Good Sci-Fi books with NEWTONIAN SPACE TRAVEL recommendations

Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by Mike0101010101, Oct 13, 2012.

  1. Mike0101010101

    Mike0101010101 New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2012
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Hi,

    I am looking for a couple of good Sci-Fi books/book series where the space travel is done as much as realistically possible.
    By realistically I mean using Newtonian physics for space travel, spaceship fighting, orbital approaches and so on.
    No FTL travel, no quantum stuff, no wormholes, no warp drives.

    Your recommendations will be really appreciated.

    Also, if there are any Sci-Fi new generation authors that got a raw, rough, violent, crude storytelling style like GRRM (ASOIAF), Steven Erikson (Malazan) and so, I would also like to have some recommendations on them.

    If there are sci-fi new generation books that got both the Newtonian Physics and GRRM like storytelling, that would be paradise, lol.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Eokaeloki

    Eokaeloki New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2012
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    interesting.. i would really like to read something that has rather realistic space travel.. anyone has come across such books? please share!! :D
     
  3. Chuffalump

    Chuffalump A chuffing heffalump

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2007
    Messages:
    981
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Paul McAuley's Quiet War series.
     
  4. psikeyhackr

    psikeyhackr Live Long & Suffer

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2008
    Messages:
    2,926
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    71
    Outcasts of Heaven Belt by Joan D. Vinge

    http://www.rattlesnake.com/notions/outcasts.html

    Antares Trilogy by Michael McCollum

    http://www.cybermage.se/antares-dawn-antares-1-by-michael-mccollum-book-review/
    http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1397299.Antares_Passage
    http://www.scifi-az.com/antares_victory_reviews.htm

    It has wormholes called folded space nodes but these stories have pretty good Newtonian physics for the ships when they aren't doing the interstellar jumps. McCollum is an aerospace engineer.

    psik
     
  5. Mike0101010101

    Mike0101010101 New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2012
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Thanks Chuff and Psik, I gonna check them out. Folded space nodes are something that is even possible as far as Relativity goes, so no problem on that. But, the thing that I would really love is something like REALLY realistic, kinda like what Joseph Shoer gets in his articles about the real physics of space battles. I know that would be somehow boring for people that love star wars "dog fights", but the concept of huge spaceships, with not but armor and cannons, "jousting" in space, is something that really entices me.

    How about sci-fi crude and rude like GRRM? Are there any good books like that? Blood, fire, rape, huge battles, grayish characters (not good or evil), betrayal, more betrayal, peevish women rulers that decide to eliminate whole civilizations, with excruciating pain and suffering, just because they got upset as their incestuous brothers don't want to sleep with them anymore, evil wizards/scientists that like to burn and torture people just for the fun of it, and create walking dead zombie monsters that will come back from the dead to kill people they think are guilt, or just kill innocent people for the sake of it. Oh, and don't forget, when you start to like a character they get killed with a terrible and very painful kind of death. You know, the usual goodies.
     
  6. Mike0101010101

    Mike0101010101 New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2012
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    hmm, let me correct myself: if a folded space is a relativity possibility, that kinda of folded space node McCollum describes is somehow very impossible without some really huge quantum allowance. Just got some excerpts of his books. But, anyhow, I really like his descriptions of the spaceships and the way they move when under real universe physics (when not quantum jumping around... exactly as you said). Thanks again, Psik.
     
  7. ian_sales

    ian_sales Registered User

    Joined:
    May 24, 2012
    Messages:
    321
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    If it was 100% realistic, there wouldn't be much fighting. Because you've still go to get your spacecraft off the ground and into orbit and that's really expensive. So you're hardly going to put them in jeopardy by acting as if they're warships.

    Having said that, there are sf novels that do treat space travel realistically, such as Al Reynold's Blue Remembered Earth, Kim Stanley Robinson's 2312 (and his earlier Mars trilogy, of course), the stories in Rocket Science, Steve Baxter's Titan and Voyage, Geoffrey Landis' Mars Crossing, Robert Zubrin's First Landing...
     
  8. Rosie Oliver

    Rosie Oliver Registered User

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2012
    Messages:
    98
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    hm... there's the up and coming Skylon project that will make gaining Low Earth orbit easier and less expensive from about 2020 onwards. Therefore the population in space is likely to grow - slow at first, but after that...

    As for the fighting aspect - it depends what you are fighting over... after all the Chinese did destroy a satellite from the ground not so long ago...

    As for realistic space travel... yes the novels you mention are all good extrapolations of today's space travel, but I have a nasty suspicion that something new will come along... no, make that I'm sure something new will come along. Ah well, back to that new spaceship story for me... what have I invented... naturally, if I get the story published, I'll let you good people know on the self-promo skein.
     
  9. ian_sales

    ian_sales Registered User

    Joined:
    May 24, 2012
    Messages:
    321
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    We may discover more effective means of getting about the Solar System but I don't think we'll ever break the light barrier. And until we build an orbital elevator, our access to orbit will be dictated by the rocket equation. What we know of the universe so far doesn't hint at any neat fixes or back-door solutions. We may not know everything, but our theories pretty much explain everything and have have been repeatedly tested. There's no secret area of physics we have yet to discover, nor any way to bend and twist what we do know so that it does the exact opposite, like anti-gravity...
     
  10. Rosie Oliver

    Rosie Oliver Registered User

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2012
    Messages:
    98
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    If you imagine a cat with all 4 paws splayed out on the floor and wondering how it got there, then you can imagine what I'm feeling like at the moment....

    Skylon is only part rocket - it's also part air breathing engine, which takes it a fair way up before it changes to using rocket technology. This is tech that's definitely going to happen now they've proved the engine cooling works.

    Space elevators - yes they are another way into space and there are plans actively being pursued by the Japanese to build one within 50 years. This is almost certainly going to happen.

    Then there's the kind of balloon concept that has been suggested through the British Interplanetary Society as being more cost effective than the conventional space elevators.

    I'm always a little wary of saying something is impossible... the theories explain a lot, but not everything. There are gaps at the edges of what we know. Filling those gaps may lead to FTL travel (e.g. looking beyond General Relativity etc). I also wish to keep an open mind on FTL travel until the laws of thermodynamics can be reconciled with the rest of physics. Also remember at the start of the 1900s, the physicists of the day thought the Michelson-Morley experiment (precursor to relativity) would one day be explained, but the were less sure of turbulence. That turned out to be true with an awful lot more work still required on turbulence. I'm not saying we definitely will be able to travel FTL, but nobody has convinced me it's a closed door. If anything, over time, I feel that door is gradually been opening.

    Phew! I think I had better stop there...
     
  11. ian_sales

    ian_sales Registered User

    Joined:
    May 24, 2012
    Messages:
    321
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Skylon's air-breathing engine may make it slightly cheaper to operate, but it's still governed by the rocket equation. And there's not much we can do to chemical rockets to improve their power. The most efficient fuels are also the most dangerous to handle, and there's a fixed limit to the amount of energy you can get out of any two chemicals reacting.

    There are not many gaps in what we know. We know the bulk of the universe is made up of dark energy and dark matter and we don't know what that actually is, but the maths works and seems to explain reality. Who says the laws of thermodynamics can't be reconciled with the rest of physics? Like Newtonian physics, they depend on your frame of reference, and cosmological entropy has been mathematically proven to work with relativity.

    FTL is science fiction and I suspect it will always be science fiction. We are an accident of chemistry, so the universe is under no obligation to make things easy for us. If, as seems likely, there is life elsewhere in the universe, why can we find no evidence of it? Are we the only intelligent life to have ever arise in fifteen billion years? If FTL were possible, wouldn't you expect to find life flitting about the place? The light speed barrier, of course, does not necessarily mean there is no life elsewhere, nor should it prevent some evidence being visible. But a universe in which unimaginable distances create insurmountable barriers makes our situation regarding the Fermi Paradox more understandable.
     
  12. Rosie Oliver

    Rosie Oliver Registered User

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2012
    Messages:
    98
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I agree Skylon is limited by the rocket equation - over that part of the trajectory that relies on the rockets. The point about the air-breathing engine is that it doesn't have to carry the oxygen fuel on that part of the journey, which in turn allows Skylon to have a greater payload. it's not going to a bit cheaper - it's going to be a significant amount cheaper.

    The trouble with science is we don't know what we don't know. We know there are parts of science we don't know, but who's to say that once we've sorted them out, that there won't be other things to discover? After all we thought we had is sussed with Newton's work... then we thought we had it sussed with Einstein's work...

    Dionysius Lardner said Brunel couldn't build steamships that worked... others said the sound barrier couldn't be broken... now the great barrier of our time is the speed of light... we need to either break it or prove it can't be done... otherwise we'll always be trying to break the barrier.

    As for using the argument that aliens haven't contacted us because of the lack of FTL travel... sorry don't buy it. Why? because there may be a myriad of other reasons why they haven't. And yes some science fiction stories have touched on possible whys... including Alastair Reynolds with those annihilating black cubes or (and I can't remember where I read this) we have to reach a certain maturity before we are contacted.
     
  13. Chuffalump

    Chuffalump A chuffing heffalump

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2007
    Messages:
    981
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Stephen Donaldson's Gap series. Not Empire scale but definitely very grey characters.
     
  14. ian_sales

    ian_sales Registered User

    Joined:
    May 24, 2012
    Messages:
    321
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Those were limits imposed by our abilities, not by the nature of reality. We knew things could travel faster than the speed of sound - bullets did it all the time. But we didn't have the powerplants or the materials science to build a plane that could do it - until the 1930s. The light barrier is a part of the fabric of reality. To go past it we would have to rewrite reality, or at the very least bend it profoundly. Either method is going to take hideously huge amounts of energy. And Alcubierre's Warp Drive, for example, has been calculated to take more energy than exists in the universe.

    Also, our understanding of the universe now is a great deal more sophisticated than it was back when Brunel was alive. Pundits of the past once loudly proclaimed that humans would never be able to fly. But birds did, and still do. So clearly flying is possible. But nothing goes faster than the speed of light - and that's not just observation, that's from the maths which we use to describe reality.
     
  15. psikeyhackr

    psikeyhackr Live Long & Suffer

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2008
    Messages:
    2,926
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    71
    Reality does not do math or give a damn about reality. I consider that the peculiar thing about European thinking. This goes back to the Greeks. Math is sacred and more important than reality.

    It was not discovered until 10 years ago that the rate at which the universe is expanding is increasing. If there is anything travelling faster than light could we detect it. I am not saying it is possible I am simply willing to admit we don't know at this time and there is still unknown physics out there.

    psik
     
  16. ian_sales

    ian_sales Registered User

    Joined:
    May 24, 2012
    Messages:
    321
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Which means what exactly? Maths is the only language which describes reality and allows us to make predictions.
     
  17. psikeyhackr

    psikeyhackr Live Long & Suffer

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2008
    Messages:
    2,926
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    71
    Math is a language that sentient beings use to communicate with sentient beings. And delude themselves into believing they know what they are talking about. As soon as someone proves something about reality that the math did not predict the the theory gets chaned and the math gets updated.

    It was in 1959 that the precession of Mercury was discovered and reality did not match the math of Newtonian physics. It wasn't until Einstein came along in 1905 that an explanation was provided.

    We don't know what is left to be discovered. That is why Einstein said imagination was so important. The math has to match the reality, reality does not give a damn about math.

    psik
     
  18. Mike0101010101

    Mike0101010101 New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2012
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Thanks for the other books, I will take a look on those as well.
    Nice to see that a thread I created to get some Hard Sci Fi good books recommendations became a discussion about the NEED we have for more Real Hard Sci Fi works.
    Let me handle two things being discussed here, and give my humble two cents to this debate.

    First, regarding the cost of putting spaceships on outer or interplanetary space. Any good spacefaring civilization should be able to build large spaceships directly on space by mining asteroids or planetoids for the raw materials and have spaceshipyards built straight on them. That would save the costs greatly. Even us, Terrans, if we stop wasting time with so much politics, religion and other philosophical BS, we could gather enough resources to go to Mars by 2040 or so, and from that to the Asteroids belt. Our main issue here is: we are alone in this planetary system, and probably in the close vicinity (2 to 3 ly diameter from Sol), so we don't have a close by civilization that could compete with us as far as our Sol system resources go. If we had other humans, or any other similarly predatory intelligent species civilization around, we will already be taking our fighting to the interplanetary space. Resources won't be a problem, as they weren't when Europeans undertook the Great discoveries of the 16th century. And you will have to agree with me that, for their degree of civilization, to gather the intellectual and material resources to design and build the first fleets of ocean-able ships, was a way higher effort than the one our actual civilization would have to do on order to reach a basic spacefaring capability. At least to travel to a close by range (like 3 ly).

    Second thing, we are post-highs boson, so there is no discussion (at least not valid scientific debate) of a serious alternative to the standard Newtonian-Einsteinian model of Physics. We proved (5 sigma) that the standard model of particles and the physics that derives from it (gravity, mass, nothing faster than light, relativity) is the only one real physics in our universe.
    So, better than our Sci Fi reader and writer forefathers, we are starting from a point where many premises are already surely and absolutely established. Then, we can discard FTL travel, as there is no physical possibility of doing that, at least in our universe. Perhaps if we were able to build solar/stellar wind clipper-like spaceships we would, then, be able to travel without fuel limitations and then, by using constant acceleration (a gift from that absence of the fuel necessity), and reach like 1/3rd lightspeed, or something. But, my main concern remains on the close by, intra-system, or perhaps, close vicinity interplanetary and interstellar travel. At that spacefaring level (achievable with our present technology capabilities), spacefaring would be totally ruled by Newton and Kepler, with some Einstein for when you get a space speeding ticket. That is the kind of stories I would like to read.
    Don't get me wrong, I loved Star Wars and Star Trek when I was a kid.
    Star Wars is a very good medieval-ninja-knight story translated to some "kinda like" Sci Fi environment, and Star Trek is all about the human psychology, and the way people (and aliens that think like people) behave when under pressure or when having their personal beliefs put in check. But, when you grow and learn physics, their attempts to display spaceships moving in space are comical.
    I like the way Joseph Shoer explains the physics of REAL space battles (he got a blog, but a good way to start is from the original article that changed everything: http://gizmodo.com/5426453/the-physics-of-space-battles). And I would like to see more Hard Sci Fi written around that, like how OUR physics work, and not some physics that will exist after we discover the Imbibellilium or make third degree contact with the Mangradviaans from the Messier 87 galaxy.

    Sorry, I may sound and I am kinda hard sometimes. I don't believe in anything besides science. I have no religion, no superstitions, and I even see some philosophical and ethics considerations under a very bad light when they go against evolution, physics, genetics, and all the other scientific subjects that are already proved (call me positivist if you want). I don't even like gnomes, hobbits, dwarfs, elves, and mythological creatures in general. I have to go a long way to accept and explain magic and dragons, and such, and I can only like them if I can get some scientific explanation (or build a scientific justification myself, when the book author does not provide one). That is one of the reasons why I prefer GRRM instead of JRR Tolkien (even if those decade long winters and summers are very hard to explain, and there are lots of magic happening too...)

    Thanks all for all your book recommendations, and please keep this debate over the Hard Sci Fi needs. That has been very enlightening so far.
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2012
  19. ian_sales

    ian_sales Registered User

    Joined:
    May 24, 2012
    Messages:
    321
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Maths is used to model reality and make risky predictions based on that model. When those predictions are observed to be true, then we can say that the model describes reality with something approaching 100% success. Some models are extended, much like Brane Theory is an extension of String Theory. It did not invalidate the earlier maths, nor replace it. Likewise relativity and Newtonian physics - they depend on your frame of reference. Maths is the only language which can describe reality - whether reality cares about that is nonsensical.
     
  20. ian_sales

    ian_sales Registered User

    Joined:
    May 24, 2012
    Messages:
    321
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Almost certainly building your spacecraft out of gravity wells is going to make them much cheaper, but building the infrastructure to do so in the first place is going to be hideously expensive - and probably has a ROI decades later than any good capitalist will sanction. We might be able to get to Mars - but doing it at the current levels of risk we're willing to accept may well be beyond us at the moment. Various plans for missions have been drawn up since the 1950s - I've been investigating them as research for my latest book - but the one thing they all gloss over is CELSS. Closed Ecological Life Support Systems currently aren't capable of sustaining life in space over the three to four years necessary for a mission to Mars. A fast transit mission might be doable, but we need something a bit more efficient than a chemical rocket before attempting it. Which is why a number of those 1950s and 1960s plans depended on the use of nuclear-powered rockets.

    I also disagree that we'll take crime and war into space with us. It's a inimical environment. We can't survive any in the Solar System without technology except for the Earth. It's not the Wild West, where you can ride out into the Great Black Yonder and go wildcatting. That means cooperation is the only way to succeed. And the people involved will be technical people, with skills which contribute to survival. Because it's not worth lifting someone who doesn't out of a gravity well.

    We can see to the edge of the observable universe - er, obviously. And we still haven't found evidence of intelligent life elsewhere. Why that should imply that only space within a three light year radius of us is barren but not elsewhere, I don't know. The universe is fifteen billions years old. We humans have existed in less than an eyeblink of that. Which at least suggests that the timescales necessary for intelligent life to develop are trivial, so trivial that we should be able to see or detect something to demonstrate we are not alone. But we haven't.