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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Temporary Hiatus from Writing

Hi everyone,

For personal reasons, I’m going to have to take a break from writing. I hope to continue writing more of Allie’s adventures in Oceania as soon as I can, but for now, I don’t know when that will be. Until I resume writing, I will also not be posting any more blog posts. However, I can still be reached by email and will respond to all emails. Occasionally, I may go on my social media accounts as well.

Best wishes,

Eliza Taye

Friday, September 1, 2017

Blog Continuation Announcement

Due to the fact that I hadn’t originally planned on Oceania: The Underwater City becoming a series, I planned on a string of blog posts about Oceania to continue until I wrote another novel. Now, that the story is continuing in Allie’s Return, I will be reducing the blog posts to once a month instead of bi-weekly. Each post will relate to Allie’s Return instead of Oceania and will include some character backstories, another special on the sea creatures in the novel, other special extras, and more. New posts will not begin until Allie’s Return is released.

Allie's Return

Coming out September 22nd on Amazon Kindle

Friday, August 18, 2017

Final Exclusive Post for Oceania: The Underwater City

This is the last blog post I will be writing about Oceania: The Underwater City. The next blog posts will be all about its sequel, Allie’s Return. I wanted this farewell post to make a difference, so I’ve chosen the topic of this farewell post to Oceania to be a call to action.

I envisioned the future world that Oceania is set in to be one where humans have done a much better job of caring for the earth and cohabiting with the plants and animals that live here too. But this is only after several hard lessons have been learned. Humans continued to use fossil fuels and other nonrenewable sources of energy until they were entirely depleted. Only then did they decide to change over to energy sources that better protect the planet. To me, this was a more realistic future, even though it’s not one that I hope comes to fruition. I hope that through education and the spreading of our knowledge about protecting the environment that we will voluntarily make these changes as a species, not be forced to do so because we’ve run out of other options.

One of the reasons I wrote Oceania: The Underwater City was to prompt people to consider the ocean as a possible frontier for both research and human colonization. As someone with a passion for both marine and space science, I wanted there to be more books out there that explored humans living under the sea rather than in space. However, in order for that to even be a future possibility, we as humans will have to learn how to become better stewards of our earth. Our human actions over the last two hundred years have caused a lot of damage to our planet. Some of this damage can be reversed if we all make changes starting now.

You can make individual choices every day that impacts the environment and our oceans, even if you don’t live near the sea. One thing you can do is to ensure that the fish you eat is caught sustainably. Or you can choose to not eat unsustainable seafood or seafood that causes a lot of bycatch during fishing for it. Other things as simple as making sure you place your trash inside of a trash can where it can’t blow away can make a difference. Although they might seem unrelated, using less energy can help the ocean. Ocean acidification is caused greatly by carbon dioxide emissions, so doing simple things like turning off the TV or lights when you’re not using them can reduce energy consumption. Other things you can do are reduce your use of plastic or use recyclable plastic, help clean up the beach by picking up garbage and throwing it away, and choosing to walk or bike somewhere close by instead of driving. It doesn’t have to be anything large, the small things add up. Something as simple as your attitude toward the environment can make a big difference. If you are looking for bigger ways to make a difference, donating to non-profit organizations that work to research and conserve marine life is always appreciated to those organizations. Conservation research isn’t cheap and any donation to a conservation organization is helpful.

So this is my call to action to all of you. Take care of the environment. Think of this world as a place that we all have to share, not only existing for any one person’s wants and needs. Rather treat every other human and animal with the kindness and respect we all deserve.

Some Places Where You Can Learn More About How to Help the Ocean

Of course, it is up to you whether or not you follow any of this advice. I’m sure if you’ve subscribed to this blog or read Oceania: The Underwater City, that you already have a care for the marine environment and all its inhabitants. But in the case that you have been inspired by Oceania to learn more about the ocean and how to maintain its health, I hope this blog post gave you some ideas.

You’ve reached the end of the farewell blog post for Oceania: The Underwater City! I hope you’ve enjoyed the last twenty-eight blog posts about Oceania: The Underwater City. The next blog post will be regarding Allie’s Return, which is book 2 of the Oceania: The Underwater City Series. If you have any questions about how you can do more for the ocean or any general comments, feel free to leave them here on my blog or email me directly at elizataye@gmail.com. As always, I love hearing from my readers!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Ocean Exploration and How It Relates to Oceania

Exploring the mysteries of the deep sea has always been an interest of mine. For the longest time, whenever I saw a documentary, book, or article about the deep sea, I’d immediately devour it. So much below the photic zone is a mystery and little is known about the creatures who live there. Yet, it’s not just the deep sea that is largely unexplored. There are many places in the ocean that are yet to be thoroughly explored and numerous species who have yet to be discovered and described.

In 2010, the Census of Marine Life reported the collective results of a worldwide research effort to document the biological diversity of the ocean. Although ambitious, this marine census collection was crucial to determining a baseline for marine life so that any effects on their diversity and well-being over the years can have a basis for comparison. Over 6,000 (potentially) new species were discovered and a database called the “Ocean Biogeographic Information System” was created to catalog the species of the sea. According to their research, an estimated number of a billion different microbes could live in the ocean (1). Could one of those species be like Geobacter omnescomedenti?

Even though the Census of Marine Life project complied and reported their results in 2010, efforts to explore the ocean continues. There is an entire trust dedicated to exploring the ocean and they’ve lead expeditions every year since 2009. Called the Ocean Exploration Trust, it was founded by Dr. Robert Ballard (discoverer of the final resting place of the Titanic). Just last year they used their vessel—the Nautilus—to explore the waters off the Pacific Coast of North America from Canada all the way to Los Angeles. According to their website, the seafloor of the Southern California Margin is less than 50% mapped in high resolution. During their exploration, they researched bathymetry (the seafloor), marine wildlife, shipwrecks, marine geology, hydrothermal vents, subduction zones, and the abyssal plain (2). Expeditions such as these are crucial to understanding how the ocean impacts our own terrestrial environment and human lives.

So how does ocean exploration relate to Oceania? Well, for one, a good deal of the book is about exploring the ocean and its wonders. I wanted to instill in my readers a curiosity about the ocean and its inhabitants. My first blog posts (after the inspiration for the story) were about the sea creatures that appear in the novel. Some of the creatures I wrote about were easy to find information on, like dolphins, sharks, whales, and sea lions, but others like all of the deep-sea creatures were difficult. Other things like the depth at which Oceania could sit at and where it may be located were more difficult to determine due to the lack of exploration of the deep sea. So instead, I had the founders of Oceania discover the things lacking for our current research on the ocean.

For another, the only way Oceania could exist was because of ocean exploration. In the future world that Oceania exists in, ocean research has come to a point where so much of the seafloor has been mapped that the T2N was able to find a suitable location for the city. In creating the city, there was enough information on ocean species that the underwater city could be designed to be supported without aid from the surface world. Oceania further relates to ocean research partly because the entire city was created to aid in ocean exploration. From living under the sea, it allowed the scientists residing there to have greater access to the ocean environment. Proximity to the focus of study makes any scientific study more efficient than having to constantly travel to your study location. With Oceania in the deep sea, understanding of the undersea world on the seafloor could increase dramatically.

Many of the deep-sea creatures that appear in Oceania are still mostly a mystery to science. Even so, knowledge of various aspects of animals (even iconic ones like great white sharks) is still less than ideal. Anyone who watched Shark Week this past week would know that things as simple as whether or not sharks create familial bonds or learn from each other wasn’t known until recently. The full life history of sea turtles is also still a mystery to science. When there’s so much more to learn about iconic animals like sharks and sea turtles—animals that are immensely easier to access than the creatures of the deep sea—it’s no wonder little is known about the abyssal plain regions. It’s a reminder of why ocean exploration is so vital. Further exploring the ocean will lead to more discoveries and a greater understanding of both how we impact our oceans and how the ocean impacts us.

You’ve reached the end of the blog post for this week. The next post will be my last one regarding Oceania: The Underwater City. Stay tuned (or subscribe to the blog) to be notified of the next post. I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post and if you have any comments, you can leave them here on my blog or email me directly at elizataye@gmail.com. As always, I love hearing from my readers.

Sources and Further Reading

If you want to read up on more current marine science research and projects:

Friday, July 21, 2017

Oceania: The Underwater City Character Personality Quiz

This week, based on the suggestions, I’ve chosen a character personality quiz! You can take the quiz to figure out whether you’re most like Dylan, Allie, or Dr. Wilcox. The quiz is only 12 questions and doesn’t take too long to complete. Give it a try and see which character from Oceania: The Underwater City you’re most like!

If for whatever reason you are unable to see the embedded quiz above, you can access the quiz here

Friday, July 7, 2017

Deleted Scenes/Passages

Like any completed novel, Oceania: The Underwater City went through many revisions before I came to a final manuscript ready for publication. I removed many scenes and passages I liked at the time of writing it, but later thought was either unnecessary or didn’t read as strongly as I wanted it to. So now, I’m going to share some of the scenes I removed from Oceania: The Underwater City before it reached its final version. But don’t worry, I’ve edited out any and all grammar mistakes. The only thing that remains unchanged is the scene or passage content itself. I hope you enjoy it and if you did (or didn’t) leave me a comment below and let me know.

I went through several different rewrites of the opening chapter of the novel. I knew that I wanted Allie to be leaving her grandmother’s house, but I wasn’t sure which was the strongest way to write it. The following passage is one of the previous rewrites I decided not to go with:

The burn in my eyes threatened to overtake them, pouring frustrated tears of anger down my cheeks, but I resisted them. This always happens whenever she calls. Sometimes I wonder if she even cares about me.
Stopping for a moment, I glanced back at Grandmother’s house. Paint cracked and peeled off the edges of the siding. A once vivid yellow house now faded to a pale beige color. Two lonely-looking windows fanned the sides of a shaded brown door. All around the property was a limp brown fence, encompassing a yard with brownish-yellow grass.
Grandmother’s face appeared in the window to the left of the front door. On the other side of the fence, I stood too far away to see her eyes but I knew they held sympathy for me.

At first, I struggled with how Dylan could show Allie around the city in an exciting way without it being redundant. I also wanted to somehow integrate the OVRR into part of it. I ultimately decided to take my time with Allie’s tour of Oceania and give away pieces bit by bit. Early on, the following passage was how Allie toured the city:

  “Hold on, I’ve got a better idea.” Dylan pressed a few buttons midair and the entire room went black. “It’ll take forever for me to show you around Oceania by train or foot, so I’ll give you a virtual tour. You’ll still feel like you’re getting a real experience, just quicker.”
The black void vanished and I found myself floating in the air. It felt so real that I screamed, kicking my feet loosely.
“Allie…Allie, it’s okay. You won’t fall. I just thought this would be a cool way to see the city.”
I looked over at Dylan with wild eyes. His face was calm and he held his hand out to me. I grabbed it and steadied myself in the air.
“Just think about what you want, this is virtual reality, I might be in control of designing the world, but you’re still in control of what happens to you here if you focus hard enough. Concentrate on being stable in the air and you will be.”
I nodded furiously like a bobble head, trying to calm down. Closing my eyes and forgetting what all was around me, I drew in a deep breath through my nose and let it out through my mouth.
When I opened my eyes, my feet were steady as if they were situated on solid ground.
“Are you good, Allie?” Dylan slowly released my hand and backed away.
“Yeah, I’m fine. What was it that you wanted to show me?”
He gave a white-toothed grin. “Follow me.”Dylan began to dive down and fly through the air like he was Peter Pan, arms out, gliding down with both legs pressed together.
Shocked, I followed, concentrating on maintaining my stability in the air. I mimicked holding my arms out and legs tightly together like Dylan had done and was easily able to keep up with him.
Gliding through the air like eagles, we flew in the direction of downtown. Before we got too close, however, Dylan veered to the left towards a grassy area with lower buildings scattered around in concentric circles.
“The city of Oceania is broken down into several zones or districts. There are districts for every major part of the city.” Dylan pointed to the zone just to the left of us. “That’s the Center of Knowledge, located in the Education Zone One. The university is housed in the silver building; it’s the tallest one in the Center of Knowledge. There are thirty different floors and three basement levels. Every different discipline or area of study has its one entire floor, except for marine studies; they have the all three basement floors.”
Scanning the area, I pointed to a shorter building with a domed top. “Which building is that?”
“That one is the library. It’s hard to see from here but it is six stories and has both a physical and digital collection.”
I glanced over at Dylan in excitement then back down at the building. Tucking in my arms against my body and straightening my legs, I took the shape of a torpedo and plummeted toward the center square right in front of the library. Wind kissed my cheeks as my velocity increased. About ten feet from the ground, I flipped my body around, landing on the ground light as a feather on my tiptoes, easing myself down.
Dylan dropped down hard on the ground as if he were Iron Man. “Guess you got used to the feeling of flying.”
I took off up the four steps to the building with Dylan right behind me. “Yeah, I really want to see the physical books. I’ve never seen a physical book collection. The only ones I’ve ever seen were from 3D printers. They weren’t quite the real thing.”
“They don’t have any in your city?” wondered Dylan, perplexed.
I opened the glass door to the library as I replied, “No, in most cities on land the libraries housing physical books are extinct except for a few in select cities. Chicago had lost all of theirs long before I ever moved there…Before I knew it, we were whooshed out of the library and I found myself hovering next to Dylan in the air again.
“Sorry, Allie, we need to keep moving if you want to see the majority of the city.”
My senses returned to me and I understood what Dylan was saying. “I understand, that’s fine.”
Pushing off an invisible ground, I flew as high in the sky as I could. From up here, I could see everything in the city, albeit it was so small that it looked like an ant farm. “Hey, Dylan, what is that district? Can you point them all out to me?”...

There’s more to this scene, but it would be giving away too much of the novel if I included it. I don’t want to have any spoilers in this post.  

So what do you think? Do you wish any of these scenes or passages should have been in Oceania: The Underwater City final version? If you want to, leave me a comment below and let me know.

Remember, this is the last chance you have to suggest a topic for the week of July 17th’s blog post. Send them to me at elizataye@gmail.com by this week!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Reader’s Questions Answered!

I’ve had some questions from readers about a few things in the novel that I thought I’d address in this blog post. Like my earlier blog post titled “Relevant Scientific Research to Oceania: The Underwater City,” this blog post will be updated and/or added to when more questions or concerns arise about the novel from my readers.

T2N (Top 20 Nations)
Why the T2N not the UN?

I choose to create a completely different organization to establish the underwater city of Oceania for two different reasons. The first was that I wanted to refrain from using any real-world organizations in my novel. However, the main reason was that in the futuristic world, I envisioned that a lot of things in our world would change. Looking throughout history, very few organizations have lasted several hundred years. Since the UN was formed in 1945, at the time of the novel, it would have been 331 years since its inception. Although I do hope that a worldwide organization like the UN does continue for many years into the future, it is not the case in Oceania: The Underwater City.
Also, I foresaw that the Great Plague would change things as well. Usually, in the case of catastrophic events, the world changes drastically (think of WWII). Anyway, the T2N is a group of powerful (rich) nations around the world who joined together to try to prevent another Great Plague and address the issues that lead up to it. The identity of these countries will remain ambiguous. I want the readers to imagine which 20 countries would be the most wealthy and influential in a world very different from the one we know today. The intergovernmental organization uses its collective funds to help with worldwide issues such as universal healthcare and access to clean water that smaller and less fortunate countries could not afford after the devastation of the plague. One of the main consequences of the plague was the realization that although humans may look different, have different preferences and values, that all of humanity can all be susceptible to disease. The result ended a lot of inequalities of all kinds around the globe as all of humanity had to band together to heal. Some countries’ populations were severely decimated, leaving very few people left to clean up the aftermath, which lead the countries still in good fortune to aid those who weren’t. Thus, the birth of the T2N.  

The Declaration of Independence
Why is the word “united” not capitalized?

In a part of the book, there is a historical reference to the Declaration of Independence in which Allie notes the following:
Near the top of the parchment were the words “The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,” written in beautiful script….Funny, I’d never realized that the word “united” wasn’t capitalized in the title.
-Allie, Oceania: The Underwater City

When I wrote this section, I looked up images of the real Declaration of Independence from the National Archives in Washington D.C. What I found shocked me too, which is why I thought it would be interesting for Allie to note the same thing in the book. In fact, my editor tried to correct me on the lack of capitalization of the word “united” more than once, leading me to go ahead and add Allie’s statement for clarification. Besides, I didn’t want Grammarians sentencing me to death for it (just kidding, I know no Grammarian would commit murder). I never found any solid reasoning for why united isn’t capitalized but it’s something I found interesting nonetheless. So it is not a typo, just merely a direct quote from one of the most important documents in US History.
If you want to read the National Archives’ complete unedited transcript of the American Declaration of Independence, you can click here.

You’ve reached the end of the blog post for this week. Stay tuned (or subscribe to the blog) to be notified of next week’s post. I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post and if you have any comments, you can leave them here on my blog or email me directly at elizataye@gmail.com. As always, I love hearing from my readers.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Extra Information About the City—Exclusive Info

Originally, this blog post was supposed to contain exclusive information about the underwater city in which my novel takes place. However, I’ve decided to make Oceania: The Underwater City into a book series (yay!). At the moment, I’m in the process of editing the second book, Allie’s Return, and I realized that if I write this blog post the way I intended to, it could include spoilers for Allie’s Return and future novels in the series. So instead I will be leaving this blog post with this message until I decide to finish the series. When I finish it, I will go ahead and write this blog post the way I intended to.

On the week of July 17th  I plan to have a reader suggested blog post topic, so please don’t forget to email me with suggestions at elizataye@gmail.com at least a week prior to the date. 

Friday, May 26, 2017

A Brief History of Oceania as a City

At the time of the story, the summer of 2276, Oceania as already been an underwater city for 146 years. Although Allie is told some of the city’s history, there’s a lot of information not included in the novel. So, I thought you’d like to read a little more about the history of Oceania as a city. The following is only a brief history and will not spoil the contents of the novel.
*Note that the following is fictional and all references of Oceania refer to the fictional underwater city, not the real-world location of Oceania, the region comprised of a group of Pacific Islands.

Oceania was founded in 2130 by the Top 20 Nations (T2N), a coalition of the richest world governments on earth at the time. Residents of the city comprised of people from every country across the globe. One million people populated the city at its inception with all individuals being experts in a variety of fields, professions, and abilities. The residents got along well from the start, creating an engaging environment for research of all kinds and a welcoming environment for all. After settling into jobs, homes, and family life, the residents found the underwater city to be an easy transition.

At first, the connection between Oceania and land was constant, but it was soon determined that Oceania could function quite well on its own without assistance from land. Instead, the connection between the sole underwater city and the surface world became a sharing of ideas and technology more than support.

A few years after the city’s founding, the citizens began to feel a void in the land to sea transition. Missing some comforts of the land world that was lacking in Oceania, the city’s residents started developing their own technology to compensate for it. A focus on finding ways to replicate the land world under the sea drove the city to establish the Entertainment District.

An extensive survey of the ocean floor surrounding the city is conducted. The sediments on the ocean floor are checked for organisms, microbes, and other forms of life to study their potential uses. A large edible species of deep-sea fish is discovered, leading the Oceanian scientists conducting the survey to consider depending on the ocean more for food.

As an underwater city, Oceania had strong ties to the sea from the start. Ocean exploration was a big part of the city’s research focus and within ten years, marine scientists nearly doubled the prior amount of information known about the ocean. Other scientific fields flourished under the special conditions of the sea. Psychologists and sociologists had a unique opportunity to study the effects of artificial sunlight, diurnal simulations, and multi-cultural interactions. The compartmentalized nature of the city helped others to thrive like artists, business people, doctors, educators, and other professionals by having a network of like-minded individuals nearby.

The complete survey of the ocean floor surrounding Oceania for miles in every direction is completed. The discoveries of the survey immensely change the Oceanian way of life. The discovery of a variety of edible deep-sea fish species changes the entire cuisine of the city to more ocean-based and less old world (aka land-dweller) food.

A mechanical error in the robotic bees used to pollinate the plants in the greenhouse sublevel causes a produce shortage for the year, leading the entire city to go on ration and find more uses for the ocean fish they’d been eating.

An undersea earthquake causes the entire city of Oceania to quake for a full twenty seconds. It was the city’s first natural disaster. No major damage occurred outside of plates and other breakables falling inside people’s homes. The survival of the city attested to the greatness of the city’s engineers and architects, making the residents of the city feel invincible against natural disasters.

Contact between Oceania and the land-dwelling world is lost.

A leak in one of the maintenance tunnels to the ocean nearly causes a disastrous flooding of one of the maintenance sectors leading to the rest of the city but was contained at the last moment by the marine engineering team. The only damage was to the maintenance tunnel, which was promptly fixed by the team.

The first OVRR was developed to simulate entertainment experiences unique to land at the time like theme parks, surface water sports, and field sports. It was the final piece in filling the void left from the move underwater.

A fungus-born illness created a small epidemic in the city, leading to an explosion of medical research for the prevention of all sorts of diseases.

Oceania’s diet consists of food sustainably taken from the sea by nearly 80%.

In 2226, Oceania discovered the cure for the common cold, leading to sick days across the city becoming almost nil. Due to the success of the city and the low rate of illness, the population had exploded. In the same year, the Oceanian government implemented a one-child per family policy to slow the rapid growth of the city to a sustainable manner. The policy is set to expire at the start of the year 2336, a 110 years after the initial policy setting.

Oceania celebrates its one-hundredth anniversary with an undersea voyage to the Marianas Trench for the winners of a city-wide raffle.  

To promote marine exploration, a new line of deep-sea exploration vessels are released for scientific research, opening up the ocean for further exploration.

Nearly all research has been reduced to the deep sea and twilight zone. Very little research is done in the photic and intertidal zones.

The year in which the story takes place.

That’s the end of the brief history of Oceania. If you want to learn more about Oceania, you can read the book (if you haven’t already) or wait for the sequel, which will be coming out later this year.

In a couple weeks, I have a blog post coming up that I want suggestions for. If you have any suggestions of anything about the book you want to know more about, or just want to read about, send me an email at elizataye@gmail.com. I may just choose yours to feature!

You’ve reached the end of the blog post for this week. Stay tuned (or subscribe to the blog) to be notified of next week’s post. I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post and if you have any comments, you can leave them here on my blog or email me directly at elizataye@gmail.com. As always, I love hearing from my readers.

Friday, May 12, 2017

How Oceania: The Underwater City Relates to Current Events

Even though Oceania: The Underwater City is a fictitious story, several things in the novel relate to what’s going on in our world today or what may happen in the near future. In fact, some of my research came from scientific predictions on sea level rise and trends on climate change. I envisioned Oceania to be a self-sustaining city but also the above world that we live in to be one that had finally chosen an eco-friendly path. Unlike Oceania which was designed to be a green city, our world chose to be greener only after the fossil fuels ran out. Although the majority of the story takes place underwater, the changes to our world are evident throughout the entire storyline. In this blog post, I will be comparing the story to some of the events currently going on in our world and how they were addressed in the novel.

Climate change has been considered one of the biggest threats to the survival of humanity. Acceptance of climate change has become much more widespread in today’s world, evident by all the climate change marches around the world that thousands upon thousands of people have participated in. Humans have the capability to alter our planet in a way that no other species can. Just by looking at the nighttime satellite images of the man-made lights around the world can illustrate just how much we’ve changed our planet (if you’ve never seen one, click here to see an image of one or scroll to the bottom of the post). Seeing that, it’s not at all farfetched to believe that we can change our climate as well. Climate change is real and changing our planet in ways that we may never be able to reverse. In Oceania: The Underwater City, I wrote in hope for the future but also didn’t sugarcoat what some of the irreversible effects of climate change had done to our planet. The underwater city had a two-fold purpose: to safeguard the human race but also to be an experiment to see how people could live in harmony with the environment while still having the level of comfort we enjoy today. So in the story, both our world and the underwater city have found a way to live with the changes in the environment without drastically altering the changes in human behavior—only how we obtain our energy.

In the wake of the Fukushima disaster and the Deepwater Horizon explosion, clean renewable sources of energy are becoming more popular and necessary. Wind, solar, geothermal, and hydropower have been used as clean alternative energy sources compared to oil, coal, and gas for a long while but the world is far from running on them alone. To create a cleaner earth without the hassle of nuclear waste, oil spills, and harmful fumes, something had to change. In the story, our world has reached a point where oil has run out and the only option left are renewable energy sources. Our world finds a way to thrive despite switching the way we obtain our sources of energy. The result of the switch helped to clean our polluted air and help the overall health of the planet while still allowing us the technological advancements we’ve dreamed of in the future.

The last relation to current events that I’ll cover is on the search for other places for humanity to live. Whether you consider it a science fiction fantasy or not, there are people that believe that the only hope for humanity is to colonize other planets. Even Stephan Hawking, one of the brightest minds in the world today, stated that humanity needs to colonize multiple planets to survive extinction (see the link below in sources if you want to read more). Barring the whole destruction of our planet, the ocean is another place that could be colonized. However, if we exploit the ocean in the same way we have land, we’ll only continue to doom ourselves. The same would be true if we moved to a different planet and exploited its riches until we killed that one as well. I envisioned the underwater city of Oceania to be a solution to both those problems. Living in harmony with the sea while at the same time allowing humans to colonize elsewhere in a sustaining manner made Oceania a unique place for humankind to thrive.

You’ve reached the end of the blog post for this week. Next post I’ll be sharing with you a brief history of the underwater city of Oceania. Stay tuned (or subscribe to the blog) to be notified of next week’s post. I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post and if you have any comments, you can leave them here on my blog or email me directly at elizataye@gmail.com. As always, I love hearing from my readers.

Photo of the Earth at Night
Photo Credit: NASA

Sources and Further Reading

Image of Earth at Night:

Article on Stephen Hawking’s Statement about Earth’s Extinction:

Friday, April 28, 2017

Special Inventions in Oceania: The Underwater City

Last blog post, I focused on several inventions I created for this storyline. This post, I’ll be highlighting the special inventions that made the book possible. Without these inventions, the storyline could not have existed like it is. There are four inventions that fall into this category, the SCUBAPS, seamobile, Sea-Vision, and OVRR.

Those of you who are knowledgeable about science have probably heard scientists say that we’ve explored more of space than we have of our own oceans. You’ve probably also heard that space is the “final frontier.” Well, all of this is because ocean exploration is far behind that of space science. And let’s just face the truth, people (and governments) seem much more willing to give vast amounts of money to space science than ocean science. Due to Oceania being not only a refuge for humanity but a center of cutting-edge research, I had to find a way to remedy this. There had to be some kind of specialized suit that could allow humans to explore the depths while minimizing risk to the human body. Enter the SCUBAPS, which stands for Self-Contained-Underwater-Breathing-and-Anti-Pressure-Suit.

Dr. Samuel Wilcox had the idea for a human suit that could withstand the pressure at ocean depths while in his youth. It took him decades, however, to realize this dream. Several different factors went into the designing of the suit. For one, it had to hold up against the pressure of the deep sea while at the same time being maneuverable enough to allow the wearer to swim at will. Breathing compressed air at such a depth would be fatal for a variety of reasons. Instead, Dr. Wilcox invented a new type of material that could fulfill all of his requirements and maintain oxygen permeability. He named the material ThermaFit. With its DuraFit technology, it form fits anyone who wears it. According to his design, it is necessary for the material to be close-fitting to work and keep the wearer both oxygenated and safe from the pressure. In addition, its thermal layer keeps the wearer comfortable, allowing body heat to be retained or emitted to adjust to the temperature of the sea so that the user’s body temperature never fluctuates more than two degrees in either direction. The material is soft and acts almost like an extra skin layer of the body. The detachable helmet can seamlessly merge with the suit to create a watertight seal.

The SCUBAPS is highly technological. The A.I. inside the suit can command the attachable jet propulsion unit as well as hold an intelligent conversation with the user. Located inside the helmet, the A.I. speaks through internals speaker located just next to the ears. Entirely voice controlled, the A.I can be turned on or off with a simple voice command. In addition to the A.I., there is a GPS inside the helmet that can appear on an internal screen directly to the bottom right-hand side of the visor. It can be controlled by the A.I. or user. On the other side of the internal screen in which the GPS appears is a specialized panel that houses the incredible filter called Sea-Vision (more on that later). Overall, the SCUBAPS is a marvel in marine engineering that opens up the underwater world for endless exploration.  

Image of the SCUBAPS complete with the helmet
Illustration by Eliza Taye

Size: Fit to Form
Maximum Time of Use: 12 hours
Year of First Model: 2276

Out of all the special inventions in the novel, the seamobile is the most crucial one to the storyline. Without the seamobile, Dylan would have never met Allie. Without the seamobile, Allie would have never been able to visit the underwater city. So many plot points of this novel (and of the sequel) surround the seamobile.

Unlike all of the other special inventions on this list, the seamobile was engineered at the time of the underwater city’s inception. Specifically designed for Oceania, two hundred seamobiles were designed and manufactured to be loaded into the docking bay of the underwater city. Like many pieces of technology in Oceania, it was improved upon as the years went by and the brilliant marine engineers of the city became more inspired to adapt it. The seamobile started out as merely a deep-sea watercraft. It was meant to be something that could be used to go on short expeditions under the sea or to visit land for small durations if need-be. Over the years, Oceanians outfitted it with the latest technology and equipped it for marine study, adding features such as the ICD. Design modifications were made to allow for storage space and even more comfort for long trips. A translucent outer covering was designed for better viewing of the ocean environment and for stronger durability.  

Each seamobile is a two-seater deep-water vehicle. On the outside, it resembles a Jet Ski from afar, except for one difference—it has high-back support. The seats are designed to give back support up to halfway up an average-size person’s spine. Like a Jet Ski, the person’s feet lay to either side of the seamobile, resting on a short lip jutting out from the side. At the edge of the lip, beyond the outer rim are the air vents in which oxygen is blown throughout the cabin. The front—or driver’s seat—sits in front of a console that is activated by a human handprint. The digitized console touchscreen holds all the meters and instruments of the seamobile; the altimeter, gyrocompass, systems readout, sonar controls, and more are all located there. Each command for every part of the seamobile can be found on the console including those for the protective outer casing of the seamobile that rises from the outer edge of the footholds to enclose the entire watercraft. Once it has been activated and it senses water surrounding it, it cannot be deactivated under any circumstances. It is a failsafe to keep the people inside from drowning. Just in front of the driver’s seat is a small storage compartment that is kept cool and insulated at all times. Food, drinks, medicine or any other small item can be stored inside for long trips.

Passenger Limit: 2
Maximum Time of Use: 36 hours
Special Equipment: interspecies communicator device (ICD)
Pressure Limit: 1,000atm
Year of First Model: 2120

To leave room in Oceania for all the city’s necessary functions (housing, businesses, and the like), several things that Land Dwellers are accustomed were left out. Large stadiums for professional sports, expansive fields of green grass, amusement parks, and water parks take up too much space in a place where every square inch is precious. To allow people some of the same luxuries of land under the sea, the OVRR was created. OVRR stands for Oceania Virtual Reality Room. Inside OVRR, one can play sports, explore an exotic jungle, go on theme park rides, visit the beach, and more. It allows one to be placed wherever their mind takes them, including into movies and video games. Once connected to the mind via the headsets (that the brain can be signaled to ignore the existence of) the OVRR transports them to the location of their choosing. Along with a set of preprogrammed locations and experiences, OVRR also gives the user the option of creating their own world. In OVRR, anything and everything one could dream up could be theirs to experience. In addition to its customizability, the OVRR experience can be shared with more than one person through the headset linking.

The OVRR is a 10x10 foot (or 3x3 meter) room with holographic walls, ceiling, and floor made of projection grids so highly advanced that they can make whatever is projected on them seem real. OVRR works by injecting tiny probes into the brain to connect both the audio and visual cortex, as well as the olfactory, gustatory and somatosensory cortexes so that all a human’s senses can be synced with the program to allow one to feel like they’re really there. By effectively “syncing” with the brain, it makes one think and feel that one is where they wish to be, even though they may be standing still or sitting in the middle of the OVRR. Originally designed as a spare warehouse/storage area of the Entertainment District, the OVRR was created by a group of computer programming geniuses aided by neurologists around half a century after the founding of Oceania. By then, many people were starting to miss some of the entertainment opportunities land had to offer that were unavailable to them in Oceania. To placate people, the OVRR was created.
Image of OVRR (when first walking inside)
Illustration by Eliza Taye

Image of OVRR (in a create a world transition)
Illustration by Eliza Taye

User Limit: Unlimited (as long as they can all fit inside the room)
Maximum Time of Use: Unless otherwise specified, each OVRR has a limit of 4 hours
Year of First Model: 2183

The Sea-Vision is a hybrid of programmable and physical parts. Sea-Vision works by converting the visor of the SCUBAPS helmet into a highly complex eye similar to something a giant squid might have, but it also combines some elements of the technology behind night vision. Through the darkness, it is able to pick up the movements of the surrounding water and turn it into an image. Using any minuscule amount of light in the water, it creates a full-color image. It’s almost like a digital echolocator, but instead of using sound, it focuses on movement and the displacement of water molecules. It can then transfer that image into one visible to the human eye. The only side effect is a slight green tinge to the image. Still, deep sea organisms that would be otherwise invisible in the dark come to light. It allows humans to study and observe the behavior of deep-sea species without the interference of harsh floodlights that illuminate a single swatch of area, in which they have no idea if animals are hiding from the light or not. With Sea-Vision, the creatures of the deep can remain as they are, unconcerned about new oddities in their environment.

Sea-Vision was developed to allow for non-participant scientific observation. In other words, the presence of the humans wouldn’t alter the behavior of the organisms they were studying. Before the invention of the SCUBAPS machine, Sea-Vision was used solely in small portions of deep sea submersibles. Made of a material a mere fraction of an inch, the Sea-Vision was easily integrated with other systems. A digital program version of Sea-Vision in which it can be used as a digital projection in any reflective surface was still in beta testing at the time of Allie’s visit to Oceania.

You’ve reached the end of the blog post for this week. Next month will have a whole different focus for the blog posts. Stay tuned (or subscribe to the blog) to be notified of next week’s post. I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post and if you have any comments, you can leave them here on my blog or email me directly at elizataye@gmail.com. As always, I love hearing from my readers.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Inventions in Oceania: The Underwater City

For Oceania to be a fully functioning city, I had to come up with several futuristic inventions. The inventions in the novel may be possible in the future or entirely improbable. Some of them aren’t very different from what other sci-fi authors have dreamed up such as holograms and other holographic things. Yet others I specifically dreamed up for Oceania. In this blog post, I will be highlighting some of the general inventions I came up with for the story along with a quote from where it appears in the book.

As far as the city itself is concerned, two inventions I came up with were crucial for its existence. The two inventions are the SPLRS and the protective dome of the city.

“Those are called SPLRS, which stands for Solar Panel Light Reflecting Sheets.”
-Dylan, Oceania: The Underwater City


The SPLRS were designed to allow Oceania to be a self-sustaining city, meaning that it would be able to grow its own food. Since sunlight is one of the key ingredients for plant growth, some type of invention would have to allow sunlight to reach the depths of the sea. Housed in a protective pipe from sea level to Oceania, they plunge into the depths for over 3,000 meters  (10,000 feet). The SPLRS—or Solar Panel Light Reflecting Sheets—were built with rising sea levels and turbulent ocean waves in mind. They tower several feet beyond sea level with an outer covering that shields their existence from both aerial and ocean view. An outer barrier also protects it from being driven into by any watercraft. SPLRS bounce light off their panels without reducing any power of the sunlight. Centered directly in the middle of the city, the light it reflects is bounced down from the surface of the ocean to the second sublevel of the city known as the greenhouse sublevel. From there, the sunlight is then distributed throughout the entire level to facilitate the photosynthesis of the plants growing in the sublevel. Unlike the arboretum where all the trees are in the city, the greenhouse level holds the fruits, vegetables, and grains produced in the city as well as some livestock. All of this needed the SPLRS in order to exist.

“The light emanated from a gigantic dome that sat upon what looked like a rocky seafloor.”
-Allie, Oceania: The Underwater City

Oceania’s Protective Dome

The outer dome protecting the underwater city had to be an invention of its own. (If you’ve read my blog post on the research I conducted for Oceania, you’ll know why. If not, you can read the first part here.) Made of a man-made material, it is durable enough to withstand centuries worth of the immense pressure of the deep sea. Although translucent, it is made up of three hulls. The outermost one is thick and durable to keep up against the pressure outside. The middle layer holds extra protection and the projection screens that can mimic the sky on land. The innermost one sustains the artificial atmosphere of the city, which is maintained by internal systems. The dome has a cloaking layer to keep the lights of the city from disturbing ocean life and can be dimmed or eliminated altogether by automatic or manual override. It is programmed to allow light to emit whenever one of Oceania’s seacraft is approaching or leaving the docking bay. After a time, the lights dim to the blackness of the surrounding sea to maintain a suitable environment for the abyss.

For communication devices, I figured that in the future they would be similar to the ones we have today except with more capabilities and more effective security measures. The Network, HoloNet, Omniphones, and C-coms are similar to things we have today with a few upgrades.

“We just call it the Network now. It’s much more than the World Wide Web ever was.”
-Allie, Oceania: The Underwater City


The “Network” is like the Internet but with an even higher capacity than the one in our world today. The Network is strictly divided between the education, informational, and every other section. It is easier to find reliable sources of information without limiting people’s sharing of their opinions, beliefs, and random musings. Still free, the Network connects everyone across the globe with higher security and network adaptability, meaning that it's able to sync with a variety of devices. Also, it’s purged of SPAM to create a safe online environment for everyone.

 “I don’t know you and thus don’t want you looking me up on the HoloNet.”
-Allie, Oceania: The Underwater City


The HoloNet is the holographic extension of the Network that allows people to interact face-to-face with each other in cyberspace Unlike the Network, the HoloNet is purely social. In the digitalized world of the future, everyone has a secure private profile on the Network that allows them to connect with each other in a virtual world type setting. The HoloNet is a database and virtual social gathering center in one. The most basic form of the HoloNet is a profile sharing network of information about people like old style phone or address books and such would hold. To connect with other individuals one-on-one in a virtual setting, users have to give the person they wish to speak with a passcode. Like the Network, it’s also highly secured.

“Don’t you have the technology on land for marine interspecies communication?”
-Dylan, Oceania: The Underwater City

Interspecies Communication Device (ICD)

The Interspecies Communication Device (ICD) is a device that can be used in seamobiles or any other seacraft in Oceania. Like any translator app, it has a list of languages that can be interpreted. The ICD is integrated within the seamobiles allowing the riders to communicate with a variety of species just through typing a sentence which then gets translated into the animal’s language. The device can then emit sounds that mimic the same pitch and frequency used in the specific animal’s communication system. The ICD specializes in mammalian communication allowing the user to translate between cetacean, pinniped, and other marine mammal languages. The ICD that Dylan uses in the seamobile is an invention I came up with that has a very loose basis to something in real life. A marine scientist named Dr. Denise Herzing is currently working on dolphin-human interspecies communication in the Caribbean. Perhaps one day her research could be the basis of something similar to Oceania’s ICD.

“Standing up, I took out my omniphone and swept my fingertips across it to unlock the screen using my fingerprints.”
-Allie, Oceania: The Underwater City


Omniphones are a merger between a laptop, tablet, and smartphone. Their name actually means “all phone,” which is fitting because it can essentially do everything. It is comprised of half-physical and half-holographic parts and can fold out to create a larger screen and keyboard using holographic parts where the physical ones are absent. It can be a laptop or tablet in seconds and revert back to the size of a smartphone in the same amount of time. Omniphones can be used to connect to the Network and HoloNet as well as make non-visual phone calls and texts. Fully customizable, it comes in a variety of shades and two different sizes: one for adults and one for children. Due to insane inflation rates from today’s money to 2276, Allie’s omniphone cost $20,000, which would be comparable to someone spending $1,500 in today’s money. The size of an adult-size omniphone is 13.97 centimeters (5 ½ inches) long, 7.62 centimeters (3inches) wide, and 2.54 centimeters (1 inch) thick.

“…Dylan pressed a button on his shirt and a pocket appeared. Pulling out his communicator, he handed it over to me. ‘And we call ours c-coms.’”
-Allie and Dylan, Oceania: The Underwater City


C-coms are Oceania’s counterpart of an omniphone. C-coms are housed inside of a black orb with only one button on it. Everything from the c-com is projected in a holographic display from holocalls to information. They are lightweight, durable, waterproof, and hold petabytes worth of information. They come in a variety of colors, but the most popular color is black. They can seamlessly interface with anything digital in Oceania. Due to the fact that c-coms are perfect spheres, they have a universal diameter of 11.43 centimeters (4 ½) inches.

Images of a C-com device
(not to scale)
Illustration by Eliza Taye

C-com with general holographic projection grid
Illustration by Eliza Taye

Although Oceania was a city designed to focus more on the pursuit of knowledge for the betterment of humanity, it had to have some type of professional sport. To create a one of a kind sport, I invented the aquadome.

“…the lights above the stands dimmed to black and the lights refocused on the interior of the aquadome.”
-Allie, Oceania: The Underwater City


In Oceania, most of the sports we enjoy today have receded into the virtual world. They are played through holographic projections or in the OVRR. The only physical sport they play is Aquaball. The aquadome was specially made for this sport and houses the four teams in the city. Formed by a dome, it is essentially the opposite of the protective dome that surrounds the city. The center of the arena is a dome filled with water in which the players compete. Outside the arena are the stands like any other stadium on land. To combat the annoying seats no one ever wants to sit in inside a stadium, each seat is equipped with a personal screen where the viewer can see the action up close if they don’t have a seat close enough to see the action. Otherwise, the aquadome is very much like a mixture of a hockey, soccer, and baseball stadium combined.

You’ve reached the end of the blog post for this week. Stay tuned (or subscribe to the blog) to be notified of next week’s post in which I will be highlighting special inventions that were crucial to the storyline in Oceania: The Underwater City. I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post and if you have any comments, you can leave them here on my blog or email me directly at elizataye@gmail.com. As always, I love hearing from my readers.