Back to: Panel discussions at SF conventions, part 2: keeping the panelists happy | Forward to: Brand Dilution

Today's posting canceled due to jet lag

I'm in a b-a-a-a-a-d way right now. Normal service will be resumed once my head figures out what continent I'm on. (Hey, why don't we see this shit in the kind of SF that deals with real fast interplanetary/interstellar travel? You arrive on a new world and not only are you eleven hours out of whack, but there are twenty seven hours in the day and the sun rises in the west ...)



Even better/worse: One of the suns rises in the west, and 15 minutes later the other sun rises in the southwest.


Although to be pedantic, the sun(s) will always rise in the east, because east is defined as rhe direction from which the sun rises.


Hmmm... why don`t you write one like that? Writing from personal experience is good...


Oh, come on, it's because they've got designer drugs to handle all of the awful side-effects--just like the food pills and flying cars we're all supposed to be popping and flying right now.


Fairly sure some of Neal Asher's books deal with that :D


Plus, you're 60 years younger when you arrive. FTL lag is Not Fun.


Back when I was writing fanfic, I had several people comment on the fact that I was one of the few people who actually *wrote* about this sort of stuff in stories. Presumably there was only a handful of people in the fandom with unpleasantly extensive personal experience of 11 hour shifts in time zone...


The sun rises in the west on Venus. This is because it takes longer to rotate around its axis than it does to orbit the sun.

(source: 'Teach yourself planets', an Open University coursebook)

A planet in a binary system could quite possibly have one star rise in the east and the other in the west.


@8: Although you could easily enough have two suns in a binary system, the only way you could have them rising from different directions is if (as in the case of Venus), the orbital period involved was on the order of the rotational period of the planet. Even then, I think it would be difficult to come up with a reasonable scenario. In almost all cases the suns will rise from the same direction (the direction the planet spins), and we'll call that East just to consistent.

Damn, that's a geeky post. Good luck with the soul delay, Mr. Stross.


Ursula K. Le Guin wrote (at least) three stories about people dealing with the side effects of instantaneous interstellar travel: "The Shobies' Story", "Dancing to Ganam", and "A Fisherman of the Inland Sea", all collected in A Fisherman of the Inland Sea.


If the sun rose in the west, I'd probably just flip north and south to compensate. -10 to map-reading skill, but anyplace we have fast interstellar travel I'd hope we have GPS and google directions. Unless we do the stargate thing, in which case I'll bring a flaregun because I'll be instantly and totally lost.

Here's something I don't see in SF: smells. Every alien planet should smell different and you know that's got to mess with your head. Or worse, Larry Niven once wrote a story where the sun changed color. That's just not right. Your biorhythms claiming that 10 minutes ago it was a different *season*... or that there's a tornado bearing down on you. Seek shelter! Seek shelter!


"Although to be pedantic, the sun(s) will always rise in the east, because east is defined as rhe direction from which the sun rises."

I think you ought to be right but it seems the IAU doesn't. They, rather controversially, defines the north pole as the one poking north of the solar system plane:

second para of section 2. In the next section they go on to define latitude and longitude with notes which are only consistent with west being to the left and east to the right when looking north. Therefore, the sun will rise in the west on a planet which rotates retrograde.


By the IAU definition Uranus rotates retrograde and therefore also has the sun rise in the west.


My first post here. Just had to comment on:

@11 - Here's something I don't see in SF: smells.

Its been done occasionally. Asimov had character comment on the air when he landed on a new planet in one of the Robot novels. Don't remember which one. He mentioned it on a talk show that different worlds should have different smells.

Of course there are ALL of S.M. Stirling's books. I sometimes think he writes for dogs. Can't go three pages in that series without a smell reference.


I find myself wondering if Charlie's Hidden Families could ever hit a time shift. I suspect that it would lead to serious frame-of-reference problems.

Which leads to the more general thought that in a system of practically infinite parallel universes, there might be enough chaotic elements in the Solar System's movement around the Galaxy that sometimes an explorer would end up in interstellar space, instead of on a planet.But that breaks Enistein--frames of reference again.

Charlie, the handwave cream is in the bathroom cabinet.



Just to let this discussion decent into the deeper layers of geekdom:

You could probably get two suns to rise in the west and the east with some major acrobatics in celestial mechanics - something like standing near the terminator of a tidally locked planet during the perigee of its somewhat excentric trajectory in a binary star system while the second binary is in opposition to the primary one.

(This basically looks like the planet would fly - with little rotation to speak of - on a straight line between the two stars, so you'd have them zipping by left and right. You may wonder how a tidally locked planet could have something like a sunrise at all, but this is because the planet is closer to the sun in perigee and thus faster than normal, so that the position of the sun in the sky changes slightly - just about allowing it to rise over the horizon and back down during apogee. It's the same way that the double sunrises of mercury are created.)

Of course, timing is everything and the event would probably draw a crowd of people from all over the star system and the jet lag would be much less of a problem than the hangover after the party. ;)


The effect on the Pulgamit psyche is to totally wreck their sense of the here and now, with effects which compares to jet-lag in much the same was as a Pan-Galactic-Gargle-Blaster compares to a Banana Daiquari. However, this double-sun peek-a-boo is such a rare event that it is celebrated by a planet-wide party, so the victims are too drunk to notice the effect. It is for this reason that the Pulgamit government has persistently refused to ratify the Pan-Galactic Pan-Galactic-Gargle-Blaster Treaty, which further explains why Arthur Dent will shortly say, "Auurrgghhh, my head.", and Zaphod Beeblebroz wondering why the suns are bouncing like the breasts of Eccentrica Gallumbits, the triple-breasted who of Eroticon V.


Of course, hyperspherical bodies can rotate around two planes simultaneously. One might say that a hyperstar or hyperplanet has a North and South pole on an axis perpendicular to one plane of rotation, and an East and West pole on an axis perpendicular to the other plane of rotation.

But this blog thread was not originally about 4-dimensional gravity and hyperplanets. I'm just thinking like a FTL-lagged Science Fiction writer, and remembering some conversations I had with Math Professor/Physics professor inventor Dr. Timothy Poston, who likes to imagine the details of life on 4-D hyperplanets.

Extra credit if you can recall when and why he appeared in Analog.


What gets me is the implicit assumption the Earth doesn't move in time travel stories. Think about it, you've just engaged the controls and are heading back in time, but you and the machine are still physically heading where you were physically heading when you started your temporal journey. Or, your time machine is heading physically to where the Earth was back when you want to go, but the world you've just left temporally and physically is still going 'forward'. When you add up the velocity of the Sun in its orbit around the Milky Way, the velocity of the Earth in its orbit around the Sun, and the velocity of the latitude you're at as the Earth rotates about its axis; then factor in the mass of you plus your time machine, and you get a ton of momentum, which means a ton of impact, which translates into a ton of hurt as you and your time machine plow into one of Earth's physical geographical features. And very likely a ton of people.


Mr Vinge deals very nicely with the vector problem on a planetary scale in The Whitling.


Here's something I don't see in SF: smells. Every alien planet should smell different and you know that's got to mess with your head.

It's yer whole life-denying/woman-hating fear of the body thing - the standard outlook of the traditional Steven Den Beste libertarian SF fan. SF has a well-known biologist shortage as well as a gender imbalance; this is especially marked in the spaceflight sub-genre.

In this case, it's especially depressing because the smell of the moon is a repeated trope in the only first-hand accounts of interplanetary travel we have. Every account of the Apollo lunar missions I've read refers to the curious smell of moon dust that filled the LM after the first lunar EVAs; rather like gunpowder with a metallic edge.


My personal definition is the Right Hand Rule: hold your right hand so the fingers point in the direction toward which the planet rotates, and the thumb will then point north.
The IAU may be lefties, or something.


Alan @19: go root out a copy of Christopher Priest's "The Space Machine" (a circa 1972 H. G. Wells hommage that got things exactly right in that respect).

Alex @21: yup, spaceflight stinks, literally. (If only we didn't have to lug these annoying meatbodies around we, too, could live in blissful anosmia with no need for regular showers!)


Tangentially related point: space colony fans tend to assume there are loads of metals we use that we're so short of it's worth looking for them in space, which isn't true. What we *are* short of are things that are mostly biological - agricultural land, ecosystem services. The Dan Dare: Pilot of the Future vision may be closer to the truth than the space-miner one, although I wouldn't bank on it.


@11 Jack Vance in one of the series of novels including "The Killing Machine" had spacemen able to identify planets from the air, and gravity etc


Uranus isn't just retrograde, it's axial plane is VERY steeply tilted.
A planet like that, closer to its' primary could produce some VERY interesting weather, and seasons ....

Anyone written anything like that?


JvP: Personally I like the 5+1D-universe sections of Greg Egan's _Diaspora_: it's amazing the amount of strangeness you get into just by adding a couple of measly spatial dimensions. (Stable orbits? Why do we want stable orbits?)



About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on April 11, 2008 3:04 PM.

Panel discussions at SF conventions, part 2: keeping the panelists happy was the previous entry in this blog.

Brand Dilution is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Search this blog