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Updraft (Bone Universe, #1)
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Updraft > UD: Trying to Silence my Laser Brain

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message 1: by Jeremiah (new) - added it

Jeremiah Mccoy (jeremiahtechnoirmccoy) | 80 comments So... I am 80% done with the book, and I am enjoying the book. Let me start with that. This is not a criticism of the work. I like it.

However, every time they have someone take up flying, there is a little voice in my brain that says, "how they hell does that work?" I know this is me trying to make it fit into a unified system, even a magical one. The science version doesn't work. The only way they are flying with wings is if they are as big as the ones on the cover, but the descriptions all make them sound much smaller. You can't walk around with wing the size on the cover on, not in any practical way, but without it how are they flying? Magic?
Hollow bones?
Eating really gassy foods?

Like I said, I still really enjoy the book. That thought popped in my head enough that I thought I would put it up here. I guess my brain is a little more laser than sword.

Maybe they explain it more later.


message 2: by Jeremiah (new) - added it

Jeremiah Mccoy (jeremiahtechnoirmccoy) | 80 comments And now at least some other people noticed as per the cover thread. Still some questions there.


message 3: by Tassie Dave, S&L Historian (last edited Jun 20, 2016 01:48AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Tassie Dave | 3492 comments Mod
Human flight with the type of wings mentioned is impossible on earth. But this is almost certainly not earth.

A smaller planet with a similar type atmosphere would be easier to fly in. Also lighter frames (hollow bones etc) would make things easier.

Scientists even contemplate these types of theoretical exercises.
Here is a paper discussing flying on Saturn's moon Titan.

Many humans dream of flying like a bird. Although it is not possible on Earth, it is on Titan. This paper explores the dimensions of a wingsuit allowing a human to easily take-off from the surface of Titan. It was calculated that the wing area would be approximately 4.7 square metres assuming an initial run up speed of 6 m/s.

https://physics.le.ac.uk/journals/ind...

This was done with a body inside our Solar System on which data was available. Mathematical models could be done for lower gravity planets/moons/asteroids on which flight would be even easier


message 4: by Joseph (new)

Joseph | 2245 comments Tassie Dave wrote: "A smaller planet with a similar type atmosphere would be easier to fly in. Also lighter frames (hollow bones etc) would make things easier...."



Robert A. Heinlein's story The Menace from Earth was set in a lunar colony that had a very large (underground) chamber where people would strap on wings and "fly" (well, it might've been more like gliding in most cases; haven't read the story in many years).


Leesa (leesalogic) | 633 comments There is mention of furling the wings so they have to be somewhat collapsible when worn.


message 6: by Jeremiah (new) - added it

Jeremiah Mccoy (jeremiahtechnoirmccoy) | 80 comments Yeah, I thought about the smaller planet. That leads to the question of how they got there. Humans clearly did not evolve on such a world, but they also have other terrestrial species there (geese being one that pops to mind). Makes for some fun speculation.


message 7: by Trike (last edited Jun 20, 2016 11:29PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Trike | 8156 comments I'm not nearly as far into it, but I'm having the same issues. So far I haven't seen any discussion on how they grow food or make objects. It's just, "Strawberries come from such-and-such tower." But the description of the one tower makes it seem really small, with only a few tiers at the top having large enough living spaces.

She does say something about feeding the silk spiders, as if that's their source for clothing, wings and other fabrics, but it sounded like a few arachnids in an aquarium, not the massive number you'd need for the industrial production of fabric.

I dunno, I guess the excuse "because magic" is supposed to be sufficient explanation, but so far the whole thing feels really underdeveloped. And tiny, frankly. More like a high school rather than a city.


message 8: by Jeremiah (new) - added it

Jeremiah Mccoy (jeremiahtechnoirmccoy) | 80 comments I like the overall world design, for stylistic reasons, and they imply a lot. I am willing to accept that off camera there are portions of the towers set aside for the production of things like silk, or apples.

I do still have questions.
Skymouth/Skymaws fly how exactly? I am willing to accept magic, but they make at least token efforts to explain other things, but that remains unexplained or even questioned.

Why are they invisible?

Why is it just the City? What about the rest of the world? What ever disaster struck the people of this world seems to have affected the whole world, or why not just leave for somewhere else?


Joanna Chaplin | 1175 comments Jeremiah wrote: "I like the overall world design, for stylistic reasons, and they imply a lot. I am willing to accept that off camera there are portions of the towers set aside for the production of things like sil..."

I think they're supposed to have sky-colored/chameleon-style skins.


message 10: by Alan (new)

Alan | 534 comments I think Skymouth hide is literally invisible. Or else (view spoiler) It's the only aspect of the world that seemed definitively magical.


Paulo Limp (paulolimp) | 164 comments Joanna wrote: I think they're supposed to have sky-colored/chameleon-style skins.

I did thought the same at first but once (view spoiler) I had to rethink it as some type of "magic" hide that mimics the environment around it - even after cellular death.


terpkristin | 4117 comments Related to the OP but not exactly where the discussion has wandered...in the thread on the bones, someone posted that in fantasy, they're more forgiving if the "science" doesn't add up. I'm definitely that way.

In a "typical" fantasy book I read, I want the world to be self-consistent. So far, it seems to be, though admittedly there's a lot we, the readers, don't know about the world (that I'm hoping are touched on in subsequent books). I don't worry too much about the explanations fitting in with the world and/or physics that I know.

On the other hand, when I read science fiction, it drives me up a wall when authors try to use earth/known physics and create rules for themselves or or otherwise make something completely illogical and pass it off as "well, it's the universe that THIS book is set in" (even if said universe is the one we know). Clearly, I know more about physics and engineering than the average person on the street, but I think it's lazy when authors use that excuse in science fiction. I'd much prefer someone creating a different (parallel, if necessary) universe with its own rules and just be self-consistent. At least then it all works. If they try to say it's our world and clearly break physics, I will often get irritated, especially if the book doesn't hold my interest.

At the end of the day, I want a good story and I want to be entertained. That's probably why I read more sword books than laser books in general. I have degrees in physics and aerospace and I work in aerospace; reading science fiction quite often doesn't offer me enough escapism from my day job. Fantasy does. But if a book doesn't grab my attention, doesn't entertain me...well, that's when I get really frustrated by broken physics laws.


message 13: by John (Taloni) (new)

John (Taloni) Taloni (johntaloni) | 3861 comments ^So true. I was forgiving of the transit time mistakes in The Sparrow since it was more a work of sociology than hard SF, but the errors in Seveneves drove me up a wall.


message 14: by Rick (new)

Rick | 2775 comments Everyone draws their own lines of course. For example, in laser works it doesn't bother me to see FTL - I just chalk it up to the author posting some new physics and, in that case, prefer that they don't try to explain it. Just say 'boom, new physics discovered, allows FTL' and move on. For some, FTL or any such violation of known physics is a hard stop, but even books that try to operate with in the known physics constraint run into issues. I love Reynolds' House of Suns which operates in a no FTL reality, but to make the story go he posits an ability to keep people in stasis for tens of thousands of years and for the ship to be capable of avoiding damage or repairing it across similar spans. Possible? Yes, in the sense that it doesn't violate known science. Probable? Well.. I doubt it.

At the end of the day I want a sense of wonder and a sense of exploration and confronting new things. Writing that gives that to me works for me. Writing that doesn't or that is self-inconsistent or that just gets things wrong... doesn't work for me.


message 15: by Darren (last edited Jun 23, 2016 07:25AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Darren The short answer is that it's not real. It's a story.

Aside from that, are these characters human? Humanoid, surely, but specifically human? I don't think it says that anywhere, and they have echolocation, and can live above cloud level without dying of altitude sickness. Never mind the Shouting. It does say that spire-born weigh less than tower born, so it's not unlikely that tower-born also weigh less than those from below, if there are any such of their kind left (haven't finished yet, but someone's gotta check those tower foundations...)


AndrewP (andrewca) | 2447 comments If you want to read a good, very detailed tower ecology try Terminal World by Alistair Reynolds. It's also got cool airships :)


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