Thread: V
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Old July 16 2009, 08:28 PM   #20
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Re: V

Samuel Walters wrote: View Post
You know all of this for a fact? From which examples of civilizations with interstellar flight are you basing these conclusions?
What a bizarre question. I'm talking about differences in energy usage, travel time and distance, and the like that are matters of fundamental physical law. Just because nobody's ever jumped off the cliff at the edge of Olympus Mons on Mars doesn't mean it's impossible to predict quite accurately what would happen to someone who did.

If you think you have to witness something directly to have any information about it, then you don't even understand what science is.

My point is that while you clearly have spent a lot of time researching this, and while you have a great resource of current scientific fact and theory, many of these ideas are conjecture.
No, they're not. That word does not mean what you think it means. It is not "conjecture" that our planetary system contains huge amounts of ice; we can see it directly. It is not "conjecture" that Sirius's own planetary and cometary bodies would be far, far closer to an inhabited planet of Sirius than Earth would be; that's just plain obvious. It is not "conjecture" that it takes energy to thrust against a gravity well; hell, you should know that to be an indisputable fact if you've ever so much as gotten winded going up a flight of stairs. There are a lot of things that apply to this discussion that we know for an absolute, indisputable fact, and it's those known facts that demonstrate the absurdity of the premise here.

Quite frankly, considering your stated vocation as a "career SF writer" your dismissive attitude regarding this is rather startling.

Are you then as dismissive of Asimov's Foundation? Of Bradbury's Martian Chronicles? Of Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey? Of Star Trek? Of any science fiction in which the science isn't presented in a matter which would endure rigorous challenges from the scientific method? Science fiction is at its best, at least in my opinion, when it is about the people, the characters, involved in the story -- when it is about the humanity of the story -- not when it is purely a description of scientific theory and conjecture.
You're twisting it. I'm not making some blanket statement about SF in general. I said simply that the idea of aliens needing to take our water is scientifically absurd. You claimed it wasn't, and I rebutted that mistaken impression. And it's got nothing to do with being "dismissive." I like Kenneth Johnson's V. I think it's a good story, a good allegory for the Holocaust. I'm just annoyed by the water thing and wish they'd come up with something more credible.

I can't say I've read any of your work but, as a career SF writer, I do hope you're spending as much time and effort on the human equation as you do on scientific research. If you do, then I may check out some of your work.
If a writer were doing that love story set in Paris, he or she would probably do enough research to get the geography, language, and culture of Paris close enough to reality to be believable. That doesn't mean the story would be about the geography, language, and culture of Paris. It just means the writer would be professional enough to do the research, even if it only contributes to subtle background texture. Because even if most readers won't notice that background texture, some of them will, and they'll be pleased by a story that gets it right and bothered by a story that gets it wrong.

So your interpretation of my comments is completely absurd and wrong. Whether the research is done right has nothing whatsoever to do with whether the focus of the story is on the material being researched. For your information, I care just as much about "the human equation" as I do about the science. But I reject the school of thought that the setting and universe of the story don't have to make sense so long as the characters are well-drawn. That's just as lazy as getting the science right but writing shallow characters. The setting affects your characters and their actions, so if you want to draw the characters richly and believably, you can't neglect their context.

Samuel Walters wrote: View Post
So while it is more likely that an advanced civilization would stop elsewhere for water, even raw materials, it's not impossible that a civilization that needed not just water, but food, and an inhabited, industrialized planet as a base of operations for an imperialistic agenda (all of which were stated reasons for the arrival of the Visitors in the original miniseries) would choose Earth as a place of conquest.
You're just not getting it. You're saying "If A were the case, then B could be the case." But the point is that A could never credibly be the case to begin with. No interstellar civilization is ever going to have water-scarcity issues, period. I mean, as I said, water scarcity doesn't arise because water ceases to exist, but because our ability to deliver and recycle it is finite. But if you have interstellar starships capable of supporting thousands of crewmembers, then you must have licked any and all water-recycling issues already, because those ships need effective water recycling far more than a planet surface ever would. The basic premise is just fundamentally self-contradictory.

Water scarcity is a trope from stories set in Earth's past and present. Some writers assume they can transplant such tropes whole to a science-fiction setting, but this is one trope that simply does not make sense in that setting.

You're also misunderstanding the question. The question is not whether aliens might choose Earth as a world to be conquered. Of course they could, for reasons of political or cultural imperialism or colonization, for instance. Maybe, possibly, you could justify food being a factor, say, if they had a need for live prey and our biology were reasonably compatible. But water would never be a reason for interstellar conquest. Water is just too damn commonplace in the galaxy for anyone to need to come to Earth specifically in order to obtain it. It's as nonsensical as Voyager running out of deuterium in "Demon."
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