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Subject:  Re: Looking for links Date:  8/22/2003  2:42 PM
Author:  Chapman208 Number:  2295 of 4871

>>>>My reaction to your brief descriptions of your stories was: "Hasn't that been done before?"

Bob: Thanks for your comments. I'm not sure to what you are referring, though. Are you saying that other books/stories dealt with finding iron oxide ore on an asteroid and refining it to extract oxygen to save the crew's life? If so, I haven't seen it done before, but as I haven't been reading short stories for years I may have missed it (although I haven't seen the issue come up in any of the thousands of SF books I have read over the years). Or did you mean something else?

>>>>I'm also concerned that the science is materially inaccurate. To me, the numbers in your orbital scenario seem big enough that orbital mechanics will be a significant consideration. In other words, you can't simply point your ship at the asteroid (or whether the asteroid will be when your trip is over) and fire your rockets, because your increased speed relative to the sun will drive you into a higher orbit. The usual way of matching orbits (which is what you're trying to do) is to decelerate, thereby dropping into a lower and faster orbit. You wait a while until you've passed the object you're trying to catch, then accelerate to rejoin the object in its higher orbit.

I'm don't think this is precisely the same sort of situation. We have a disabled ship, adrift in the asteroid belt, moving at more or less the same speed as the asteroids around it. They have no main engine with which to shoot past their target (which may well be ahead of them; I didn't specify) and then wait. They have only low-power thrusters and they are only going a short distance, so I don't think the issue of an orbit really applies here. (At a distance of, say, 2-3 au, the small arc of the orbit they are traversing may as well be a straight line (just as we don't have to worry about the curvature of the earth when we walk across the street). The ship's computer will compute the trajectory of their flight. They are only concerned with whether they can accelerate enough (and then decelerate) to reach the asteroid in time. Out of the entire book, this topic takes up parts of 2-3 pages, so it's pretty trivial in the overall picture. I want to get it right, but it's not a significant portion of the book that would require rework if my description os off. More of the book involves the electrochemical/mechanical process of extracting and refining the ore (which is scientifically sound), the use of nanobots for medical and repair/assembly purposes (also scientifically sound, from what I have read of nanotechnology developments), and some fanciful alien technology (which may or may not be more scientifically sound than phasors and transporters).

>>>>I am seriously concerned that you have not done enough science homework to satisfy the rigor demanded by the hard SF market.

I have done a fair amount of research on the parts that I knew I needed to. The aspect of orbital mechanics that you (and Longhook) mention is one that I overlooked. I hope there aren't any other such fundamental flaws in my use of scientific principles. That's part of the reason I asked for readers to help me "sanity check" the story and the science. So far I have gotten feedback from two reviewers and neither has pointed out any other such problems (but, unfortunately, they didn't point out this one either). I don't know how scientifically knowledgeable the various reviewers are. I already have six reviewers actively reading the book, and a couple of others in reserve, but perhaps after the first batch are done I'll ask for a few more to help me look for holes in the science. You (and Longhook) are welcome to volunteer, if you're interested. (So far, the comments I have received dealt with some stilted dialog in the ferst few chapters and other minor points--nothing major, and they both seemed to enjoy the overall story, which is encouraging.)

>>>>Best of luck to you. I look forward to your work hitting my bookshelf.

Thanks -- me too! <g>

Mark.
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