1. Shadow Reeves
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    Shadow Reeves Active Member

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    how to power a space craft

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Shadow Reeves, Aug 3, 2011.

    Hello.

    i am writing a sci-fi story whereby we poor humans stumble across a planet deserted, but the plans and schematics of spacecraft from a previous race are found (nutshell version)
    i want an original way to power said spacecraft without using words such as 'ion accelerator' and 'hyper drive'
    i already have some ideas but they are reasonably retarded. Also im not looking for light speed - that is just silly.



    Shadow Reeves
     
  2. NateSean
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    NateSean Active Member

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    I honestly think in terms of spaceflight, you're better off not describing the Go Real Fast Drive at all. The reason is that you basically have three choices.

    1: Star Trek style technobabble that makes for some great filler but otherwise bogs down the story with the at times annoying "Science is Magic" mentality that comes with it.

    2: Attempting to come across as scientifically sound and being later ridiculed for how naive you were when future generations blow you out of the water. Or, alternatively being praised for how dead on your prediction was such as how Jules Verne was able to intuit what space would be like when we reached it.

    3: Not explaining at all and your readers taking it for granted that it works. No one cares how the Go Real Fast Drive works on the Serenity, but people love Firefly anyway because it's the story and the characters we follow.

    Contact uses a similar plot device, where an alien race basically hands over the blue prints for a device that can transport a person or people through space via a wormhole. They don't go into detail describing how it works, because in the end the story was about the people and the over all impact of such a discovery on the world at large.
     
  3. Seye
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    Seye Member

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    I always liked the Light-Sail.

    Is this craft built on-planet or off?

    Is this race's technology below/at/above the same level as those space-faring humans?
     
  4. Shadow Reeves
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    Shadow Reeves Active Member

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    NateSean - i understand what you are saying and i kinda want to split the difference. to give it a name, and a basic explanation of its working ie. "it grabs a bit of spacetime ahead of you and pulls you forward, rather than conventional propulsion" then let the readers both have an understanding how it works - but not so that it detracts from the story.
    im just trying to break the cliche of "folding space/time" and what not.

    Seye- these are battleship style blowtheshitoutofeverything advanced sci fi. think star wars battle cruiser. built on planet to begin with...then on low gravity moons (because its easier) which will essentially become the industrial district.

    i am considering not explaining it - but even firefly shows that the engine is a large spinning generator with converters and stabilisers. i was just searching for ideas to build on as im all out

    Shadow Reeves
     
  5. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Try a ramjet or ion scoop. Basically collects hydrogen from the ambient space while in transit and uses it for fusion.
     
  6. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi Shadow Reeves,

    If your new drive doesn't have FTL apability then I'm guessing your old one doesn't either, which means the people who discover the plans must have been onboard the ship that brought them there for decades? Is this right?

    In any case theoretical sublight space drives include the solar sail as mentioned, and also the fusion torch, ion drives, nuclear pulse drives etc. Also you need a source of power which is either going to be a nuclear reactor of some sort or a matter / antimatter reactor. Hydrogen scoops do both jobs at the same time. There are probably others.

    To go FTL, you need something like wormholes, warp drives which collapse space, subspace and hyperspace, or simply to ignore relativity.

    Cheers.
     
  7. flipflop
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    flipflop Senior Member

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    "The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense." Tom Clancy

    sorry but its true you have to work this out as you would a plot or a character. Once that is acheived then you can talk about it openly in your story.
     
  8. JimFlagg
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    JimFlagg Contributing Member

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    I have always liked water my self. Lots of untapped energy there.
     
  9. Shadow Reeves
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    Shadow Reeves Active Member

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    i am building the universe to be explored with the available technology, not building technology to explore the universe - if that makes sense.

    i do like the idea of solar sails - especially for smaller or private craft. i will have to do some reading on ion/hydrogen scoops to see what they are all about.

    thank you all for your suggestions.

    Shadow Reeves
     
  10. chronicler
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    chronicler Member

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    watch a few episodes of eureka on the syfy netork (if your in north america or you can download it) or take a look at how a car works and use generic terms like stabalizer or generator...make the fuel simply fuel

    If it was me, unless you're planning on a major mechanical scene leave it out completely. If your chasing the bad guy or in a space dog fight, no one cares what the thingy that does that thing is called.

    just my two cents
     
  11. PeterC
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    PeterC Active Member

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    I agree with others that the less you say about advanced, futuristic technology the better off you are. It just works. If you try to explain too much you leave yourself open to all sorts of objections from people who actually know a lot of physics, engineering, etc. On the other hand if you try to obscure what is going on with a lot of technobabble it can sound ridiculous.

    I know it can be difficult to avoid saying something and it sounds like that would be especially true in your case. Yet maybe you can still talk about the new drive system in general terms ("it's 52% more efficient than anything we have now") without delving too much into the sticky, technical specifics.
     

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