Communion Of Dreams


Hello, Saturn!

NASA has put up a nice little movie showing the rings of Saturn as seen by the Cassini spacecraft as it transitions through the plane of those rings – fascinating stuff. Of course, you can also see a lot of images taken during the Cassini mission at the CICLOPS site, including many different images of Titan – images which conform to my suppositions about the surface of that moon in Communion of Dreams.

That’s hardly just luck, of course. I tried to base my depiction of the moon in keeping with the best known science at the time of writing, and during revisions updating to reflect new data once the Cassini mission arrived at Saturn. As I have mentioned previously, Carl Sagan’s work was of particular value to me in formulating not just the environment of Titan, but in also how weather works there.

Emphasis on keeping everything as accurate and in accord with known science was important to me in writing Communion, so far as I was able. I even made extensive use of a precursor to this JPL site in calculating distance (as reflected in the amount of time it takes radio signals to travel) for the actual dates mentioned in the book. It’s kind of fun – you just plug in your date, select your two points in the solar system, and the site will not only give you distance in km/miles but also show you what you would see from a specified vantage point if you were looking through a telescope. I no longer remember whether the earlier site gave me actual light-minutes distances (which would also be how long radio waves would take to transit), or if I did the calculations myself. Either way, the numbers cited in the book are accurate.

Jim Downey


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