Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream

Pressure Guages by wwarby, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  wwarby 

A few days ago, a friend—actually, two separate friends who don’t know each other—sent me links to two different articles on how the human body reacts when exposed to the vacuum of space without the benefit of a space suit.

I have strange friends. Or, reworded: I have friends who know me, perhaps, all too well.

So I read these two articles and filed them away for future reference in case I might need to know for some future writing project.

Apparently, something about the articles got into my head and stuck there. And swirled around for several days.

Then, last night, my brain supplied me with a truly lovely dream. Really.

I was on a space station with a bunch of people. Some of them are co-workers of mine, some are friends, some are writer-friends, others were “extras”. What gamers would call NPCs.

And this space station—or perhaps it was a space ship a la “Star Gate: Universe”—was traveling along merrily until . . . you guessed it, explosive decompression. Basically a slow leak.

But this is a dream world. So in my dream world, the “slow leak” resulted in me and others being able to stand, sans space suits, in corridors that were open to the vacuum of space as gale-force winds blew past us into the void. Never mind that, were this to actually happen, the air supply on the ship/station would be expelled in toto and those of us standing in the corridor would have soon also been attempting to breathe vacuum.

So I watched as, one by one, my friends, co-workers, and fellow writers were blown (not sucked; the articles were clear on that point) into the vacuum.

And, thanks to those articles, my dreaming brain knew precisely what to show me as each of them died. A puff of frozen breath as the lungs forcibly expelled the last breath, then started to draw oxygen out of the blood. The icing over of the mucus membranes: the nose, eyes, and mouth. Saliva boiling on the tongue. The skin turning blue with bruises. The dawning horror as they realized what was happening to them. The unconsciousness in maybe fifteen to twenty seconds. The seizures. And finally, the stillness as the body slowly releases its heat while the heart still continues to beat deoxygenated blood to the starving brain for a while. All in all, not a very pleasant way to die. But at least it’s over quickly.

Sometimes, it really sucks to have both an imagination and a desire for scientific accuracy in one’s science fiction.

At several points during the dream, I woke up to turn over, and then went right back to the dream. During all this death and decompression, the ship was literally breaking apart. But at one point, me and some friends went to the mess hall (cafeteria) to have a nice, leisurely meal . . . while the air gushed out of the hull breaches.

A very strange dream. Finally, I was able to take control and lucid dream a rescue before everyone died.

And then the alarm went off and NPR regaled me with stories about the recent shooting in Colorado.

Hello, Monday.

In other news, don’t be surprised if this shows up in a story at some point. :)


Waaaaiiiiit a Minute…

whoop by jason tinder, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  jason tinder 
(It’s a whooping crane.)
(Get it? Like, “Whoops!”)

I was trapped on a plane today for several hours, and as I am wont to do when that happens, I either read or listen to podcasts. Today was a podcast kind of day.

As it happens, one of the podcasts I listened to was The Creative Penn hosted by Joanna Penn. It’s a new podcast for me, and I’m still trying to decide if I like it enough to keep listening. For now, it’s interesting and a keeper.

The episode I heard was “Writing Religion and Spirituality With Jill Carroll.” Jill Carroll, as it turns out, is a doctor of world religions. She and Joanna had an hour-long talk about how your own faith (or lack thereof) informs your writing, and how writing characters who follow specific faiths (or none) can help make them more rounded characters.

Which brings me to my epiphany.

When I listen to writing podcasts—and I listen to several—I almost always end up thinking about how whatever the host(s) (& guest(s)) are saying can apply to whatever I’m currently writing. In this case, I’ve been restructuring my urban fantasy universe in my head. I haven’t put much of it down on “paper,” yet, but it’s churning around up in my cerebellum, making waves.

I describe it to people as “It’s paranormal FBI agents and Atlanta police solving crimes in modern Atlanta, only magic works.”

One of the main three characters is a devout Catholic. I know almost nothing about the Catholic religion, so I’ve been glossing over that when I write him. Just mostly using it as “background information” that the writer (me) knows, but the reader (hopefully, you, one day) is not necessarily even aware of, except that that bit of information informs how the character reacts to things that happen in the book.

And that’s when it hit me: in my world, magic is . . . well, it’s special in that not just everyone can do it, but the ones who can do it can pretty much do miracles.

In a world where many people can perform genuine, demonstrable, repeatable, scientifically verifiable “miracles,” . . . well, what place does religion based on miracle-working have in that world?

I just love it—no, really, I do—when a passing thought causes me to go “Oh, crap,” and rethink pretty much everything.

Of course, there’s still the concept of divinity and having a direct line to a god or gods (as it were). But if my characters can do things that are only in the purview of gods in our real world, what, then, is a religion in a world of magic?

I’m gonna have to think on that one.

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