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How to describe someones age when they live on another planet?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Nomadica, May 4, 2017.

  1. Nomadica

    Nomadica Troubadour

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    My story takes place on a tidally locked moon so they don't even have days and nights. Though they do have long light and dark periods called elume and ebonly. My MC is trying to say that her mother died when she was around the equivalent of 9ish (+/- a year) in earth years but I don't want to use earth as a reference if I don't have to. I'm keeping earths reference to the first page and even then using it as minimally as possible. So how do I describe 9 in other ways?
     
    Russ likes this.
  2. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

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    Hmmm.... I think that willing suspension of disbelief will make it so that readers don't raise an eye if you call her 9 anyways. Alternatively just saying her mother died when she was young ought to be enough.
     
    Son of the Roman likes this.
  3. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    Okay I am of no help on your main problem, but I just had to post and say how cool your names for the dark and light periods are.
     
  4. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

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    Well...If the moon is tidally locked, it is going around its planet once a day, as the planets rotation is what creates day and night. Could be the planet rotates slowly so the days are long. So, there would still be day and night on the moon, assuming there was a star to light it up with, of which I will assume.

    However, forgetting any of that, if the moon has light and dark periods, why not count those? Maybe seven dark periods equals a year? It can still be measured in trips around the star.

    How about Nine solar cycles? or Nine planetary cycles? Or Nine complete changes from light to dark? or Nine periods of Elume (using whatever occurrences of Elume may equal a year)? Or perhaps a different measure. I am three Elumes past losing my baby teeth, for instance. Or One orbital trip past the Election of President Zaphod?


    And yes, I agree. The two periods are very neat ;)
     
  5. Nomadica

    Nomadica Troubadour

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    Thanks Russ. I try to keep it intuitive.
     
  6. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    Does how your characters refer to time passage (or lack thereof) have any relevance to the story? If not, why bother? Just call her nine so it's easy for your reader to understand.

    A few texture details, like the names for light and dark periods, can add flavor and texture to your story world, but too many and your story will feel like work to your reader, potentially unnecessary work.

    This kind of reminds me the old axiom, if the creature in your world looks like a rabbit, and acts like a rabbit, why call it a hoppityzip? Just call it a rabbit and move on with your story.
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2017
  7. Nomadica

    Nomadica Troubadour

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    Baby teeth are a great age maker. Thanks. I do have more units of measurement but I haven't introduced them yet
     
  8. Nomadica

    Nomadica Troubadour

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    Yes it's relevant. Since the moon is tidally locked, during the long ebonly only one side of the moon gets light from the sun reflecting off the planet it orbits. The societies are slightly primitive so no street lights generally. This means most of the population is on the side of the moon that faces the planet and little is known about the other side. Its a mysterious and scary place where interesting things take place latter.
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2017
  9. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

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    Well, there is a lot to be said about calling something a rabbit and not a hoppityzap. I find I wrestle with this a bit. If something is not on Earth, can it fall to Earth? And if we not on earth and lot changes. You say units of measure, and that includes a lot. Time, and distance just to start. I do try to avoid these terms as I don't enjoy stuff that does not really fit the world I am in, but on the other hand, would the readers really care? As TAS said, too much and it gets distracting.
     
  10. Nomadica

    Nomadica Troubadour

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    It takes 29.5 days for a synodic day to happen on earths moon.
     
  11. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

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    One more, and I will stop saying so. But a moon orbits a planet and a planet orbits a star. The Moon would have two sources of light, not just the planet. There are likely many ways to account for this, but I would not want you to get tagged by nerdy types for missing the details.
     
  12. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    First, I like the concept of half a planet being dark and a mystery, lots of opportunity there as a storyteller. But I meant, "Is coming up with a different way to call a character 9, or having foreign units of measurement necessary and relevant to your story?"
     
  13. Nomadica

    Nomadica Troubadour

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    I'm a nerd and I'd like to know the detail of anything I haven't considered so go for it :)
     
  14. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

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    Right you are...but the planet still likely has a day. It could be measured and used. Such that, if I was on the moon, I could see the plantet, and count a day as every time North America passed by. Or if was Jupiter, every time the red spot went by.
     
  15. Nomadica

    Nomadica Troubadour

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    good point
     
  16. Nomadica

    Nomadica Troubadour

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    That might feel weird with how different things are, pull the reader from the story. I don't know, I just come from one of those anoying families that sit and criticize throughout a movie.
     
  17. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

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    Well, now that I am thinking about it. Likely the planet and the star have different level of brightness. Could be there are several different periods of light. Periods of brighter light and lesser bright light, and both together or none at all. That could lead to even more periods than just the two.

    In fact, if both objects were sufficiently bright, very little of the surface of the moon would be dark. Its largest portion of darkness would come from eclipse from the planet. Then one half would be dark, but at any other position, it gets light from the planet and the star on two different angles.

    Too much to think about...I will just go with sometimes its dark and sometimes light, and they are long periods of time.
     
  18. I second this. Very cool.
     
  19. Maybe age is determined by the stage in life or development rather than by years or months. You could make up names for "seasons of life" that show a character's age rather than say how many years old they are.
     
  20. Nomadica

    Nomadica Troubadour

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    Yea thats kinda what I was wanting. Or a mix of that and time units of measure. I need identifiable age markers though. The teeth one is a good one for children.
     
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