Thursday, March 12, 2009

All These New Worlds Could Be Yours

The Planetary Society, wise and generous to a fault, has put up a catalogue of known exoplanets. It's stuffed full of fact-based goodness, including planet sizes and orbital data, the type of star they orbit and its distance from the Solar System, and neat animations that show their orbits. So far, they list than 330; that number should increase considerably once the Kepler Mission goes live, and starts to detect Earth-sized planets around other stars.

Now I've turned in Gardens of the Sun, I'm beginning to think about the next novel. One of my ideas is building on the exploration and colonisation of the Solar System in The Quiet War and Gardens of the Sun by ramping up that future history's time-scale from decades to millennia, taking a hard look at the possibilities of interstellar colonisation and the adaptations human beings will need to make, and the consequences if human stock frays into a dozen or more species. This direction is kinda sorta implied in the two novels. If I go with it, I'll be ravaging the Planetary Society's catalogue and other places for hard data, but in any case I find this stuff intrinsically fascinating. Actual worlds, orbiting actual stars, real as the chair I'm sitting on.

Since handing over Gardens of the Sun to my editor, I've been wandering about in my usual post-parturition daze, although I did manage to somehow write a short article on my favourite science-fiction film for BSFA booklet (2001: A Space Odyssey), write a review for Foundation (which because it's for the journal of the very learned Science Fiction Foundation meant that I had to work up solid arguments for why I thought the novel in question worked or it didn't, and also involved checking up on William Hope Hodgson's The House on the Borderland and The Night Land (some of you might be able to guess which novel I was reviewing)), and also blurt out a couple of very short stories, one of which might be good enough for publication. Do you need to know about my Grand Fun with wi-fi broadband, or the post-modern cold that deconstructed itself in my sinuses for a couple of weeks? Nah. Pretty soon, I'll get around to cleaning up the office and taking long pointless walks; then I know I'll be on the beginning of the long and roundabout process by which I begin to stalk the interstellar colonisation idea, or the thing that's been tickling my imagination for the past year or so, or something else completely. . .


Blogger PeteY said...

Actually I'm curious about the wifi.

Thanks for the link and I look forward to the new novel. A while back you said you might link a free story from the Quiet War series. I would still like to see one, if you're at a loose end ;)

March 17, 2009 12:39 am  
Blogger Paul McAuley said...

The wi-fi was pretty straightforward, although at every stage it was obvious that if something went wrong it would cost me some serious time to fix it. There were a couple of software conflicts that had to be sorted out by heuristic means - removing programs from the start-up list one by one and in different combinations until things ran smoothly. More like tweaking an ecology than good old-fashioned logical tinkering with the likes of config.sys.

There's a free story - Reef - over at my Orion author's pages. But I assume you've seen that and want me to post another one. Maybe...

March 18, 2009 8:56 am  
Blogger PeteY said...

Yes, I have seen Reef, and also Making History, so I want something else.

March 19, 2009 12:34 am  

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