The Science in the book:
From the author:
One of the first 'science' things in the book is the relative 'ageing' due to general relativity and special relativity corrections. Basically there are two things to be considered: gravity and speed. If you accelerate to something approaching the speed of light, then time passes more slowly for you than for an observer who does not. This means that you age less. And if you are submitted to a greater gravity then time also passes more slowly for you, from a distant observer's viewpoint. There is a nice summary of that here for any of you who are interested. This is also dealt with in some detail on the Wikipedia page here I don't go into much detail in the book, because it would probably just add confusion. This type of science has always fascinated me, ever since I finally managed to grasp some of Einstein's "thought" or "gedanken" experiments.
The scenery on Pictoria is based loosely on some of the North American landscape, especially Arizona. I used Antelope Canyon for the original idea, although the ridges of Pictoria are north to south, and have much better defined steps cut into them by the wind. I would love to visit Arizona and the Navajo territory to see the landscape for myself, but that seems unlikely, since I live in Europe. It takes me all my time to fly back to England a couple of times a year, and that is only 2 hours by plane! The buttes on Pictoria are also based on US terrain, basically the sandstone buttes in Monument valley in Utah. These I have seen personally, if only from the windows of a Greyhound bus, and a while ago. They left an indelible impression. I loved travelling around the United States!
The idea of the wind which arrives each day as the sun goes down is mine, though they are loosely based on the katabarics of the Antarctic.
I also introduce retrograde orbits in Pictoria, which you can read about here Basically, that just means that a planet or moon orbits anticlockwise instead of the more normal clockwise.
The avifauna were based on a find in China of fossils which showed a similar type of morphology, although much smaller. More about that from "An Archaeopteryx-like theropod from China and the origin of Avialae" by Xing Xu, Hailu You, Kai Du and Fenglu Han. Also from here
This sketch fascinated me:
And these are just cute:
(Source: "Microraptor by durbed" by Durbed - http://durbed.deviantart.com/art/Four-winged-thieves-341517949. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Microraptor_by_durbed.jpg#/media/File:Microraptor_by_durbed.jpg)
Of course, the avifauna are much much bigger and very much more impressive. Their gliding capacities are good, and they are more on the noble side. All the same, they still would make you wonder if they were birds or dinosaurs.
Here's a cool widget that tells you how long it would take you to get from one place to another, in light years, travelling at the speed of light. Very nice. Try from earth to betelgeuse, or from the sun to andromeda!! that is one long long long journey!! Universe is a BIG place. I love the Douglas Adams quote:
The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy,
I loved that book too. Have fun with this: