Zero Gravity in VORTEX vs in real life

Before I sold INSIGNIA, I desperately wanted two things. First? A functioning laptop. My reliable workhorse of a Dell (back when they sadly were better computers) had begun shutting itself off after thirty minutes or so of use. That sucked. The other thing I wanted was Chanel Chance perfume.I made a promise to myself: if I sold a book, I would buy both these things. A rather audacious promise to make, given that I had tried and failed to sell six books already. As luck would have it, though, I did sell INSIGNIA, and that very night I drove out in the Ohio snow to buy myself a laptop. Then, the day after the Chicago snowpocalypse of 2011, I stopped at Woodfield Mall on the way to my new apartment, and bought that perfume.


It took me sometime to sell another book after I finished the INSIGNIA series. I saved money, I lived carefully, and I promised myself one thing I’d buy if I sold another series: I was going to go on a zero gravity flight. Then I sold THE DIABOLIC. And then I booked a zero-g flight.

So… Here are my thoughts post-zero gravity flight!


The plane performs a series of parabolas– it will fly straight up, and during that time, everyone has to lie flat on the ground, because the gravity increases to 1.8x normal. Turning one’s head back and forth was the surest means of becoming motion sick. It was interesting lifting my fingers and feeling the extra weight on them, and the way the pressure on the joint moved straight up my arm.

Once we were at an appropriate height, first the plane pitched downward to approximate gravity on Mars. This was the most jarring transition of all, because suddenly taking a step sent me reeling up to the ceiling, like a hand was pushing me upward.


The next two parabolas mimicked lunar gravity. And then came the twelve in a row that were total zero gravity.


First of all it is HARD to navigate in zero g! And if there are people all around you, there are also feet and legs flying constantly at your face that you need to try to avoid ramming into. So that scene in VORTEX where Tom, Vik, Wyatt and Yuri play human bumper cars and then human keep away? Probably a lot more painful on impact than I believed when I wrote it.

Also from VORTEX, from Tom’s POV: “Every molecule of his being seemed to be weightless…” This is the one thing I did write correctly. I remained lying down a few times when the gravity went away, just trying to fathom the sensation, and it really is like every cell in your body is floating upward, upward.


But this part? Tom feels “his stomach flipping”… Alas, though I hoped for the sensation like plunging downward on a roller coaster, it really wasn’t there. In fact, people who think they’ll get motion sick? It won’t happen unless you’re jerking your head around in the heavier gravity parts. Really, it’s quite mild on the body.

I was glad to do this, because however much research I did for VORTEX’s zero-gravity scenes, I still got things wrong. And given that THE DIABOLIC also features zero-g, I was able to correct those scenes in the book in time. So– when you read THE DIABOLIC? That part is now written from a place of actual knowledge!



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