Replacing the hated “warp drive”

Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by Steven L Jordan, Jul 30, 2012.

  1. raggedyman

    raggedyman Registered User

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    In Robert A. Heinlein's "Starman Jones" ships had to approach what he called "congruencies"at close to the speed of light. A very tricky operation that if done wrong the crew could appear thousands of light years from their destination. Iv'e always liked that concept.
     
  2. Edward M. Grant

    Edward M. Grant Registered User

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    As a writer, I'm firmly in the 'no FTL' camp, but sometimes you can't avoid it if you want to tell a story that requires fast travel.

    On a civilisational scale, even 1% of the speed of light allows you to colonise the entire galaxy in 10,000,000 years, which is nothing compared to the lifetime of the galaxy. But it's a heck of a long time if you're writing a story where people need to travel those distances between page 1 and THE END.

    (And, as an aside, my most popular short story is the one which does have working Alcubierre warp drive)
     
  3. suboptimal

    suboptimal Registered User

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    10 million years ago our ancestors were swinging from trees. It could make for an interesting evolutionary experiment.
     
  4. goldhawk

    goldhawk aurea plectro

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    For 10 millions years, humanity has expanded around the galaxy, populating the outer disc because the core has too much radiation. What happens the two fronts meet each other on the other side? In 10 million years, would they even recognize each other as human?
     
  5. Pennarin

    Pennarin Registered User

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    Remember the latest on the Alcubiere drive? It was released a few months ago: the bow of the effect driving the ship would accumulate radiation and particules as it travels, and when it'd stop they would go on following the same path of travel, irradiating all of space in front of the ship. A calamity. Another bad point for that drive.
     
  6. psikeyhackr

    psikeyhackr Live Long & Suffer

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    The very first sci-fi book I read involved FTL.

    Star Surgeon, by Alan Nourse

    There was no discussion of how it worked.

    There was no mention of the theme of the story in the blurbs when I discovered it but if you look around the Internet today a lot of reviews say the story is about racism. That became pretty obvious to me as I was reading it in the 60s. Since there are no FTL drives and I really do not assume that there ever will be it is just a science FICTION story to me. So if a writer makes a good story that involves FTL I really don't care what method he uses.

    I find Fire Upon the Deep rather odd with FTL working in some places and not others but writers can do whatever they want. Weber has multiple forms of FTL in his Harrington series which affects the strategies and timings in his space battles. But in most stories the system of FTL hardly matters to the tale. I don't think the system will affect how much I it.

    I am not going to refuse to buy a book because of the FTL method.

    psik
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2012
  7. psikeyhackr

    psikeyhackr Live Long & Suffer

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    :D

    psik

    ps - irrelevant char count
     
  8. Steven L Jordan

    Steven L Jordan I like SF. SF is cool.

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    Solaris also included a FTL drive, and no mention of how it worked. And those aren't the only two.

    I agree, it's not necessarily germane to every story, and can be left out. But sometimes, if your story depends on an impossibility, maybe it wasn't a story worth writing... or maybe it's really fantasy, up there with Middle Earth and Pellucidar.
     
  9. Pennarin

    Pennarin Registered User

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    Fire Upon the Deep does try to explain how FTL could be possible by positing that our region of space has physical laws we all know, but other regions have more and more differences in said laws, until your reach the ability to go FTL. It is a nice sidestepping of the limitation.
     
  10. psikeyhackr

    psikeyhackr Live Long & Suffer

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    Have you read Komarr by Lois McMaster Bujold?

    This review talks about the "fictional science" in the story. It contains too many spoilers however.

    http://www.tor.com/blogs/2009/04/but-im-vor-lois-mcmaster-bujolds-komarr

    But this review says nothing about the "science" even though it ranks the story highly.

    http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/reviews/books/0-671-57808-1.html

    The fictional wormhole physics used for effective FTL is central to the entire plot. How readers regard it in relation to how much they like the tale seems to vary considerably. The majority lean toward the latter review while the first one reflects my perspective.

    psik
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2012
  11. Edward M. Grant

    Edward M. Grant Registered User

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    Actually, I built that into the 'sequel' to the short story I mentioned; I really should sit down and finish that one.
     
  12. Werthead

    Werthead Registered User

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    Hamilton does some SF accounting in The Night's Dawn Trilogy. One of the characters even says at one point that the economics of starflight make no sense to her, since they rely on loans it will take entire lifetimes to pay off (and for the funding of new colonies, multiple centuries).

    Robinson nods to it in The Mars Trilogy and then promptly forgets about it, with mankind being able to fund the mass colonisation of the Solar system at the exact moment Earth is being drowned by displaced ocean levels due to the disintegration of Antarctica, which didn't make much sense.

    Clarke and Lee's much-derided Rama Cycle does have an in-depth discussion of a massive worldwide crash, recession and recovery to explain why Earth is in such dire straits at the start of Rama II.
     
  13. JimF

    JimF Registered User

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    I never said that politicians do engineering. But Politicians do the control the funding. The US Got to the moon because of will of John Kennedy and the desire to one up the Russians.

    Hypothetical aside, engineering is not science. Like I said Newtonian Physics got us to the moon. The science was understood long before the engineering made it possible. There currently is no scientific understanding of wormholes or warp drives and there will be no way to engineer a warp drive or wormhole ship until that understanding is achieved, if ever. I don't just believe that lunar or Martian colonies can exist, I know that they are scientifically possible.

    Jim
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2012
  14. psikeyhackr

    psikeyhackr Live Long & Suffer

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    It was a joke.

    psik
     
  15. Steven L Jordan

    Steven L Jordan I like SF. SF is cool.

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    Though politicians (and sometimes administrators) control the funding, they are not always well-aware of what they fund. In my novel Verdant Skies, the scientists and engineers who create their quantum tunneling system essentially conned the non-tech-savvy administrators into thinking they were working on another project (cargo transporters).
     
  16. psikeyhackr

    psikeyhackr Live Long & Suffer

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    And then there was Star Wars, sometimes known as the Strategic Defence Initiative. Mirrors in space were supposed to reflect lasers to hit missiles.

    DUH

    If the lasers could reflect off mirrors in space then why couldn't the surfaces of the missiles have been made reflective and thus make the lasers ineffective. Even a politician should have thought of that.

    So was the whole thing a scam to get taxpayers money? Now wonder two trillion dollars disappeared from the Pentagon.

    psik
     
  17. Steven L Jordan

    Steven L Jordan I like SF. SF is cool.

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    Star Wars was a joke... not because the missiles could be rendered laser-proof, but because we didn't have the technology for lasers powerful enough and targeting systems accurate enough to hit them. And we knew it. Either way, it was a boondoggle that probably funded a few mansions and padded a few retirement accounts, paid for a new Coke machine at Gitmo and fresh carpeting in the Pentagon lower levels.
     
  18. mylinar

    mylinar Registered User

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    I worked on related projects to this in the late 1980's at MIT (Lincoln Lab actually). We did the work in good faith, but knew that the system was utterly defeatable. Picture this, $1,000,000 satellite in orbit, all good. $10,000 worth of gravel in retrograde orbit from the pesky Russians. Gravel meets satellite and that is that. And that is not even very technical.

    Star Wars was a technically solvable project from what I knew of back in the day. It was just easily defeated and the time/money would never be able to solve the situation I described above. I also did not get any mansions out of it being just a technical cog in a very large wheel.
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2012
  19. goldhawk

    goldhawk aurea plectro

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    Star Wars was to direct funding into those poor defence businesses that bribed, er, donated money to the politicians' campaign. After all, diverting billions of dollars away from social programs and toward the defence sector was not enough; it had to be trillions of dollars.
     
  20. Steven L Jordan

    Steven L Jordan I like SF. SF is cool.

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    The point is, in R&D, the left hand doesn't always know what the right hand is doing; and the left hand often thinks impossible what the right hand knows is possible (and vice versa).