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hard SF watch: Earthlight

I just checked out and read the first two volumes of Earthlight, a manga-format comic by Stuart Moore. I liked it... one reviewer called it a mix of teen drama and space action SF, which seems right, and thought it was too fast and heavy on the action, which I can see. The year is 2068, the place is the Earthlight colony on the Moon, whose main function is supporting (and presumably building) power satellites. Panels on the Moon collect power, beam it to satellites, which focus it for beaming to Earth -- which needs 25 terawatts of electricity (today: 1.5 TW) but still has lots of social divisions: "7 billion in poverty", England decaying, Russia and China not places to be. Launch costs aren't mentioned, hopefully much lower. Politics are big: the colony is supported by a 54-country coalition, with many countries being happy to sneak out of paying. "Enburton Corporation" gets mentioned briefly, as a source of new funding. I got a faint whiff of libertarianism early on but it seems to have dispersed; right now I'd call the politics on the grim side of realistic, with no perceivable authorial bias. Well, maybe liberal, given Enburton and what it'll do.

Fridge logic: I just wondered why solar panels would be on the Moon, where they'd get 14-day nights.

There's a mass driver, presumably for launching stuff for satellites.

The characterization seems good, esp. most of the teens. Oh, right! The protagonist, male, has a black father -- who is administrator of the colony, and not a "bull Negro" aesthetic and a white mother. Though come to think of it, the 15 year old protag himself has a shaved head.

So, imperfect but intriguing, and I know some people (James) are desperate for near-future space SF that doesn't totally suck. Lack of libertarianism and He3 should be a plus.

Positive review.
Mixed review.
TOKYOPOP page for the book, with Flash-delivered preview pages. Illegible as is, but you can zoom in.

Interview, which tells me that it's a 3 volume thing but the 3rd hasn't been in print and will be online free in January. Also claims there are mecha, though there haven't been so far, just utility bots. Huh, the artist is involved with Barack the Barbarian.

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
james_nicoll
Nov. 11th, 2009 03:35 am (UTC)
According to Whole Earth Discipline, we use 16 TW.

I just wondered why solar panels would be on the Moon, where they'd get 14-day nights.

SPACE!

I guess they could put plants 180 degrees apart on the Moon's surface but I'd expect in reality it would be easier to generate 2.5x10^13 W on the Earth. IIRC, the Earth intercepts about 1.7×10^17 W.

mindstalk
Nov. 11th, 2009 03:43 am (UTC)
16 TW of electricity or of energy at large? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_energy_resources_and_consumption says 15 TW total, and doesn't mention elec but I assumed 10% since I think that holds for the US (3 TW total, 300 GW elec.)

Yeah, I deleted speculation that they use dispersed panels. As opposed to putting the panels in space like everyone normally talks about for space solar, where they don't get night at all.

This is fanwanking but for space vs. Earth, even if Earth were cheaper with the weather and the night and the buffering, there still might be politics: perhaps France and Germany would rather pay for a space-based system they control rather than risk dependency on Chad. And then there's Japan.

Of course, in this they *don't* control the system, it's a horrible UN mess, so...


Your desire for near-future space SF seems to clash with your inability to accept any rationale for humans being in space. :)
james_nicoll
Nov. 11th, 2009 03:53 am (UTC)
Any blatantly false rationale, particularly those so bogus those putting them forth should be beaten with a sack of doorknobs and dumped in the desert. It's a subtle distinction but one that is important to me.
februaryfour
Nov. 12th, 2009 02:47 pm (UTC)
*facepalms* I didn't know you got 14-day nights on the moon. Thinking about it, though, it _should_ have been obvious.
mindstalk
Nov. 12th, 2009 02:52 pm (UTC)
Did this ruin some story you were writing? :p

But yeah, as far as "how did you not know that?" goes that's pretty tame. Feel free to compare (or add) to
http://mindstalk.livejournal.com/131126.htm
februaryfour
Nov. 12th, 2009 03:02 pm (UTC)
*laughing* No, but I feel stupid. Does that count?

*goes to have a look-see* I actually had to Google "quisling" too. Isn't this one of those "more likely to reside in trivia-folks' brains" sort of thing, though? *headscratch* I mean, it's like calling someone an Einstein, only I think Quisling was far less known. (That, and being an Einstein is a positive thing...)

mindstalk
Nov. 12th, 2009 03:19 pm (UTC)
I'm pretty sure I learned it in high school, history of WWII. Advanced Placement European History, mind you, but still. I thought of it as "decently educated about recent history" not "trivia". At least for Americans and Europeans, falling beneath the radar for Asians seems fine.
februaryfour
Nov. 12th, 2009 03:25 pm (UTC)
Ah, okay. We didn't even get European History. We got World History. _One_ year of it. Three 30-minute periods a week. This included things like the Renaissance and the World Wars all in the same course, btw, so you get an idea of the breadth.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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