Sunday, April 29, 2012

The A to Z of Fiction to Reality: Zero Gravity and Zombies!

Well, I'm going with an easy one for "Z." Really, "Z" just proved to be the hardest letter to find something for. I even had "Q" and "X" from the very beginning, but "Y" and "Z"? Hours of digging... hours! And I never found any one satisfactory item for this last letter... but I'm going to give you zombies, so lay off.

No, not zombies in space; although, that could be interesting. They wouldn't need to worry about decompression, you know, being already dead and sort of decompressed already, so that could make things interesting. Okay, someone go write that book, because I'm not going to do it.


We're heading back to Jules Verne land. As a complete aside, I'm astounded at how often the same few names come up over and over again in this series: Verne, Wells, Asimov, even Gibson. I didn't plan it that way, but you end up back at the same visionary minds time and again. Heck, da Vinci even pops up several times, and he didn't write! Not that he didn't write... oh, never mind!

So! Jules Verne... He really kick started this whole zero gravity  thing by making space weightless. I bet you didn't know that, did you? Before Verne, space was not weightless. All planets and moons had the same gravity as Earth and everything. But Verne made space weightless and all of that changed. You do know I'm kidding, right? Some of you people are just SO literal!

There was Verne and, then, there was Wells, and they both had these trips to the moon and space having no gravity, and we found out that it was true! And, then, all space sci-fi had weightlessness, of course, and that presented issues... like, how do you drink from a cup when there's no gravity to hold the liquid in? And, over time, sci-fi authors identified many of these things that would be issues and addressed them in various novels and short stories, and some of these things have worked their way into reality. And, no, I'm not going to do any kind of exhaustive list or anything. Sorry. It's the last day, and I'm just not doing it.

However, I am going to point out one of the things I find interesting. Moving from place to place in a space ship or space station presents some problems. At the moment, they're not huge problems, because our vehicles and things are still fairly small, but, still, NASA wanted a way for astronauts to be able to walk around, and one of the first things they experimented with was magnetism. Why magnetism? I'm gonna just say that it's a safe bet that that came to mind as early as it did because that's the method so many sci-fi authors used to enable people to walk around in space ships: magnetic boots. But NASA found they didn't really work. Sure, they kept you from floating around, but, if they made the magnets strong enough to hold you in place, that's exactly what they did; they held you in place. Forget about walking.

Looking through references to older science fiction literature, I found a lot about magnets. Magnetic tables, magnetic cups, magnetic everything... Of course, all of this was written before electronics, especially computers, were really a thing. At this point, magnetic anything is entirely out of the question. Oops! Set that magnetic cup down too close to the computer and erased the landing instructions! Darn! Hate when that happens! Still... it's all a very interesting progression, especially when you look to see how sci-fi changed to accommodate reality afterwards and how those changes affected future developments in the space program. And, hey, they're still working on that artificial gravity stuff, so, if that ever actually works, that's entirely from sci-fi. No matter how it happens, I think. And all of that may also lead to anti-gravity...

At any rate, if we ever do decide to get off of our butts and really explore the solar system, it will be interesting to see what other ways sci-fi informs reality. It's about time we had miners out there in the asteroid belt! Speaking of miners... I just saw an article about how James Cameron and a bunch of other billionaires have founded a company to explore the possibilities of mining the asteroid belt. Yeah, they are doing that now. Not the mining part, but they expect to be within the next 20 years. So... yeah...

And now... zombies...

And, man, I just really don't want to do this. I have a philosophical difference with zombies, but I've talked about that before, and I've talked about talking about that before, so I'm really not going to get into it. Let's just say that "I don't believe in zombies" and leave it at that. But I did the whole cyborg menace, so, I guess, I'm being fair. Even though cyborgs are actually real and zombies are not, more people believe in zombies, which gives them the same kind of realism as learning to speak Klingon, and we all know about that, now, don't we?

The very first (recorded) zombie walk was all the way back in 2001. In California. It was successful enough that they had one again the next year, and it is now an annual event in Sacramento. So, yeah, not just in CA, but in the capitol of CA. The idea caught on fairly rapidly, kind of like a zombie disease, and these things happen all over the world now. Guinness has a place in its records, now, for Zombie Walks. The largest one record was in Mexico in November of 2011 with nearly 10,000 zombies in attendance. Amazing!

Movies and TV and books... zombies are everywhere. I do appreciate Shaun of the Dead, though, and think Simon Pegg is brilliant. Like I said, I don't believe in zombies despite the fact that they do seem to be all over the place and people have actual survival plans in the event of the coming zombie apocalypse, but, maybe, it will be a shame if that apocalypse never happens. Well... at least, they'll be ready for the cyborgs!


  1. Star Trek IV had magnetic boots. Guess those didn't work either.
    And I've used the same Z word three Challenges in a row now. It's cheesy but it works. Because by the time we hit Z, that's all we care about!

  2. Shaun of the Dead is hilarious. I love Simon Pegg. And that zombie walk sounds really cool. I'm doing a 5K in November where you get chased by zombies. I could not be more excited. They may not really be real, but it should make running more interesting. Unless of course we decide to stand our ground...

    I've really enjoyed reading your blog for every letter of this challenge. Glad you did the contest so I could stumble across Strange Pegs. Looking forward to all your future non A-Z posts.

  3. They do an annual Zombie walk in Denver too. It's a pretty big one. Haven't been (and won't be going soon), but I enjoy seeing the pictures of otherwise level-headed adults dressed up as the living dead in the newspaper the next morning.

  4. I guess instead of magnets they settled on Velcro to hold most everything in place.

    There are a couple of Star Wars zombie books. I got one called "Red Harvest" for free but didn't really like it. Another book called "Night of the Living Trekkies" is about a zombie outbreak at a sci-fi convention, which I found pretty funny.

  5. Shaun of the Dead is brilliant, as is Simon Pegg. I've thrilled that I've seen this movie all over the blogosphere today. Makes me want to watch the film this afternoon.

  6. I'm so sick of zombies. And then I read a review over the weekend of a book called "Raising Stony Mayhall" about a zombie, and now I want to read that.

    So I'm okay with zombie fiction if it isn't all "Walking Dead" zombie fiction. I once read a book I barely remember where the whole family was a bunch of dead people and they moved to New Orleans, I believe, from Kansas. I only just now remembered that, as I typed this comment.

    I can't even remember the name of the book now. Or if all the people were dead.

    But anyway, that's my stance on zombie fiction, which is good because in addition to being against zombies, I'm writing about them.

    ALSO: I thought you were going to go with "The Serpent and the Rainbow" and real-life zombies created by voodoo.

  7. We did a zombie walk at University of Arizona back in 1991, and the organizer got the idea from another university. They're pretty old!

  8. Mining the asteroid belt seems like a strange idea. It'd be weird if they could actually make money doing that.

  9. Like LG said, there's a zombie walk here every year and it's huge. And while I don't believe in zombies either, I do enjoy writing about them. Or, at least, satirizing them. Our premise: zombies take over Vegas. Why? Because the people there have always been zombies. That sounds more plausible than some kind of megavirus... right...?

  10. There's some illness striking African youth that eats away at their brains and causes them to become rather like zombies. Mindless, violent, destructive. Eventually, they can no longer walk, and have to drag themselves. I find it terrifying, as a mom, to think about something like that.

    Having said that, I've never been a fan of zombies, either. They've never really interested me. I've read one zombie book, I think, which was I Am Legend.

    What about something that creates a magnetic field that can be shut off so one can walk? Still would be a lot of work, and you still couldn't walk right up next to the servers or some such thing. Or is that kind of magnetic field completely made up?

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse, co-host of the 2012 #atozchallenge! Twitter: @AprilA2Z

  11. You had me at zombies......Shaun of the dead was so funny. Great post are you happy or sad that the A to Z challenge is over??

  12. Alex: Yeah, the whole magnetic boots thing was a complete wash.
    If I do it next year, I'm sure I'll feel compelled to do something different.

    S.L.: Someone else posted about a walk like that. Interesting.
    Hopefully, I'll be back onto other things soon!

    L.G.: Yeah, I won't be heading out to one anytime soon, either.

    Grumpy: I can't remember, now, if I talked about velcro in any of my posts. I did some research on it, though.

    M.J.: Paul has been my favorite of his so far. As long as you're not counting that C-3PO/R2-D2 thing he did with Nick Frost.

    Briane: I suppose I really already responded to this on your blog.

    Sean: Yes, they seem to be. Thanks for stopping by!

    Michael: I'm sure they'll be able to at some point.

    ABftS: LOL Yeah, well, a lot of people are already zombies.

    Shannon: I have not heard of that. Crap, now I'm going to have to go look that up.
    Well, things that create magnetic fields would tend to impact the electronics, which are pretty pervasive.

  13. Jennifer: Mostly, I'm glad. I'm so far behind on everything, and the a to z posts took so much more time than I thought they would. I'm ready to get back to my regular writing. Once I finish this next project that has to be done NOW!
    I did enjoy the things I discovered from my research, though.