Thomas Sowell From time to time, I get a letter from some aspiring young writer, asking about how to write or how to get published.
Generally the author has to savagely pound a square peg into a round hole, with regrettable results. The classic horrible example is deep space fighter aircraft.
Most pulp falls for the old Space Is An Ocean fallacy along with the related misconceptions. Many pulp writers figured they were the first to have the bright idea of transplating the colorful legend of the dreaded Sargasso Sea into science fiction.
A deadly area of space that somehow traps spaceships who venture too close, only to join the deadly graveyard of lost ships. And not just human ships, a couple stories mention humans discovering wrecks of unknown alien spacecraft mixed in with the conventional ships.
The graveyard typically contains everything from recent ships all the way back to historical ships dating to the dawn of space flight.
Some stories populate the graveyard of dead ships with castaways. Who will probably be interested in looting your ship of any supplies it contains. The original legend dates back to when line-of-sight was limited to the horizon, so a sailing vessel poking at the edge of the sargasso could not see the interior.
Not without being caught, that is. With the invention of radar and the realization that there ain't no horizon in space, writers realized they'd have to make the space sargasso sea more invisible.
Usually they'd add on the legend of the Bermuda Triangle in the form of an intermittent "hole in space" leading to a pocket universe. Some kind of wormhole or stargate that would transport the hapless spacecraft to a graveyard of lost ships safely out of sight. Obviously this is highly unlikely to happen in the real world.
But it sure is romantic, in a sci-fi pulp fiction sort of way. Disabled spacecraft who drift into the point will be trapped, which is sort of true. The author does not explain why this is not true of the L4 and L5 points of every single planet in the solar system.
He calls the graveyard of lost ships the "wreck-pack", and the gravitational attraction of the wrecks keep ships from drifting out. The latter is a concept that was disproved by Michelson and Morley inbut most of the readers didn't know that.
The ether-currents form sort of a one-way whirlpool which sucks hapless spacecraft into the graveyard of lost ships trapped in the eye of the storm. Captain Future escapes by cannibalizing engine and atomic fuel from the other derelict ships, an idea that apparently didn't occur to any of the prior castaways.
He has a side adventure when he stumbles over an alien spacecraft full of aliens in suspended animation. The "adventure" part comes in when Captain Future discovers the octopoid creatures are space vampires and they start to wake up. Certainly strange things happen to hyperdrive starships who venture too close.
Things like hallucinations, ghostly whispering voices "Spaceman, go home. Many dissappear, so prudent ship captains give the Nebula a wide berth. The cause of all this is an ancient race of Elf-like psionic aliens living on a planet near the Nebula's center.
The antigravity Okie cities are sort of the migrant laborers of the galaxy. The stellar currency is based on germanium, some idiot figure out how to synthesize it and inadvertenly obliterated the economy of the entire galaxy. Since everybody is now broke, the flying cities cluster in what is basically an interstellar hobo jungle.
When they visit they learn the planet has a still-working alien installation created by forerunners which can grab passing spacecraft and crash them onto the graveyard of lost ships.
As it turns out a crime syndicate wants to utilize the installation for fun and profit, so hilarity ensues. Apparently it started as a small sphere of neutronium or other dense material.
As derelict ships stuck to it by gravitational attraction the total gravity grew. It is only a menace to ships with broken engines or no fuel. The planetary governments keep talking about blasting it and salvaging the metal but can never agree on the details.Mahogany: The Costs of Luxury in Early America [Jennifer L.
Anderson] on caninariojana.com *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. In the mid-eighteenth century, colonial Americans became enamored with the rich colors and silky surface of mahogany.
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Roger Scruton argues that high culture is not a luxury, but a necessity in our modern lives. Read the essay in full.
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