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Author Topic: "High" Power Level vs. "Low" Power Level  (Read 54684 times)
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RedSunOfKrypton
Last Son of Krypton
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« Reply #72 on: September 15, 2005, 05:13:51 PM »

I've got my copy right here, I got it off Amazon.com for 29 bucks Canadian, it's cheaper now, especially in paperback. It's 256 pages. I don't think you could get it from a comic shop.
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"...and as the fledgeling Man of Steel looks for the first time over the skyline of this city, this, Metropolis, he utters the syllables with which history is made and legends are forged: This, looks like a job...for Superman."
Duplicate Man
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« Reply #73 on: September 26, 2005, 12:30:08 AM »

I enjoyed the high-end super-stunts Superman did in my youth.  I think Superman should be able to do such things in theory, but perhaps with some limits.  
Some examples:  
Moving an inhabited planet is impossible.  Moving an uninhabited planet would normally be beyond him because something would have to hold the planet together.  Perhaps he could do it if something strengthened his field (psionic? antigravity?) that helps him hold buildings together, but it shouldn't be routine.

Time travel is possible but so dangerous that he only does it in an emergency; trips to the 30th century are NOT like going across town.

Travel to other dimensions without a road map could send Superman into a red star, a planet of green K, or a magic-based universe.

He should have plenty of power for FTL without a dorky air mask, but intergalactic travel should take a long time even for him.

Last but not least, as powerful as Superman is, there should be villians who can match or exceed his might.  Pre-Crisis Mongul was stronger than Superman, so if SM managed to beat that brute, it meant something.
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Uncle Mxy
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« Reply #74 on: September 26, 2005, 03:25:12 AM »

Quote from: "Duplicate Man"
Moving an inhabited planet is impossible.  Moving an uninhabited planet would normally be beyond him because something would have to hold the planet together.  Perhaps he could do it if something strengthened his field (psionic? antigravity?) that helps him hold buildings together, but it shouldn't be routine.

Maybe I'm being dense, but what's the distinction between an "inhabited planet" and "uninhabited planet"?  

Quote
Last but not least, as powerful as Superman is, there should be villians who can match or exceed his might.  Pre-Crisis Mongul was stronger than Superman, so if SM managed to beat that brute, it meant something.

Anyone who's supposed to be stronger than Superman should either:

- be some sort of memorable recurring villain
- leave in such a way where they won't return

No "minor" players should be stronger than Superman.  Anyone with that much power shouldn't be marginalized over the long term.
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RedSunOfKrypton
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« Reply #75 on: September 26, 2005, 12:52:46 PM »

I think he means that moving an inhabited planet should be impossible because if you did you kill everything on it, if you moved it conventionally that is, without forcefields etc.
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"...and as the fledgeling Man of Steel looks for the first time over the skyline of this city, this, Metropolis, he utters the syllables with which history is made and legends are forged: This, looks like a job...for Superman."
Captain Kal
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« Reply #76 on: September 27, 2005, 02:52:35 AM »

NotSuper, another option for you to get The Science of Superman is to try borrowing it from your public library.  My own local library system has half a dozen copies that can be reserved and borrowed.

Photocopying and/or scanning them of course violates copyright. Wink
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Captain Kal

"When you lose, don't lose the lesson."
-- The Dalai Lama
Captain Kal
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« Reply #77 on: September 27, 2005, 03:26:48 AM »

People, Gresh & Weinberg didn't get everything wrong.  One thing they got right was how to do comics/SF science.  The key isn't 'consistent rules', as someone else put it, but being plausible within what's known to be true or to somehow be outside that known.  The trick is to stay as close to the bounds of the known to be credible while on the edge enough so as to avoid being outright disprovable.  A consistent story with a purple-polka-dotted sky for our current Earth can be written but it doesn't pass muster since it fails for the disprovability aspect.

For instance, using a known thing like gamma rays to explain the Hulk is just asking for trouble since it can eventually be proven or disproven that such a thing is possible.  Claiming 'spider-powers' for Peter Parker when spiders don't even have those powers isn't just bad comics/SF science, it plain gets the essential facts wrong.

But the original concept behind Kryptonian sun-based powers was 'ultra solar rays' that passed through the Earth day and night.  They were a kind of mysterious energy that real world science hadn't detected in the same sense that fish don't realize they're in water or we took thousands of years to realize air occupied supposed empty space around us.  Later writers goofed when they equated  the solar aspect with actual light energies, though it must be noted that red sunlight can be and is different from yellow sunlight.  Aside from the difference in sheer energy, red dwarf sunlight is missing carbon-cycle hydrogen fusion, red giant sunlight includes fusion reactions from helium up to silicon, red dwarf sunlight may contain complex molecules since the temperatures are cool enough for molecules to exist.  While the energy from yellow sunlight isn't anywhere near able to power even a mobile plant, fer goshsakes, it certainly can be a catalyst in the same sense that the presence of oxygen combines with the glucose (the real source of energy, not oxygen) in our cells to fuel our activities.

Yeah, and transporter technology is theoretically possible even considering Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle.  It's now more a matter of technological and engineering advances as opposed to any theoretical objections to accurately, precisely transmitting quantum information from one location to another.

http://researchweb.watson.ibm.com/quantuminfo/teleportation/

http://www.npl.washington.edu/AV/altvw62.html

For someone who made the sweeping statement that Superman couldn't accelerate to relatavistic velocities in short distances and timeframes, perhaps it would be better to temper such statements with an element of doubt or 'IMHO'.

You see, really gifted writers like Asimov or London or Crichton make it a point to know more about the real world and science and incorporate that understanding into their stories.  Where they've bent the rules like with warp drive, they skate on the outer fringes where their technobabble just might be plausible and not directly disprovable.  Jules Verne surely had this right for his era and he was quite prophetic in many regards about what actually transpired in real world science.  It is an odd coincidence that real world scientists are now coming up with plausible ways for multiverses and warp drive to exist that eerily are close to their SF cousins.

The better and best writers are actually better educated by law, science, etc. and generally about the real world than the pathetic wannabes who think writing is an easy out from getting a proper education.  Good writers know more about real world science and the world in general.  Writing is not about just making stuff up.  What was the expression? "10% inspiration and 90% perspiration?"

As I said on another thread, the Dalai Lama has an appropriate quote about this: "Know what the rules are so you know how to break them properly."  Asimov and his compatriots surely have this down cold.

EDIT: An interesting fact is I calculated and posted on other forums many years ago based on real world energy efficiencies and gravitational adaptability experiments in centrifuge experiments that Krypton's gravity was probably around 35 Gs or ours is about 0.0286 of Krypton's.  Waid's Birthright #1 states Earth gravity is 0.03 of Krypton's which is my figure rounded to two decimal places.  My reciprocal gives us 35 and Waid's gives us over 33.  That's pretty darn close.  Either Waid duplicated my reasoning to come up with a similar figure (or rounded it to two places), or he saw my posts and liked what he saw.  Action Comics #1 levels are more plausible than world-moving levels.  Waid even tips his hat to Wolverton re: an anti-grav neural network to explain flying in BR.  That mass-energy conversion in Superman's digestive tract was first mentioned in a speculative post I made several months earlier on Alvaro's about then-existing canon implying Superman could mass-energy convert in his metabolism.
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Captain Kal

"When you lose, don't lose the lesson."
-- The Dalai Lama
JulianPerez
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« Reply #78 on: September 27, 2005, 06:41:56 AM »

While I agree with what it is you're saying, CaptainKal - namely, that a writer doing their homework amplifies the entertainment value of a work of fiction, science fiction or otherwise - and further, your belief that writing is hard and requires effort and that not everybody should "try this at home" is an accurate one I agree with, all the same, there are considerations to be taken into account aesthetically apart from just raw, grounded plausibility which can make a work of science fiction pass or fail. In other words, the factors that determine the worth of a story are more complicated criteria than just "could it happen?"

WAR OF THE WORLDS featured Martians hurled out of giant cannons to earth. This is an idea that the 20th Century hasn't been kind to. The value of WAR OF THE WORLDS is not diminished as a powerful, throat-grabbing scary story of alien invasion, however, by the fact that we mighty men of the year 2005 with our 20/20 hindsight say that Wells got these details all wrong. The book works, though, because it pushes the right scary buttons, created spooky imagery of Martians heat-raying Big Ben, and is legitimately imaginative: the Martian kelp choking the Thames river, for instance.

E.E. Smith's LENSMAN described the Milky Way as a "bar galaxy," was littered with references to the "Ether," had an inhabited earthlike Mars, and featured a drive system that even in the 1930s must have been downright insane and has to be really seen to be believed. E.E. Smith was proud of his PhD, but one thing you will seldom find on most of the ABOUT THE AUTHOR sections is that Smith's degree was in chemistry specializing in donut mixes. See, he wanted us to think it's in something sexy like particle physics. The value - or worthlessness - of LENSMAN is determined by how it works or fails as an adventure melodrama, if it is imaginative, if it has a compelling mystery, if the villains are engaging, if the battle scenes delight and are grandiose enough, if it does something that surprises and is innovative.

The problem with the perspective that stories have to be judged based on their plausibility factor is that it sets a standard that doesn't waiver, whereas stories and fiction in general have to be judged based on what it is that they are trying to do and what they are attempting to accomplish, and how successful they were in getting this done; there are so many different kinds of stories that have different priorities that a single standard everywhere fails. Returning to the example of the LENSMAN series, the characters were not well developed and poorly characterized, however, this is not a minus to the extent it would be with a character-centered story like DEATH OF A SALESMAN, because Smith was writing space opera, and this is a type of story where the conflict does not emerge from the characters' inner lives. In children's stories, like C.S. Lewis's Narnia, it is perfectly acceptable for characters to have basic personalities that can be described in one word like "gruff" or "wise." Their lack of three-dimensionality here cannot be penalized because what they are attempting to do is tell a simplified story with simplified, streamlined characters.

Since you brought him up, Michael Crichton is an example of a writer that possesses immaculate, intense research but who fails in other, much more fundamental ways. CONGO featured stellar research on primate psychology and communication and a Reference sheet that was three pages long in tiny 8-point type, but no matter how many papers on gorilla communication Chrichton may have read, it doesn't change the fact that he based his entire story structure for that book on one coincidence after another (the greatest solar flare in history happened within a few days as the greatest volcanic eruption in East African history? C'mon) and on the fact that after reading that book cover to cover, I can't come up with one adjective to describe our primatologist hero's personality.

Some science fiction novels, particularly recently, have gone out of their way to use antiquated or Newtonian physics in their stories, detailing individuals breathing in space because of the Ether, and ships that fly using the music of the spheres. Should these novels be penalized for their unique creative decision? No; if the writers do their research and place a degree of thought into their alternate cosmology we the reader can believe in it, provided they are consistent with the new way the universe works and think things through. The exoticism of such a cosmos might even give the story greater novelty and entertainment value than one with a vanilla paradigm.

You are right, however, that sloppy science and bad research are not to be tolerated. It is a drawback NOT because Western science and reason being accurately represented is a value in and of itself, but because it draws one out of the reality of the story. All fiction is based on the suspension of disbelief in order for us to care about what is going on, and nonsense declarations like "the Core of Mars is made of ice" shatters the ability of a work to keep the illusion up by making us wince and say "hey, that's BS!"
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"Wait, folks...in a startling new development, Black Goliath has ripped Stilt-Man's leg off, and appears to be beating him with it!"
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Uncle Mxy
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« Reply #79 on: September 27, 2005, 10:23:55 AM »

Quote from: "RedSunOfKrypton"
I think he means that moving an inhabited planet should be impossible because if you did you kill everything on it, if you moved it conventionally that is, without forcefields etc.

The planet is moving all the time, though -- rotating, revolving, etc.  

It'd be interesting to show Superman moving the Earth by means that go beyond "pushing on it".  As an example, Superman could grab the biggest asteroid he could push without breaking it up, and loop it near the Earth repeatedly to cause a gravitational sling-shot effect.
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