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?

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