This week I ran into an interesting snag as I wrote The Moonstone: How do you keep track of time while you are underground?
Here's the background: Katryl and her companions accidentally wind up in Undercountry, a vast kingdom under the earth whose inhabitants have not seen the sun for a thousand years. There are no days and no nights, no natural wake and sleep cycles, no seasons, no celestial bodies to mark the passage of time--nothing by which we would normally keep time.
Since there are no traditional time-keeping methods, I can not indicate how long my Overdwellers have traveled in Undercountry. "We encountered the water-snake three days ago" just does not compute when there are no days.
So how does one keep time while stuck underground?
This is the idea that I eventually came up with, illustrated by a conversation between Edric, an Overdweller and one of Katryl's companions, and Rory, a Dwarf who has never visited Overcountry:
"That is something I would like to know," Edric said. "How do you measure time here in Undercountry? In Overcountry, we measure time by the dimming and brightening of the light and by the changes of the moon."
What do you think of this idea? Is it believable? Is it clear or do you need more description?
If you have an idea that you think is just killer, let me know!
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12/11/2015 08:26:32 pm
Neat idea! I especially like the time pieces. Time in metrics! Brilliant idea. However, I am still not sure what to make of this interesting succulent plant. Forgive me for being a complete science nerd, but WHY does the plant change color. Temperature changes above ground? Differing supply of water based on seasons in the over country? Or perhaps some symbiotic relationship with a crazy color changing, time keeping bacteria? I know these are all weird ideas, but I just find it hard to believe that a plant can sense seasons without some description of "why" it can perform this incredible feat. Of course, we are talking fantasy here... :)
While the magic color-turning plant is a neat idea, it comes with its own problems, such as those MK listed above and also...if the light comes from bioluminescent moss, how would you even be able to tell that something has changed colors in that light?
12/20/2015 05:10:44 pm
Wow! I'm so happy that others are chiming into this discussion, because you bring up such great points. I'm a stickler for trying to make even sci-fi and fantasy at least half-way believable, and obviously there are a few things that are not quite biologically feasible with my set-up. It's funny that you mentioned water and crops, Sly Eagle, because Martian Kitty and I ended up having a (face-to-face) discussion recently that followed that same line of thought. That is definitely something I am considering... It seems like a natural progression which may actually coincide with the seasons of the outside world to some degree.
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I write YA/adult fantasy & sci-fi that explores fantastic and interconnected worlds, with stories that burn through the darkest realities with hope and redemption.
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