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Pamela's Ghosts

I've decided to take a break from the gun control debate today. I frankly think I've said almost everything I want to at least once anyway. Until actual legislation gets written, there's not much new stuff to comment on. So let's talk about writing.

I mentioned a New Year's resolution to write every week day. I've not quite hit that schedule, but I'm close. As a result, I'm 16,000 words into Pamela's Ghosts, my new novel. Astute readers of my blog (hi, Mom!) will note that I'm not working on Gunmaker, the novel about a guy who really needs to make a gun. Partially that's because of all the real-life gun hoopla, and partially because the plot of Pamela's Ghost came to me, fully-hatched, over the Christmas break. The last time this happened, what became The Mars Run was the result.

I'll not bore you with the plot (I'll wait until it's in book format to do that!) but consider these three facts:

1) The energy required to get from the ground to Earth orbit is roughly the same as to fly an equivalent mass from Los Angeles to Sydney Australia. Getting from Earth orbit to surface of Mars would require another 2 or 3 times the energy expended to get to orbit. I've written previously about the economics of space colonies, and to shorter myself, there's a reason we don't air-freight bricks. Cost matters.

2) Earth, with billions of people, has fairly large wilderness areas. A colonized world would presumably have more and larger such areas. It would also have large untapped resources.

3) Militaries are only built to defend against known threats. Consider New Zealand. Per Wikipedia, it's a nation of 4.5 million people with a total military of 8,600 people. They have no fighter aircraft, no heavy tanks and two frigates. Simply put, being 1,000 miles from the nearest land, and that being Australia, an ally, they don't need a big military.

So, why would you build a spacefleet to ship an army to invade a colonial planet? Why not instead land a smaller force in secret, and let them build the military needed out of local resources? I mentioned reading the novel Wasp, in which somebody is dropped behind enemy lines to create chaos. Well, some of the tactics in that book, including recruiting local criminals, would be available.

And, if you ran around screaming that the aliens were invading, who would believe you? Even if you were Pamela Adkins, Master of the Faster Than Light Ship Albert Einstein.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 18th, 2013 07:05 pm (UTC)
I've had an ongoing argument with Rand and John Schilling on the problems of launch logistics for about 10 years or so now. It's there with my problems with the people who just insist that putting an External Tank in LEO was a ready made space station.

Having CATS doesn't automatically mean you can have space colonisation if the size/mass of what you can put up doesn't help. Generally speaking, I would say, you won't build a facility in a remote place on Earth by weekly or monthly helicopter flights...
Jan. 18th, 2013 07:19 pm (UTC)
Ongoing argument with Rand? Say it isn't so! ;-)

On the substance, any colonization eventually requires both high rate of launches AND heavy lift capability. It's probably easier to work on rate of launches first and ramp up lift-per-launch, but you'll eventually need both.

I do think that any colonization scheme will have very high emphasis on self-sufficiency. In my case, you REALLY don't want to send heavy tanks to invade Planet P, you want to send a tank factory.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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This is the personal blog of Chris Gerrib, and all opinions expressed here are solely his own. Commenters are welcome; however please be polite to me and my other readers. I reserve the right to delete comments that are rude, inappropriate or otherwise objectionable at my sole discretion. The opinions expressed in a comment are not necessarily mine, and if I do not delete a comment that should not be construed as my agreement with the commenter.

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