In 2000, scientists crammed into a tiny deep sea submersible vessel caught sight of 60 meter tall spires of white, crystalline calcite rising from the black depths of the sea floor. It was a sight that captured the imagination and earned these spires the name: The Lost City. Many people immediately think of Atlantis when…… Continue reading Spec Tech: The Lost City of the Deep
When we looked at designing a ship for a fantasy novel, I chose a 15th century carrack. It was a good choice. It has the right look, has all the DNA of more modern sailing ships and could be used for trading or warfare. It has occurred to me, however, that there is another ancient craft that would work…… Continue reading Spec Tech – A Warship for Fantasy or Steampunk: the Trireme
This piece is inspired by J. G. Ballard’s “Project for a Glossary of the Twentieth Century,” originally published in Zone in 1992, and later collected in A User’s Guide to the Millennium in 1996. I’ve added links for some of the more specific scientific references. Biofuel. Soylent green. Cancer. Immortality at the cost of your…… Continue reading Spec Tech: A Biology Lexicon for the Twenty-First Century
Geologically speaking, “sandstone” has a very precise meaning. A sandstone is a sedimentary rock that is composed of less than 50% mud-sized particles and less than 30% gravel, with the remaining rock or mineral grains being sand-sized. Sand-sized grains are between 62 microns and 2 millimeters in size. To a non-geologist, this can easily translate…… Continue reading Spec Tech: Sandstone… It’s a Living
This is the eighth in a series of posts “live-blogging” the creation of a fictional language from scratch, with the help of our readers. We plan to construct a functional language one piece at a time, incorporating suggestions and preferences from our audience along the way. You can find a listing of our previous installments…… Continue reading Spec Tech: Conlanging 8 – Toyo sa ti fi menke fi Kohen, hake?
So far we have looked at the design of a sailing ship that might fit well into a fantasy novel. We have looked at signing on a crew for the ship and briefly considered how to sail it. One topic we haven’t touched on is the the question – who are these men and women…… Continue reading Spec Tech: What Sets Sailors Apart
There’s the old saying: you are what you eat. Part of this guilt-inducing suggestion is that you should pay attention to what you ingest, eat more healthily, because your food will become part of you. But hidden within this message is something much more basic, ancient, and largely unacknowledged, namely that all life is made…… Continue reading Spec Tech: Of Mucus, Bile, and the Indigestibility of Wood (or What We Talk About When We Talk About the Digestive System)