Within the setting of my personal project (a hard science fiction) I need to be able to describe movement in zero-G extensively.

Because I wish to write a whole narrative involving very little gravity, I realise I also need ways of making it feel less repetitive.

What are some useful language techniques and specific vocabulary for accomplishing this?

Alternatively, would you like to share any examples of good writing that I could read for inspiration?

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    It's not "zero gravity". If you want to make it accurate, you should use "freefall environment" or something similar.
    – user
    Oct 22, 2018 at 13:47
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    Authors I can think of that have made extensive use of freefall in their writing are James S.A. Corey (The Expanse series), Daniel Keys Moran (The Continuing Time series), and Orson Scott Card (Ender's Game).
    – J.D. Ray
    Oct 22, 2018 at 17:25
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    I'd also recommend The Integral Trees by Larry Niven, which describes people living in a freefall environment within a giant torus of gas. Oct 23, 2018 at 19:19

2 Answers 2


Describing something is significantly easier if you can look at it - you find words for what you're seeing, you form associations. Quite a few astronauts publish short videos from the ISS. Here's one example, with astronaut Chris Hadfield. These videos let you see what it's like to be in a microgravity environment.
Astronauts also talk about what it's like, what one has to adjust to. Observing a phenomenon and hearing first-hand accounts should make it easier for you to write about it.

One thing I'd note: maybe you don't want to describe "floating" all the time - for someone who's been long in space, it becomes natural. Instead, you can mention strapping objects down - an indirect way of reminding the reader that they might float away.


I second the idea to use videos astronauts have made. Some are made for school children to teach about the concepts (worthwhile for adults too) and others are on different topics/for different audiences but show them being in that environment. I would urge you to be cautious of using movies and such. They have no choice but to film on earth and a few things get changed or glossed over.

As for ways to describe it, I would focus on writing just like you would similar actions on earth, only it's different. By that I mean, don't write "It was so amazing to glide down the hall to the kitchen. I felt like my body was free." Instead write about making an omelet for lunch. Not as a teaching tool, but in normal prose like it's everyday.

The little details make the story. Did an eggshell get away from you? How do you safely beat the egg? Is there a little gravity so you can pour the egg into a pan and add stuff (you say "very little gravity" above, which is totally different from no gravity)? If not, how do you cook it? Are your veggies prewashed and cut in plastic bags? frozen? from an onsite garden? Is the cheese shredded or is that too messy? Can you use slices? Or is all the food pre-made and you just nuke it?

Distill that down to 2-3 sentences and you'll give people a very clear idea of how that environment differs from earth without once pointing out that is.

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    "Cooking in freefall is a complete pain. Sure, there's all the prepackaged food, concocted in a gravity well, that someone can heat and eat. But most of it tastes like the bioplastic it ships in, the chemicals that preserve it, and someone else's idea of something edible. For someone like Dave, none of these aspects were acceptable, and he found ways to cook. Fresh herbs, grown with a light in his locker, were spindly and pale, but they were fresh. Knives were forbidden, so he cut them into bits with the surgical scissors he stole from one of the first aid kits."
    – J.D. Ray
    Oct 22, 2018 at 17:35
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    "As he squeezed the pre-beaten, slightly irradiated eggs from their container into the baggie that held the herbs, he amused himself by designing a project that would involve having chickens on board. What would the bosses think of that?"
    – J.D. Ray
    Oct 22, 2018 at 17:37

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