Hatrack River
Home   |   About Orson Scott Card   |   News & Reviews   |   OSC Library   |   Forums   |   Contact   |   Links
Research Area   |   Writing Lessons   |   Writers Workshops   |   OSC at SVU   |   Calendar   |   Store
E-mail this page
Hatrack River Writers Workshop Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile login | register | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Sci-fi

   
Author Topic: Sci-fi
TrishaH24
Member
Member # 8673

 - posted      Profile for TrishaH24   Email TrishaH24         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'm challenging myself to write out of my comfort zone, and sci-fi is as far out of "comfort zone" as it gets for me. I've got a premise and an outline. But I'm having trouble with the language.

What do I need to watch out for when naming things like 'biosuit'? Aside from the fact that they need to make sense, what should I keep in mind?

Any advice would be great!


Posts: 184 | Registered: Jun 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Brendan
Member
Member # 6044

 - posted      Profile for Brendan   Email Brendan         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
This is an issue with inventing too. One technique, like biosuit, is to join two words together that each bring an element to the concept. Ice box, horseless carraige, automobile, laser printer, cabbagepatch kid all are cojoined names.

In science fiction, do look out for things that can be misinterpreted. However, most readers of the genre will allow time for the writer to show the implications of the concept within the story - they will actually be disappointed if you don't. If you introduce something very new, or complex, make sure that it is a key technology of the story.

Also, be careful of well covered territory. The drive for uniqueness is important to the feel of fresh science fiction. That means don't use something that has recently been part of a major film or book.


Posts: 757 | Registered: Aug 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Robert Nowall
Member
Member # 2764

 - posted      Profile for Robert Nowall   Email Robert Nowall         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Be leery of attaching a prefix or separate word to something that's really perfectly normal. Think "spaceport," or "nanothing," or, for that matter, "biosuit."

I think "NewsRadio" skewered it best: once character complained about another's "space pod" being too drafty, so he said he'd get a "space heater."


Posts: 8012 | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
tchernabyelo
Member
Member # 2651

 - posted      Profile for tchernabyelo   Email tchernabyelo         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Except that such "needless" names do exist - I live not very far at all from the US's first spaceport (if they actually start launching, I'll probably be able to hear and see it). You could as easily argue that "airport" was an unnecessary distinction (and, as a side on that issue, note that at least one fairly major airport not far from me is called a "sky harbor" and another is, for no good reason, called a "sunport").

Frankly, if SF is out of your comfort zone, it is probably a very good idea to read a wide range of SF and get a certain familiarity with it. Genre stories written by people who don't know the tropes tend to get short shrift from critics and readers (I've seen this happen at Every Day Fiction a couple of times).


Posts: 1469 | Registered: Jun 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Teraen
Member
Member # 8612

 - posted      Profile for Teraen   Email Teraen         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Try project Rho, a guy who talks alot about science fiction rocketry and stuff. He uses a bunch of classical sci fi story clips as well. http://www.projectrho.com/rocket/index.html
Posts: 496 | Registered: May 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Crank
Member
Member # 7354

 - posted      Profile for Crank   Email Crank         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 

I essentially went in the complete opposite direction. I feel very much at home in the SF genre, but I wanted to put on paper a mystery / suspense / romance story that's beeen rattling around in my head for a long time. Connecting with the terms and concepts for this 'mainstream' genre has not been difficult (so far) because, in some ways and in varying degrees, they're apart of the 'world' in which I already reside (although, getting into the physically emotional / romantic mindests of the story---as it applies to actually describing these aspects to somebody else---has definitely been an exploration of "Huh?"); my greatest challenge has been in keeping the SF concepts OUT of this story. It's been a weird experience.

S!
S!


Posts: 620 | Registered: Dec 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
TrishaH24
Member
Member # 8673

 - posted      Profile for TrishaH24   Email TrishaH24         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
tchernabyelo,

Got any recommendations? I've read the last five or six WOTF anthologies and Octavia Butler's Wild Seed. Oh, and Ender's Game. I like the books and stories I've read so far but I haven't really gone "exploring" in the genre yet. For the most part I'm scared I'll come up with stuff that's been used a million times, which will of course ruin anything else I write.

Thanks for the advice everyone!


Posts: 184 | Registered: Jun 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Brendan
Member
Member # 6044

 - posted      Profile for Brendan   Email Brendan         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
One good place to start is anything by Hugo or Nebula award winners. That way you know that you are getting good writing and interesting stories as well.
Posts: 757 | Registered: Aug 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Teraen
Member
Member # 8612

 - posted      Profile for Teraen   Email Teraen         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Regardless, one the best ideas is just to start writing. You'll quickly find out your strengths and weaknesses through your own reviews and others' critiques...
Posts: 496 | Registered: May 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
skadder
Member
Member # 6757

 - posted      Profile for skadder   Email skadder         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Bio-suit is fine.

Consider the technology that you give your characters though; sci-fi is a genre where the readers want cool gadgets--stuff that is yet to be invented--and it is up to you to invent them, make the plausible and cool sounding and casually insert them into your story--IMO.

Why have a a bio-suit when you can have something a little cooler that works as a mild hook for the reader as well?

Of course you can stay with bio-suit yet make it more real by giving it details that surprise the reader (and therefore hook). This requires that you think through its use. The still-suit from Dune was a bio-suit that was well thought out and gave a certain verisimilitude to the story.

[This message has been edited by skadder (edited April 09, 2010).]


Posts: 2987 | Registered: Oct 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
TrishaH24
Member
Member # 8673

 - posted      Profile for TrishaH24   Email TrishaH24         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I was using biosuit as an example (first thing that came to mind in fact). Oh, and I've read Dune! I forgot about that. (And I'm very sorry that I did because it was fantastic! Much better than the film and television adaptations.) But I see what you mean.
Posts: 184 | Registered: Jun 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
billawaboy
Member
Member # 8182

 - posted      Profile for billawaboy   Email billawaboy         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
As with any unfamiliar element or term the reader might encounter, I usually try to see what's the first thing people think of when they hear it.'Biosuit' made me immediately think of a bio-hazard suit used in a contaminated area. But you might have meant an astronaut space suit. If you gave additional description like 'shiny white', 'metallic gray', 'orange' or added stuff like 'utility belt' 'mirrored helmet' or 'with tubes that snaked under the chin from a tank on the back' then I get a reasonable description and it's probable use.

For 'just enough' accurate science fiction, nothing beats a 10 min research effort on Google. But if your reluctant to do that I use a general rule: I always incorporate the most important functionality of the gizmo into the name. If the suit is meant to decompress a person after a deep sea dive - then just call it a 'decompression suit'. If it's supposed to protect against fire then call it the normal 'flame retardant suit' or get technical with 'asbestos-lined suits' and so on.

Let's do an example:
Let's say your scifi concept is deep lava diving - yes, diving in molten lava (perhaps to recover an alien artifact?) - what would you call that suit? (and note I know nothing about lava other than it's hot liquid rock)

1. What it is associated with?: You could simply call it a 'lava suit' or a 'lava protection unit (LPU)' without discussing the sci-fi. Just describe it's physical experience on the character and your done.

2. What you are controlling?: With lava, you mainly want to control temperature (does pressure matter also?) If the suit's advanced tech is designed to keep an internal temperature 'no matter what' for the person inside, the the main idea is thermal control and you could call it an 'isothermal suit.' If you want constant pressure, look up constant pressure on the google, and you find the term 'isobaric' - so 'isobaric suit' might be

3. What are you using to control it?: If you really want to get nitty gritty then you accomplish it by a little research. Google says molten lava is about 2800 degC. Now you can look up material that have a higher melting point. Make the suit out of 'material X' and call it an "X suit".
In my research I came across the term 'heat capacity' of a material which means 'the amount of heat it absorbs to raise its temperature by 1 degrees-C'. This means you want a very high heat-capacity material so your MC wont get cooked - something that can absorb a lot of heat but not rise much in temeprature. Look for materials like that or have your scientist character make one up - the material might not exist but the scientific logic is there. So make your suit out of that and call it a 'high HCAP suit' or something and then have your scientist guy explain it.

4. Ask somebody for concrete ideas: You've already begun this - but ask for quick explanation of ideas specific to what you want your gizmo to do.

Well, hope that helps.


Posts: 342 | Registered: Aug 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MartinV
Member
Member # 5512

 - posted      Profile for MartinV   Email MartinV         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
There are times like these when I'm happy I study physics. It can be very frustrating to see some "helping to understand" web pages where they all explain it in a very weird (and sometimes wrong) way and it can be so rewarding that you can solve some of these problems yourself.

Speaking of inventing jargon: the word ansible was invented by Ursula le Guin. OSC used it in his Ender series. Would people consider this as stealing if it was done my an unknown author?

[This message has been edited by MartinV (edited April 09, 2010).]


Posts: 1267 | Registered: May 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
Administrator
Member # 59

 - posted      Profile for Kathleen Dalton Woodbury   Email Kathleen Dalton Woodbury         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
MartinV, here is OSC's answer to the question of "stealing" the word "ansible" whether by a published or unpublished author.



Posts: 7830 | Registered: A Long Time Ago!  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
TrishaH24
Member
Member # 8673

 - posted      Profile for TrishaH24   Email TrishaH24         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Yes, billawaboy, that does help. Thank you! I research everything I write, and I've googled a few things so far. I was just looking to avoide some of the pitfalls new SF writers encounter.

MartinV, I took physics in high school. Does that count? lol


Posts: 184 | Registered: Jun 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
rstegman
Member
Member # 3233

 - posted      Profile for rstegman   Email rstegman         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Also consider it named for the inventor of the item or the one who made it popular. This can be a brand name.

If the first effective lava suit was created by Theodore Handson, all lava suits might be called HANDSON SUITS.

Maybe the first company to popularize the suit was STITCHY, or that was the brand name they chose to name it. Then the man would climb into his STITCHY suit, even if this model was made by Umbria.

Then of course, the suit might resemble a clothing style that was popular at one time. That way, it might become a ZOOT SUIT.

of course how it is used in slang, like a Jump suit might the term.
Also of course some acronym such as ZENON UNDERLAVA TRAVERSING EXPLORER or ZUTE SUIT.

There is a lot of freedom once you get beyond the technical naming of any product.


Posts: 922 | Registered: Feb 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Robert Nowall
Member
Member # 2764

 - posted      Profile for Robert Nowall   Email Robert Nowall         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I can't vouch for "lava suits," but in NASCAR circles the fire-protection suits everybody wears are generally called "moon suits"---some notion that they're similar to genuine spacesuits.
Posts: 8012 | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Pyre Dynasty
Member
Member # 1947

 - posted      Profile for Pyre Dynasty   Email Pyre Dynasty         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
If it looks like a rabbit and it smells like a rabbit and sounds like a rabbit then why do we call it a smearp? (That was a horribly ravaged version of something some important person said, or perhaps it was two such people.)
Posts: 1844 | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
tchernabyelo
Member
Member # 2651

 - posted      Profile for tchernabyelo   Email tchernabyelo         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Recommendations? Well, to try and cover a wide variety of SF, both historical and current, I'd probably consider reading something by most or all of the following:
Isaac Asmiov
Robert Heinlein
E E 'Doc' Smith
A E Van Vogt
Clifford Simak
Arthur C Clarke
Roger Zelazny
Samuel R Delany
William Gibson
Neal Stephenson
Dan Simmons
Alistair Reynolds
John Brunner
Philip K Dick
Ursula le Guin
Harlan Ellison

There are doubtless people I've forgotten who should be on that list, and everyone would have their own additions (and possibly deletions) but for my money those are a good spread of people who have either exemplified certain types of SF thorugh its history, or have changed the playing field.

Of course, too much reading may be counter-productive. It depends whether you want to write "out of your comfort zone" simply for practice/as an exercise, or with the hope of publication.


Posts: 1469 | Registered: Jun 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
TrishaH24
Member
Member # 8673

 - posted      Profile for TrishaH24   Email TrishaH24         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I've done the "out of my comfort zone" writing before. The first time I tried writing in first person, it taught me that I love writing in first person. I'm hoping that writing SF will help me get a feel for genres I've avoided and perhaps that will lead to publication. And perhaps it won't. But I'm writing for me.

And I'll be going to the library this week to pick up a few of the books/authors people have suggested. If nothing else, I like to read, and I won't know what is out there until I try it. (I'm on a trying-new-things kick. I just found out I like seafood after twenty five years of stubbornly refusing to try it. My fingers are crossed that I'll pick up a hard-core sci-fi and find, like fish, I've been missing out!)


Posts: 184 | Registered: Jun 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
Administrator
Member # 59

 - posted      Profile for Kathleen Dalton Woodbury   Email Kathleen Dalton Woodbury         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
You might want to read some science fiction by the following authors as well:
C J Cherryh
Connie Willis
Kage Baker
Nancy Kress
Elizabeth Moon
Sheri Tepper
Vernor Vinge
Joan Vinge
Kathleen Ann Goonan
Lois McMaster Bujold
Mike Resnick
Michael Swanwick
Karen Traviss

Some science fiction is more gadget-oriented, and the science is pretty crucial.

Some science fiction is more character-oriented (how the science affects the characters rather that what cool things the science can do), and the science is more "magical" (in the sense that OSC has said he doesn't write science fiction, he writes fantasy with science as the magic).

[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited April 12, 2010).]


Posts: 7830 | Registered: A Long Time Ago!  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
TrishaH24
Member
Member # 8673

 - posted      Profile for TrishaH24   Email TrishaH24         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Hmmmm. I've never thought of it that way. I guess what I'm writing is a character driven story in a futuristic setting where the technology is mostly background. Traveling from planet to planet, skirmishes between escaped slaves and military forces sent to hunt them down, medical stuff, etc. I'm trying to figure out how advanced a species has to be in order to not only travel from one planet to another (say, a similar distance between Earth and Mars), but also to conquer that planet and enslave the inhabitants. What kind of technology would they possess and what would their weaknesses be? It's a snowball effect. I have the plot but I want it to be realistic. I don't want to leave any gaping "Death Star" holes in my setting. (Thermal exhaust port my foot.)
Posts: 184 | Registered: Jun 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
billawaboy
Member
Member # 8182

 - posted      Profile for billawaboy   Email billawaboy         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
That allows for a lot. You could go many ways. It's probably best to read some 'conquest' scifi books - none come to mind at-the-mo'. There is Red Mars where it's colonizing force rather than a conquest of Mars. Terraforming could be a 'force of conquest.'

I would also study human conquests throughout history. I know there are examples like Alexander's conquests and Ceasar's conquest of Britian. Attempts at conquests. Probably sheer number of forces played a role more than technology. Sometimes morale and ideology become more important than advanced numbers and tech - Vietman is an example of that. Sometimes letting the conquered keep their culture and be benevolent helped maintain the order - I think Alexander allowed that. Other times destroying a major city of power and salting the earth so nothing would grow there again - I think that happened in many greek or roman wars.

No matter what tech you use the modern way of the game is probably the same:
You start with sheer numbers of advanced military forces come in wave after wave, (air?)dropping in on major power and military centers of that world, disabling or disorienting all the armies (of course some will get away and retaliate), deposing of the existing power elite, perhaps killing or removing powerful leaders and their families off-world, establishing the new order or using the existing infrastructure to maintain order until waves of reinforcements arrive to quickly maintain order across the world, take command of all forms of communication, take control of energy sources and supplies, police the state, work with local law enforcers to protect the citizens, violently quash rebellions, work with the media to inform the masses, control religious leaders, redistribute wealth and power to new indigenous power-hungry allies and have them please their constituents. After a couple of generations of the conquered the new order becomes an institution especially if it has a positive effect on the indigenous (very rare).
And in this general way one can conquer a world like ours. Assuming you have the willing manpower, supplies, advanced weaponry and tech, excellent command structure and bureaucracy to handle something this large. But there can always be unforeseen problems.

Well, I've spouted off my thoughts too much again. I probably should cut it down some. Oh well.

Hope it gave food for thought.


Posts: 342 | Registered: Aug 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
JSchuler
Member
Member # 8970

 - posted      Profile for JSchuler   Email JSchuler         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I think the biggest hurdle to writing a story about an advanced civilization enslaving another civilization is coming up with a good reason why the advanced civilization needs slaves at all. I would read Tocqueville's comparison of the opposite banks of the Ohio River (you will have to ctl+f and search for "Ohio," should be the third one) to see how slavery's economic usefulness is limited to pre-industrial civilizations. So, to me, that's slavery's thermal exhaust port.

That's not to say that slavery as a topic in sci-fi is inherently flawed. Some explain it rather well. Actually, one of my favorite games of all time has the main villains enslaving alien races for their own good.


Posts: 222 | Registered: Jan 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Robert Nowall
Member
Member # 2764

 - posted      Profile for Robert Nowall   Email Robert Nowall         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
If we're talking about "science fiction" and "word coinage," check out the works of Jack Williamson, who's credited with numerous first uses of familiar phrases, like "matter transmitter," "space alien," and "genetic engineering." Check 'em out for how good they are, as well...
Posts: 8012 | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
TrishaH24
Member
Member # 8673

 - posted      Profile for TrishaH24   Email TrishaH24         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Thank you billawaboy, that is helpful. No worries about writing too much. I'm the last person that has a right to complain about that!

Slavery as the "thermal exhaust port" huh? That is an egregious oversight then, isn't it? I guess "slave" may not be the best word. I think it's more of a situation where the natives are subjugated for the sake of quashing any resistance. They are collared (here is an issue of tech coming into play) so they cannot fight back.

And yes Robert, this was a search for words that are acceptable in sci-fi (and to learn the rules about creating words). Thanks for the tip, I'm adding Jack Williamson to my list of things to research.


Posts: 184 | Registered: Jun 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
billawaboy
Member
Member # 8182

 - posted      Profile for billawaboy   Email billawaboy         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Look up brain machine interfaces (BMI).

The way they normally work: This tech is real. It's been demonstrated and has been around for atleast six to ten years. They involve chips with very thin electrode that are implanted on the surface of the motor cortex to detect the signals of neurons. These signals are sent to a computer where they are analyzed. It has been a huge success with monkeys who have learned to move objects just by *thinking* (yep, the first telekinetic beings on Earth - monkeys.)

The realistic medical plan is to offer it to quadriplegics to train robotic arms as surrogate limbs to help them with their daily life. There is a learning curve for the brain to learn how to move the robot arm. It's still in the early stages, lots of research going on.

Now for fiction:
The way to subjugate 'slaves' with a 'collar':
In your story the 'slaves' could have a special BMI chip implanted on their motor cortex to actually control body movement. If a rebellion acts up, punch a button, trigger the appropriate neurons, and they all go limp and fall where they stand. Here no learning curve is needed - all you need to know is how their brain motor cortex is mapped and trigger the appropriate neurons with a few milli-volts. (Look up homunculus + brain to see the human motor map and understand where the motor cortex is and how easily it can be controlled.)

So, for example, if you want to control their legs you connect a chip to the neurons where legs of the homunculus are, and then send a little voltage to the neurons, which will make the legs seize up or go limp, and the person can stay rooted to the spot or fall down, respectively.
Heck, you want to control their heart rate? Implant a chip near group of neurons in their medulla that modulate heart rate. It won't stop the heart (if you destroy these neurons the heart has it's own built in neuronal pacemaker to keep beating), but it can make it go really fast or really slow with a push of a button.

Maybe your invading army should include a large group of surgeons trained to do hundreds of these implants over months - better yet have robot surgeons do it. Caputre them, drug them, send 'em thru a conveyor belt - mass produce a 'slave' nation!

Well...that's one possibility of using new cutting edge tech for subjugation and control purposes (at the very least! Can you imagine the level of abuse of this tech at its full potential!?)

Anyway, hope that gives you ideas.


Posts: 342 | Registered: Aug 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
TrishaH24
Member
Member # 8673

 - posted      Profile for TrishaH24   Email TrishaH24         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
billawaboy, thank you, thank you! That's an awesome method of control!
Posts: 184 | Registered: Jun 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
JSchuler
Member
Member # 8970

 - posted      Profile for JSchuler   Email JSchuler         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Mechanical slave devices are a fairly common staple in scifi, although normally they're portrayed as not much more technologically complex than a dog collar for an invisible electric fence with some tamper-proof security features. Really, that's all you need. Step out of line? Zap. Still coming? More voltage!

The main issue an enslaving entity is going to have to deal with, besides making sure every single individual gets one, is making sure newborns are identified and entered into the system. This is a pretty big task, involving a network of spies, bureaucrats, and soldiers to enforce it.

Additionally, as everyone and their brother is going to have one, everyone and their brother will have the opportunity to see how they work up close and personal, and so have an opportunity to figure out how to disarm them. Generally, this issue is commonly handled by having the people who institute such a system exhibit total confidence in their system, which is guaranteed to be shown not worthy of such confidence in the course of the story, and probably should have been picked up on in development.

But, if your guys are going to use it, they may as well take full advantage of it. If they're going to fit everyone with an electronic device, they might as well include a tracker, a camera, and a microphone with the package. If someone is under suspicion of organizing against the authorities, they just turn on his surveillance equipment and find out what he's doing, see if they can identify any more suspects. They can use the tracking data to follow an individual's movements, or unusual crowd dynamics (why are all those people gathered in that barn on the outskirts of town at two in the morning?) Basically, everyone carries Big Brother with them wherever they go. If someone tries to disable it, blind the camera or muffle the microphone, ZAP! and soldiers are dispatched to take them in.


Posts: 222 | Registered: Jan 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
billawaboy
Member
Member # 8182

 - posted      Profile for billawaboy   Email billawaboy         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Your very welcome, Trish! Glad I could help out.

Just for fun,

1. Here is an actual human using an implanted BMI to control a computer mouse. The tech is called Braingate:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJJPbpHoPWo&feature=fvst


2. Here is Honda's BMI interface that *doesn't* use implants, but uses noninvasive EEG technology to have a human control the movements of an ASIMO robot. Another thing they tried is to use an fMRI machine to create a real-time image of brain activity and use that to instruct a robot hand. The drawback is that the person has to lie in a giant magnetic doughnut of the fMRI, lol! Not practical but getting there.

Both are shown in the youtube video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-fE9QBy0FI&feature=fvst

Enjoy!


Posts: 342 | Registered: Aug 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Robert Nowall
Member
Member # 2764

 - posted      Profile for Robert Nowall   Email Robert Nowall         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Ah, but is the zap! of it something that can force control? Will it work? Or is it something the prospective slaves can ignore and discard? 'Cause if it fails, your slave army will turn on you...

And would you really want a slave army? Wouldn't you prefer an independent population you could tax, and just have a few people who serve you?

(Come to think of it, isn't this all off-topic? Weren't we talking about SF namings?)


Posts: 8012 | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
JSchuler
Member
Member # 8970

 - posted      Profile for JSchuler   Email JSchuler         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Ah, but is the zap! of it something that can force control? Will it work? Or is it something the prospective slaves can ignore and discard? 'Cause if it fails, your slave army will turn on you.
Well, depends on the needs of the writer, naturally.

If it's electrical in nature, and the species it's attached to doesn't have a completely alien physiology, the zap! would overwhelm the subject's motor control as surely as a neural implant. It wouldn't have zx fine-control as a neural implant device could have, but I don't think Trisha is talking about something like that. Simply causing everyone to collapse in a pile of writhing agony might serve Trisha's purposes, without having to design an army of surgeons to get it done.

I dunno. I'm a big fan of keeping things as straight forward as possible in sci-fi. No need to write about a futuristic space hammer powered by Hawking radiation harvested from super massive blackholes across a dozen galaxies if you just need your character to replace a missing shingle.

But, that said, the question of which system to use isn't really a technical one. Both the zapper and the BMI would serve the practical purpose of turning someone harmless without the writer having to twist himself in knots to explain it. It's the secondary effects that I think are of more interest. The BMI requires a lot more effort on the part of the invaders to implement than the zapper, but it allows for a more... humane... means of putting down a revolt. So the means of control tells us something about the values of the slavers. Those who use the zapper probably wouldn't care if a few percentage points of the population died from the punishment, while those implanting BMIs may be horrified if they found even 0.01% of their subjects dieing because of it. Or, maybe the slavers that use the zapper are more honest with themselves about what they are doing, while the use of the BMI is just there for the slavers to pretend that they're being merciful, even though millions die simply from the installation of the device. These effects would influence the nature of the plot and the characters far more than just the technical specs of the slave collars would.


Posts: 222 | Registered: Jan 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Robert Nowall
Member
Member # 2764

 - posted      Profile for Robert Nowall   Email Robert Nowall         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I think I'll cite the parallel case of "wire addiction," or whatever the SF writer chooses to call it. You know, direct electrical stimulation of the pleasure centers of the brain. The theory goes that it'll cause the victims / addicts to lose interest in everything else...plausible, but not proven. Whatever effect it has had in rats may not be the same in humans---humans aren't rats---and I think it'll be more like any other harmful addiction, with some guys falling into the abyss and others getting away.
Posts: 8012 | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
JSchuler
Member
Member # 8970

 - posted      Profile for JSchuler   Email JSchuler         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'm not talking about direct stimulation of the brain. I'm talking about a taser. Similarly, the BMI being discussed doesn't stimulate the brain, but interrupts it. The obstacles that both systems introduce are not things overcome by neural chemistry. Instead, they remove the brain from the equation entirely, either by overwhelming the nervous system with thousands of volts or by preventing any signal from the brain from reaching the rest of the body.
Posts: 222 | Registered: Jan 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
Administrator
Member # 59

 - posted      Profile for Kathleen Dalton Woodbury   Email Kathleen Dalton Woodbury         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Yes, the topic seemed to be about the question of terminology, but it also seems enough about general technology that I think the drift is acceptable. It certainly seems to be helping the topic starter.
Posts: 7830 | Registered: A Long Time Ago!  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.
UBB Code™ Images not permitted.
Instant Graemlins
   


Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Hatrack River Home Page

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.


Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2