Saturday, December 17, 2005

Dancing on Air

My wife and I have been taking a swing dance class every Friday night this semester (since she is faculty at Glendale Community College, we get to take classes for free). It was a lot of fun and was basically our weekly "date night"; it was good to get out of the house (as it turned out, we didn't actually get to dance with each other much, but it was still fun). Our instructor teaches at a local Bally's on a weekly basis, and tonight that class was having a dance party to celebrate Christmas. Our instructor invited us, so we went. It was a good time!

This got me wondering. What will people who live in free fall full time do for social recreation? Dancing is certainly possible, and would be very fascinating to watch. The dance would have to consist of controlled push-offs from walls in a large open area. The dancers might have "wings" attached to their sleeves that they could use to change direction in mid-air. They would literally be "dancing on air." How cool is that?

I can also imagine teenagers coming up with clever ways to show off in free fall. In the YA story I just submitted, one of the characters meets up with the protagonist in a corridor. The corridor is covered in Velcro on all sides, and the characters wear Velcro booties so that they can hook to any wall surface that's convenient. Transport down corridors, however, is still a push-and-glide affair. One of the tenagers in the story launches herself down the corridor at an angle, hits the floor with her hands, and uses the impact to push off, twist in mid-air, and lock her velcro booties on the ceiling. In the end, she is upside down with her face ten centimeters from the protagonist's face. How's that for showing off?

It's important that when we imagine our worlds in science fiction (and fantasy too, for that matter) that we make sure we carry each environment's situation to its logical conclusion. Otherwise, our stories could be taking place in an office building or a shopping mall instead of aboard a ship, for all the difference it makes. Part of the way we carry this off is to think about how the environment affects things like recreation. Recreation isn't likely to drive the plot -- in fact, it might not even be mentioned at all, except in passing -- but it's the small details such as this that turn your story world into a living, breathing world of its own.

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