Biotic Crisis by Dean Giles


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Post December 28, 2011, 09:00:05 PM

Biotic Crisis by Dean Giles

This was a rather creepy story, but suffered from a couple of problems.

Two things bothered me quite a bit; the first was a technical flaw. Specifically, a completely unheralded scene change between the EVA exploring the Sumerian craft, and the following discussion aboard the current exploratory craft. I got lost for a moment and had to backtrack to make sense of the scene change which should have been marked in some way.

The other thing that bothered me was the use of the humanity-as-malevolent-virus trope. It's just been used too many times. Once upon a time -- many years go -- it was shocking and thought-provoking. Nowadays, it just comes off as being preachy, or just recycled. The same goes for its accompanying theme of we're-being-controlled.

These tropes call up an underlying question also -- how do the aliens know that we're so bad? And, deeper yet, if they have this much reach, then why is there nothing suppressing them? Maybe Mr, Giles could write us a story answering those questions instead of just retreading old ideas.

I also noticed an error or two in punctuation.
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Post December 28, 2011, 09:30:02 PM

Re: Biotic Crisis by Dean Giles

I don't think that the aliens viewed humanity as a malevolent virus... they viewed them as a potential threat, in the sense that any species that managed to reach the artifact / transmitter might have the potential for interstellar travel and thus to become a competitor.

The lack of a clear transition marker between scenes in the ancient and modern ships might have been an oversight on my part -- I remove multiple paragraph breaks in the formatting process, and might have removed one that was intended as a scene separator. (It wouldn't be the first time...)

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Post December 28, 2011, 10:56:15 PM

Re: Biotic Crisis by Dean Giles

Robert_Moriyama wrote:The lack of a clear transition marker between scenes in the ancient and modern ships might have been an oversight on my part -- I remove multiple paragraph breaks in the formatting process, and might have removed one that was intended as a scene separator. (It wouldn't be the first time...)

RM

Lesson to be noted: mark transitions with something more than just an extra line space.
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Post December 30, 2011, 02:55:41 PM

Re: Biotic Crisis by Dean Giles

A well written and engaging story. The subject matter interested and me and the mystery was intriguing as the scientists battled to solve it.

The negative twist ending was a mistake, however. It is not fair to the reader to make him feel good and then spoil it all with a downer ending.

It should be noted that the story was told in first person, but the information revealed in the final paragraphs would only be known to an omniscient narrator. Perhaps our protagonist was telling this story to a ragged band of survivors squatting around a campfire amid the ruins of our fallen civilization.

http://www.aphelion-webzine.com/shorts/2011/12/BioticCrisis.html

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Post January 31, 2012, 09:23:20 PM

Re: Biotic Crisis by Dean Giles

Well, that ending was a bit of a downer. Although considering the amount of time it would take for the-- whatever it is-- to travel to the inner solar system, I can totally see a follow-up to this story.

The idea of the probe being like an antibody is intriguing... the Gaia Hypothesis for the entire solar system, perhaps?

One nitpick, but it's a common mistake that doesn't need to be made. The crew of UN Discovery dates the older ship to 250 million years ago using a "carbon date." It's understandable why the author chooses to use this term-- and it's entirely appropriate for the Sumerian ship-- but carbon dating is only good for things about 50,000 years old or younger. The half-life of Carbon-14 is much too short to be a useful indicator of age beyond that (and, realistically, 50,000 years is pushing it).

U-Pb or K-Ar are much more appropriate for dating something from the Permian period.
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Post February 08, 2012, 04:33:30 PM

Re: Biotic Crisis by Dean Giles

I had a lot of problems with this one.

First of all, we know a fair amount about Sumeria and we'd know if they were bombarded by asteroids four thousand years ago. The possibility of them having space flight is a little silly.

Second, I think this story suffers from a little of what I like to call. . .Trekinosis.
The UN Discovery extended her sails to full capacity and soaked up the warmth of the distant Sun.

Danny reconfigured the radiation detector and rewired the huge capacitors to capture the raw energy. And we waited.


Light sails and radiation detectors turned into a death ray by the handy-dandy ship's Engineer? Sound familiar? It would have made more sense if they'd just brought a pocket nuke. . . .just in case.

Light sails aren't solar collectors. . .

And the .75 G from an object the size of a bus would mean that you would have to spin the thing at 4366.8 radians per second. So the bus-sized craft is rotating 1390 times per second (pi radians in one spin. . .) And since I only gave it a diameter of five meters (bus). . .if you tried to stand-up your head would be very close to zero G.

Not to mention that they somehow threw light sticks to the floor in zero G on the Sumerian ship.

The concept is cool, but the science is pathetic to the point where only Hollywood physics could make it work.

The story lost my interest early because there was just too much explaining. If you must have numbers, get them right. The best bet is to avoid explaining the science, entirely.

Sorry for the downer critique, Dean. It's what I do.

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Post February 08, 2012, 04:57:13 PM

Re: Biotic Crisis by Dean Giles

And the .75 G from an object the size of a bus would mean that you would have to spin the thing at 4366.8 radians per second. So the bus-sized craft is rotating 1390 times per second (pi radians in one spin. . .) And since I only gave it a diameter of five meters (bus). . .if you tried to stand-up your head would be very close to zero G.
It spins at over 83,000 rpm . . . and DOESN'T rip itself to bits . . . and that's not even considering what the Coriolis Effect would do to a person . . . gods, please don't send me on a mission like that . . .

This is why it's good to have a Wolfe-man around . . . :wink:
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Post February 09, 2012, 07:29:18 AM

Re: Biotic Crisis by Dean Giles

That's cool. I kind of knew what I was setting myself up for with this one. Take it for what it is though: a fun story about a monster in space :)
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Post February 12, 2012, 02:15:18 AM

Re: Biotic Crisis by Dean Giles

iLucifer wrote:That's cool. I kind of knew what I was setting myself up for with this one. Take it for what it is though: a fun story about a monster in space :)



I have to apologize, Dean. I got my numbers wrong. I do angular momentum equations with fair frequency and I just whipped-out my calculator and punched in the dimensions. Unfortunately, I was calculating spin-orbit coupling. . . .right formula, wrong application.

Turns-out that your bus-sized (five meter diameter) ship would have to spin once about every 3.5 seconds to achieve .75 G at the inner hull. It would still make you dizzy and you literally couldn't stand up straight, but it's not as bad as I first calculated it to be.

My thanks to Vates for suggesting I might want to look at my figures, again. I thought the numbers sounded a little high when I got them but I rushed to print, as they say in the NewzBizz. . .

Mea Culpa,

Bill Wolfe

p.s.

I thought your depiction of waking-up after drug-induced, suspended animation was excellent.
"I am Susan Ivanova. . . .I am the Right Hand of Vengence. . .I am Death Incarnate, and the last living thing that you are ever going to see. God sent me."

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