Sunday, September 20, 2015

Science in Fiction (#8): Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff


Welcome to this month's Science in Fiction feature! Science in Fiction is a meme I created to showcase the wonderful aspects of science in Young Adult fiction novels. For more information and previous feature, check out the "Science in Fiction" tag!

This month, I'm featuring Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff!


Illuminae is set in the year 2575, over half a century from modern times. Kady and Ezra's home has been invaded, and they are forced to leave their planet. The population that survived the invasion escaped to spaceships, which are being pursued by the invaders. Surviving the invasion was one obstacle - surviving on the ships in space is quite another.



Illuminae is a really cool novel! The story was amazing, but I especially loved the construction and execution of the novel. Written entirely in chat logs, security footage, messages, classified documents, this book is not of the form of a narrative. Which made it all the more interesting! 

There are so many science-y aspects of this book. Life in space? Woah! We've sent a man on the moon (in 1969, with Armstrong and Aldrin), but to have craft and humans flying around like in Star Wars? Totally not there! This book reminded me of Star Wars. There are warships, civilian spaceships, piloted ships with teams, machinery that was basically droid-like (in a scarier way though). This aspect of science is so cool - life in space, technology in space.

Another aspect of science in this novel is one of more terror - biological warfare. As is stated in the official synopsis of this book, a plague is spread from ship to ship, and it mutates as it goes. It is deadly and quite scary. Once you contract it, your life is over; you're living, but no one will want to be around any of the infected once they are infected. I don't want to give anything away about the plague, but trust me, it is terrifying just to READ about.

According to Merriam-Webster, biological warfare is defined as 

the use of harmful living things (such as germs that cause disease) as weapons in a war.

Which is what happens in Illuminae - the invaders infected a group of the planet's population while invading and whatnot, and some of those people survived the invasion and got on the spacecraft. 

Biological warfare is super scary, horrifyingly smart, and very unethical. I say it's smart because if you have no heart or soul, sure, wiping out a population by infecting like, one person, is smart. I suppose. But unethical. Heartless. Cold. Inhuman. I can't even think about this happening for real. And yet, there are always whispers about how 1) the next world war will be over water resources and 2) the next world war will involve lots of nuclear weapons - and biological warfare.

I don't agree with biological warfare (obviously). I wouldn't inflict it on my worst enemy, the "enemy group/country/whatever". There are certain groups that exist today that deserve horrible things, but biological warfare is so wrong. Innocent people are liable to be caught in the crossfire, and that is not okay. But I could see some groups employing this tactic.


Thoughts on biological warfare? Space? Star Wars? 

10 comments:

  1. Yeah biological warfare is beyond scary and something that only makes sense if you think about it as something happening in a screen and pushing a button and never stopping to think about what it really entails or imagine the real consequences to people!

    Great post Alyssa! I always love your Science in Fiction posts!

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    1. Right! Basically if you want to wipe out the world... well, let's hope no one is that evil - or stupid.

      Thank you so much, Pili!

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  2. I used to watch Battlestar Gallactica and Star Trek and imagine living for long periods in space. How do you get fresh stuff whether its food or personal products or clothes? Get enough sun and fresh air? Water? And have sustainable energy? Yeah, my mind was busy as a kid.

    Biological warfare gives me the heebie jeebies. I did a paper in high school on the bubonic plague in the middle ages and I just can't imagine something that horrific spreading through confined quarters on spaceships or in real life someone ruthless enough to doom a race and maybe even the world of races by using it.

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    1. Supply stations! Or pitstops at different planets. Technology and science is strange and super cool!

      The bubonic plague is definitely a good comparison! Imagining a disease mutating on a ship... so scary. I hope we never have to experience that, even on Earth (versus a spaceship). O_O

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  3. I'm with you; I find the possibility of biological warfare terrifying. It's also not far-fetched. Anthrax has already been used as a weapon in individual cases, and sent through the mail. And an acquaintance of mine works on bioweapon and airborne agent detection - the systems that could potentially detect a release of gases or biological weapons in time to protect people.

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    1. Not far-fetched at all! Imagine if someone released something in another country's WATER supply... that would be war upon war upon war. D:

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    2. Indeed. [shudders] I'm not sure whether to stash that away as a story idea or try to forget the thought because it's too scary...

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  4. This post is all kinds of gorgeous Alyssa. <3 Lots of love. And ugh, I adored Illuminae :) So much amazing science in it. Eeek. I love what you have found out; and agree with lots of it :) Thank you for sharing sweetie. <3 Biological warfare is a big no, yet I still think so many people should be killed. Ugh. But not innocent ones :)

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    1. Thank you, Carina! LOL I love your opinion on this. I think I understand you're saying, and know what you mean. ^_^

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