Science!

Five Plausible Scenarios for Planetary Evacuation

We scifi authors love to write stories about abandoning Earth and colonizing space. We also love to write scientifically plausible stories. This is a problem, because most stories about evacuating our home planet are wildly implausible. Most planetary evacuation scenarios don’t work for two main reasons. The … read more »

Five Uses of Real Science in The Expanse

If you’re not already familiar with it, The Expanse is a science fiction series by James S. A. Corey,* with an upcoming television adaptation on Syfy. It’s a sprawling, epic story of political intrigue in space, with five books already out and more on the … read more »

Designing Aliens From an Alternate Earth

Avatar's Pandora, complete with flying blue beasties and pretty forest waterfall.

From the little green men of Mars to the rubber foreheads of Star Trek, aliens persist as a tried-and-true staple of science fiction. Though the concept of alien life isn’t unrealistic, scifi representations are almost always implausible. We’ve recently deduced that Earth-like planets should number … read more »

Eight Natural Phenomena to Use in Your Stories

If you’ve ever stared at a blank page trying to come up with a first sentence, then you know how useful it can be to have something to jump-start your story, a kernel around which the narrative can form. That spark can be a plot hook, or it can be something just outside your door. Read more »

Crafting Plausible Maps

Building a map for a fantasy setting involves a lot of details – most of them fun! Art styles, fonts, and icons need to be chosen. But some mapping concerns go beyond mere aesthetics. If you’re building a sizable chunk of continent on an Earth-like … read more »

Designing Your Spaceship

Star Trek has the Enterprise. Star Wars has the Millenium Falcon. Battlestar Galactica has… Battlestar Galactica. Each of these ships fulfills a different purpose and so has a different design. If your work features an important spaceship, then this is something you have to think about. Read more »

Looking Under Your World’s Skin

Last month, we covered how the ground below a constructed world can behave. From the gradual shaping of continents to the rapid devastation unleashed by volcanoes and ice dams, geological processes define and destroy civilizations. Now that we’ve seen your world move, it’s time to see … read more »

Tweaking Your World’s Geology

Waimea Canyon, Kauai, Hawaii

Chances are your world is built on something.  If it’s anything like Earth, your characters are living in a thin veneer of air and water sandwiched between a dark, unforgiving void and a churning sea of white-hot iron. We’ve already looked at what’s above; now let’s … read more »

Changing the Way Your World Moves

Earth is a great planet. It’s functional enough as life-bearing planets go, and it boasts plenty of room – 510 million square kilometers, to be precise* – for all sorts of interesting stories. Yet sometimes you just have to change the scenery; escape your earthly … read more »