She switches to the backstroke after ten laps. Ten more and she rolls over again; breaststroke. She has waterproof headphones and an audiobook going.
"The specialty in mobility aids is a little offbeat. I don't think I've ever seen a character with that line of work in a book."
"Oh the kind of automation work I used on my chair is way broader. Normally I do stuff for airplanes."
"I don't think I've seen an airplane engineer in a book either but it seems less weird somehow."
"My specialty could be converted to FTL rockets and space stations if we're going full sci-fi."
"It's a popular trope because it plays well with the audience."
"Harder to be a mad engineer if you're doing something so mundane."
"Maybe I'm running illegal experiments with my FTL rockets and one of them takes you... to an alternate universe."
"I'm down. What's it like in the alternate universe?"
"I don't know, it was an accident!"
"Well are we going for a fun and whimsical kind of sci-fi or something harder and more exploratory?"
"I can see arguments for either..."
"Now I'm curious what you'd do if I challenged you with the hard kind."
"In the hard kind we all die as soon as we step through the portal because there's no air and also the gravity is seventeen times stronger," he says, deadpan.
"But in the hard kind according to genre convention we should probably think of sending doodads out ahead as scouts and discover that, shouldn't we?"
"He's just messing with me because I once kept poking holes into the physics of a book he was telling me about."
Sahde pokes his tongue out at Ohan then grins at Pelape. "I think for realistic but still fun sci-fi alternate universes I'd go with either some specific point of departure in physics or something like alternate history, depending. And even alternate history doesn't have to be alternate Amentan history, we could go with an alternate history for the formation of the galaxy or something, although I'm not sure if that'd be meaningfully different than just travelling to another planet."
"I think once your story is indistinguishable from one that takes place in another galaxy you don't get to call it 'alternate history'."
"Yeah, thought so. Well, an alternate history on Amenta could still be interesting, like one where the castes ended up being different or Oahk didn't crumble somehow. That's a coherent alternate universe premise, right?"
"I think I like the physics-point-of-departure idea more."
"Not sure I'm good enough at maths for that one, personally."
"People do the Oahk one all the time. Mostly in the Oahksphere but you get the odd depressive Anitami or Voan."
"Could be an Oahk one where things don't turn out terribly and they actually figure out how to do stuff well and even handle the red transition well enough because they are a tyrannical power in control of the whole world by then?"
"Buddy I think you might scare some people away with those heresies."
"That's the tenor of the Oahksphere ones, I think, but I haven't read many through."