1. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    space travel in the future

    Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by deadrats, May 20, 2018.

    If a story involves future space travel, do you think you have to specify how far into the future we're talking? Does it matter if none of the story takes place on earth but does involve humans? I don't mention how far into the future my story takes place. I actually don't really know. It hasn't seemed like that's really a relevant part of the story. But is overlooking that creating a problem? I'm still new to writing science fiction. This story involves things that don't currently exist but could in some variation some day. Does it matter if it's 20 years or 100 years from now? And should it to the story? Would that ground things more? How do you guys handle this with your science fiction?
     
  2. Thundair

    Thundair Contributor Contributor

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    Years ago I wrote a short story or a tongue-n-cheek expose on the Model A Theory of Space Travel

    Basically, it was that because we travel around in tin cans, everyone in the universe would have to use a tin can.

    So, to answer your question and something a movie could not reproduce is to have them travel as a recognizable energy.
    The warrior class would be coded by frequency and color and to that you could add pulse star beams as weapons.
    Civilians would work as underlings supporting what ever military action the leaders would need.
    This could work with all the interaction that you would have with flesh and bone.
     
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  3. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Spitting .45 caliber grammar.... Contributor

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    I'd say no. It's a POV thing. To the characters, they're living in the now and everything is mundane and ordinary to them. If it were a contemporary story, characters climbing into a car wouldn't feel compelled to reference the leap in time between horse and buggy and Camaros. To them it's a regular day tooling around in their space ship.
     
  4. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributor Contributor

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    No, but remember your hero has paid the skipper of a pirate trawler, and if he doesn't locate one of those dwindling night bubbles you can't jump any dimensions, you are just twirling around Jupiter like fools.

    And then even once you inside your bubble, if it pops? Pops open, it might land you a whole heap of confusion. I think master your dark matter equations and I will find your story more convincing. Back to university really, I'm sorry.
     
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  5. Lawless

    Lawless Member

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    You mean, do you have to tell the reader if it's 4000 AD or 40 000 AD?

    No, I don't think so.
     
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  6. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

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    If anything, specifying the year could cause more problems if you over- or underestimate technological (or social) progress and just end up looking, to those more educated, like you don't know what you're talking about. (A less serious concern is dating your work for future audiences -- a while back I watched an episode of Star Trek where they mentioned generation/seed ships launched from Earth in the year 2017 ... Bummed me out.)

    For my sci-fi project, I have laid out the year, but that's because I'm doing a bunch of worldbuilding and chronicling humanity's past/future in the stars. I'm setting up a continuum on which I can write a bunch of different stories in different time periods, and the main story specifically deals with the rolling over of one epoch into another. The progress of time is an integral part of this whole thing.

    If it's not important to your story, I wouldn't worry about it. I'd only be sure that the technologies in play are congruous, and that has nothing to do with the actual numerical date.
     
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  7. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Contributor Contributor

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    If you make references to earth, it's history, or the like, then a general distance back, even if it's along the lines of more than a dozen centuries, that might be of value to the readers. If earth and culture or the like isn't observed.

    However, if you're fully isolated from earth, think of things like how time is measured on ships (24 hour days), 7 days per week, etc. What constitutes a year, if a year is even considered, might have to be addressed. Not necessarily. Just something to considered.

    For my SF series, a series of clues and information allows the reader to piece together how far in the future the story takes place...but Earth is part of the plot, as humanity is embroiled in space-fairing war that spans a good portion of the Orion Arm of our galaxy.

    But do you have to give a date? No.
     
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  8. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    I don’t think it matters if it’s soft sci-fi. Star Wars involved humans and it is supposed to happen owns before humans even evolved in a completely different galaxy.

    As long as it’s realistic. There is zero chance of us sipping through the stars in 20 years. Even if we discovered something we didn’t know it’d take time to learn how to harness it.
     
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  9. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, everyone. This was helpful. :)
     
  10. jannert

    jannert Super Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think the only real danger, as @newjerseyrunner and @izzybot suggested, is making any stated date too close to the here and now. I remember when the year 1984 came and went, thinking ...well, THAT didn't happen. Mind you, if the year had been 2024, I wouldn't be so complacent. :eek:
     
  11. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Loved by a Sweet lady. :) Contributor

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    With my WIP, yes I do give a general year (sorta), in the first book it mentions it being
    the year 2715, but never bothers with that. In the second there is some history brought
    up, and it makes mention of the 2100's for a hot second.

    Everything else, it is 50/50 as to whether I do or not. Though generally not unless I feel
    it is relevant to the story. :)
     
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  12. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Thy rod and thy Staff Supporter Contributor

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    The first manned mission to Mars has come and gone so many times I've lost count, and that's just counting books written when I was of voting age....
     
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  13. jannert

    jannert Super Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think some of that felt okay at the time it was written because it seemed as if the space age was upon us. It was starting to happen. Guys went into space, then went into orbit, then went to the moon and came back again. And humans built a space station and put people in it. It was all going swimmingly ...and then it stopped. I don't think anybody will be quite so happy projecting a future with colonies on Mars 50 years from now, the same way writers did 50 years ago.

    I think maybe that's why zombie/alien/virus from outer space kinds of sci-fi are so popular just now. I think humanity 'knows' that if we're ever going to find out what's out there—at least in our realistic lifetimes—it's going to have to come from 'out there.' We aren't going to do it ourselves, are we?

    2001, A Space Odyssey? Sadly ...no. Even the rickety space station is due to be abandoned soon. It's changed humanity's focus from outward to inward, and I'm not sure that's altogether a good thing.
     
  14. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Thy rod and thy Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I was trying to find the longest gap of a human presence in space since Yuri Gargarin, I think there's a new one coming soon...
     
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  15. Lawless

    Lawless Member

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    Probably the biggest flop of this kind ever was a novel titled "Y2K", published in August 1999. Five months later the author became a laughingstock.
     
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  16. J.D. Ray

    J.D. Ray Member Supporter

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    If you want dates in your sci-fi, and want the dates within some sort of “conceivable” future (e.g. 50 or 100 years from now), my recommendation is to establish that it’s a different timeline. Make some mention about, for instance, Krista McAuliffe heading up the Department of Education after her third trip to space. Or go further back. Maybe we never bothered with the Space Shuttle, but went straight from the Apollo missions to some sort of SpaceX-level of engineering by the Eighties, and on from there. That way, all of our screw-ups don’t have to hamper your story.

    If you don’t care about details at that level, put the story two hundred or more years in the future. Beyond two hundred years from now, any technology you name (within something akin to reason) will be “plausible”. Think back two hundred years. If someone in 1819 tried to explain microwave ovens, space flight, genetic engineering, or for that matter automation, factories, or a whole host of other technologies we take for granted today. And realize that the speed of innovation (the rate things change at) is now faster, and will continue to get faster as we go forward.
     
  17. Thundair

    Thundair Contributor Contributor

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    I ran into that problem on the other end of the spectrum. A story in the early 1800s was no trains no phones and no photographs. Who knew?

    As far as a modern timeline, I would dismiss all ways of tracking it because the continuum will denote a different way of keeping time.
     
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  18. J.D. Ray

    J.D. Ray Member Supporter

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    I’m writing in an historical setting right now, and the list of things not available to the characters is nearly mind-numbing. I started doing research, and found that even window panes hadn’t been invented yet. Yeesh.
     
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  19. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Thy rod and thy Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Yup. Buttons have only been used as fasteners since the 1400s.
     
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  20. Matt E

    Matt E Ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8 Supporter

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    A common trick here is to create your own date system, starting with a new zero year, such as "After Colony" (an example from the Gundam universe). Instead of having years based on real years, you simply anchor them at the invention of the warp drive, or another key point in your universe's technological development. If you want, you can later anchor that date system in the real one. It doesn't really matter.
     
  21. Radrook

    Radrook Banned Contributor

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    I get totally bummed out as well whenever I watch the two films 2001 and 2010 a Space Oddysee. They always leave me with a profound sense of extreme dissapointment.
     
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