This week we have P N Burrows with us to talk about The Mineran Series
What was the most surprising thing you found out while researching/writing your latest book?
I am currently researching for two books, The last book in the ‘Mineran’ series and my new project for when this novel is finished. I love the research aspect of writing a novel as I enjoy learning.
The most surprising items this month were:
Calculating how long a group of people would survive in a sealed room without a fresh supply of air. The most interesting part was that it was not the lack of oxygen that would kill them but the levels of CO2 becoming toxic long before the oxygen fell low enough to induce hypoxia. I should have known this from Apollo 13.
I investigated the formation and density of asteroid fields, I understood what they are, why they are in a ring and their relation to the spin of the solar system. What I didn’t know was how far apart the asteroids really are, the average distance between two asteroids in our asteroid belt is approximately 600,000 miles.
I had not realized that heat was a major problem in space, it’s hard to get rid of. With no conduction or convection, the only way the International space station can remove heat is via Ammonia filled radiators.
The last bit of research that I’ll mention will be learning about the achievements of the Sumerian empire. I have looked up earth’s history to see how an alien would view us as a species, our development and achievements. I didn’t know that the Sumerians:
- Were the first recorded cartographers, (Nuzi map, dated from circa 2360-2180 BC)
- They Invented sexagesimal system, which is a base 60 numeral system, think of how our time is divided. They used algebra in 2600BC
- They created the first written language which called cuneiform. Thousands of clay tablets have been found, some of which contain written information about the beginning of mankind (Genesis), the great flood etc. If you believe their rendition or not, they are a great source of inspiration for a Sci-Fi writer. Their version was certainly not mentioned in my school history lessons!
Why did you choose this setting?
I started my science fiction series on earth as I believed readers could relate to the start of the book easier. I used humanities neglect of our planet as a bone of contention for the aliens that the protagonist meets. I chose an area in Wales called Minera (It’s a Welsh name), because it gave me a unique series title. Finding a unique name for a book or series is difficult.
What’s unique about your world?
Can a book be truly unique after all these years of so many prolific authors?
I strive to add issues interesting facts about our own planet to the story-line. One of my alien characters is fascinated by the diversity of life on earth and can be frequently found examining strange creatures that actually exist on earth. Did you know there is a sea snail that utilizes iron sulfide in its shell, making it magnetic, or how about the sea slug that feeds on algae, it digests everything but the chloroplasts, these it stores and it becomes solar powered.
My writing style has been compared to Robert Heinlein meeting Jack Reacher, while I take that as a big compliment, it does not suggest true originality. I’ll let you decide.
How real do you think the science is in your book?
I try to write as realistically as I can, in the space scenes a spaceship has to rotate on its axis and use the main propulsion system to slow down, there is none of this stop/start that you see in the movies. In the space battles, I mention the attenuation of laser beams in space. The beam will become a cone, which will widen the further away it goes, effectively diluting the effect by spreading the output over a wider area. The use of kinetic weapons in space leaves the problem of the projectiles travelling on for eternity. They could hit something else years down the line, unlikely in the vastness of space, but it could happen.
Space battles are fraught with an aiming problem, spaceships, unlike atmosphere bound planes would employing jinking manoeuvres, i.e. rapid acceleration and deceleration, shifting up, down, sideways and any angle the pilot feels like.
Underwater battles are fascinating. The energy from lasers will be absorbed by the water, making these pretty useless in this scenario. But did you know about cavitating bullets? A standard bullet will not travel far under water, a couple of feet on average. But the US Navy has had cavitating underwater bullets for over a decade. Look it up, you’ll enjoy the footage.
I recently read up on the effects on a body in space as I had to send a character out of an airlock.
But then there are many things in my series that are not real. I created a space propulsion system that has no bearing on reality for example. It’s Sci-Fi after all.
What was the most mundane item that you used that really has cool tech behind it? What is the tech?
I like the weapons that my protagonists use. At the end of the day a rifle is a rifle is a rifle. The standard ammunition that they use in the series is an exploding bullet. That’s nothing new, in World War II Russian and German snipers used exploding bullets against each other’s forces, even though the Geneva Convention outlawed it. My favorites are the other plausible projectiles that I invented for the series.
What did you include that you wish was real today?
Space travel for the masses:)
What technology or science do you think will most affect the world of tomorrow?
It’s easy to mention genetic manipulation, 3D printing, eco-friendly energy, compostable plastics etc. But, I will go for innovative ways to use minerals such as magnesite to rapidly absorb CO2. If we do not do something to save the planet from global warming, then anything else is pointless.