First Bad Idea of 2017

Well, not the first first bad idea, but all the others were of the, “I should have some ice cream for dessert,” or, “I should play Fallout 4 instead of being productive,” variety. Hardly worth noting, except for purposes of self-flagellation.

This is my first catastrophically bad story idea of the year. I treasure those. Sometimes they’re learning experiences — especially when they get made into movies and I briefly wonder whether writing the next Sharknado would really be such a bad gig. Literary integrity and self-respect don’t pay the bills, after all.

Anyway, I read a bit in the local paper about scientists getting close to absolute zero, and it put me in mind of a story I’ve been meaning to rewrite, set in a new ice age. And I thought, hmm, what if an absolute zero experiment went awry, and there formed a little sphere of absolute zero, total atomic motionlessness, which induced that state in everything it touched? Slowly expanding, it caused the next ice age, and would eventually consume the Earth and necessitate our flight to the outer planets, and eventually the stars. Fleeing ever deeper into the night, never escaping the slowly growing menace….

It’s crap, of course. Science doesn’t work like that. Cold isn’t a thing, it’s the absence of heat, meaning motion. Expose an area of absolute zero to the rest of the universe and it won’t infect neighboring matter. It’ll just warm up a bit and stop being so absolute about its zero-ness. So nobody write this, make a movie out of it, or freak out over the thought that it might happen, or you’ll look a bit daft.

But it’s good to have bad ideas! They’re fun to think about, and they may lead to good ideas. And in any case, bad ideas are better than no ideas at all. (As long as you recognize them as such, obviously. I’m looking at you, Trump voters.)

Now to have some good ideas.

Where’d I put those exercise bands…?


  1. Sounds vaguely like the plot of Cat’s Cradle:

    In this case, it was a special form of water that froze at room temperature, but it “infected” any other water it came into contact with, and thus over time consumed the earth. Ice-nine:

    Many many years since I read it. I don’t remember any details of the plot, but I remembered the concept immediately when I read your post. 🙂

  2. I haven’t read the book (I haven’t read much Vonnegut, and I know, shame on me!), but I seem to recall hearing of ice-nine at some point. It’s at least based in something next door to actual physics, so it’s significantly better than my bad idea. 🙂

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