Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Worldbuilding: Corsets

Yes, this is a science fiction world-building post. Some of my beta readers have asked what's with the corsets? Why are the women wearing corsets?

They usually mention steampunk in the same breath and yes, there is some of that in there -- I remember the birth of the genre and how, sadly, it seemed to be dead on arrival. I started working on this universe long before steampunk's resurrection, you see...

But I put my women in corsets for a practical reason. Not simply aesthetics.

It grew out of the homework I did on the effects of sustained acceleration on the human body. I needed an idea of what kinds of gees (multiples of Earth-normal "gravity") my space travelers could reasonably be enduring on a regular basis. The problem with space is, of course, that it's so big and you need big speeds to get anyplace in a reasonable amount of time and getting to big speeds is a big problem because humans are soft and squishy (relatively speaking.)

You can only accelerate so fast before you start hurting people. Most people black out at five gees. Trained fighter pilots in special suits can manage to function at nine gees. The experts seem to agree that a sustained 50 gees will be fatal.

Part of the problem is that humans are not uniformly squishy. We have bones and muscles and organs, and they all behave differently under heavy accelerations. I read a bit about various organs getting pushed around and how the ribcage is a problem because of the hollow lungs inside.

Being female, I couldn't help wondering what happens to those two lumps of fat stuck on the outside of my chest. You know, the pair the guys are so fond of (not the one on my stomach.) Being 40 now, I know what the long term effects of just one gee are on those lumps. What would ten years of pulling five or ten gees on a regular basis do?

If only the girls could get some industrial strength support...

You're going to want more
 coverage than this, even, 
for maximum support

Get yourself some smart fabric that can detect angles of pressure and adjust its elasticity and lines of resistance accordingly, then build a couple full-coverage cups so that you're covered in all directions. If you're small-chested, you could probably get away with just a bra. If you're big-chested, you'll probably want to distribute the weight of those boobs over a larger area -- thus, you extend the corset down to your waist so that the fabric can do that. 

Maybe you need a little processing power built in to handle the calculations and to design the best support structure on the fly. Heck, bluetooth it so it can talk to the ship's navigation computer.

Then add some lace, satin, rivets, buckles and straps, whatever floats your boat. I'm putting a zipper in the front for easy on and off.

That would be the heavy-gee corset that I mention in my stories. I figured that once corsets were back in real use, they'd become more popular as lingerie items that didn't have much to do with support. They come and go from popularity now, for that matter, so it didn't seem like much of a stretch.

If it sounds like a lot for just a pair of boobs... dumber things have been done to look good.


Charity Bradford said...

I think that is fascinating.

Made me think of this documentary I watched once. Vanna Bonta (1/2 of a real astronaut couple and author of a quantum fiction novel Flight) was doing research on "hook-up" suits for space. The idea being that something would have to be figured out to make sex in space a possibility at some point in our future. Especially with extended missions.

(The Universe Season 3 Episode 4--you can watch it Here)

It was really cool. Just thought you might want to check it out.

Bluestocking said...

Ah ha! Thanks for this -- now work some of these great details into your story so silly betas like me don't write it off as steampunk. Worldbuilding, off with you now!

Charity -- sex, well, pornography has been a huge driver of tech innovation. Why am I not surprised to see it at work on the final frontier? :)

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