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  1. #1

    Need advice on a new novel!

    Hi forum! I'm a new writer currently in the process of developing a "made for the screen" novel entitled "Planet D."

    I challenge all Sci-Fi fans to aide me with creative ideas, especially those involving involving alien lifeforms, space travel and even robotics, as my novel will touch on all of those subjects.

    For your consideration, I present you with the synopsis for Planet D:

    "In 1986, fearing nuclear war between the USSR and United States, the US National Security Agency, in cooperation with NASA and the Department of Defense, devised a plan to build a lunar base on the moon to securely house a select group of US leaders, scientists, astrophysicists, and military personnel in the event that our country should succumb to a nuclear attack. After three years of intense preparation the US government finally put their plan into action and on March 17th, 1989 they successfully launched three modified Saturn V rockets simultaneously and at a precise time, as to avoid being seen by the orbiting Mir space station. Carrying the personnel and payload equipped to build the modular base, known only as Liberty, in orbit behind the far side of the moon and successfully land it piece by piece on the lunar surface. At approximately 2:16am on March 22nd NASA lost communications with the Liberty crew as they finally positioned themselves out of radio contact behind the moon. One month later, on April 23rd, the Liberty team was supposed to regain contact with NASA after the successful completion and installation of the living quarters module for the base, but communications were never restored. After two more weeks of waiting the government feared the worst and scrapped the mission, labeling the Liberty crew as casualties. Over the next five years NASA would continuously observe the moon looking for indications of a catastrophic crash from any or all of the rockets, but none would ever be found. NASA concluded that for reasons unknown the propulsion systems on the spacecraft must have malfunctioned, causing the Liberty team to be launched further into space sometime after they initially entered communication blackout. Feared as being lost in space, the crew was forgotten as the mission was classified ultra-top secret. That is, until, on January 3rd, 2012 an unknown object entered Earth's atmosphere and crash landed in the Atlantic ocean, off the coast of Florida. Upon recovery and inspection by the US Navy the object was described to be a cargo capsule engraved with the word "Liberty" on its side. After being turned over to the NSA, an astrophysicist named David Walton was tasked by the agency to assist in the deciphering of a note contained within the capsule. The note turned out to be interstellar coordinates and mathematical instructions to successfully reach an extrasolar planet orbiting the red dwarf star known as Gliese 581. The planet, known to us only as Planet D, has been concluded by astronomers to lie within a habitable zone around Gliese 581, approximately 6.3 parsecs from Earth. What follows is the story of how we reached Planet D."

    Please note that even my description of the novel is just a rough draft. I'm still in the process of gathering facts and creating new and logical, yet still science fiction, theories of space travel that could be seen as realistic enough for my book.

  2. #2
    For some reason I can't edit my posting, so I'll also say this:

    The book I'm writing will touch on numerous subjects, and one enjoyable aspect of the novel will be that since it takes place primarily in our current time, and the near future, a lot of the information will be factual. However, any good Sci-Fi fan knows that a SF novel should posses some fictional elements designed to blow your mind, and that's when the "near future stuff" kicks in.

    Think of it as 'Mission to Mars' meets 'Avatar.'

  3. #3
    It could be worse. ~tmso Moderator N. E. White's Avatar
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    Hey Ryan,

    Interesting premise, but...who's the MC (main character)? What is it about? You have a story setting and background, but not what it is about. Will it be about the difficulty it is to reach this Planet D and the challenges the characters go through to get there? So a space action adventure? Or what?

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by tmso View Post
    Hey Ryan,

    Interesting premise, but...who's the MC (main character)? What is it about? You have a story setting and background, but not what it is about. Will it be about the difficulty it is to reach this Planet D and the challenges the characters go through to get there? So a space action adventure? Or what?

    Yes, it is "space action-adventure."

    A key thing that makes this novel interesting is that a lot of the details are factual. For example, Planet D actually exists! See below:

    I'm trying to use as much factual information as I possibly can, but of course most of it will be science fiction, taking place in the near future.

    Key players in the movie will be Dr. David Walton, the astrophysicist chosen to participate in the deciphering of the note. Later on he is also chosen to be a part of the international team that eventually makes the journey to Planet D.

    We find out a plot twist later in the novel. As the synopsis above describes, it's claimed that the government classified the project and locked it away forever after the disappearance of the Liberty crew. Even though NASA said they must have simply drifted off into space, key members behind the project always believed that the crew actually slipped into a static Lorentzian traversable wormhole and warped to another location in spacetime. Because of this believe, the government started another secret project in 1995 to send another, more well-equipped crew, to locate the wormhole. The new project is ongoing until the end of 2010, but slowed due to budget restraints. That is, until, in 2012 when a capsule is sent to Earth supposedly from the Liberty crew. This sparked the US government to finish their space exploration project and partner with other countries across the world to supplement the cost and finish the project quickly.

    Sometime after Dr. David Walton deciphers the note from Liberty, it's finally revealed that the government has secretly been designing a spacecraft and preparing a crew to go after Liberty for the last 17 years.

    After that, I'm still in the dark as how to proceed. I could, essentially, turn the novel anyway I wanted to after this point. Hell, I could even make it a Sci-Fi horror novel right now if I wanted to, because it's still very open ended.

    I could either go with an 'Avatar' type theme, whereas we find Liberty on Planet D and see the planet is already inhabited with many different species and the story turns into an adventure about surviving on the planet, rescuing Liberty, and returning home.

    Or, I could turn even turn it into a prequel of 'Dead Space.' Whereas, perhaps the Liberty crew was forced by an evil alien species to send the capsule back with information on how to get to their location. Next thing you know we, humans, are sending a fleet out there to explore the area and rescue the crew, only to succumb to the evil on the other end of the wormhole.

  5. #5
    Obvious first question, why would anyone conclude that the ship went through a wormhole?

    The thing is, there isn't really a story here, just an idea. And I gotta say, they aren't particularly original ideas.

    That's really not a problem, but it means that the story itself is going to be the focus, and you need to figure out the basic structure of what's going to happen.

    Do you have any thoughts about characters?

  6. #6
    Bewildered Visitor Wojciehowicz's Avatar
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    Hell, evidently.
    Quote Originally Posted by RyanMC View Post
    Think of it as 'Mission to Mars' meets 'Avatar.'
    Tim Robbins and that kid from Sliders do Dances With Smurfs... So a turkey with the over-hype of a blockbuster running on the director's name alone... Ouch.

    I get the idea, but you gotta watch the imagery... You could put someone's third eye out with it.

    Current day space tech is not really sexy for adventure in space. Drama maybe, but not adventure. Adventure wants fast pacing which simple rockets don't give. Hence the box office performance of Mission to Mars and that other one with Val Kilmer and what's-her-name from The Matrix (being realistic here as to public perception). So any aliens on the other side should conveniently erase any tedious plodding along you put the readers through, IF you want this to be adventure. If it drama, then no aliens are needed. Go through the minutiae and the character nitpickery just like a drama set on a sinking submarine. If you select aliens, then that just rides over the near-term space tech and clashes and you'll really need to select one or the other.

    Remember, there's the dramatic spy books and then there are the secret agent boning or shooting anyone who doesn't move fast enough books. The former rarely have sexy scenes, while the latter can't exist without them. In the former, things that would be sexy such as mind-numbing three letter agency jargon, are not sexy in the latter. This always holds as far as I can see. Even Douglas Adams used space and aliens as bare minimum window dressing because snarky comedic observation was his central focus. Pick one central theme, and then work that.

    I suggest above all else that you avoid any sort of fictional future politics. Trust me, the political wonks and wonkettes who read sci-fi/fantasy are many and it will distract them from the story. You DON'T need to explain the intricacies of how the governments hammered out their cooperation, just state that it happened and who was on board and who wasn't. If you want this to be political fiction, then make everything else window dressing and do the nitty gritty of the diplomatic and political moves on the way to launching the rescue.

    Find your style for this first. If you're sarcastic or snarky yourself, then perhaps observational comedy is more the center. If flowery with descriptors, then probably not. Your style of conveying whatever is happening will put greater limits on the story to tell than almost anything else. Can you imagine Douglas Adams attempting to do a serious spy drama or John le Carre trying to write a Destroyer (Remo Williams) installment?

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