10 Myths about Space Travel that make SF better

Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by Hobbit, Aug 22, 2012.

  1. Hobbit

    Hobbit Now.. A Seriously Likeable Administrator Staff Member

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    I await psik's response with interest... the title isn't mine, btw, but io9's:

    http://io9.com/5936924/10-myths-about-space-travel-that-make-science-fiction-better

    In short, the 10 are:

    1. Faster Than Light Travel
    2. You can have artificial gravity without spinning the ship.
    3. You can stop and start without worrying about inertia.
    4. Ships traveling at faster than light can communicate with other ships or planets.
    5. Objects in space are bunched together.
    6. You can communicate with aliens.
    7. Ray guns can actually disintegrate someone.
    8. Cheap energy is readily available.
    9. You can travel at the speed of light and no time passes elsewhere.
    10. You can travel in space without dying of radiation sickness.

    What do we think? And are there any others that should be included?

    Mark
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2012
  2. JimF

    JimF Registered User

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    I like the sounds of explosions in space and the way X-wing fighters swoop like they are in an atmosphere rather than pivoting.
     
  3. Hobbit

    Hobbit Now.. A Seriously Likeable Administrator Staff Member

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    Yes: sound in vacuum/space!

    Comparing spaceships in most recent films with 2001: A Space Odyssey, I was reminded of this.

    Mark
     
  4. gainespost

    gainespost Registered User

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    You can fit a big fat hunk of hollow metal through a wormhole and a) come out the other side in one piece, and b) accurately predict where that will be.

    And related: You can actually stabilise a wormhole long enough to do this.

    I think it has something to do with eating enough anti-parasite cat food before you launch. Or something.
     
  5. Overgeeked

    Overgeeked Fishbowl Helmet

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    Physics should never, ever get in the way of a fun story.
     
  6. Steven L Jordan

    Steven L Jordan I like SF. SF is cool.

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    Time travel. 'Nuff said.
     
  7. psikeyhackr

    psikeyhackr Live Long & Suffer

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    That is so Star Trek. Off the top of my head I don't recall any SF literature that did this.

    But TV SF is significantly different from SF literature.

    I have tried reading Star Trek novels. As an experiment I went to a bunch of Trek sites and started listing their book recommendations. Then I tried reading about 8 of those that got mentioned multiple times. I managed to finish 4 though I would only recommend 2. Spock's World was interesting though not exactly exciting. Shadow is a Voyager story involving section 31 was more fun. Star Trek is good enough to watch but not read.

    psik
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2012
  8. Steven L Jordan

    Steven L Jordan I like SF. SF is cool.

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    Space fighters roughly the size of air fighters, using similar battle tactics in space. Totally ineffective and unrealistic.
     
  9. kshRox

    kshRox Registered User

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    Not just the sounds, but the fires and flames in a vaccuum . . .
     
  10. Modern Day Myth

    Modern Day Myth Registered User

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    Zero gravity for prolonged periods has no ill effects

    It does, in reality. Your bones will fall apart.
     
  11. Riothamus

    Riothamus Registered User

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    I have a problem with number six. If humans can learn to communicate with people from different and cultural and language groups without any real aid, why couldn't something similar happen? Assuming they have human like thought there would be some similarities. How many might depend on the type of animal they evolved from, but still... It would not be the most likely thing, but if human encountered another primate species it would certainly be easier. However that is also uncertain.
     
  12. Pennarin

    Pennarin Registered User

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    Well, the greatest bull' in all of SF - and this is debateful - is life in the universe having anything in common with Earth's. DNA, perhaps, but there are other coding molecules, and non-coding schemes. Chromosomes, no. Cells, possible. Organs, not obligatory...bodies might be made out of undifferentiated tissue with locally-changing properties. Five senses, unlikely...more like a bunch of new senses. Communication, not even necessary. This line of thought can go on and on, widening the gulf.
    I believe we'd all feel better on a rational level if alien life were depicted more realistically than most of what we've experienced in SF stories in print and moving picture media up to date, but on the other end it would make for less comprehensible life, more difficult to relate to, more difficult to imagine. In short more work for an author, artist, screenwriter, and consumer.

    Good examples of weird life is Greg Bear's Legacy for its Lamarkian life and Moving Mars for its mother cysts, Brian Stableford's Dark Ararat, and David Brin's New Uplift Trilogy for its hydrogen-based lifeforms.
     
  13. Riothamus

    Riothamus Registered User

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    Ah, but if you believe in natural scientific laws there would have to be some level of similarity.It might be bizarre, but it would not be beyond understanding and analysis by humans.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2012
  14. ian_sales

    ian_sales Registered User

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    - You can get off the surface of a planet and into orbit easily, cheaply and quickly.
    - there is no radiation in space except light (which does not kill)
    - mass has no effect in space, especially planetary masses
    - the best route between two points is a straight line
    - consumables never run out or can be created from nothing
    - oxygen can be recycled an infinite number of times
    - human beings can plot and pilot complicated flight paths through space - and even through asteroid belts
    - spaceships must close to within visual distance of each other before they can fight
    - spaceships can detect each other though they may be millions or billions of kilometres apart
    - light-speed time-lag does not apply to spaceship sensors, even ones using EM radiation like radar
    - spacesuits can hold an infinite amount of air
    - no one in space ever goes to the toilet
     
  15. Steven L Jordan

    Steven L Jordan I like SF. SF is cool.

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    Humans not only have a shared culture based on the world they live on, they have physiological similarities that allow them to make the same sounds with their mouths, hear the same sounds with their ears, see the same thing with their eyes, etc.

    An alien from a completely different planetary environment may not make sounds, because they may not have vocal cords. Maybe they flash colored and pulsed light to communicate. Maybe their ears are only designed to interpret the rhythm of a sound wave, as opposed to the frequency. And maybe they have an organ that sends out and receives olfactory data. Or maybe they communicate by touching. Tentacles. To their partner's sex organs.

    There are too many possibilities for communications to assume aliens will communicate as we do, or that their language will share the cultural similarities that form the basis of our understanding other languages. Assuming an alien species will be anything remotely like us is highly unlikely to impossible.

    And I'll remind that we cannot communicate directly with any animal on this planet (save primates to whom we have taught sign language). If we can't manage that with creatures that share a common planetary culture and comparable sensory organs, how can we hope to do it with aliens?
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2012
  16. Modern Day Myth

    Modern Day Myth Registered User

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    No one else has a problem with humans in freezing tubes for long space travel.

    NASA sends robots for numerous reasons.
     
  17. Steven L Jordan

    Steven L Jordan I like SF. SF is cool.

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    Agreed: Suspended animation without the culture shock or delayed effectiveness of awakening perhaps decades or centuries later.
     
  18. Riothamus

    Riothamus Registered User

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    Similar patterns of thought in animals arise from similar circumstances. Unless the alien race in question photosynthesizes I see no reason why it should not have a mouth and some form of auditory communication.I can imagine that they might rely on some form of hormone excretion to supplement communication perhaps accompanied by complex body language or verbal communication might involve a series of sounds that the human mouth cannot imitate (at least not very well).That would cause great problems, but if their minds are human enough, then a line of communication can be established. It might not be perfect, but to assume the absolute impossibility of communication with another species is just as ludicrous as believing one could just walk up to one such species and just start chatting with it.
     
  19. ian_sales

    ian_sales Registered User

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    We can't even adequately share or communicate concepts between different language speakers on this planet, so perhaps it's not so ludicrous after all.
     
  20. psikeyhackr

    psikeyhackr Live Long & Suffer

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    Actually Star Trek had an episode that explained why humanoid life forms were so common.

    It had an old archaeology instructor of Picard's ask him to join an expedition. But he was killed by Klingons.

    Rather like these two stories from H. Beam Piper.

    Omnilingual (1957) by H. Beam Piper
    http://www.tor.com/blogs/2012/03/scientific-language-h-beam-pipers-qomnilingualq
    http://www.feedbooks.com/book/308/omnilingual
    http://librivox.org/omnilingual-by-h-beam-piper/

    Genesis (1951) by H. Beam Piper
    http://manybooks.net/titles/piperh1810518105.html

    psik