Sunday, May 27, 2012

Serendipity in Research

Coprinus Bird Fleeing - a failed spore print

The story I'm working on needed some serious research. The chemistry of Life. The formation of planets. Possible accommodation on the Moon and Mars. These gave me the grounding for the world I was 'building'.

A negative side to basing a story-world completely on known scientific facts, is the narrowing of possibilities as a result. This is probably one of the reasons I normally write in the science fantasy genre. Wikipedia gives a nice discussion of the science fiction/science fantasy conundrum.

Writing essays back in the days of my tertiary education years, I'd use the material in the recommended texts and find my work lacking oomph. I'd hie back to the library (actual books and journals) in those not too far off days, and I'd browse. Usually not in the area under consideration.

For example, for an essay was about Australia's relations with Asia, I found some excellent supporting material in Nineteenth Century Biographies. If my foray into the esoteric and arcane was successful, I'd come up with arguments and examples no essay marker had ever read and as we all know, essay markers love stuff they haven't read six hundred and forty three times before.

In the same way, when the story is about the possibility of finding life on a methane-washed planet I needed only to look at some research on the succession of fungi in the forest landscape, which I was researching for my other blog, when I found at the bottom of the page a reference to fungi growing in diesel fuel, kerosine and jet fuel, and the Mir space station. How serendipitous was that?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Back in the Boat

Back in the boat on the river of life and not just drifting either sees me having another go at a short story. I have a four week slot. For a title I'm tossing up between 'The Weight Distribution Process' and 'EVA Module 5'.

Reading-wise, 'winter is (still) coming' and George R R Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series is being re read. I missed out so much the first time around, reading in my usual fast chase after the plot. 

Added to which I have finally acquired a Kindle, and am for the present reading the ebooks which I had been storing on my Mac. Best Horror Collection by ASIM is my present in-between read. 

The Kindle is, so far, a great way to spend the odd ten, fifteen, twenty minutes that are an invariable part of modern life. My mother tells me that in the olden olden days when her mother was a child, those ten fifteen minutes would be spent knitting socks and socklets onto stocking legs (that took longer to wear through). Each girl in the family - seven girls and six boys - had to knit a sock a day. 

I say 'so far' because that's all I'm using the Kindle for at the moment. Its capabilities are huge. Another learning curve to be negotiated. But the Amazon site makes me feel subversive. I might first investigate all the other places selling ebooks. 

Then there is the book for Book Club that is still to be read. It's John Bailey's latest title, Into the Unknown, about Ludwig Leichardt, one of our explorers.

And the books stacked on the coffee table by my son on his last visit, one of which is Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel that I've been keen to get started on.

As you can see, reading could easily take precedence.