When searching for places to submit shorter works, word count is key. This website lists publications that accept prose of 3,000 words or less. It is quite a lengthy collection of publications and allows you to search by word limit.
Or is it that the “love interest” is a boring character in fiction? Specifically, the “Satellite Love Interest” trope is a character who exists solely in reference to another character as a cherished love object. In fact, the “Satellite Love Interest” could often be replaced with a bag of flavor blasted goldfish and the plot wouldn’t be affected much. This is similar to the sexy lamp test.
A satellite character is one whose sole purpose revolves around another more interesting, more significant character.
Does this mean that I am saying romance shouldn’t be a part of fiction? Absolutely not. What I am saying is that a character is more interesting if they are well developed and complex in their own right, and don’t depend on another character for their relevance.
EXAMPLES OF SATELLITE LOVE INTERESTS:
[Spoilers Included. If I list something you haven’t watched/read yet, feel free to skip past to avoid spoilers.]
[Disclaimer: The critique of the characters in the live action shows and movies mentioned is not a critique of the actors who play these characters. I’m sure these actors are all fine people.]
The Prince from Snow White:
This dude shows up at the beginning of the film to be all pretty and charming. That’s about it. Then he disappears for most of the film and returns at the opportune moment to wake Snow White up from her poison apple induced food coma. Rumor has it that Prince Charming had a larger role originally, but the animators were struggling with animating a human male.
Bella Swan from Twilight:
Bella Swan is a unusual example of the Satellite Love Interest being the main character of her own story. We don’t learn much about what her life was like before she moved away from sunny Arizona to rainy, emo Washington state: a place full of foggy montages and sparkly forests that echo with the sounds of early 2000s indie rock. That’s because all that matters is Edward, the most handsome vampire who ever handsomely handsomed into existence.
Bella easily makes friends at the beginning of the novel (because everyone loves her for inexplicable reasons), but then she dumps them all to be with the only person in the universe who matters—Eddie Pants. Her entire life soon revolves around Edward, to the point where she goes catatonic when he leaves her. She jumps between being Edward or Jacob’s satellite love interest throughout the series. Edward and Jacob could easily have been fighting over a bag of flavor blasted goldfish, because Bella had that special blood that made her a delicious snack.
Luke Bankole from The Handmaid’s Tale TV Show
Luke Bankole is the husband of the main character, Offred. He escapes Gilead and makes it to Canada. There he pretty much exists to pine for Offred, to be in her flashbacks, and to flail around (like one of those car dealership blowing floppy guys) in multiple attempts to be helpful that don’t end up panning out.
When Shows Try to Keep An Unnecessary Love Interest Character…
Laurel Lance/Black Canary from the show, Arrow:
In Arrow, we see Oliver Queen pining for Laurel while he’s stuck on the island (he’s stuck so long on that island). However, in season 3, the show writers make a sudden, and unexpected shift to the “Olicity” track, where they ship Oliver away from Laurel to the quirky, perky, blonde and nerdy Felicity Smoak. Many people believe that this was fan service, as fans found Felicity more interesting than Laurel.
After shipping Felicity with Oliver, it seemed the show writers didn’t have much they could do with the character of Laurel/Black Canary, since her original purpose was to be a love interest. So they kept finding contrived reasons to keep her relevant, including having Laurel die but then come back as an evil version of herself from another universe (I’m not even making this up).
However, I will say, some fans grew to like Black Canary in later seasons as the writers attempted to develop her into a more complex character. I stopped watching by season 6 because the show writers kept turning everyone Oliver met into a superhero. That boy had a superhero STI that affected everyone he touched, but that’s a story for another post.
Iris West Allen from the show, The Flash:
If you look on Reddit and Quora, there’s a lot of people who were not a fan of Iris West Allen, the love interest of Barry Allen/The Flash. In a show full of super heroes and super geniuses, Iris West Allen doesn’t really seem like she has a reason to be there. What makes her special? She writes an online blog?
Some people might say a character can still be interesting even without super powers and super intellect. And that is true for her father, Joe West. He’s likeable in the sense that he has life wisdom, street smarts and a sense of humor that dissolves tension. But unfortunately for Iris West Allen, she’s not even likeable.
Her catchphrase, “We are the Flash,” is cringey and reeks of entitlement. She routinely insists that she’s always right (when she happens to be in a room full of geniuses with super powers and multiple PHDs). Many people believe the writers put her into the position of authority over Team Flash simply because they had nothing else to do with her.
EXAMPLES OF INTERESTING LOVE INTERESTS:
I don’t want to be only negative, so I’ll try to point out some interesting love interests as well. I think the reason why the following love interests below work is because they are an integral part of the story, and couldn’t easily be replaced with a bag of flavor blasted goldfish.
MJ (played by Zendaya) in MCU’s Spiderman
MJ overall received positive reviews as a a strong, supporting character. She’s smart, snarky and interesting whenever she’s on the screen. She also helps Peter, Ned and Doctor Strange capture multiple super villains. She’s intelligent enough to feel like an organic part of the team (she is a soon to be student at MIT after all) and she has personality quirks that make her unique and yet sympathetic. She struggles with disappointment, and often avoids getting excited or happy about things so she won’t end up disappointed. I think many people can relate to that (myself included). And importantly, she is likeable!
All of the Love Interests in the show, Ms. Marvel
Ms. Marvel has received overwhelmingly positive reviews so far. It is a light-hearted, fun show about a teenage, Muslim, Pakistani super hero. She actually has multiple love interests in the show (which seems normal for a teenage girl).
First, there’s her loyal, nerdy sidekick Bruno. While Bruno obviously has feelings for Kamala Khan, she is oblivious to his attractions. This is a tale as old as time. Bruno is stuck knee deep into the friendzone. But he still tries to help her when he can with his technological innovations and moral support.
Then enters the tall, dark and handsome Kamran as the new kid at school. Kamala immediately becomes interested in him (why wouldn’t she?). He’s even willing to offer her driving lessons, which is a plus. But soon it becomes clear that he’s giving her attention because he wants her to help his mom, who happens to be a jinn. I think more than being handsome, he has an interesting background story and ends up being likeable. He takes a moral stand against his jinn mother, who is trying to make a portal that could destroy life on Earth.
The next potential love interest we meet is Kareem, a masked fighter who is a legacy crime fighter associated with The Red Dagger. So far he seems mysterious, and I definitely want to learn more about Kareem as the show progresses.
Mike in Stranger Things
Mike is Eleven’s love interest in Stranger Things. Yet more than being a guy she pines for, he is “the heart” of the team as Will states in a platonic (but not so platonic) speech about Mike in Season 4.
Mike is likeable as a loyal friend and a loyal boyfriend. He experiences some doubts about himself from time to time, but ultimately pulls through at the end of the day to help his friends.
The SFWA has recently simplified their membership requirements. It seems they are trying to open up their resources to more writers.
Their old requirements involved pay rate, advance amount, and date of publication. They also kept track of markets that were recognized as paying appropriate rates. Previous sales requirements were at $3000 for a novel, or three or more short fiction pieces at 8¢ a word.
Now the new sales requirements are much simpler. One must earn $1000 or over on their work to be qualified for Full Membership. Or they must earn $100 or more to qualify for Associate Membership.
The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association recently released an article about tired disability tropes. It’s a great resource for those who want to include disabled characters in their stories.
Why write about disabled characters? For for the same reason you would include any other character, because disabled people are a part of the world. Their experiences, their stories, and their representation matters.
However, there are many times people write about a disabled character who has a gift so powerful that their disability is functionally erased and they might as well not even be disabled at all.
One of the conventional pieces of wisdom fiction writers hear is, “Write a quick and dirty first draft. You can always fix it later!” As someone who has been writing fiction since 2014, I have heard this advice a lot from both professionals and amateurs. It’s practically canon, up there with, “Show. Don’t Tell.”
I myself have cranked out a first draft for a 120,000 word cyberpunk novel in a mere two months. Many people use the month of November for this very purpose.
Now some people swear by this model. It may work great for many folks. But it doesn’t work great for everyone. For me, writing a first draft is like laying concrete for a sidewalk. Once the concrete dries, it’s difficult to go back and repave it later. A story evolves naturally from character motivations. If key components of your characters’ motivations have to be changed later, then you are going to have to do massive rewrites of the plot itself, practically writing a new book. It’s like building a road to one location and then discovering you are going to have to build a whole new road because the location has been changed.
And apparently I am not the only one who thinks this way. There are several other writing sites out there that explain the pitfalls of rushing a first draft, which I will link to at the end of this article.
Rushing a first draft may work very well if you are a planner. If you have all the key plot points, scenes, and character motivations written down in an outline or in your notes, then rushing the first draft itself could work very well for you. Things like setting and the choreography of action in a fight scene can always be improved upon later. However, if you are like me, and write things by the seat of your pants, you may end up with a manuscript that takes way too long to revise because you didn’t think through key story components beforehand. Much like building a house with faulty components, and then having to build over the weak material–which is often harder than just building a whole new house from scratch.
Things you should think about before you write your manuscript:
Main characters and their motivations.
What makes your characters likeable? What do they struggle with? Why should people want to read about them?
What is the arc of the characters?
What is the key conflict of the story?
What is the premise of the story?
Key plot points. “Tent pole scenes.”
Genre and conventions of the genre.
Research key components of world building.
Problems that can happen with rushing:
The rewrite process takes much longer than it should.
You may end up rushing your book to publishers before it’s ready.
You may lose interest and end up working on something else. If you wrote something that takes so much time to fix that you basically have to write a whole new novel on top of it, you may just prefer to write a whole new novel instead.
You have something that is fundamentally not marketable.
Anyways, that’s why I’m not going to rush my next first draft until I have key components of the story thought through. This will be difficult for me, because the writing process itself is what is fun for me, and not the planning process. But I think if I can force myself to do a little more planning beforehand next time, it will pay off in the long run.
And also, it’s OKAY to write something that doesn’t sell or get published. Ultimately doing something is better than not doing it at all. Perfection is the enemy of the good. However, as we evolve in our craft, we should also work at getting better with the planning process as well.
#PitMad is the original twitter pitch event, where writers tweet a 280-character pitch for their completed, polished, unpublished manuscripts. Agents and editors make requests by liking/favoriting the tweeted pitch.
“Every unagented writer is welcome to pitch. All genres/categories are welcomed.
#PitMad occurs quarterly. Upcoming dates are:
March 5, 2020 (8AM – 8PM EDT)
June 4, 2020 (8AM – 8PM EDT)
September 3, 2020 (8AM – 8PM EST)
December 3, 2020 (8AM – 8PM EST)
Don’t favorite friends’ tweets. The agents will be requesting by favoriting tweets, and more favorites can make it hard for those with requests to see all of their faves/likes. RT or Quote-RT to show your support. Do NOT use the hashtag when quote RTing – Keep the hashtag clean so agents can navigate it easily.
Be respectful and courteous to each other, and especially to the industry professionals. If you do see abuse, please report it to Twitter or notify one of the hosts of the event.
(Shadows of the Sentinel. Just published today. Check it out on Amazon!)
Martin Wilsey is living the dream. He is a self-published author who was able to sell enough of his books to quit his day job and focus exclusively on writing. But I will warn people that this path isn’t easy. Not everyone who throws a kindle book on Amazon can make a living off of it. Most won’t. The average self-published book sells under 250 copies and 25% of all authors surveyed earned $0 in book-related income. (Medium)
So how to make it work? I decided to find that out by interviewing Martin Wilsey himself.
JBJ: How did you get into writing science fiction?
MW: It is an odd path. I always loved reading SciFi and Fantasy. I read about a hundred books a year and always wanted to write one myself. Over the decades, starting in the early 80s, I tried several times. I was not trained in writing. I took a couple of creative writing courses from teachers that hated SciFi. I always sucked at spelling and grammar, so in the early days, I was discouraged at every turn. I sucked at spelling, but was I was great at computers.
I started blogging in 1994. That got me writing every day. I was enjoying it. And as computers got smarter, tools for spelling and grammar got better. I got better. I still didn’t know what I was doing yet. I’d start one thing and get distracted by another idea and never finished anything. I was in a classic cycle of writer self-sabotage.
They out of the blue, my brother suddenly died at age 52.
There were six siblings in my family, and my brother Eric was 4 of 6. I was 5 of 6. It was a complete kick in the gut. He was the first of us. It really made me assess my entire life. It made me realize that I could go at any time. It made me look at what I wanted to get done before I shed my mortal coil.
The same month Eric died, I managed to get a severe spine injury. It left me unable to do much of anything. I went through Prime and Netflix faster than I thought possible, and to stay sane, I started writing every day.
I was lucky that I had gotten to know a couple of authors that gave me excellent advice. Next thing I knew, I had a novel. STILL FALLING. To my great surprise, it hit number 1 in the Hard Science Fiction category.
I never stopped writing. I have published projects about every six months since then.
JBJ: Why did you choose to self-publish instead of going the traditional route?
MW: My decision to go the self-publishing route was easy. I submitted my novel to several agents, and their suggestions for changes were horrible. Deals offered were worse. I wanted to retain full rights to my stories. Createspace was already running, and it looked like a far better option for me. 70% royalty sounded way better than the 13% offered by traditional routes. I also had the power of not caring about the money. I had a great career and an even better salary as a research scientist. So on March 31, 2015, I self-published STILL FALLING.
Less than three years later, I was able to quit my day job and write full time. I got to retire eight years ahead of schedule at 57 years old.
JBJ: What is the most difficult thing about self-publishing?
MW: As an Indie-Author, it’s all on you. There are hundreds of things to learn that have nothing to do with writing. It’s a lot of work. All the jobs are your job. I think the hardest job, the farthest from writing, is Marketing. The Marketing aspect still evades me. It turns out the best marketing is to keep writing.
JBJ: What is the best thing about self-publishing?
MW: You are the Boss. Everyone works for you. You get to decide EVERYTHING. This is awesome if you are a control freak like me.
There are lots of people that work for me now: Accounts, Lawyers, Editors, Illustrators, Cover Designers, Web Designers, PR People, Audio Producers, Narrators, Interns, Translators, Beta Readers, and more.
Managing it all is a lot of work, but I love it. I get to keep my Intellectual Property, and I receive the maximum percentage of the royalties.
JBJ: What is your advice for other authors who want to self-publish?
MW: Finish things. Don’t work on more than one thing at a time. Finish all the way before moving to the next project. Otherwise, you will never finish anything. It’s the most common sort of self-sabotage.
Pay for an Editor. It’s an investment, not an expense. The best story in the world will not sell and get bad reviews if the editing is not up to par.
Pay for a great cover. People DO judge books by their cover. A cover must be professional, genre-appropriate, and easy to read as a thumbnail in Amazon.
JBJ: What books have been the most inspirational to you in your work?
MW: I have been profoundly inspired by Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clark, Simon Hawke, JRR Tolkien, and other classic SciFi.
The books I like the most about the craft are ON WRITING by Stephen King and SAVE THE CAT! WRITES A NOVEL by Jessica Brody.
JBJ: Would you like to share anything about your most recently published work, Shadows of the Sentinel?
MW: SHADOWS OF THE SENTINEL is a stand-alone novel that takes place in the Solstice 31 universe. It’s a companion book to VIRTUES OF THE VICIOUS. The novel is available now in Kindle, Paperback, Hardcover, and on October 1, the Audio edition is scheduled for release. For more information, check out the links below.
JBJ: By the way, how is your cat?
MW: Great! Excellent!
SHADOWS OF THE SENTINEL
However did it come to this? Cobb wanted a simple life. He wanted excellent steaks, great coffee, friends, and a quiet place to restore his favorite ship. Working for a recovery operation turned out to be the best place to find parts cheap. She had other plans for him. He wanted the staff of the deep space salvage ship, OXCART, to treat him just like another member of the crew. Not the man he really was. Light-years from Earth, he thought his secrets, his past, wouldn’t matter. Especially not to her. When that past leads them to the SENTINEL, like it or not, the biggest single salvage of all time will change everything. Some secrets are so big, they can start a war. Or stop one. Or remain too big to explain when the timing could not be worse. And it was all the damn cat’s fault.
Toni L. Kelner replied, “For the big bucks. For the money.” It was further explained that an agent can help your book get into a bookstore, into an international book store. Agents know what’s selling and how to market your work.
E.C.Ambrose added that agents are also important for understanding contracts.
Maurice Broaddus added on to this by saying he first realized he needed an agent when he got a 14-page contract and needed someone who could decipher it.
What Do Agents Do?
Lucienne Diver made the point that many people are not aware of what an agent actually does. A big part of their role is career planning. Especially for people who want to become career authors and aren’t just treating their craft as a hobby. An agent can figure out which is the best line to launch an author’s particular work. So it’s not just about the agent getting the writer money, it’s about the agent figuring out what the best position is for the writer. It’s about trajectory. “We are career managers as much as we are negotiators and contract managers…agents wear many hats (Lucienne Diver).”
How Does Someone Just Starting Out Get an Agent?
Social Networking: Lucienne Diver explained that writers conferences are a great resource because you are meeting people there. You are networking. Maurice Broaddus confirmed this by saying he met his agent by wearing “a very loud red suit” at the bar.
Do Your Research and Follow Guidelines: Lucienne Diver explained that it’s very important to follow an agent’s submission guidelines. Don’t try to be clever or cute. Agents have a whole mountain of slush in their inboxes every week. An easy way for agents to reduce the slush pile is to ignore the submissions that don’t follow the rules.
Warnings About Bad Agents
One point made in the panel is that agents are only human. So sometimes they make mistakes. Sometimes they are not doing the best job representing your work. Sometimes they are experiencing a mid life crisis.
Maurice Broaddus talked about an agent he had who was not reading his stuff or sending it out in a timely manner. What good was she doing for his career if she wasn’t even reading his stuff?
E.C.Ambrose said it is worse to have a bad agent than no agent, because you think your agent is doing their job but they’re not.
Aside from the writer’s panel, I myself made friends with a writer on Twitter who said she did get a book published, but the sales were abysmal because the agent didn’t do the best job representing her. Her agent had a lot of stuff going on in her life and took about two years to even get this author representation. This author I know was writing vampire romance. In the year she wrote the book, vampire romance was hot. But by the time it got into the bookstores, the genre was passé.
So long story short, if your agent is not communicating with you in a timely manner, it’s best for your career to find alternative representation.
A query letter is a letter an author sends to a prospective agent to get that agent interested in their book.
E.C.Ambrose went into detail about what a query letter is.
Keep in mind that agents are readers first, so you want to get them excited about reading your book. You want to show them you’re capable of hooking a reader’s attention and writing something that has a beginning, middle, and end.
A query letter should answer the following questions:
Why are you approaching this particular agent (what is it about them that would make them a good fit for your work)?
What is the concept of this book?
How does it fit into the marketplace?
How is it different than the marketplace (How is it unique)?
Who is the main character?
What is the conflict?
What is the setting?
Example: “In 14th century England, a barber surgeon discovers he has the magic of death.” This tells you a lot about the book in one sentence.
The end of the query should explain more about you as a writer:
Who are you as a writer?
Have you gotten anything published?
Have you attended any workshops?
ONLY Send Out a Query if Your Manuscript is COMPLETE
Lucienne Diver even said “make it a fifth draft at least.” Get multiple eyes on your work. Get beta readers. Get lots of feedback. Revise based on feedback. Provide the most polished version of your work you can provide.
Will Self Publishing Hurt Your Chances of Getting an Agent?
This is the one million dollar question. A question I wonder a lot about myself, and that I have heard asked multiple times before.
Lucienne Diver said that there is no one path to getting published. She’s had authors who started out self-published. She also has hybrid authors. However, her biggest piece of advice is that if you are going to self-publish, make sure you do a professional job of it, because what you do leaves a track record. Get a pro to edit your work. Get a pro to make your cover. If an agent sees that you self published something full of typos that gets bad reviews, they’ll think you’re not ready to be a professional author.
(My sources are cited at the bottom of this article. For much of this article, I researched the content put out by Isaac Arthur, who in 2020, was named the recipient of the National Space Society’s Space Pioneer Award for Education via Mass Media)
Mercury is one of the most neglected planets in Science Fiction. Mars or Venus are usually the sites for fictional colonization. One might think Mercury’s close proximity to the sun and its lacking atmosphere would make it a dud.
But there are actually several reasons why an airless ball of silicon and metal next to the sun could have potential.
Below I will include resources that could be helpful to science fiction writers.
Since people don’t commonly write about Mercury, it would be a great way to come up with something unique that would make their work stand out.
MERCURY’S LONG TERM POTENTIAL AS A DYSON SWARM
In the long term, Mercury could be used as a building supply store to construct power collectors, and then disassembled to form the basis of a Dyson Swarm.
A Dyson Sphere is a megastructure that completely encompasses a star and captures a large percentage of its power output. The thought is that this would be how a space fairing civilization would meet its energy requirements, exceeding what could be provided by planets alone.
A Dyson Swarm is a variant that consists of a large number of independent constructs (usually solar power satellites and space habitats) orbiting in a dense formation around the star.
However, turning Mercury into such a structure would take a very long time. Longer than the longest human civilizations have existed. Human beings don’t seem capable of dedicating themselves to such a long-term endeavor, but some kind of AI-human hybrid with a super long lifespan might. So if you decide to write a story about a people turning Mercury into a Dyson Swarm, you might also want to make them into something more than human.
BENEFITS OF COLONIZING MERCURY IN THE NEAR AND MIDTERM
What about Mercury’s near term/mid-term colonization potential, in case we don’t want to wait for the time span of several civilizations for it to become useful? What are the benefits?
The proximity to the sun presents potential for harnessing a tremendous amount of solar energy, collecting solar energy for both Mercury, and other planets in a colonized solar system. This could be achieved via orbital solar arrays, which would be able to harness energy constantly and beam it to the surface. This energy could then be beamed to other planets in the Solar System using a series of transfer stations positioned at Lagrange Points.
A Heavy Metal World:
Like Earth, Mercury is a terrestrial planet, which means it is made up of silicate rocks and metals that are differentiated between an iron core and silicate crust and mantle. However, unlike the Earth, Mercury’s composition is 70% metal. As a result, if Mercury were to be mined, it could produce enough raw materials to supply humanity indefinitely.
Similar Gravity to Mars and a Low Escape Velocity:
The gravity on Mercury is 38% that of Earth, which is similar to what Mars experiences. This is twice the level of gravity of the moon, making Mercury easier to adjust to than the moon. The low gravity coupled with the lacking atmosphere (no air drag) also gives the planet a low escape velocity, making it easier for ships to escape Mercury, in that they’d require fewer resources to do so. This would make Mercury a great site for exporting materials, especially considering their wealth of metals. Also, it would make Mercury a great site for building ships, especially if human beings become an interstellar civilization. If stellar lasers were built near the sun, a vessel could be launched from Mercury and pushed by lasers out of the solar system. And hydrogen for fuel would certainly be plentiful given the solar winds blasting Mercury.
Proximity to Earth:
As a resource-rich world, Mercury is closer to Earth than the Asteroid Belt or Saturn. Mercury also achieves an inferior conjunction (the point where it is at its closest point to Earth) every 116 days, which is significantly shorter than either Venus or Mars. Basically, missions destined for Mercury could launch almost every four months, whereas launch windows to Venus and Mars would have to take place every 1.6 years and 26 months, respectively.
HOW TO MAKE COLONIZATION ON MERCURY WORK?
Mercury is the closest planet to the sun. Therefore, we tend to think of it as the hottest, but Venus actually beats it for peak temperature. Also, what many people don’t expect is that Mercury can get very cold. Mercury gets downright cold at night, unlike Venus, since it has no atmosphere, just a thin haze of mostly hydrogen and helium from the captured solar wind.
One way to avoid getting too hot or too cold is to set up mobile bases. These mobile bases would chase terminator, so Mercurians can get some solar power, but to where it hadn’t heated around or cooled down that much.
People would set up their camps where it’s cool and move on when the light and heat are too much. They would drive ahead to someplace that’s cold. But not so cold that they couldn’t work there. This would be good for mining.
An example of this in science fiction is what people did in Dune when they were avoiding giant sandworms while harvesting the Spice Melange.
People living in mobile bases would need to set up backup vehicles and engines in case one died. And they could use the extra energy from these backup vehicles while moving in order to power smelters and refineries.
Heating things up on Mercury to smelt them wouldn’t be too hard. A solar oven would work quite well because of the proximity to the sun and the fact that there are are no clouds in the atmosphere.
Mercury’s night side is also a good place to get rid of heat—something hard to find anywhere else near the sun. If one is generating a lot of heat, they can only get rid of that by radiating it away.
Down on Mercury’s light side, people could use conduction too, so they might have mobile factories at work, not just mining and refining operations.
The Great Flat Track of Mercury:
China has the Great Wall. Mercury might have the Great Flat Track.
As I mentioned earlier, getting what you want off of Mercury wouldn’t be that hard. The planet has an escape velocity of just 4.25 km/s, and an orbital velocity of just 3 km/s. It has no air. If Mercurians had a flat track from where vehicles could take off, without having to worry about air drag, leaving would be easy. However, landing would be hard. (A sort of opposite Hotel California situation, where it’s easier to leave than arrive).
Since there is no air, ships cannot aerobrake to shed velocity for free. Though one might be able to hit a very long track, very precisely and slowly shed speed off without friction, or run down a magnetic tube to let it leach off speed.
This gives Mercurians good reason to consider building a track all the way around Mercury, and it need not be at the equator either if people wanted to keep it shorter. Mercury gets hot, but is still cool enough for many metals to handle. Even steel, which is fairly mundane considering some of the materials Mercurians might use, retains its magnetic and conductive properties at those temperatures, and one thing Mercury is not lacking in is metals. Though one’s concern would be metal fatigue, as metals are expanding and contracting to various degrees as they run up from temperatures cold enough to liquefy air to hot enough to melt lead, but this is happening once a Mercurian day, which is very, very, very long (it takes 59 Earth days to complete one rotation on its axis Universe Today). So the Flat Track would not be getting heated and cooled constantly, and even today we know a lot of tricks for various alloys and composites that would minimize metal fatigue.
The Planet Down Under:
If one digs down a little bit on Mercury, they would start to see livable human temperatures underground, once they get away from the craters and closer to the poles, and in one of the more optimistic models, even room temperature underground at the equator at 90 degrees west, which would help with the expansion and contraction fatigue and other construction problems caused by varying temperatures.
If one doesn’t want to use mobile bases or live underground, they could try mushroom habitats.
These habitats would have a retracting option, where things fold down during the night and the brighest day, and pop back up when things are more moderate.
The habitat would be built up on stilts that aren’t thermally conductive. Then one would put a big umbrella over it, covered in mirrors, to bounce light away, one that could flip open or move aside to let in however much light a person wanted. Stilts would be made of something that doesn’t conduct heat well, like the silicate beneath the ground. Spinning habitats could use centripetal force to create Earth-like gravity in the habitat.
Water in the Poles:
There could be some water at some of the craters near Mercury’s poles. Wires underground could bring the water to people.
Making Mercury Earth-like:
One doesn’t have to make a planet like Earth, if they want to live there.
But if people did want to make Mercury Earth-like, massive mirrors and shades in orbit could help cool down the planet. Mercury is massive enough to hold a breathable atmosphere. People could also collect solar wind from the sun, rich in hydrogen and helium, things that could be sold, using a giant mirror or shade acting as a giant windmill driven by the solar wind. “Star Wheel.”
MERCURY IN SCIENCE FICTION
As I stated, Mercury isn’t mentioned frequently in Science Fiction, which is why it would be a great thing to write about. However, if you do want to read some works that mention a colonized Mercury, check out the works below.
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