When you wish upon a star…

Feb 2, 2013

All, thanks for your continued support. I hope to be bringing you an update a week on progress, sometimes more and sometimes less. A fair bit to talk about this week, so here goes!

I had an interview this week with Penny Grubb, of Fantastic Books Publishing. I wrote a short story for one of their sci-fi anthologies last year. Here’s the interview, and if you’re interested in a copy of the anthology it’s here. It is rather good, even if I do say so myself, and 10% of profits are being donated to cancer research.

My previous entry was all about the location for Elite:Reclamation, the previously mentioned ‘Wolf 630’ system.

Welcome to the Wolf 630 system, Commander!

Welcome to the Wolf 630 system, Commander!

I’ve been having further chats with Frontier regarding the history of the system, and the naming of some of the objects within it. The good news is that Frontier is happy with the changes, and so I can reveal them to you.

Here’s how the system is described in FFE (the 3rd Elite Game) in the year 3250.

“Landfall has one of the most interesting skies of all the known habitable planets, with no less than six stars bright enough to cast shadows at some time. It also has the best preserved indigenous wildlife which cohabits successfully, often to the exclusion of introduced life.”

What you’ll see in your planetary gazetteer when you play Elite:Dangerous  (the year 3300) will be this…

“Landfall was a pleasant agricultural world until large deposits of Quarterite* were discovered in 3271. Shortly afterwards, the system was seized by the Loren ‘Lineage’ (an Imperial family related to the ruling Duval Dynasty). A failed coup in 3299 resulted in widespread devastation on the planet. The system remains unstable at this time and traders are advised to proceed with caution.”

*Quarterite is a raw material used in the manufacture of military hyperdrive technology.

I’ve also been renaming some of the objects in the system. The “Mayflower High” space station is no more, replaced by a vast orbital processing facility known as “Hiram’s Anchorage”. Quarterite is refined and shipped out of the system from this enormous facility in orbit around the planet “Landfall.”

The huge orbital processing facility "Hiram's Anchorage."

The huge orbital processing facility “Hiram’s Anchorage.”

The system retains its strange beauty though, here’s a vessel departing “Landfall”, at dawn local time, with three of the five red dwarfs visible in the sky. At certain times of the year “Landfall” experiences complete illumination due to the positioning of the various different stars that make up the system; banishing ‘night’ for weeks at a time.

An early morning departure from "Landfall"

An early morning departure from “Landfall”

“Landfall” itself orbits a Brown dwarf (think a large and slightly luminous “Jupiter” – almost a star, but not quite) – this is now called “Du Maurier” – the literary amongst you will get that reference. In FFE the brown dwarf is in orbit around a White Dwarf called “Van Biesbroeck 8” – named after Belgium-American Astronomer . It turns out that it’s a Red Dwarf, not a White Dwarf in real life, something that has been confirmed since 1995 I guess.

Fuel scooping in the atmosphere of "Du Maurier"

Fuel scooping in the atmosphere of “Du Maurier”

So there are five Red Dwarfs in this system. Four have no planets, one (the aforementioned “Van Biesbroeck 8”is orbited by brown dwarf “Du Maurier”, which in turn is orbited by the habitable planet “Landfall” – you got that? 😉

There will be a White Dwarf star in the story though. These are nasty little things, the leftover remains of a star that’s come to the end of its life and has gone nova. Imagine something the size of a sun, compressed down to the size of the Earth. Enormous gravity and weird and deadly radiation. Another interesting plot consideration!

With gravity a million times stronger than the Earth, it's wise not to get too close to a White Dwarf!

With gravity a million times stronger than the Earth, it’s wise not to get too close!

Going back to the Red Dwarfs in Wolf 630 though, these stars are also known for their occasional ‘flares’, sudden and dangerous increases in brightness and radiation. Ships and personnel have to be especially protected or adapted to these conditions. This will be an important plot consideration too.

Monitoring stations in close orbit provide early warning of dangerous flares.

Monitoring stations in close orbit provide early warning of dangerous flares.

So the locale is set and approved. The plot is awaiting feedback from my editor at this point in time, but the initial indications look good – so the next update will talk about what impact that will have on the outcome of the book. See you next week!

"Landfall" and the Brown Dwarf "Du Maurier"

“Landfall” and the Brown Dwarf “Du Maurier”

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