to go back to Earth, they’d much rather keep exploring.  I forget who it was, but I read years ago there was some American pioneer who if they could see smoke from somebody’s cabin, it meant they were too close to civilization and they had to move further west.  This astronaut – with their AI companion – would rather just keep exploring further and further out into the galaxy. 

Fortunately, Interstellar F finally shows up.  While this probe was launched sooner, it wasn’t fine-tuned enough and so only made it 99.9999% of the way to Proxima Centauri.  But, it then fired up its engine and over however many years finally inched its way to the system.  So they load Interstellar F up with the samples, give it a new shield, and fire it back to Earth.  They then build another shield for Interstellar G, and fire it off to the next nearest star system.  They don’t use it to go to the main Alpha Centauri system, because there’s probably already a mission on its way there.  Not to mention, Proxima Centauri will probably soon be crawling with scientists who will also take the short jump to Alpha Centauri.  And our main characters would rather be elsewhere.

They don’t plan to disappear.  At each new star system, they’ll mine resources to build a new laser system to move on, but which later explorers can also use.  They also stockpile samples, and materials for shields.  They also write detailed reports on all they find and beam them back to Earth, and the other star systems they’ve been to, and explain where they are going next. 

But that’s their plan at the end of the story.  As I said, I expect the main focus of the book would be these long discussions about what it means to be a pioneer.  Which, I would find interesting, but I doubt I could write.  So hopefully, someone else will.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Random Writing Tips – Am I just writing gibberish?


There is a project I’d like to finish in the next few months.  The idea of the project isn’t that difficult, it’s some essays on a subject I have a great interest in.  So I don’t have to deal with foreshadowing, or coming up with interesting characters, or any of the complexities of fiction writing.  I just have to coherently describe my thoughts on this subject.

Of course, since I first started this project, I’ve shifted the focus three or four times.  That’s not a bad thing, since it was rather unfocused to begin with, but I have now figured out a framework for it.  But that means writing, and reading, and rewriting, and rereading, and rerewriting, and rerereading, etc., the same paragraphs over and over again.  Each paragraph is fine, but with each refocus I need to massage them to fit the new framework. 

So one night, I’m tired, and I’m reading this paragraph for the twentieth time trying to make sure it fits, and it felt like it wasn’t even written in English.  Just words mixed together like some kind of vocabulary stew.  That was an obvious sign to take a break.  I went back to it a few days later, and while there was a bit of clunkiness, it’s nothing a good polish wouldn’t fix. 

And I wondered how many tired, overworked writers saw the “gibberish” on the page and gave up, thinking they weren’t “real” writers?


Image from Pixabay.

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

My writing goals for 2024


Four or five months ago, in an attempt to get my act together, I set deadlines to finish five of my projects.  Three of those deadlines are this year.  I want to publish Collection X, my tenth short story collection, a collection of essays on building a lunar base, which I’m still hammering a title out for, and Rediscovery, a novella I started years ago about a writer rediscovering the world and her novels after she lost her memory in a terrorist attack.  Altogether, I’m probably about 50% done on all of them, I just have to actually finish the other 50%. 

Great idea.  Will I actually meet these deadlines?  I guess only time will tell.


Each Election Year, I’ve reread my old ebooks to update them or fix any typos that have managed to survive all these years.  I still plan to do that this year, I just think that for my first ten or so ebooks – which I’ve already done this to two or three times – it will be the last time.  I’ll still update the front matter to include new ebooks, but I think I’ll stop doing these four-year updates.  They take a lot of time, time I need to be writing new stuff if I’m to meet any of my deadlines.


Last year, I started my Monthly Stories, where I posted a story on my website each month.  In 2024, I plan to continue that.  I also plan to start posting a story each month on my Ko-fi account, largely because I’m not sure what else to do there.  The Monthly Stories are stories I come up with and write that month, while for Ko-fi I’ll repost stories, or write some and hold on to them for a few months. 


I guess the last goal I have for this year is to submit some stories to magazines or websites.  There is one site I know I want to submit to, and I’d like to submit to at least two other places.  We’ll see.


Well, to meet all of these goals, I need to get writing.  Wish me luck.


Image from Pixabay.