History Main / ScifiWritersHaveNoSenseOfScale

14th Aug '17 8:19:26 PM BiffJr
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Most people (if not, in fact, ''everyone'') can't get their minds around just how big the universe is. So it should come as little surprise that most SpeculativeFiction writers can't either.

This is chiefly true of creators of TV, film, and video game SF. Creators of ''written'' science fiction can be positively obsessive about accuracy (but on the other hand, [[SturgeonsLaw sometimes they're not]]). If your qualitative yardstick is based around an author's ability to describe distances, this may be a useful way to distinguish good print science fiction from bad print science fiction. And it's why a lot of science fiction fans don't like the movie and TV adaptations of their favorite books and stories. The usual blend of AdaptationDecay and bad research is a surefire way to leave the adaptation with no sense of ''scale''.

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Most people (if not, in fact, ''everyone'') can't get their minds around just how big the universe is. So it should come as little surprise that most SpeculativeFiction writers can't either.

This is chiefly true of creators of TV, film, and video game SF. Creators of ''written'' science fiction can be positively obsessive about accuracy (but [[note]] but on the other hand, [[SturgeonsLaw sometimes they're not]]). not]]. [[/note]] If your qualitative yardstick is based around an author's ability to describe distances, this may be a useful way to distinguish good print science fiction from bad print science fiction. And it's why a lot of science fiction fans don't like the movie and TV adaptations of their favorite books and stories. The usual blend of AdaptationDecay and bad research is a surefire way to leave the adaptation with no sense of ''scale''.



For example, consider that a light year is on the order of 10 ''quadrillion'' metres (10 petametres) or nearly ''six trillion'' miles. Let's assume your family car uses about 2 and a half gallons (11.37 litres) of fuel per 100km - about 25 mpg - and a gallon (2.55 litres) costs about $4 USD (i.e. 1.6 USD/1 Euro per litre) to traverse it. This means that one light year is roughly where you'd end up if you spent the entire national debt of the US on petroleum fuel [[note]]and at 60 miles per hour, it would take 11 million years to drive there[[/note]]. At the opposite end, an atomic nucleus is on the order of a ''quadrillionth'' of a meter. That's ten-to-the-power-of-negative-fifteen of a meter, or a femtometer. Such outrageous [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SI_prefix SI prefixes]] rarely appear in fiction, and that's before we get anywhere near the scales of galaxies and subatomic particles. [[WritersCannotDoMath This is because most writers aren't that good at or are too lazy to implement mathematics, let alone the branch of calculus]]. If it sounds like [[EleventyZillion a number made up by a child]] ([[VideoGame/TheWorldEndsWithYou Attention all yoctograms!]], septillion seconds), the writer might have actually taken it seriously.

to:

For example, consider that a light year is on the order of 10 ''quadrillion'' metres (10 petametres) metres or nearly ''six trillion'' miles. Let's assume your family car uses about 2 and a half gallons (11.37 litres) of fuel per 100km - about 25 mpg - and a gallon (2.55 litres) costs about $4 USD (i.e. 1.6 USD/1 Euro per litre) to traverse it. This means that one light year is roughly where you'd end up if you spent the entire national debt of the US on petroleum fuel [[note]]and at 60 miles per hour, it would take 11 million years to drive there[[/note]]. At the opposite end, an atomic nucleus is on the order of a ''quadrillionth'' of a meter. That's ten-to-the-power-of-negative-fifteen of a meter, or a femtometer. Such outrageous [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SI_prefix SI prefixes]] rarely appear in fiction, and that's before we get anywhere near the scales of galaxies and subatomic particles. [[WritersCannotDoMath This is because most writers aren't that good at or are too lazy to implement mathematics, let alone the branch of calculus]]. If it sounds like [[EleventyZillion a number made up by a child]] ([[VideoGame/TheWorldEndsWithYou Attention all yoctograms!]], septillion seconds), the writer might have actually taken it seriously.
14th Aug '17 8:14:12 PM BiffJr
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[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Van_Allen Dr. James Van Allen]] (for whom the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Van_Allen_radiation_belt Van Allen Radiation Belt]] is named) was once asked by a reporter to 'define space'. He replied, "Space is the hole that we are in."

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[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Van_Allen Dr. James Van Allen]] (for [[note]] for whom the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Van_Allen_radiation_belt Van Allen Radiation Belt]] is named) named [[/note]] was once asked by a reporter to 'define space'. He replied, "Space is the hole that we are in."
9th Aug '17 12:33:10 PM AkiTendo
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* SciFiWritersHave/NoSenseOfTime

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* SciFiWritersHave/NoSenseOfTimeSciFiWritersHave/NoSenseOfTime or entropy
20th Sep '16 3:28:11 PM TropesForever
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%%comment%% This page attracts [[PleaseNoNatter natter]] and FanWank like a porch light attracts moths. Please avoid ConversationOnTheMainPage and {{Justifying Edit}}s. If you must hammer out the finer points of your favorite fictional work, use the "Discussion" button at the top of the page. If you have a pet theory about something, try WildMassGuessing.

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%%comment%% This page attracts [[PleaseNoNatter natter]] natter and FanWank Fan Wank like a porch light attracts moths. Please avoid ConversationOnTheMainPage Conversation In The Main Page and {{Justifying Edit}}s.Justifying Edits. If you must hammer out the finer points of your favorite fictional work, use the "Discussion" button at the top of the page. If you have a pet theory about something, try WildMassGuessing.Wild MassG uessing.
20th Aug '16 7:42:39 PM Orbiting
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-> Space is ''big''. '''''Really''''' big. I mean, you might think it's a long way down to the street to the chemist, but that's ''peanuts'' compared to space, ''listen!''...

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-> Space ->''"Space is ''big''. '''''Really''''' big. I mean, you might think it's a long way down to the street to the chemist, but that's ''peanuts'' compared to space, ''listen!''..."''
13th Aug '16 4:13:36 PM Koopacooper
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For example, consider that a light year is on the order of 10 ''quadrillion'' kilometers (10 petameters) or nearly ''six trillion'' miles. Let's assume your family car uses about 2 and a half gallons (11.37 litres) of fuel per 100km - about 25 mpg - and a gallon (2.55 litres) costs about $4 USD (i.e. 1.6 USD/1 Euro per litre) to traverse it. This means that one light year is roughly where you'd end up if you spent the entire national debt of the US on petroleum fuel [[note]]and at 60 miles per hour, it would take 11 million years to drive there[[/note]]. At the opposite end, an atomic nucleus is on the order of a ''quadrillionth'' of a meter. That's ten-to-the-power-of-negative-fifteen of a meter, or a femtometer. Such outrageous [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SI_prefix SI prefixes]] rarely appear in fiction, and that's before we get anywhere near the scales of galaxies and subatomic particles. [[WritersCannotDoMath This is because most writers aren't that good at or are too lazy to implement mathematics, let alone the branch of calculus]]. If it sounds like [[EleventyZillion a number made up by a child]] ([[VideoGame/TheWorldEndsWithYou Attention all yoctograms!]], septillion seconds), the writer might have actually taken it seriously.

to:

For example, consider that a light year is on the order of 10 ''quadrillion'' kilometers metres (10 petameters) petametres) or nearly ''six trillion'' miles. Let's assume your family car uses about 2 and a half gallons (11.37 litres) of fuel per 100km - about 25 mpg - and a gallon (2.55 litres) costs about $4 USD (i.e. 1.6 USD/1 Euro per litre) to traverse it. This means that one light year is roughly where you'd end up if you spent the entire national debt of the US on petroleum fuel [[note]]and at 60 miles per hour, it would take 11 million years to drive there[[/note]]. At the opposite end, an atomic nucleus is on the order of a ''quadrillionth'' of a meter. That's ten-to-the-power-of-negative-fifteen of a meter, or a femtometer. Such outrageous [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SI_prefix SI prefixes]] rarely appear in fiction, and that's before we get anywhere near the scales of galaxies and subatomic particles. [[WritersCannotDoMath This is because most writers aren't that good at or are too lazy to implement mathematics, let alone the branch of calculus]]. If it sounds like [[EleventyZillion a number made up by a child]] ([[VideoGame/TheWorldEndsWithYou Attention all yoctograms!]], septillion seconds), the writer might have actually taken it seriously.
2nd Jun '16 2:23:02 AM jormis29
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When adding examples, it may be wise to consider the capabilities of the faction in question. What is "unrealistic" for a low-tech harder-SF group may not be so for a [[JustForFun/AbusingTheKardashevScaleForFunAndProfit high-Kardashev]] HigherTechSpecies; after all, what we can do now would be outlandish to our medieval ancestors, so who's to say a society centuries if not millennia more advanced than us can't invent a "unrealistically" light yet superstrong material? On the other hand, some things are ''laws of physics'', not limits of technology, and the difference is an important one (any ship that expels an exhaust to propel itself, for example, functions by the Tsiolkovsky rocket equation, which is basically a special case of the Second Law of Motionóregardless of what the exhaust is or how it imparts the energy to expel it [[note]]Except for [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_sail solar sails]], which use light pressure to accelerate.[[/note]]).

to:

When adding examples, it may be wise to consider the capabilities of the faction in question. What is "unrealistic" for a low-tech harder-SF group may not be so for a [[JustForFun/AbusingTheKardashevScaleForFunAndProfit high-Kardashev]] HigherTechSpecies; after all, what we can do now would be outlandish to our medieval ancestors, so who's to say a society centuries if not millennia more advanced than us can't invent a "unrealistically" light yet superstrong material? On the other hand, some things are ''laws of physics'', not limits of technology, and the difference is an important one (any ship that expels an exhaust to propel itself, for example, functions by the Tsiolkovsky rocket equation, which is basically a special case of the Second Law of Motionóregardless of what the exhaust is or how it imparts the energy to expel it [[note]]Except for [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_sail solar sails]], {{Solar Sail}}s, which use light pressure to accelerate.[[/note]]).
17th May '16 12:45:51 PM SantosLHalper
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->''"Seriously, one of the things that is very, very difficult to portray when writing anything involving Space is the truly ridiculous distances involved in anything." ''
-->-- '''Dalek Ix''', author of ''FanFic/FriendsOfASolarEmpire'', in a blog entry.

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->''"Seriously, one of the things that is very, very difficult to portray when writing anything involving -> Space is ''big''. '''''Really''''' big. I mean, you might think it's a long way down to the truly ridiculous distances involved in anything." ''
street to the chemist, but that's ''peanuts'' compared to space, ''listen!''...
-->-- '''Dalek Ix''', author '''Reported opening lines of ''FanFic/FriendsOfASolarEmpire'', in a blog entry.
the eponymous ''Franchise/TheHitchhikersGuideToTheGalaxy''.'''
6th May '16 10:42:15 PM Hylarn
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When adding examples, it may be wise to consider the capabilities of the faction in question. What is "unrealistic" for a low-tech harder-SF group may not be so for a [[JustForFun/AbusingTheKardashevScaleForFunAndProfit high-Kardashev]] HigherTechSpecies; after all, what we can do now would be outlandish to our medieval ancestors, so who's to say a society centuries if not millennia more advanced than us can't invent a "unrealistically" light yet superstrong material? On the other hand, some things are ''laws of physics'', not limits of technology, and the difference is an important one (any ship that expels an exhaust to propel itself, for example, functions by the Tsiolkovsky rocket equation, which is basically a special case of the Second Law of Motionóregardless of what the exhaust is or how it imparts the energy to expel it [[note:Except for [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_sail solar sails]], which use light pressure to accelerate.]]).

to:

When adding examples, it may be wise to consider the capabilities of the faction in question. What is "unrealistic" for a low-tech harder-SF group may not be so for a [[JustForFun/AbusingTheKardashevScaleForFunAndProfit high-Kardashev]] HigherTechSpecies; after all, what we can do now would be outlandish to our medieval ancestors, so who's to say a society centuries if not millennia more advanced than us can't invent a "unrealistically" light yet superstrong material? On the other hand, some things are ''laws of physics'', not limits of technology, and the difference is an important one (any ship that expels an exhaust to propel itself, for example, functions by the Tsiolkovsky rocket equation, which is basically a special case of the Second Law of Motionóregardless of what the exhaust is or how it imparts the energy to expel it [[note:Except [[note]]Except for [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_sail solar sails]], which use light pressure to accelerate.]]).
[[/note]]).
16th Apr '16 9:51:25 AM JakobColes
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When adding examples, it may be wise to consider the capabilities of the faction in question. What is "unrealistic" for a low-tech harder-SF group may not be so for a [[JustForFun/AbusingTheKardashevScaleForFunAndProfit high-Kardashev]] HigherTechSpecies; after all, what we can do now would be outlandish to our medieval ancestors, so who's to say a society centuries if not millennia more advanced than us can't invent a "unrealistically" light yet superstrong material? On the other hand, some things are ''laws of physics'', not limits of technology, and the difference is an important one (any ship that expels an exhaust to propel itself, for example, functions by the Tsiolkovsky rocket equation, which is basically a special case of the Second Law of Motionóregardless of what the exhaust is or how it imparts the energy to expel it).

to:

When adding examples, it may be wise to consider the capabilities of the faction in question. What is "unrealistic" for a low-tech harder-SF group may not be so for a [[JustForFun/AbusingTheKardashevScaleForFunAndProfit high-Kardashev]] HigherTechSpecies; after all, what we can do now would be outlandish to our medieval ancestors, so who's to say a society centuries if not millennia more advanced than us can't invent a "unrealistically" light yet superstrong material? On the other hand, some things are ''laws of physics'', not limits of technology, and the difference is an important one (any ship that expels an exhaust to propel itself, for example, functions by the Tsiolkovsky rocket equation, which is basically a special case of the Second Law of Motionóregardless of what the exhaust is or how it imparts the energy to expel it).
it [[note:Except for [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_sail solar sails]], which use light pressure to accelerate.]]).
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