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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Anyone see any trouble with this (Geography plotline q)?

   
Author Topic: Anyone see any trouble with this (Geography plotline q)?
benskia
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Hey.
Here I am again, testing an idea for believability.

In my time travel story (which is why I need that container thing in the 'hardest material known to man thread'). The reason why the team is going back in time is to leave a message for the world warning of an alien threat.

OK. The team have to go back in time to a specific location in Africa, for a pretty clever reason, that I wont reveal just yet, but will save this incase I need to annoy everyone for any more info.

The Aliens set off a terraforming reaction, which is slowly spreading out from a point on the globe & consuming all human life as it goes.

So, I figured, if I start this reaction on the opposite side of the world to Africa, then the team have another good reason to be going to Africa in the first place - it will be the farthest place away from where the reaction started & give them time to prepare.

So, I'm rubbish at geography, and look on the globe to find that the opposite side of the world to Africa is just a load of water - The middle of the pacific ocean. But it seems there are some little islands scattered nearby called Honolulu and Ponylesia.

Here's the question - Are there plently of other even smaller uninhabitable islands around that place, where I could have the aliens land? They have been allowed to land there & their presence kept secret for a couple of years, before the reaction is started.

Ta.


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wbriggs
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I think it's plausible. It worked for Cast Away.
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benskia
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Wow! That was fast.

Cast Away = The Tom Hanks movie yes?

Also, would having the Terraforming reaction be the Aliens turning the atmosphere into a Nitrogen heavy one be okay. That's pretty poisonous to humans - isn't it?


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Matt Lust
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WWII battles could be of help here. I say that because most of the battles centered around Islands who had relatively great importance during Pacific shipping days when steam powered ships needs stations in the middle of the ocean to pick up extra coal.

Wake Island, Saipan and a couple of others would be really good "legitimate" type islands.

But you could always invent one.


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Matt Lust
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No Nitrogen definitely not poisonous to humans as our atmosphere is 79% (IIRC) N2 right now

One more caveat: Scuba divers often mix O2 and N2 in their tanks to help avoid getting "the bends".


Carbon when breathed is. Typcially this takes on the form of methane.

[This message has been edited by Matt Lust (edited January 18, 2006).]

[This message has been edited by Matt Lust (edited January 18, 2006).]


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'Graff
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Matt is correct--I don't understand how our atmosphere could get any heavier in nitrogen content.

-----------
Wellington


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benskia
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Okay, on the gases then, which of these would be a good one for killing people in masses:

carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, argon, or helium


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JamieFord
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(Are there plently of other even smaller uninhabitable islands around that place, where I could have the aliens land?)

Absolutely. Between Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, The Marquesas, The Cook Islands, French Polynesia ane on and on, there are numerous small islands.


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Survivor
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Why not just have the aliens use underwater bases at first? They could even be water dwelling, with the change in the atmosphere caused by alien efforts to concentrate O2 in the oceans while releasing CO2.

Even without the water dwelling bit, it would make sense to have landing craft designed for submersion.


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Robert Nowall
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Y'know, if the alien terraforming has already begun before the team goes back to plant it, either (a) the message'll have to vigorously advertize itself to get discovered, or (b) if it's discovered before it happens, it doesn't matter where on the planet it's planted.
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Jeraliey
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How 'bout carbon monoxide?
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hoptoad
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Pon·y·le·sia P Pronunciation Key (pn-lzh, -sh)
A division of Oceania in the Pacific Ocean and it's scattered islands inhabited entirely by little horses.

I like the idea of underwater bases remobilising the CO2 otherwise locked in the oceans.

[This message has been edited by hoptoad (edited January 18, 2006).]


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Spaceman
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quote:
The Aliens set off a terraforming reaction, which is slowly spreading out from a point on the globe & consuming all human life as it goes.

I suggest you read David Gerold's A Matter for Men, a book that dealt very thoroughly with this topic. Read it to make sure that you don't get too close to his story line.


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Silver3
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hum...carbon monoxide is heavier than air, so unless you're in a caldera or other depression, it's going to take some time before it becomes concentrated enough at nose level to kill you. But it is darn dangerous.

Carbon dioxide suffocates you. Methane, as has been pointed out, is highly poisonous to man. Helium is inert, and lighter than air unless I'm mistaken, so it would tend to migrate upwards. I don't know enough about nitrous oxide. Argon is also inert (what's called a "perfect gas" at least in France), but heavier than helium. I think it would suffocate you same as carbon dioxide.


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Survivor
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Carbon dioxide is heavier than air, carbon monoxide is about the same density as mixed atmospheric gases. Various natural disasters have proven that CO2 can wipe out humans en masse when suddenly released from solution in bodies of water.
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benskia
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Hi.
Me again. K, this is kind of geography related, so I stuck it into this thread.
I'm about to show my complete ignorance of all things American, but:

Does L.A. have an underground train system?
If not, would it be stupid to include one in my story set in the year 2030?

Ta.


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Elan
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It's really not a stupid question... very few American Cities have underground transit. New York is the major one, and off the top of my head I can't recall any other American city that has a significant transit system underground. You'll get short runs through tunnels, etc. in other cities, but not to the extent that New York has.

Take this with a grain of salt... I'm not very well traveled.

To my knowledge, LA does NOT, but I don't live down there and don't know what their mass transit has been up to. I'm not sure if living on top of an earthquake fault has anything to do with why they shy away from underground transit. LA is known for above ground sprawling freeways and smog... the freeway allows you to bypass the city all together. I've driven BY LA but never IN it.

Here's a link to the Los Angeles newspaper, the LA Times:
http://www.latimes.com/
You can peruse that for research.


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Spaceman
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I would say that even if they started today, LA could not build an underground transit system by 2030. Also, consider that during the Northridge earthquake, the epicenter dropped nine feet (3 meters). that's not so good on tunnel integrity.
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Jeraliey
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Well, Boston has the Big Dig, but I don't know if you're counting that.
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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In the movie SPEED there is an underground train system under construction, and the action/fighting at the end of the movie happens on a runaway train. When the train hits the end of the line, if I remember correctly, it comes out somewhere near Hollywood and Vine.

The movie was filmed in the early 90s, I think, and I had been in the area only months before I saw it and had not noticed any signs of subway construction, so that's why I remember it.

<shrug>

I think you could certainly have one there by 2030. I think it could be possible for most cities to have them by then.


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franc li
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San Francisco and Washinton D.C. have undergrounds. I'm not sure what other places might. Even in seismically active areas, some particular spots are more at risk than others. I think there are parts of the Chicago system that are underground, though it is famous for being an El. And in the movie "The Fugutive" they reel off other cities that have Els. Where was "Ghost" set? I think that may have been New York.

Oh... on the original question. If you're an ambitious type alien species you could always open up a volcano and make an island. It seems like that might increase the chances of their activity being detected.

[This message has been edited by franc li (edited January 21, 2006).]


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Robert Nowall
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I hate to belabor the obvious, but...go to Google, type in "Los Angeles" +subway and you'll get links to a buncha stuff about the subway they're building and planning. (I'd heard they were, but I don't know any geographic details.)
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Survivor
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I think that in a high-rise city center, the difference between a subway and an El is a matter of tradition and asthetics as much as anything. LA is going with the cache of "metro" for now. You're pretty safe calling it that, since a) that's what they call their current rail system and b) you can apply the term to pretty much any city centered transit system.
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'Graff
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quote:
I think there are parts of the Chicago system that are underground, though it is famous for being an El.

A great deal of the Chicago transit system is underground. The Red, Green, and Blue lines run underground for the majority of their stops.

Though, of course, you're right--Chicago's most famous for its elevated trains.

You're probably best off calling it the "metro," as most urban centers seem to get away with that catch-all phrase.

-----------
Wellington

[Edit: homophone error]

[This message has been edited by 'Graff (edited January 21, 2006).]


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Elan
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By the way, I asked a friend of mine from Los Angeles if they have underground transit there now. She said yes, her son rides it every day to work. I don't know how extensive the subway system is, but it IS up and running.
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