1. Masterspeler
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    Masterspeler Active Member

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    Cliches about tech and travel

    Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by Masterspeler, Oct 19, 2015.

    Hello everyone,

    I'm curious about something. Im noticing a trend going towards "real" and away from the fiction aspects of sci-fi. Has it reached a point where FTL is dead? My novel has FTL travel as a consequnce of just one scientific breakthrough. I actually did this for a living, working on the math side, so Im not talking about converting the galaxy the an ocean equivalent for a certain rate of action.

    If this is true, it wont change what I've written but it would make me really surprised if my book gets published. (another wannabe writer...lets get'm boys!) but the biggest fear I have is the lack of interest in FTL. If we are not willing to write about in sci-fi then what shot does real research have of garnering interest and funding? Testing these theories come with a hefty price tag, at a minimum a ride via rocket into LEO.

    So is it me (which could be, in which case, for the love of warp coils and self sealing stembolts, throw me some hope!) or is this dead and none of us will see this in our lifetimes?

    Yes, this is the internet still (even if the best spelled spellt, spilled? and eloquent side of it) but I am anonymous and I have no interest in boasting a screen name (you know I do this that etc). I bring this up because its releveant in my concerns.

    AB
     
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  2. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think FTL is necessary for space opera. A lot of sci-fi tends to hand wave FTL and a lot of readers accept it as a necessary suspension of disbelief.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2015
  3. Masterspeler
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    Masterspeler Active Member

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    Sigh. "suspension of disbelief" bugs me. Thank you for your answer. Im not upset with you, quite the contrary. I'm just saddened that people don't believe.

    The classic example (classic for me lol) I give is the moon (but then again, more and more people believe it never happened). We had no idea if we could do it, but the goal was set, and only after that the details of the how popped up. There was so much drive into those missions that people just did it. Part of the reason we havent gone back is we dont know how. Most of the calculations were done on scrap paper, other things lost over time...and all of this done with a slide rule and a pencil.

    I would love nothing more than to see this trend change, from a necessary tool for interesting story telling in sci-fi to something that would spark interest and desire for the stars.

    Maybe I should start on another project (I do like having many pots on the burner at once) about a researcher that's trying to get his work published and get funding for a prototype for a FTL engine. I wish it would be so simple do pull a Zefram Cochrane and wrench on it a little, riverts here, a console there and voila, warp!

    AB
     
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  4. Adrian Perron
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    Adrian Perron New Member

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    Personally I think FTL is still quite a possibility in real life. My reasoning is because, and in no part is this a joke. There is active research into creating a working Warp Drive. Dr. Harold White is one of the main researchers in the project. The last time I read about it, they described their attempts as being similar to bending space. Essentially, from what I recall, there is research that is attempting to bend space similarly to how gravity does. By doing this, we would be able to constrict the distance between two points in space so that the actual distance between them through the bent space is closer than the distance outside. This theory would confirm to current physics without denying the light-speed barrier. This is because, as light on the outside may take 1 year to travel the distance, light on the inside of the warped "tunnel" would only take seconds, minutes, hours, days, months. It all depends on how constricted space is.

    The only thing you would need to worry about after that is the relative position of the target and the actual position. As what we see as the position may be a year behind its actual position. A few "simple" calculations would fix that error and away we go! inter-stellar warp is possible.
     
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  5. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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  6. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    FTL is not dead as a prop of Science Fiction, but an ever more savvy audience questions its inclusion, and some writers have embraced a lack of FTL as part of their story-telling process, making use of the restrictions implied therein. And this is nothing new. Larry Niven immediately comes to mind as a writer who made use of the "no-FTL" dynamic to his advantage, and this during the Golden Age of Science Fiction. There are many other examples as well. Also, I guess its important to point out that the purpose of Science Fiction is not necessarily to make people or to push the zeitgeist into wanting ever greater and more amazing tech. It has served that purpose at times in the past, but its not the designated purpose of the genre.
     
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  7. Adrian Perron
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    Adrian Perron New Member

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    It comes down to taste I think. I agree there are books that may be enhanced by the lack of FTL. I for one would rather read a book which allows FTL and is in the realm of fantasy rather than read one without FTL. Sure it has its work around's like fold-space or worm holes, but I feel like FTL gives life to a otherwise boring universe. How do you tell a story when the face of the universe changes every trip? In some ways I find it interesting to follow the current accepted physics. In most I find it as a limitation.

    This all comes back to your taste. I read to explore my imagination and me immersed into a new universe alien to my own. I think anyone that truly appreciates Sci-Fi will need to put aside some facts to enjoy an interesting story. I believe that just because some physics are ignored or ambiguously explained away, it should not detract you from reading what otherwise would be a wonderful story.

    In no means do I intend this against the mentioned post. I agree on all parts. Just wanted to add a little extra
     
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  8. Robert Musil
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    Robert Musil Contributing Member

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    I don't think the trend away from FTL has anything to do with people not believing it's possible, really, but the fact that it's just been done a lot and so, in and of itself, is hard to make new or interesting. Of course you could make it new or interesting, it just takes more work than it used to.

    I think a lot of recent, successful sci-fi has been quite soft on science questions. I'm thinking of The Book of Strange New Things, which I admit I haven't gotten around to reading yet but does involve FTL travel (I think via wormholes, or something?). Also Seveneves, which doesn't involve FTL but does kick off with the moon exploding for completely unexplained (and scientifically, extremely improbable) reasons. In both of these cases a scientifically rigorous approach is de-emphasized or even ignored completely.

    So, FTL (and other scientifically impossible or improbable plot devices): as with so many things, it's not necessarily a bad thing, but it just depends on the execution.
     
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  9. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    When it comes to FTL I am quite happy for it to be hand-waved. I mean we all know that it is practicably impossible with any modern or near-future technology, and maybe entirely impossible. A vague comment towards hyperspace, or warp-drives, or wormholes, or jumping; is enough for me. I am already suspending disbelief, and suspending disbelief of a hand wave is easier than an explanation full of holes.
     
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  10. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Agreed. If the writer goes to some length to try to "make it real", then I have an expectation as to execution, and if it falls short.... a hand-wave or a bit of standard Sci-Fi lingo would have been better. I've already bought into that.
     
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  11. Masterspeler
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    Masterspeler Active Member

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    I was in touch with Dr White for a time, but as surgery got closer to me, I couldn't keep any semblance of a schedule. Still, it's out there, but there has been a shift in funding. NASA is slowly being defunded, and when we can't send astronauts up via rockets, warp drive seems more and more of a financial pipe dream.

    As far as hand waving, I find there's a double standard. I dont think I read any police mystery tales that felt the need to explain how a car engine works, despite the car being omnipresent. Same with a WWII fighter novel. I know it's not the same, but might as well be.

    Id having see hand waving over something like ground jellyfish powder used as fuel for intergalactic travel. Plus there is enough online to void any excuse for not doing some leg work.

    As far as the purpose, sci fi for me is not a means to point out some flaw in society, its a means to point out all the flaws generically, and escape to where certain things have priority. Ironically that my novel isnt even about that, since it involves an altered time, different from the idealized "future"-y world and our current one.

    AB
     
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  12. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    Finances don't even enter the picture. A warp drive is only theoretically possible and would rely on exotic particles we don't even think exist. It is a technological pipedream. Even if practically possible in the distant future, it would require the sort of energy our sun produces over its entire lifetime. Financial???
     
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  13. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Now, I am going to be the idiot in the room and ask.

    What is FTL?

    As for the need to be realistic. I think that it is only needed to sound realistic. Which, can make it a problem that our average knowledge is becoming higher, making it easier and easier to spot things that don't make sense.

    I mean, it also comes back as a problem of tone I think. As someone showed me a pastel colored unicorn with wings fighting a centaur 100x its size while shooting lasers! I know that is more fantasy, but it reminds me of something a friend said. "I hate the term, suspension of disbelief. A good story teller is trying to make someone accept a premise." I think that is a good way of putting it. Because I had no issue with the fight. It doesn't bug me. But that fight in your world would probably leave me and everyone else scratching their head. That concept doesn't match the tone and as such is a premise I find harder to accept.

    Now on the note of tech, to which I am far from an expert. I think the same aspect applies. If you tell me oxygen is heavier than platinum(why by all accounts may be a fair rule of your world.) I am more likely to start head scatching. Sci-Fi or technology based things make me think the tone is trying to be more realistic, and it would clash. Not to say Sci-fi has to be deep and realistic.

    I might be digging myself to China. In either case I hope my words helped.

    But to be clear. If you give a logical argument to why your tech works. Regardless of if it would work in real life. I would believe it and be happy. I won't call bullshit unless it innately expresses itself as impossible. Maybe some rocket scientist will call bull, but you can't write a book for everyone. Got to chose, something the "everyman" will like or something a genius will like. Not to say a genius and everman can't like the same thing. I think you probably get what I mean. I hope. lol
     
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  14. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    For The Ladies
     
  15. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Surprisingly I am even more confused now. lol. I don't get it. I mean the conversation. Replacing FTL with for the ladies seems awkward. I guess I just suck. lol
     
  16. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just messing. Faster Than Light.
     
  17. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    LOL

    At opening post.

    I don't there is anything wrong with FTL As long as the reason sounds belivable. Like I said. I can accept the premise of a pastel colored unicorn/pegasus shooting magic laser blasts! So accepting that your world figured out how science learned to travel faster than light is easy as long as the tone matches. Meaning you don't say "Cigar ash! The though time we just needed cigar ash!" I also wouldn't bring up in great detail the science of why faster than light travel probably wouldn't make sense. For me, it is easy premise to accept as long as you don't work against yourself.
     
  18. Masterspeler
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    Masterspeler Active Member

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    Finances always enter the picture. Even the most theoretical work, still needs money. My research is math, so I dont need a lab, but I still need to be paid. If I'm not (like those bastards are doing with me now), then I move on to something that can pay me. I have a nasty habit of eating lol.

    The problem is that working, takes away time from research, and thus my own work screeches to a halt, most likely permanently (Not even thinking about the bitterness I have on the topic, that I must overcome to get any reasonable traction with my work)

    AB
     
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  19. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    You do real research on sci-fi writing?

    Dang. How much do you do?
     
  20. Masterspeler
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    Masterspeler Active Member

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    My research is in representation theory (abstract algebra) that took a turn into hyperbolic geometry, topology and number theory, with some unverified coincidences in quatum mechanics and other interesting physics topics. The sci fi novel came from the hobby I have in designing star ships based on my work.

    All in all, it may sound fancy, but it's not. It's work that will lead me to being homeless faster than betting on a writing career to pay the bills.

    AB
     
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  21. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ah, in terms of the theoretical research, yes. In terms of the practicability of constructing anything approaching the capability of interstellar travel within a time period of a human lifespan or less... then all the financing on earth- on several earths- would be inadequate.

    As I understood it, the research to date was pretty small fry- tiny, insignificant fry- a professor and his post-grads- in terms of NASA budgets. But then if you are cutting budgets, the first to get cut are the wholly impractical.

    What is your opinion on theoretical physics that cannot be experimentally tested?
     
  22. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    I did not understand any of that!

    I used to be good in math, well sort of. In high school. I was the top math student in my class, but my class was not equip to teach me anything above algebra and that was 8 years ago. So I probably suck now.

    Either way. You need some likes!
     
  23. Masterspeler
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    Masterspeler Active Member

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    Well, if you have any math questions, I'll gladly help out. All of my students have told me I have a way of explaining things in simple terms. I've always been blue collar, so I hate using big fancy words. (the irony of that statement considering the forum, right?) Math is tough on its own without the big words, so I stand by that statement.

    @Chinspinner , as far as the untestable, I'd like to see more being done to test certain theories, but the problem lie with an inability to challenge certain theories. Relativity has some gaps. Simultaneity can be tested practically, but has not been. Even the time dilation experiment with the clocks in orbit has a serious flaw in it, that has not been addressed.

    No progress will be made until physics stops being a religion and starts being a science--a mathematical one. Saying "just because" or "that's the way it is" is severely flawed. Proofs must be used, and if a proof cannot be found or solved, just leaving it because it is old and was used as an assumption of later work is unacceptable. It is the politics of science.

    We are really in the dark ages. Reminds me of Galileo's trial. That's what happens now, but instead of actual trials, we shun scientists that question everything until hard rigorous proof exists.

    AB
     
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  24. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    My opinion for what it's worth:

    If the story requires as much realism as possible, leave it out. If the travel is just a means of moving the characters around because you built a very large world, put it in. Why lose the fun of planet hopping over picky readers? :p

    Some writers add a time debt, some use portals to get around that. Use what the story needs, FTL need not be an obtrusive thorn.
     
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  25. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Oh, I wish for this as well. It's why I tend to read older science fiction. I'm so sorry that a desire to travel into deep space seems to have waned in sci-fi writing of late. Nothing has changed "out there" and it's still all to be discovered. Maybe it's because there are so many scientific problems here on earth that need solving that we're just not focusing on the remote any longer.
     

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