Published by Sunbow Press on 11-15-2013
Genres: Science Fiction
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Astrophysicist Doug Lockwood's unusual discovery during his observation of the sun kicks off a chain of events that nobody could have foreseen. The powerful political and military influences that compete to deal with his discovery set Lockwood on a course which will carry him across worlds, and into the grasp of a formidable new intelligence bent on accomplishing its goal at any cost. With Earth itself at stake and time running out, Lockwood and his team must find a way to counter this unprecedented threat before the powerful new enemy completes its plan. Two civilizations are pitted against each other in a desperate struggle for survival.
Researching Tips by Christopher Gray
Although I have a fair bit of knowledge when it comes to applied physics, one problem perplexed me: how does a ship travel from Earth to a planet that is in orbit directly opposite us, on the other side of the sun? You must take into consideration that as you are traveling, the destination planet is moving in its orbit towards your launch point. Should the ship move ahead in the same orbit? Should the ship go in the opposite orbital direction, to allow the planet to come to it? Or could the ship even go above or below the orbital plane?
There was also the fact that a counter-orbit such as the one described in Dark Nights is inherently unstable. Two planets in counter orbit would eventually crash into one another, which is why you don’t see this phenomenon in our solar system or in any others that we have observed. Each planet is alone in its orbit.
I consulted with a professor of astrophysics at the University of Toronto about this specific problem, and he was very helpful in coming up with a solution. How does an author approach a professional and with a request for assistance in solving a problem? Simply by asking! Most professionals are delighted to talk about their work, and how their field of expertise might relate to the story you’re researching.
Adding a professional reference to your story adds credibility. I make sure to thank the reference in the acknowledgments section of my book.
Other technology I used in Dark Nights includes driverless car technology and wearable computers, which have their roots in reality and are things we might see soon.
“Increase buffer bandwidth to maximum,” Nick ordered his assistant, Anders.
“I already tried that, it makes no difference!” Anders replied, a trace of panic in his voice.
Nick turned to the astrophysicist that was monitoring the moon’s position.
“What will the orbit be if no action is taken?”
The astrophysicist looked at him, incredulous.
“I don’t need to tell you what the outcome will be.”
“Is there at least a chance it will settle into a stable orbit? The speed is right.”
“The angle is off by three degrees! If it isn’t corrected the moon will pass within seventy thousand kilometers of the Earth. That’s less than one-fifth of its normal distance!”
Nick stared blankly at his expert, not wishing to believe what he was being told. The astrophysicist shook his head.
“With the increased gravitational and tidal effect, there will be a massive world-wide earthquake, and that’s just the beginning. The orbit will be highly elliptical, and will degrade further. We’ll have bi-weekly earthquakes and tsunamis, much worse than we have ever experienced. There is an 80% chance that within four months the moon will collide with us!”
“We’ll all be dead long before the collision,” said Anders, his voice shaking. “We may not even survive when the moon makes its first pass, six days from now.”
Another assistant looked over at Nick.
“We’re getting the same report from our observatory in Arizona. They’ve noticed the angle and are asking questions. How do you want me to reply?”
Nick broke out into a cold sweat. He didn’t know what to do.