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Old 7th October 2011, 10:55 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Question Sci-Fi help for my Fantisy world please

i would love to add a bit of Sci-Fi plausibility to my Fantasy setting. to create the world where my story takes place i have destroyed Earth enough to rework it to my stories needs.
the method of destruction i have chosen is Mass Nuclear decimation. takeing the idea that the MAD counter-strike measures would some how be catastrophically domino-ed into effect wiping out most of the population and reducing to rubble all major metropolises.
to be perfectly honest i chose to do this because i am lazy. i dont really want to create a planet from scratch, but i dont want to be tied into remembering where everything is geographically and keeping my ruins accurate. so i chose a method of destruction that i assumed would take some time for Earth to recover from, which would give me time to reshape it to suit my needs.

however i have come up against a plausibility question that i just cant seem to get answered while looking up the after- and side-effects of Nuclear alterations to the face of the planet.

How long would it take the planet to recover?

and by recover, i mean "become a tropical paradise." equatorial desserts, vast tropic regions, smallish temperate regions, no ice caps to speak of.

i figured if i combined nuclear salting of suberban areas with the mass bombing of the metropolises i could get enough soot in the atmosphere for a decent nuclear winter while taking out enough ozone to thoroughly end the ice age we are barely clinging to now. this would also begin the prolog perfectly with the need to save what remains of humanity perfectly clear and unquestionable. so its all set up with the Saviors, the Saved, and the Survivors who make up the racial cast of my story.
but the whole thing is driven by the protagonists quest to gather the myths and legends of the remaining peoples. so i need to know how believed/ disregarded these stories are, as well as how many centuries i have to create them. which means i kind of need some plausible guideline for how long it would take Earth to recover to the point i want for my story from the way i began it.

any advice would be appreciated. i fully expect this work of fiction to take a long time to shape and perfect, especially as i will be working on it around finding a paying job, and then working said job, and then around school in a year or two. but i am so in love with the project and know it will be epically-delicious when ever i do complete it.
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Old 7th October 2011, 11:27 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Sci-Fi help for my Fantisy world please

Um, for one, massive nuclear strikes would mean that the planet, for humans, would be uninhabitable for centuries, and I doubt very many species of animals would be able to survive either. There would be years of nuclear winter, radiation levels would be at unsafe levels, and it actually takes a while for nature to reclaim abandoned ruins. If you want to see a live example of nuclear damage and the effects of human abandonment, check things out about Chernobyl.


There are easier ways to severely deplete or even cleanse the human population of Earth without going through the consequences of worldwide nuclear warfare. There's pestilence, or just sheer abandonment as humans explore other areas of the universe.
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Old 8th October 2011, 12:21 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Sci-Fi help for my Fantisy world please

Yep nuclear is a rough road to recover from. Easier is biological. That way everything stays intact and you can have fun describing the trees growing out of the 37th floor of a few tall buildings and the micro-climate therein.

Plus the tropical paradise would be re-established really quickly.

Not that any of that matters since you could come to that world in 100 300 or even 1,000,000 years hence.

As long as it's not 10 weeks who would argue. It's the overriding plot that will grab the reader not the niceties of time passed.
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Old 8th October 2011, 12:27 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Sci-Fi help for my Fantisy world please

Well it would definitely have to be more than ten weeks, or even ten years. Chernobyl's meltdown happened 25 years ago and it's still uninhabitable by humans.
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Old 8th October 2011, 12:45 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Sci-Fi help for my Fantisy world please

i was hoping for something in the range of a couple hundred-thousand years. maybe a millennium or two. but i was worried that might be too short for plausibility.

im really looking for the remains of "old earth" (present day) to exist only in remotely old unbelieved myths, told by the Savior and Survivor races i mentioned. if this idea of mine is really too far fetched then i could go with some other mass-extinction to reshape the planet to my liking. it wont effect the myths too much what ever i pick. but i would like to hint at the real cause in the prolog, so that my readers know why they are now in a world with two distinct races of humanity that dont really believe in each other.
am i being too vague? the story is only *counts on fingers* 8 days old, so definitely malleable.
but a couple millennium would definitely give me time to reduce modern technologies to incomprehensible magics and ridiculed myths.

thank you for recommending Chernobyl i will definitely look up what progress has been made there and projections for its future.
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Old 8th October 2011, 12:49 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Sci-Fi help for my Fantisy world please

If written records didn't survive you don't need that long for something to become legend. Think Atlantis, Ancient Greece even stories from the late 1800s and early 1900s have become myths. If the people you have surviving didn't have that great a general knowledge to start with it would become legend faster. It would just be the odd snatches of literature etc that would become legend - especially if the ability to record has gone and your people have to find their own way to make pen and ink etc
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Old 8th October 2011, 12:49 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Sci-Fi help for my Fantisy world please

If you want enough time to pass for "present day" Earth to become myth then with all the technological advancements that humans off of Earth would be able to have you would need to pass about three or four millennia I think. That would also be a plausible amount of time to pass for radiation levels to go down for Earth to be inhabitable.


That being said, species that had survived the nuclear blasts would be a potential threat. Now I don't think you would have anything like A Boy and His Dog or Gary Paulson's The Transall Saga, but, I think Earth would be dangerous all the same.
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Old 8th October 2011, 01:04 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Sci-Fi help for my Fantisy world please

four millennia works well. the species that persevered humans is long lived and reshaped what they saved through selective breading. that would give me time to add and subtract what i want from humanity without too much stretching. and the few who survive i already had pegged as dangerous with a few interesting adaptations of their own.

thank you so very much!! i will still look up Chernobyl just to get a genral idea of what i can change and what i shouldn't.
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Old 8th October 2011, 01:06 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Sci-Fi help for my Fantisy world please

With that level of devastation it is unlikely that humans would survive at all. Any underground shelters might have food/supplies for a couple of years, but not hunderds of years.

You may be better looking for biological/chemical warfare or even anatural or man-made virus; that way some of the population would survive and still continue to live on the surface.

With a survival rate of say 1 in 100,000 it would take a long time for civilisation to recover, and the Earth would be quite unrecognisable. 1,000 years should be enough for most cities to crumble and for vegetation to take over. It is certain that under such circumstances rumours and superstitions of 'far away times' would circulate. I t would also allow you to select which (if any) animals survived or were immune from the virus/disease.
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Old 8th October 2011, 01:18 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Sci-Fi help for my Fantisy world please

@hopewrites,

This sounds like a very interesting topic. Not too dissimilar from my own project, which involves a global war with catastrophic AGW catastrophe.

How long would it take the planet to recover?

The nuclear winter itself will only last 3-6 months, followed by a nuclear summer due to the warming effect of remaining aerosols and the decay of dead organic matter left over from nuclear war.

Radioactivity won't last long, the exceptions being fallout from those nukes you speak of that were salted with radioactive elements of long-lasting half lives.

Another thing - you will no longer have factories belching out aerosols, or planes seeding the skies with contrails. This will at a single stroke remove the "global dimming" effect that is artificially reducing the degree of warming felt on the Earth's surface. For what it's worth, the last time the Earth had CO2 concentrations equivalent to today's was 5-2.5 million years ago, during the Pliocene, when sea levels were 100 feet higher and crocodiles basked in the Arctic.

Strictly speaking you don't *really* need a nuclear war to create this post-apocalyptic scenario, real life does this just fine too.

and by recover, i mean "become a tropical paradise." equatorial desserts, vast tropic regions, smallish temperate regions, no ice caps to speak of.

Equators will be deserts. AFAIK, most warming models project vast deserts in the mid-latitudes extending as far north as the Great Lakes and France. However, oven far longer timescales, plant species will adapt, and the new desert areas may begin to thrive with life again.

o its all set up with the Saviors, the Saved, and the Survivors who make up the racial cast of my story

Let me guess. The Saviors are the oppressing ruling class, the Saved are their slaves, and the Survivors are the pirates / anarchists?

which means i kind of need some plausible guideline for how long it would take Earth to recover to the point i want for my story from the way i began it.

Give it at least 1000 years. Don't also forget to include hypercanes.

About the Chernobyl comparisons - not very relevant. We have established that the cities will be salted. Otherwise, fallout from uranium and plutonium nukes doesn't have a long-life, and in any case there are many places of the world it won't cover even under the worst-case scenarios.

If you want a truly *technology-destroying* apocalypse, think not nukes but something like a gamma ray burst that fries all electronics and kills most human life on Earth.

i was hoping for something in the range of a couple hundred-thousand years. maybe a millennium or two. but i was worried that might be too short for plausibility.

That's fine. Obviously, the biggest factor is how much of the Old Culture do the survivors' descendants remember? Is it a "my grandpa before he passed away used to talk over a bottle of salvaged whiskey about the old days, but I can scarcely believe most of it- flying metallic birds? boxes that think??" kind of timeline, or a timeline where gleemen tell stories in villages along the lines of "In the deep shadows of the past, two giants called Mosk and Merk and the other princes of the world battled it out with their lances of fire, and the consequent Flame Deluge destroyed Boama's world empire"?
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Old 8th October 2011, 01:31 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Sci-Fi help for my Fantisy world please

Quote:
Originally Posted by paranoid marvin View Post
With that level of devastation it is unlikely that humans would survive at all. Any underground shelters might have food/supplies for a couple of years, but not hunderds of years.

You may be better looking for biological/chemical warfare or even anatural or man-made virus; that way some of the population would survive and still continue to live on the surface.

With a survival rate of say 1 in 100,000 it would take a long time for civilisation to recover, and the Earth would be quite unrecognisable. 1,000 years should be enough for most cities to crumble and for vegetation to take over. It is certain that under such circumstances rumours and superstitions of 'far away times' would circulate. I t would also allow you to select which (if any) animals survived or were immune from the virus/disease.

Actually, PM, it would be most likely that a lot of the human race, the military types, the intellectuals such as scientists and teachers, etc., would have launched off from Earth once the bombs started dropping, if this is supposed to be any kind of story at all.
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Old 8th October 2011, 01:40 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Sci-Fi help for my Fantisy world please

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a timeline where gleemen tell stories in villages along the lines of "In the deep shadows of the past, two giants called Mosk and Merk and the other princes of the world battled it out with their lances of fire, and the consequent Flame Deluge destroyed Boama's world empire"?
*knowing giggle* this one.
Magic will be the technology of the day. the Savior race has a projected adulthood of 1000 years and i would like them to be at least at the "my grandpa" stage of their story telling, preferably more along the lines of "my grandfa told me a tale about his grandfa and the time they saved the humans from *something dreadful*..."
the Tamed Humans (i'll come up with a better name for them later) will have been strategically bread to inhance a particualr trait that the saving race values above all else. and cared for and taught to care for them selves so that at the beginning of my story (three human generations out from under the rule of the saving race) they live to about 80-100.
the Wild Humans (i probably wont change this name it sounds too fun) would be even more scattered then the tamed ones and live short hard lives 45-50 (65 at the most) they will have selectively bread themselves for different survival needs.

knowing the little i do know about breading i know i will need several generations in each set of humanity to get them to be dismaler enough for them to doubt their relation to each other, how ever ancient.
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Old 8th October 2011, 02:28 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Sci-Fi help for my Fantisy world please

Just write the dang thing.
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Old 8th October 2011, 07:09 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Sci-Fi help for my Fantisy world please

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Originally Posted by thatollie View Post
Just write the dang thing.
Kind of agree with this sentiment. Write it and see where it takes you.

On the destruction issue, I have to say nuclear war, on any significant size would be so devastating, for such a long time, that you're looking at massive contamination for hundreds of thousands of years. You could always consider the old asteroid strike scenario (medium size). Equal devastation, but less long term contamination.

At the end of the day, though, if so much has been lost, the destruction may all be mythologised and its true causes unknown to your characters. Like the idea of your protagonists being myth collectors, by the way.

As to length of time for history to become legend and myth, look at our own past. If electronic records were redundant and libraries destroyed (a terrible thought for all of us, I'm sure), I suspect it would only take a couple of thousand years. At the same time there might be some small groups, such as your protagonists guarding the knowledge and books that remain.

So, just start writing it. See where it goes and if you need to, change stuff in the re-writes. Good luck.
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Old 8th October 2011, 08:21 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Sci-Fi help for my Fantisy world please

How do the Savior races come to have such long lifespans? And are the Tamed Humans independent, or are they bred by the Saviors?

PS. Don't tell if they're spoilers.

--

The best single resource for nuclear war effects is the book Nuclear War Survival Skills, which you can download for free. The mods don't let me post links, so search for it.

The most useful bit for OP's purposes is the first chapter. Search for "The Dangers from Nuclear Weapons; Facts versus Myths" and it should be the first result on Google.

Now, nuclear was is a really bad thing. Hundreds of millions will die in a full-fledged exchange. There will be widespread famine. Huge economic dislocations, and perhaps a modest degree of technological regression.

But it will almost certainly not wipe out human civilization or even modern industrial civilization. Here is one quote from aforementioned chapter:

Myth: Overkill would result if all the U.S. and U.S.S.R, nuclear weapons were used meaning not only that the two superpowers have more than enough weapons to kill all of each other's people, but also that they have enough weapons to exterminate the human race.

Facts: Statements that the U.S. and the Soviet Union have the power to kill the world's population several times over are based on misleading calculations. One such calculation is to multiply the deaths produced per kiloton exploded over Hiroshima or Nagasaki by an estimate of the number of kilotons in either side's arsenal. (A kiloton explosion is one that produces the same amount of energy as does 1000 tons of TNT.) The unstated assumption is that somehow the world's population could be gathered into circular crowds, each a few miles in diameter with a population density equal to downtown Hiroshima or Nagasaki, and then a small (Hiroshima-sized) weapon would be exploded over the center of each crowd. Other misleading calculations are based on exaggerations of the dangers from long-lasting radiation and other harmful effects of a nuclear war.


Of course, that's all assuming you portray nuclear war realistically. If not, feel free to have it blow absolutely everything to smithereens. As there are so many myths about nuclear war, and since nuclear wars are conventional and commonly accepted explanations for post-apocalyptic environments in pop culture, about 99% of people won't notice any difference.

PS. One more thing for OP. There are some places in the world that preserve seeds, knowledge, etc. in reinforced, remote bankers. One example is the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. These can play a big part in such a story.

Last edited by meursault; 8th October 2011 at 08:24 AM. Reason: correction
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