Enlightening Science Fiction

Space is a normally a very dark place. Unless you are close to a star, you won’t see much light. That thought made me wonder what phenomena exist on Earth to change or generate light…

(1) Aurora – both the northern and southern lights. Here the solar wind interacts with the atmosphere to produce the lights. 20150409-10-sebastiansaarloos

(2) Rainbows – refraction through raindrops spreads white out to produce the different colours.

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(3) Bioluminescence – when plankton and fireflies become agitated, chemical reactions in their bodies produce light.images-2

(4) Firefall – Around the second week of February, the setting sun hits Horsetail Fall in Yosemite Park (USA) at just the right angle to illuminate the upper reaches of the waterfall. And when conditions are perfect, Horsetail Fall glows orange and red at sunset.

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(5) Persistent Luminescent Material – the first famous example was the Bologna Stone – It was discovered in 1603, at the base of a dead volcano near Bologna. When treated with heat, and exposed to sunlight, it would glow for hours—sometimes days. It was made by an Italian shoemaker Vincenzo Cascariolo.

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(6) Nasturtiums – here is a beautiful rumor about the unique and beautifully round and green leaves and the bright orange flowers of the T. majus nasturtium which the daughter of Carl Linnaeus and even Goethe have observed. They said that the leaves and flowers have the property of phosphorescence, and will even go so far as to actually emit electric sparks or flashes which are generally observed in the dim light of dusk. I personally have never seen such a thing but it was stated that “the whole leaf seemed to twinkle with points of light” (Phosphorescence p 80-82 by Thomas Lamb Phipson 1862) (Hm… no wonder some people believe in very small fairies… hm…)

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(7) Lightening – basically a discharge of ions through the air.

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Every one of these lightening phenomena has given rise to myths, legends or fairy tales because they were seen as acts of power. Think Thor, the God of Thunder for instance. They all belonged to the realm of things we did not understand.

And of course they can be an inspiration for science fiction. For instance, what can happen if you find a Bologna Stone on a starless planet and it starts glowing? You would have to ask where the triggering light came from and what cause that light to appear? Could it be triggered by the focussing of starlight for instance? Hm… I feel a short story coming on….

But talking of enlightening things, I’ve been watching the Amazon ratings on the recently published anthology Explorations: Through the Wormhole. (Well I do have an interest in the matter and have a thing about numbers!)

The anthology has and continues to be high up in the Amazon ratings in USA, Australia and Germany, but has dropped down in the UK ratings for about a week now. Not by that much, I hasten to add, but the difference between the UK Amazon and the others is noticeable.

It makes me wonder if the UK science fiction market has different tastes to the rest of the developed world. And if so just what are those differences?

I know it’s only one science fiction book, but it does beg the question.

And to end on a happier note… I received my certificate for the Honourable Mention in the 2nd Quarter of 2016 for my story ‘Dust in his Eyes’. Here’s the photo…

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This makes it three out of four chapters in my C.A.T. novel have got an Honourable Mention so far… Here’s a powerpoint-ish graphic to illustrate this and progress to date on the novel…

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It kind of looks encouraging for the novel, doesn’t it? It certainly helps spur me on to finish it… a kind of enlightenment on its own, because it says other people, independent of me, think the stories are good (especially given that each of the stories had lose ends as they were chapters, which would have lost them marks).

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