Interview with a Bowman James, space explorer

“I’ve been to nine planets in twelve years and it’s starting to show,” the man said in an even voice with a hint of weariness.

“How many of those planets you discovered?” the interviewer asked.

Davidic Bowman James stared at the interviewer confusingly. “Discovered?”

“Yeah, discovered,” the man holding a recording device said. His assistant, a female in a simple business jumper holding a video recorder quietly whispered to the interviewer’s ear. The man looked at James, and nodded a few times. He looked at James apologetically and said, “I apologize for my last question. Let me rephrase it another way. ‘How many planets did you visited and verified yourself?”

Planetary verification is the probably the most tedious job in Kingdom space. Planetary telescopes and interstellar probes can be deployed and record telemetry from distant stellar systems. The telemetry was gathered and then interpreted by a series of calculations. These calculations would later determine whether there are planets or not in those starts many light years away. While it’s possible to send an unmanned space probe to record and verify planetary data on distant starts, nothing beats the excitement and pride of sending a manned spacecraft to confirm the planets’ existence. A good set of eyes beat any computerized interpretation any day, the old saying goes.

Throughout his career in the Interstellar Exploration Corps, James has visually confirmed over forty planets and stepped foot on four distinctive ones throughout his ten-years career. He never saw a lush life-supporting planet though, not unlike the Paradise where he’s currently on. His mind wandered at this experience as he focused back on the interviewer’s last question.

“I’ve visited forty-nine planets and set foot on four of them. All of them were visually verified by me and my fellow crew,” James answered. “The first planet my ship visited twelve years ago was a dwarf planet at the edge of the Herculean system. The dwarf planet had a very erratic orbit, which creates a jump line once every two solar years.”

The interviewer feigned interest and asked a different question, “What about those planets you set foot on. Did any of them supported life?”

“No. None of them did, although all four of them were terrestrial and located within the Goldilocks zone.” James described in detail about the prerequisites of life-supporting planets: the star’s radiation has to be at a certain amount, the planet’s atmosphere must be able to filter cosmic rays, and the planet’s atmosphere have to have series of precise conditions to allow life to not only survive, but thrive. Centuries ago his ancestors were obsessed in finding planets that contain water. James encountered many planets with water, but again, the conditions were not right enough for the planets to support life. Either the atmospheric proportion weren’t right, or the planet’s gravity was too strong. Eventually, James resigned to his fate that finding a habitable planet is like winning the impossible lottery. It takes a lot of luck to get one. Which was probably why the Kingdom only have three planets that support life, one which is Etena Prime… the Kingdom’s Gem on the edge of the known frontier.

The interviewer from Eterna Media Network asked a few more questions about James’ experience in space, what his spacecraft was like and how his crew came together. After fifteen minutes which felt like fifteen hours, James was more than happy to leave the interview room.

 

Copyrighted 2016 Arvin N. Chandra

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Back from a writers’ retreat

Hey all… I just got back from a writers’ workshop led by Mr. Larry Brook. I’m so amazed to be among many wonderful writers, and the insights I’ve gained from Mr. Brook are invaluable. Anyway, I’ve written a new chapter to my original science fiction story. There’s a bit of romance and space travel in the mix, but I hope you enjoy it. Be right back after the break!

The First Science Fiction novel I’ve read through

I remember missing out Independence Day in the cinemas back in 1996. Yet somehow, I stumbled upon the novelization which was localized and published in Bahasa Indonesia. I enjoy reading sci-fi novels, and in fact the first thick novel I’ve ever read through was the novelization of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home authored by Vonda N. McIntyre. I was about 10 at the time, and I was starting to get fascinated by Star Trek.

Star_Trek_IV_(novel)

Of course at that time I had no idea why it was titled ‘The Voyage Home’, and since Star Trek often take place in space, I never knew what it meant for the Enterprise crew to travel home. In fact, as often Earth was mentioned in the series, it was seldom shown. But I was very much fascinated by Star Trek, because for me, the franchise was one of my links to my happier innocent life in America… it resonated very much to me culturally and I practically grew up as a Trekker.

 

I still haven’t watch Independence Day: Resurgence

Back when the first Independence Day movie came out in 1996 I sort of missed watching it at the cinemas. My cousin and best friend, Ernst, did go to the local cinema and queued with the rest of his friends. When the cinema doors were opened, the crowd were pushing and shoving him to the point he smashed a glass door and suffered minor cuts creating a scene… but still he managed to watch the movie.

I can’t quite remember why I didn’t watch the movie in the movie theater, but I watched it on VCD and the eventual DVD release.

 

independence-day-2-poster

 

Now that the sequel is finally gracing our cinema screens, how can I still not watch this movie? The reviews are in… and many are saying it’s good. I prefer to defer my opinion until I actually see the movie.

Anyway, before I start writing a review, let’s sum up a few popular tropes that are most likely to appear in the film.

Alien invasion – ever since H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds, alien invasion has been a very popular science fiction genre. The story of how the US-led Earth defenders manage to repel the first alien invasion by utilizing their technology is similarly repeated in stories such as XCOM: Enemy Unknown, V and Battlefield Earth.

United Earth government – I would assume that after the events of the first invasion (hello! We are no longer alone!), the governments of Earth are more united and would offer a better military defense than our current real life governments. Similarly in the Star Trek franchise, after humanity encountered the Vulcans (as portrayed in Star Trek: First Contact), within a century humanity was more united under a United Earth and were starting to be a part of the galactic civilization.

So, should I watch this movie or not?

Steam sale is on!

Hey guys…

steam summer picnic

if you’re into computer gaming (whether it is with PC, Mac or Linux), you might want to head to the Steam store… the annual Summer Sale is on, and you can get some good AAA games for a good bargain.

While I’m at the topic of (video) games, let me mention a few science fiction games that I personally are worth investing your time on:

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Sid Meier’s Civilization Beyond Earth

a turn-based strategy game where you manage a population of human settlers in an alien planet. A sensible sequel to the ever popular Sid Meier’s Civilization series, Beyond Earth is built on the Civilization v game engine and given a sci-fi story twist.

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Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2

The beginning of a grand science fiction Action RPG series. As an interstellar soldier for the Systems Alliance, you have the chance to represent the best or worst of humanity among the galactic civilization while dealing an ancient threat from millennia ago.

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Offworld Trading Company

Again, about the human race surviving in another planet. Run a company that can save humanity while making a profit at the same time. Unlike most RTS games, you don’t need to build huge armies or war factories. Instead, you faced cutthroat competition against other corporations utilizing savvy business skills and the occasional business engineering (read:industrial espionage and sabotage).

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BioShock

A real First Person Action biopunk thriller. What’s biopunk? Biopunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that focuses on biotechnology. BioShock is a story of survival in an utopian city that was built to escape the social disappointments of mainstream culture. In this utopia, the inhabitants were free to pursue their scientific dreams free from government oversight or religious dogma. The result of course, doesn’t go as well as the utopian dream because people with power… get corrupted easily. The game has a very retro-futuristic design (it is set in the 1950s or 1960s), and the environment wondrous and scary at the same time. Perfect for those who love horror movies and want to experience it first hand!

 

Of course, there are many good sci-fi titles out there in Steam, I just haven’t had the time to summarize them one by one. While you’re at it, tell me. Do you have any favorite science fiction video game?

 

Let’s get right back into business

Arvin Into Scifi is a view on things related to science fiction. Before you start underestimating this genre (because science fiction is too childish or too imaginative or too sophisticated for you), let me be blunt:

YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE A SCI-FI FAN TO READ THIS BLOG.

Shénme? Comprende?
Comprenez pas?

Any questions? Oh, you there raising your hand behind the screen?  Nope, I do not speak Klingonese. I just happen to remember a few phrases in Mandarin, Espanol, Français.

Next point of business… this blog is very new, and my main concern right now is to write while driving traffic to this blog. My current aim is to publish at least 3 entries per calendar week. Earth calendar week that is, not a Mercurian week which is about about (7 times 58 days equals) 406 days.

In other words, feel free to share this blog through your social media channels!