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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Grist for the Mill » Revolution (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Revolution
Natej11
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So the pilot for the new TV show "Revolution" is up on Hulu. Just finished watching it and wanted to give my feedback, since there was a lot of hope that it would accurately portray a post-EMP event and help wake people up to the danger.

At least that's what I was looking for when I started watching. Instead what I got was J. J. Abrams murdering another show that had potential by inserting useless quasi-mystical garbage into it.

If it was an actual EMP event they were showing then they're either laughably ignorant of facts or they just don't care. When portraying "the blackout" they showed the lights flickering then gradually going out, so you could sit and watch the lights going out in a spreading wave away from you. Whereas in an EMP event everything would just stop working at once. Also it wasn't just electronics that went out. Essentially everything that constituted high technology was eliminated, and nothing was spared if it could be repaired or was EM shielded. In the show they give the example that "even batteries stopped working". They also hint that it's the electricity itself that no longer functions, rather than solid state electronics being destroyed.

Perhaps even more absurd was that all guns stopped working too, for some unexplainable reason. 15 years in the future they DO have guns, but for some reason they're all flintlocks. 1. EMP doesn't do anything to guns. 2. If it was merely a case of running out of ammo after 15 years reloading is a common thing that many people know how to do, and far far easier than reinventing the wheel by machining your own muskets when there are millions of perfectly good guns sitting around.

But mostly, the final proof that it wasn't an EMP event was that they had magical amulets that make electronics magically start working in a nearby radius simply by being activated.

Basically, the show gives no reason for why all electronics stopped working, which could leave one to interpret it as EMP if the facts weren't so absurdly mishandled and all the mystical crap wasn't there. Instead I see J. J. Abrams making another LOST with stuff that doesn't need to be there, and will probably either blame it on aliens, a divine being, or never actually explain "the blackout" at all.

I am disappoint.

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LDWriter2
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I saw an ad for it but have no idea what it is about. Your synopses sounds interesting.

I've read a couple of books that had that type of idea.

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Robert Nowall
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Hadn't heard of it before your post---honest. (Never watched "Lost" either.)

But you set yourself up for disappointment by expecting TV SF / movie SF to make more than grudging attempts at rationalization. They're in love with the "pretty picture," they'll put that together, and they might or might not stick some kind of hare-brained justification at some point in the narrative.

Even the SF movies and TV that are good---say, 2001 or Star Trek or Star Wars---they're just loaded with moments that can't be broken down into any rational scientific explanation---or sometimes any rational explanation at all. (Given how "tossed about" the bridge crew of Star Trek got over the years, why didn't their seats have seatbelts? Answer: if they did, then they wouldn't have gotten tossed about at all, and there'd be no pretty picture of them being tossed about.)

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Robert Nowall
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Belatedly, there's a colum at Locus Online by Cory Doctorow along some of these lines:

http://www.locusmag.com/Perspectives/2012/09/cory-doctorow-why-science-fiction-movies-drive-me-nuts/

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Pyre Dynasty
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I seem to remember Dark Angel had a pretty good take on EMP. It's been a while and I didn't watch it faithfully so I'm not sure.

Watching the commercial I said, "Guns don't run on electricity." Then I went into a thought river listing things that would have been so much better than a crossbow.

So really what you're saying is that this is a sequel to the Keanu The Day The Earth Stood Still where nanobots saved earth from the humans by breaking all their toys. Thanks for stepping in it so I don't have to.

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MattLeo
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Well, let me play devil's advocate for a minute.

In any sci-fi story, you have the essential speculative element, and you have the supporting stuff that has to be there for the essential element to make sense. The essential element must be worked out in a completely plausible way, but the supporting stuff can be taken for granted or explained with handwaving. FTL travel is the classic example that is either not explained, or explained with token handwaving ("...that was before we broke the Einstein barrier..." -- yeah, right).

So let's say you want to write a story about how modern people would react if all their electronics was taken away. EMP is at first blush an obvious and attractive supporting element -- I've even seen a few manuscripts that have tried this. The problem is that physics makes a civilization-ending EMP attack is nearly impossible to contrive in a plausible manner. Making EMP a *factor* in civilization's collapse is one thing; making it the *centerpiece* is practically impossible with anything close to current technology levels.

The radius of the most destructive EMP effects goes up as something like the cube root of the blast yield. That means you need to blanket a continent with small warheads to wipe out *everything*. Nuclear fuel isn't magic pixie dust, so scaling up a warhead to cover an entire continent would require enormous heavy-lift capabilities, greater than any rocket in production today. In short EMP apocalypse isn't something that can happen by accident, nor can it be done by some small non-state actor. You need a major spacefaring nation with extensive nuclear weapons infrastructure, and that nation has to do it *deliberately*.

So while EMP seems attractive, any scenarios you develop are bound to fall apart. Altogether it's better *not* to explain something than to explain it badly. So if the EMP event doesn't happen offstage or in backstory, you need something different. Something that works like EMP, but is clearly not the same thing.

In that case, showing the phenomenon working *differently* than EMP would is a smart choice. You're saying "sure this has similar effects to EMP, but look, it's something different." The "unexplained EMP-like phenomenon" also fixes logical holes in your scenario, "like why don't the survivors find some glass blowers and gin up some vacuum tubes?" The answer could be "Pseudo-EMP is still hanging around in the air," which doesn't work for EMP as we know it.

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Crystal Stevens
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Not long ago I finished reading a book about the results of a nationwide economic breakdown. I presume that's what you mean by EMP?

The book was called "Wolf & Iron" by Gordon R. Dickson. Evidently the monetary system of the USA broke down and caused all utilities to shut down, resulting in all major manufacturing to stop such as transportation for lack of gasoline. No home heating (or cooling)for the same reason. And, of course, no electricity except for batteries (including car batteries) or anything solar powered. Guns are still available. People began looting in the cities until the neccesities ran out. No food getting to grocery stores for example. Money became meaningless.

Anyway, you get the picture. I thought W&I's premise was done very well, and it sounds like Abrams should've read it from what's being said about "Revolutions". At least W&I seems to make a whole lot more sense of the situation than "Revolutions". And here I was looking forward to seeing this. Darn!

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rcmann
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Sounds like it might be based on, or at least similar to, "Dies the Fire," by Stirling. I think that book also involved magic taking over for technology.

The main issue I have with something like that is my pesky training in bioscience and basic physics. If electronics stopped, so would the human nervous system. If gunpowder stopped burning, all types of fire would stop burning. Basically, oxidation would no longer take place. Life processes would instantly become impossible and Earth would be sterilized in an eyeblink.

It would be so easy to, say, theorize about a massive solar flare knocking out the majority of sensitive electronics on the planet - thereby forcing people to return to the technology of the early twentieth century. Or even an unusually long period of unusually powerful sunspot activity causing massive disturbances with communications, knocking out satellites and bringing down the internet. That would spike the guns (literally) of modern military organizations and cause deep chagrin amongst the powers that be.

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Crystal, "EMP" stands for "electromagnetic pulse" and refers to a powerful energy burst that could overwhelm electronic systems. Compare it to hitting someone with a firehose on full blast. Most of the electronic products we use are very sensitive--one reason we should all have surge protectors for anything we plug into our household current sources.

quote:
Originally posted by MattLeo:
In short EMP apocalypse isn't something that can happen by accident, nor can it be done by some small non-state actor. You need a major spacefaring nation with extensive nuclear weapons infrastructure, and that nation has to do it *deliberately*.

Actually a massive solar flare, as rcmann mentioned, or a series of them would be sufficient to knock out the power grids for most of the earth. Such an occurence could be quite irreparable because the equipment that would "blow" takes years to make, and replacements are not just sitting around.

With solar activity potentially increasing over the next few years, this kind of disaster is not all that unlikely.

However, if you have a good supply of gasoline and a gas-powered generator, you could run electricity into your house from that, even if the power company was off-line. Also, there are small, house-sized wind turbines (they look sort of like a bicycle wheel and they mount on a roof), that can generate electricity for a house. Not to mention solar panels. None of these things are as likely to be "blown" by an EMP.

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Robert Nowall
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As far as SF stories about losing electricity go, I remember one by Frederic Brown (I think), though I don't remember the title. He had invisible alien creatures come and suck up all the generated electricity, then hung around and sucked it up every time someone did the basic experiments that produced electricity.

There wasn't an apocalypse---the story ended with a discussion of how people were forming orchestras so music could still be part of their lives.

(This was a pretty old story---to give you some idea how old, the alien creatures were called "vaders," short for "invaders"---Brown died about five years before Star Wars premiered.)

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Natej11
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quote:
Originally posted by MattLeo:
Well, let me play devil's advocate for a minute.

In any sci-fi story, you have the essential speculative element, and you have the supporting stuff that has to be there for the essential element to make sense. The essential element must be worked out in a completely plausible way, but the supporting stuff can be taken for granted or explained with handwaving. FTL travel is the classic example that is either not explained, or explained with token handwaving ("...that was before we broke the Einstein barrier..." -- yeah, right).

So let's say you want to write a story about how modern people would react if all their electronics was taken away. EMP is at first blush an obvious and attractive supporting element -- I've even seen a few manuscripts that have tried this. The problem is that physics makes a civilization-ending EMP attack is nearly impossible to contrive in a plausible manner. Making EMP a *factor* in civilization's collapse is one thing; making it the *centerpiece* is practically impossible with anything close to current technology levels.

The radius of the most destructive EMP effects goes up as something like the cube root of the blast yield. That means you need to blanket a continent with small warheads to wipe out *everything*. Nuclear fuel isn't magic pixie dust, so scaling up a warhead to cover an entire continent would require enormous heavy-lift capabilities, greater than any rocket in production today. In short EMP apocalypse isn't something that can happen by accident, nor can it be done by some small non-state actor. You need a major spacefaring nation with extensive nuclear weapons infrastructure, and that nation has to do it *deliberately*.

So while EMP seems attractive, any scenarios you develop are bound to fall apart. Altogether it's better *not* to explain something than to explain it badly. So if the EMP event doesn't happen offstage or in backstory, you need something different. Something that works like EMP, but is clearly not the same thing.

In that case, showing the phenomenon working *differently* than EMP would is a smart choice. You're saying "sure this has similar effects to EMP, but look, it's something different." The "unexplained EMP-like phenomenon" also fixes logical holes in your scenario, "like why don't the survivors find some glass blowers and gin up some vacuum tubes?" The answer could be "Pseudo-EMP is still hanging around in the air," which doesn't work for EMP as we know it.

I think you'd be surprised at just how civilization-ending an EMP attack could be. Just consider the fact that most cities have about a week's worth of food, and even in the rural areas where there's a false belief that everyone grows their own food, the vast majority of what people eat is trucked in. After an EMP attack population centers would be starving in a few weeks, rioting before that. Rural areas might fare slightly better, at least until refugees from cities began pouring in, leading to starvation at best, violence at worst.

As for EMP, I don't know where you got your info but it's wrong. A single slightly modified high-yield blast detonated a few hundred miles above the ground would create a field large enough to wipe out 2/3s of the continental US. Two detonations would wipe us out entirely. We're talking power grid, cars, and anything with solid-state electronics.

An EMP attack would not only be far easier to pull off than enough nuclear strikes to wipe out all population centers, but it would be much easier to be anonymous with it, and it would severely reduce our ability to retaliate. Combine that with how quickly things go bad in a disaster (just think Katrina), and a simple EMP attack could lead to a die-off of hundreds of millions of Americans.

But no, it's much easier and more plausible to write a sci-fi with magical technology wiping out everything including batteries and internal combustion engines, so people run around with crossbows and muskets.

Frankly I wouldn't have written "Revolution" as a sci-fi at all. It was meant to be a post-apocalyptic, and it would've been much better if treated that way. Now if only television writers would realize that the post-apocalyptic genre is NOT a subset of sci-fi.

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rcmann
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Post-apocalyptic can be sci-fi,even though you are right that it need not be. There are all kinds of possible what-if scenarios that can be explored in a post apocalyptic world. New technology based on taking ideas that were abandoned by mainstream science before the disaster, but now are used because there aren't any other options, etc. Like steam driven motor cars powered by coal and/or wood fired boilers. Or a national air force using zeppelins, because the factories to produce precision machining can't be built anymore.

Of course, that would have to take a generation or three, after the cannibals had been killed off and people were starting to recognize the value of book-learning again.

I think the Amish might survive for a while, until the brigands arrive to rob them. A few survivalist holdouts might make it for a while. But solo, or small groups, can't maintain a culture. Savagery would take over most places.

Places that were not already well developed, especially with tribal or clan based cultures might make it.

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LDWriter2
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Someone here wrote a story with a series of EMP attacks. Each separate attack was a series of Nukes going off in the upper atmosphere if I recall correctly. The Nukes were designed to emit EMPs. After a while all replacements parts were used up and the later EMPs hit the devices the first attacks missed.
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Robert Nowall
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In all honesty, the stories about electro-magnetic pulse attacks seem to leap right into the Apocalypse, too fast for my taste---but this might involve facts not in evidence.

We don't know what would happen. It's never been done, for obvious reasons---I would hardly expect anyone would be willing to perform a full-blast experiment to see precisely what would blow out---and the science is better than that for global warming---but I don't know that it would perform as advertised. There are some facts, but do they support the conclusions?

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rcmann
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Are you thinking it might be another y2k boondoggle? A valid point. Even if the modern electronics were knocked out, There is a lot of old gear laying around that could be salvaged. I wonder whether we have the production capacity to go back to making vacuum tubes.
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LDWriter2
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quote:
Post-apocalyptic can be sci-fi,even though you are right that it need not be. There are all kinds of possible what-if scenarios that can be explored in a post apocalyptic world. New technology based on taking ideas that were abandoned by mainstream science before the disaster, but now are used because there aren't any other options, etc. Like steam driven motor cars powered by coal and/or wood fired boilers. Or a national air force using zeppelins, because the factories to produce precision machining can't be built anymore.
quote:
Even if the modern electronics were knocked out, There is a lot of old gear laying around that could be salvaged. I wonder whether we have the production capacity to go back to making vacuum tubes.
Hmmm, now those two ideas combined could make a very interesting Alt universe.

Along with The Amish and a couple of other like groups, with people who were armed that joined them to fight off any attackers. All kinds of interesting possibilities there.

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rcmann
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Take them with my compliments. I'll be interested in seeing what you come up with.
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Pyre Dynasty
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Please keep in mind that the Amish are serious pacifists. I even doubt they would accept other people fighting for them.
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Robert Nowall
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If some of what I've read about EMP is right, the more primitive the system---vacuum tubes, say---the more likely it would be to "blow out."

My off-the-top-of-my-head info about what would happen mostly comes from a report that an A-bomb test in the air over the South Pacific blew out the power grid in Hawaii. But I also recall reports that after the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, they managed to get the power back on the next day. (Sorry I don't have something firm or definite---it's, like I said, off the top of my head.)

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rcmann
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Now that this is brought up, I can't stop wondering what kind of energy surge our modern infrastructure could tolerate. We have already gone through periods of unusually intense sunspot activity without major problems. Solar flares happen routinely, and none of the have crippled us yet. What would it take?
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MattLeo
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quote:
Originally posted by Natej11:

I think you'd be surprised at just how civilization-ending an EMP attack could be.

Actually, I wouldn't. I've never disputed the civilization-ending potential of an EMP attack, just the mechanics of the attack as they have been presented in various MSs I've critiqued that have used this plot device.

quote:

As for EMP, I don't know where you got your info but it's wrong. A single slightly modified high-yield blast detonated a few hundred miles above the ground would create a field large enough to wipe out 2/3s of the continental US.

I never said a large enough warhead couldn't do that, but let's have details: how big a yield, how modified, and how launched? That's where the end-of-civilization scenarios fall apart -- at least the ones that feature the loss of most existing electronics. For some reason these EMP stories always take place in the near future, and there's no way to produce an ICBM mountable super-bomb with near-future technology.

quote:
An EMP attack would not only be far easier to pull off than enough nuclear strikes to wipe out all population centers, but it would be much easier to be anonymous with it, and it would severely reduce our ability to retaliate.
This is precisely what I'm talking about. All the effects you paint are plausible, they just aren't quite as easy to obtain as you seem to think. I don't deny that if you scale up a nuclear warhead enough, detonating it at high altitude could take out all the solid state electronics in North America. That's simple in principle but in practice it doesn't work, because unlike magic pixie dust, nuclear material has mass.

Actually look at what real warheads weigh, how much nuclear fuel weighs and what ICBMs can launch, then do the math. Factor in overkill because bomb secondary stages are less at generating EMP than their primary cores. Consider that you need to square the yield to double the effective range. The only way to obtain the kind of EMP one-shot continental kill you're talking about is to invoke some kind of magical unobtainium fuel.

quote:
Frankly I wouldn't have written "Revolution" as a sci-fi at all. It was meant to be a post-apocalyptic, and it would've been much better if treated that way. Now if only television writers would realize that the post-apocalyptic genre is NOT a subset of sci-fi.
True, it needn't be sci-fi, but sci-fi abounds in miraculous things we are informed are scientifically possible but in ways we are not told: FTL, anti-gravity, time-travel. In sci-fi the miraculous is allowable, but not the implausible. In my view it's better to have a miraculous, unexplained effect than sell an implausible scenario to the reader as plausible. There's no excuse for not sitting down with a calculator and doing the work.

Now when you do, and find you can't make the EMP scenario work by scaling your warhead up, all is not lost. You simply introduce a bit of miraculous technology -- element X if you will. It's a bit corny, but it's honest. If the reader accepts that element X exists, then the story is believable. But don't ask the reader to believe a Soviet era R-29 launcher can be modified to carry a payload three times the mass of the entire missile.

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MartinV
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At least there are no zombies this time...
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Robert Nowall
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I like the post-apocalypse stuff as well as the next guy---my favorite-right-now online comic is "Endtown," about humans who've mutated into anthropomorphic creatures and engage in fights with the unmutated (yes, there's a lot more to it than that, but it'd be for another topic, I think.)

But a lot of this post-apocalypse stuff seems to exist to show the brutality of such a world, for the sake of showing the brutality...just for that sake. No uplift, no inspiration...no real point, either...

*****

I suppose if it's a, say, US-Russia exchange of weapons, the number of detonations will be so great that any electronic thing not actually destroyed will be EMP-ed out.

But I'm not sure a single (or a few) terrorist-Iranian airbursts will produce the effect...

Also it looks like you guys know more than me about this. I'd take things as: no matter what happens, there will always be survivors.

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Didn't the Martians send out EMPs when they attacked in the Tom Cruise version of WAR OF WORLDS?

I'm pretty sure that's what it was. But the crazy thing about that was when someone asked Tom Cruise's character what to do to about it, he told them to put in a new solenoid (if I remember correctly). As if the only solenoids affected by the EMP were the ones in the machines and the ones on the shelf were okay.

[Roll Eyes]

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rcmann
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*face palm*
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MattLeo
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quote:
Originally posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury:
But the crazy thing about that was when someone asked Tom Cruise's character what to do to about it, he told them to put in a new solenoid (if I remember correctly). As if the only solenoids affected by the EMP were the ones in the machines and the ones on the shelf were okay.

[Roll Eyes]

Maybe that was like tech support telling you you've got a PEBKAC error (Problem Exists Between Keyboard and Chair).

The only real problem I see with this scenario is that a solenoid is going to be one of the more robust components in any system. It's just a coil of heavy gauge wire wrapped around a metal core and is extremely unlikely to fail. The starter solenoid in a car is even wrapped in a metal jacket. If the starter solenoid failed, the interlock circuits that keep you from starting the car with a screwdriver would be thoroughly fried. I think the writers chose "solenoid" because it was the only electric part under the hood they could name.

As for why the ones on the shelf would be good, that's easy enough to explain. Stuff packaged on the shelf, even semiconductors, would be less vulnerable to EMP than the same components wired into circuits. Those circuits would act like antennas to funnel energy to the component. Lots of uninstalled semiconductor components would probably survive, especially power electronics and stuff stored in Faraday-cage-like conditions (e.g., metal cabinets). However, I doubt the screenwriters researched this thoroughly.

Personally, I think the idea of *everything electrical* being wiped out by EMP is malarkey (unless we're talking about alien magic super-tech). You'd only need to wipe out a modest percentage of electronics to bring down civilization, but still a few geeks would scrounge together simple discrete transistor radio sets and the like. I'd bet most gasoline generators and incandescent light bulbs would still work.

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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All a big enough solar flare needs to do is blow out the high voltage transformers on major power grids and it doesn't matter what kind of equipment you have, you're not going to be getting any power to run it--unless you have your own generators.

The really big transformers are very expensive and take a while to build, and they are the things that I was saying aren't stockpiled anywhere.

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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By the way, is a PEBKAC what my dad used to call "a loose nut on the controls"?

Also, by the way, because of the earth's orientation with regard to the sun, the power grids in the regions closer to the poles are more susceptible than those closer to the equator. Transformers in Canada have already been damaged by solar flares.

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MartinV
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You have Transformers in Canada??!! I thought they were Japanese!
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Osiris
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There are some folks who make a distinction between science fiction and science fantasy. This show sounds like the latter based on your description.

I think it is likely that majority of the target audience doesn't care about scientific rigor, or even plausibility - they just want to be entertained. I think it likely J.J. Abrams knows he is making science fantasy, because right now fantasy is a lot more popular than science fiction.

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Robert Nowall
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Also so much of the SF trope has soaked into popular culture that Abrams might not know of its source---back to my notions of the "pretty picture" being more important. (Saw a fifteen-second promo for "Revolution" while surfing the Web this morning---I clicked on a site and the damned thing started up.)
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MattLeo
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quote:
Originally posted by Osiris:
There are some folks who make a distinction between science fiction and science fantasy. This show sounds like the latter based on your description.

That's a worthwhile distinction. Doctor Who is the prime example. It is presented as science fiction, but The Doctor is for all practical purposes a wizard who uses his "sonic screwdriver" like a magic wand.

My point is about a craft issue. In speculative fiction you've got both plausible and implausible elements, and you've got to keep them clearly separated, even in fantasy. If The Doctor does something that common sense tells you is impossible, like travel in time, that's OK, but the consequences can't be equally impossible things, otherwise the story has no constraints. Without constraints to work against, a story ceases to be a story.

The Doctor's sonic screwdriver is a over-used for a related reason. We accept that it is miraculous, but there's no limits on what it can do. If the writers need to get The Doctor out of a jam, they turn to the sonic screwdriver which apparently can do *anything*. I always feel cheated when The Doctor uses it for something that is not even remotely screwdriver-y.

Kathleen -- about those Canadian transformers: the reason they're vulnerable to geomagnetic storms is that they're connected to the hugest antenna array in the world: the power grid. The way they plan to protect those transformers is to take them offline when they get a space weather warning. The reason that high latitudes are more susceptible to geomagnetic storms is that they're caused by charged particles following converging lines of magnetic force -- the same kinds of particles that cause the aurora borealis. As those particles spin along the magnetic lines of force, the emit synchrotron radiation, just like in the magnetron tube in your microwave oven.

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rcmann
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There's one implication that I don't recall seeing explored, although it may have been and I missed it. The less developed parts of the world are far more likely to possess individual generators, solar panels, etc. From what I am reading, many small villages in rural areas of the third world are investing in the kind of small scale generating capacity that lets them charge cell phones and run well pumps, without actually building a large power grid. If the developed world took it in the teeth, they might be the only ones with working lights and running water. Ironic.
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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quote:
Originally posted by MattLeo:
The way they plan to protect those transformers is to take them offline when they get a space weather warning.

I hope the US and other power-grid-dependent nations have that kind of plan in mind, too.
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shimiqua
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I don't have a problem with Revolution's illogical set up. I think Abrahms did it right by presenting the far-fetched first off.

You have to swallow the bad science to get to the interesting world.

I'm cool with that.

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LDWriter2
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Depending on how he did it I might be too. I don't always worry about things like that as long as everything else is done well.

[ September 14, 2012, 11:40 PM: Message edited by: LDWriter2 ]

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Robert Nowall
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If the trailer was anything to go by, I'll give it a pass---but so little of what's on TV interests me that much.
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MattLeo
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If you want unrealistic, how about how pretty all the heroic people are in movies and TV shows?
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MartinV
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Last week I sat down in front of the TV after a year and watched half of Avatar. I quit after the sixth commercial break.

Nothing on TV interests me anymore so I quit wasting my time there and now I have more time for things I actually like.

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Robert Nowall
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Nothing much currently on TV grabs my interest. (As opposed to what's on Current TV, which interests me not at all.) Old stuff sometimes does it---I've been going through some DVDs of Home Improvement this past month or so---but nothing brand-new has "caught my fancy," so to speak. Sometimes a movie I catch in passing catches my attention---the other day, I watched the end of Run Silent, Run Deep, which was pretty good.

So, nearly always, my TV watching consists of news, sports, and videos.

*****

I've gotta say, realism is for the birds---but I can't stand some of the shows inhabited by the "pretty" people. (Friends comes to mind---I couldn't stand that show, still can't---though that wasn't the only problem I had with it.)

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rcmann
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I hope this isn't a sign of incipient geezerism, but as a writer I find myself with less and less respect for the narrative ability of both tv and movie writers. Either that, or the producers are absolutely forbidding them from telling a story.

Case in point: Bonanza. Whether you like westerns or not, I maintain that very nearly every episode of that series, especially the early ones, offered an actual story with a beginning, a build-up, a climax, and an ending. And most of them had characters you could actually give a rat's butt about. Maybe it wasn't Hemingway (Thank you Lord) but it was easily as stimulating as old Bill put out for the groundlings, IMO.

Now, even if you get an 'adventure' series, what do you have?

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Tryndakai
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quote:
As far as SF stories about losing electricity go, I remember one by Frederic Brown (I think), though I don't remember the title. He had invisible alien creatures come and suck up all the generated electricity, then hung around and sucked it up every time someone did the basic experiments that produced electricity.
Interesting--and from only that blurb, and having only seen previews, I wonder--might that story be what the movie "The Darkest Hour" is based on?

Random thought. [Wink]

Also, I'd tend to assume from what you all have said that, to give J.J. the benefit of the doubt (for now), perhaps it's the characters *in-show* that assume it was an EMP, and part of the plot is them finding out what *really* happened . . . [Razz] *shrug* I'm all curious to check out the show, now. Hadn't heard of it before.

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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quote:
Originally posted by MattLeo:
If you want unrealistic, how about how pretty all the heroic people are in movies and TV shows?

That's one difference I've noticed between US tv and British tv. The people in British tv shows look like real people.
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MattLeo
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quote:
Originally posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury:
That's one difference I've noticed between US tv and British tv. The people in British tv shows look like real people.

I'd say British TV features more than a real-world proportion of attractive people, but the difference I think is that on British TV physically beautiful is less strongly equated with "good". The heroes are attractive, but more often believably so.

I think people ought to get over the judging-a-book-by-its-cover thing by the time they get out of elementary school, but apparently they don't. When I was planning for my current WIP, a mash-up of screwball comedy and space opera, I ran the concept by a romance writer friend of mine. She immediately wrote back, telling me to make sure I made the heroine young, no older than thirty, and beautiful.

I hadn't mentioned anything about age or attractiveness, but she obviously knows me well. I'd been planning to make her plain and 50-ish. Once character get past the coming-of-age stage, I lose interest in them until they're another fifteen years older or so.

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Tryndakai
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I'd read a story about a plain, 50-ish woman. [Wink] IMO, it'd add quite the unique dash of spice into the characterization and character interactions. Just so long as she's not 50-ish *just* for the sake of being *not* young and beautiful . . . [Razz]
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Robert Nowall
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quote:
might that story be what the movie "The Darkest Hour" is based on?

I looked "The Darkest Hour" up on the Internet Movie Database...if it was, it wasn't saying...though it wouldn't be the first Hollywood movie to be based on an SF story without attribution...

*****

Note about "Revolution" and others---it seems, on the face of it, to be another one of those "long story arc" series, where great mysteries are introduced, but, after a long journey through the series, are never, ever explained.

I can't stand that kind of series, either. I think (a) you cheat the viewer / reader if you do something like that, (b) since the producer / writer can't guarantee the series will be around for awhile, he shouldn't start something he can't finish...and (c) whatever continuity there is between episodes, there should be some sort of resolution within each part.

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Robert Nowall
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I see it's on tonight...anybody who watches, remember to report back to us.
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TempestDash
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It wasn't an EMP, in the end, in case it matters anymore. Some mystical event. I'm sure they're going to imply it's science, an "anti-technology" field or something given the stinger, but it makes no sense at all. "Technology" is not a force, or an energy that can be suppressed with a single act.

If guns work, and fire works, then old cars without electronically controlled engines will work. Hell, it looks like _lighters_ work, which raises all sorts of questions. But apparently the producers think 100% of the population of the US uses electrical cars. I live in Cincinnati and I see plenty of cars on the road that would continue to function absent of an electrical circuit.

It doesn't surprise me to see Jon Favreau listed as an exec. on this, given the technology = magic approach that was so sharply on display in the "realistic" Iron Man films.

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Robert Nowall
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Think again...cars have batteries.
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MattLeo
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You don't need batteries to start every kind of engine. Imagine you need to make sure that a Model T. You hand-crank the engine, and a pulse from a magneto provides the spark.

This is quite an interesting probelm. What change could produce the effects seen in this show, where (I presume) battery powered incandescent flashlights don't work? It can't be chemistry, because changing chemistry enough to kill battereis would likely kill life. Likewise, electric charge can't be altered, because nerve impulses require charged ions.

What you need is some physical agency that will kill all electronics, even simple resistance heaters, without changing chemistry or the physics of electric charges.

My suggestion would be a change in the conductivity of copper -- or perhaps all the metals in the same column of the periodic table: copper, silver, gold, and roentgenium. Let's say the resistivity was 100x greater; copper would still be roughly as conductive as graphite, but that would kill everything from flashlights to sparkplugs to integrated circuit interconnects.

You could still build simple circuits with aluminium wiring. Aluminum used to be a direct competitor to copper in many wiring applications. It has superior conductance by weight where copper has superior conductance by volume. In fact if yo go to the hardware store see "No Al" on most of the replacement receptacles meaning they aren't compatible with aluminium wire, which is rare today but was fairly common in the 1950s.

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