If it’s not one thing, it’s another.

You know when you get only two pages into a novel before finding what is either a gross misuse of a common scientific term or a laughable error in logic/math that the rest of the book may not go well, either.

No one would send a colony ship to another galaxy using a slower-than-light drive.  In fact, unless the setting contains some kind of starship drive that is practically instantaneous over lesser distances (say, anything under a thousand light-years), they’re not going to send anything to another galaxy.  The distance and time involved are just too great.  Yes, the story says they’ll be using some kind of cold-sleep/suspended animation.  However, if it takes billions of years to get there, as it would with any slower-than-light drive, the machines needed to keep everyone on the ship alive will have stopped working long before they get there.  Also, why would anyone send a colony ship so far — pretend for a moment that it is possible — when there must be so many useful planets much closer to home.  (Anyone with the technological ability to send a ship to another galaxy would also have the ability to build a habitat in space if they couldn’t/didn’t want to either terraform — and yes, WordPress spell-check, that is a word, so get used to it — or dome over the part of an otherwise uninhabitable planet that they wanted to make use of.)

So, as my clone-sibling pointed out, this is probably yet another case of a writer using the word galaxy when stellar system is what is meant.

I really, really hate it when someone writes a science fiction story and doesn’t even know the relevant science that we were all supposed to learn back in elementary school.  It’s not a typo; it’s a stupid mistake.

…And here I’d been so happy to find another indie sci-fi novel without horrible grammar and punctuation errors throughout.  *sigh*


(Yes, I know — I’m too damn picky.  I want any fiction I read to be correct in terms of spelling and punctuation.  I want any science fiction I read to be accurate or at least plausible on the surface in terms of the science in it.  Next thing you know, I’ll be complaining about fantasy fiction in which a magical creature that’s half lion and half eagle is called a wyvern because ‘that’s not the right name for it’ or whatever.  There’s no pleasing some people…)


About Thomas Weaver

I’m a writer and editor who got into professional editing almost by accident years ago when a friend from university needed someone to copyedit his screenplay about giant stompy robots (mecha). Having discovered that I greatly enjoy this kind of work, I’ve been putting my uncanny knack for grammar and punctuation, along with an eclectic mental collection of facts, to good use ever since as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom. I'm physically disabled, and for the past several years, I’ve lived with my smugly good-looking twin Paul, who writes military science fiction and refuses to talk about his military service because he can’t. Sometimes Paul and I collaborate on stories, and sometimes I just edit whatever he writes. It's worked out rather well so far. My list of non-writing-related jobs from the past includes librarian, art model, high school teacher, science lab gofer… Although I have no spouse or offspring to tell you about, I do have six cats. (The preferred term is "Insane Cat Gentleman.") I currently spend my time blogging, reading, editing, and fending off cats who like my desk better than my twin’s.
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6 Responses to If it’s not one thing, it’s another.

  1. Jay Dee says:

    You’re not the only one. I read a sci-fi novel (and reviewed it, you could probably find it as one of my 2 star reviews on my blog) that used terrible science and history that seemed ridiculous. It takes place in the middle of the 21st century, yet the US Air Force is still using jets that were actually retired in the 90s. Simple research would’ve helped avoid that mistake.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Possible exception: an alien species with an immortal lifespan and an absolute tolerance for boredom.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. svrtnsse says:

    In my WIP my MC gets told that there’s a sylph that lives in a rusty old well. At some point, someone pointed out that sylph’s are spirits of air and that water spirits are something else. Naturally, I found this quite embarrassing. I was actually under the impression sylphs were water spirits (I hadn’t bothered checking up on it as the idea I could be wrong didn’t occur to me).
    I got reminded though and instead of changing the name (to Naiad or Undine) I had another character poke fun at the character who referred to the spirit in the well as a sylph.

    Liked by 1 person

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