October 13, 2011 § 1 Comment
Ask any ten-year-old boy and you’ll learn that there are many ways in which human life could be eviscerated, truncated, or otherwise annihilated from the earth. Alien invasions. Zombies. Meteors. Supervolcanoes. Black holes. Nukes. Blowing apart the moon. (Okay, not every ten-year-old boy thinks about blowing apart the moon. But some do.) Some precocious little chap who’s been watching the Discovery Channel—or History Channel, which is inexplicably more concerned with science than history—might even mention polar shifts in the earth’s magnetic field. A pole shift, according to some, could mean the end of life as we know it. Sounds promising…
After doing a little digging around on some more reliable (I hope) internet sites, I found out that a pole shift would probably not be the doomsday-inducer that many claim and that humanity would probably survive such an event and our electronics would probably still work. As with most things in science, nobody’s fully certain. The fact that we’ve never experienced a pole shift in recorded history doesn’t help diminish the ambiguity. And it would probably happen sooner than later. And all of it would depend on the way in which a pole shift would happen. Like I said, we don’t know very much. Or the internet doesn’t know very much—which is the same thing.
But the idea does have a few things going for it: it’s real, it’s (possibly) cataclysmic, and it’s flexible. It’s perfect for sci-fi.
Now all I have to do is decide on a setting. I like earth and all, but since I’m going to include another plot device which involves ruins from a highly advanced alien civilization, I’m going to put it on some distant planet in the galaxy that has a magnetic field—probably a stronger one. It’s not that I don’t think humans will ever become highly advanced (whatever that means). But you can say a lot more about humans by having them stub their toes on advanced technology than by having them build said technology. It’s a very resonant archetype.
But why would the field be stronger? Since I’m probably going to write this story, let’s just say that the planet is more than a planet. It’s still a planet; it’s just…more. And one day a party of colonists or adventurers or soldiers or scientists (I haven’t decided yet) shows up on this more-than-a-planet and uncovers some alien ruins. One of them stubs his toe—or eats the fruit, if you prefer.
And then everything flips out.