Thursday, September 16, 2010
I watch the Weather Channel every morning when I'm getting ready for work. It's addictive, and fulfills my need for some kind of science quotient in my life. Don't judge me. I'm not out buying heroin from high school kids. But it would be hilarious if I was buying earth science books from them instead... Okay, end early morning pre-caffeinated rambling.
So, this morning on the Weather Channel there was an interview with two astronauts, engineer Doug Wheelock, and Tracey Caldwell Dyson. Dyson will be coming back home later today.
Mike Bettes, the Weather Channel meteorologist, asked what they missed most. After running water—Wheelock said he hadn't had a shower since the middle of June—they said they missed simple things like smells, cooking food, the smell of the outdoors.
This got me to thinking: Some of you write science fiction and dystopian, and some of it, like Beth Revis's upcoming debut novel Across the Universe (you know, the one with the BEST FIRST CHAPTER EVER? ;D ) is set in space.
I know I'm a hard-core fan of television/film space dramas. Battlestar, Firefly/Serenity, Moon with Sam Rockwell—an awesome mix of science fiction, psychological thriller and ethical drama—most kinds of Trek. I'd love to write a story set in space someday. But just watching astronaut Dyson's ponytail floating around in that low gravity made me realize how different every sensation must be, how even touching things would be a different experience, and that's just orbiting 200 miles above the earth. Real research would be difficult without interviewing an astronaut, or going into orbit yourself.
Here comes the hypothetical:
If you had the opportunity, but had to spend three months in space or more like real astronauts do, would you go? Since this is a hypothetical, let's say kids and husbands and jobs and pets are a non-issue. I'd like to say I'd immediately shout YES!, but now that I'm thinking about all the things I'd miss, I'm not so sure. About all the sensations that usually fill my writing and how it might change without them.
Plus, there's the issue of bone loss, which also occurs during prolonged periods in low gravity. Astronauts are required to do weight training exercises to keep bone loss at a minimum. And of course, SPACE MADNESS! ;)
So what do you think? Would that kind of in-depth immersion in your research be worth it to you? Or would you prefer to keep your feet on the ground and your head in orbit?
Love to hear your thoughts!