Before I actually took the plunge and wrote a novel, I had assumed rather naively that fiction didn’t require a lot of intensive research. And sure, compared to the nonfiction books I’ve written, Spacebuckler doesn’t exactly require footnotes or citations. That said, I found myself researching all kinds of crazy stuff for the book. Such as….
- How a spacecraft might land in the low gravity and thin atmospheric pressure of Mars.
- Where Benjamin Franklin lived while he served as ambassador to France on behalf of the nascent United States of America.
- Cherenkov radiation.
- The typical crew complement, rigging and armament of a frigate in the British Royal Navy in the late 18th century.
- Possible designs, and potential top speeds, for nuclear-powered rockets.
- The connections between medieval alchemy and Freemasonry in the aforementioned late 18th century.
- The types and intensity of radiation one might experience in close Jupiter orbit.
- The early career of Horatio Nelson.
- Deuterium, its industrial applications, and whether it might be found in the polar regions of Mars.
- When Philiadelphia changed hands between the Americans and the British during the Revolutionary War period.
- Theories on how to best overcome loss of muscle and bone density during long periods of low-gravity living.
- The prevalance, or lack, of high-seas piracy after the 1720s.
- The potential uses for handheld microwave emitters.
- The planetary correspondences of the Tree of Life (the Kabbalah version, not the recent film).
- How exactly do particle accelerators work, anyway?
- Giuseppe Balsamo and Rákóczi Lipót Lajos György József Antal.
- How much larger would Jupiter look from the surface of Ganymede, compared to how large the Moon appears from Earth? (Answer: roughly 14 times larger. Yes, I did the math.)
- Edward Bancroft.
- The many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics.
- Nigredo, albedo and rubedo.
Yeah, some of those are intentionally obscure. I’d love to be able to say that if you figure some of them out, you’d get a prize. But frankly, they’re too easy to Google, and I don’t have a prize to give, except my respect for your determination and your free time.
In case you’re even more curious, here’s a few things I’m looking into for the sequel:
- The amount of water potentially present under the icy surface of Enceladus.
- The number and type of ships participating in the Battle of the Nile.
- Potential spacecraft designs for long-duration human spaceflight.
- What the Oracle of the Oasis at Siwa might have told Alexander the Great.
So yeah, unless you’re writing a memoir (and even then, really), research is pretty important, even for fiction. And hopefully, I’ve whetted your appetite for my little book, too.