Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Setting of my Novel Vallar

Writing a story set on Mars causes both limitations and possibilities. But first, why Mars? I realize there have been other books written about Mars, such as Red Mars, it's a story about terraforming Mars, and I only read half of that book because it's not a character story - it's more like a textbook. I care more about the people than the science. (However, the Red Mars (and the series) were very successful)

My story is about how my character's lives are affected by living in a society on Mars. They ended up on Mars because of mankind's goal to find an Earth-like planet. It's about survival of humans in a difficult environment, but not only because of the environment. It's mainly a man -vs- man story. Some of my characters believe in humanity and (the bad guy) believes the strongest survive and anything else is weak. One theme in my book is about how greed delays the progress of all humans. I didn't insert this theme on purpose, it grew over time.

One limitation is that the characters can't go outside without an environmental suit. Everything has to be pressurized. The buildings, bio-domes and the vessels (mainly hovercrafts). It all sounds limiting, but it's also influenced the plot in regards to what can and can't happen. For example one character is injured and needs an IV. He's outside and there's no chance of getting him inside, so I invented a pressurized IV unit and special designed ports on the envirosuit, so a field medic can be plug it into the person. In general, I've found ways for my characters to cope in environments without oxygen, water and air pressure. I've grown use the limitations having written this story for so long

Places to live also pose a challenge. Only the upper class get to live in bio-domes which is a simulated Earth environment. Canons and craters are used for the bio-domes because the walls are all ready built and only the ceiling needs a barrier to prevent depressurization. Lower elevation also helps with the pressurization. Most people live in sealed buildings near where they work. Moving from the inside to the outside always involves an airlock. The use of buildings, bio-domes and a variety of vessels in the story adds more variety to a setting that could get repetitive during an entire novel. You can only describe dust in so many ways.

Speaking of dust, while there is a lot of it on Mars, I've tried to limit mention of it because other novels I've read about Mars the characters complain constantly about the dust. I had always thought dust storms were frequent on Mars, but have found they are actually rare. Although, I do have one scene where an unexpected dust storms complicates a battle. Another time dust gets into the intake valves on a vessel and disables it at an inconvenient time for the pilot. Basically, I have incorporated the environment into the plot.

A major location is the Noctis Labrinthus, a winding canon on Mars. The canon with its twists, turns, and tunnels led to many possibilities and, of course, difficulties for the characters. Navigating it during a battle and also the risk of land slides of dust and debris if certain areas are disturbed. The Mars setting naturally gives my characters challenges, so yes they have it very tough. But I guess that's what interests me about it. People finding ways to accomplish things against the odds and why it's worth it. That's another one of those themes that got in there.

For a lot of my research I studied the book "The Traveler's Guide to Mars" It also helped with description. 
Another interesting site is Google Mars.


Matt said...

I've always enjoyed books about Mars. I read the whole Red Mars series. Yours sounds very interesting. Get it published.

Laura said...

This is the type of sci-fi books I most like. Where the planet is more than just a setting, it's also the story. I agree with Matt. Get that puppy out there!

Cinders said...

Thanks Matt and Laura. I have some adjustments to make and I will submit again. It's just a matter of getting the time at the moment.