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FTL-travel choices, what do you prefer in regards to storytelling opportunities?

sunkuwan

Of course, most of the choices would only impact stories that have a tactical element in their storytelling (so, military space operas and stories that have fighting in space in general and not just ships as a means to go from place A to B.

- normal Warp-Travel like Star Trek that has infinite start- and endpoints.
- Hyperlanes, that always go from point A to B in a controlled network that is "geographically" together. You can't take direct routes, you must follow the lanes. And if the lanes go through 4 Solar Systems to get through to your goal, you must go through those 4 Systems, you can't just directly fly to your target system. That makes Chokepoints and Defense-in-depth possible for storytelling purposes.
- Jump-Gate, artificial constructs that bend the universe between point A and B. If the Gate is destroyed, the system would be "lost". I did a Novel with that in mind, some years ago. There was already an ancient network of gates but if you "lost" one of the gates, you had to fly there sub-light (So normally a 10- to 50-year journey) and construct a new one if it was the only gate in that system.
- Jump-drives that don't work inner-system, so that you have to fly sub-light for weeks in the system before you were at the targeted Planet. (like Battletech)
- Chaotic natural Wormholes that don't conform to the natural layout of the Galaxy. Wormholes that don't connect neighboring Solar Systems, it is completely random. That means that not distance between stars would determine the layout of the empire, but the connection of the Wormholes. Finding new wormholes could undermine political stability of the galaxy because a new wormhole could connect two powerful empires that previously were too far away from another (meaning, too many jumps through other third-party Solar System wormholes).

Dominions Son

@sunkuwan

All can work if done well, but most have problems that would have to be addressed.

The ones I like the least, are hyperlanes and jump-gates.

Your formulation of hyperlanes implies that the lanes are some kind of artificial construct like the jump gates, not a natural phenomenon.

Unless you establish that the lanes/gates were created by a now vanished ancient alien civilization, you need some other method of FTL travel to explore new systems and construct new gates/lanes.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Dominions Son

@sunkuwan

I did a Novel with that in mind, some years ago. There was already an ancient network of gates but if you "lost" one of the gates, you had to fly there sub-light (So normally a 10- to 50-year journey) and construct a new one if it was the only gate in that system.


What method of sub-light travel are you imagining that would allow such a trip in mere decades?

At anything under .25C (1/4 light speed) such a trip would take hundreds to thousands of years for all but the closest stars.

Even Alpha Centauri, the closest star system to Earth would take .5C to reach in a decade.

Not_a_ID

@sunkuwan

- Jump-drives that don't work inner-system, so that you have to fly sub-light for weeks in the system before you were at the targeted Planet. (like Battletech)


The Battletech Novels would beg to differ. In Battletech, you can jump into and out of a Lagrange point, they're just not particularly ideal for a number of reasons.

In fact, I recall one book where the Draconis Combine was routinely sending raiding parties into a neighboring Clan Occupied system through use of Planet/Moon Lagrange points, which are some of the most unstable points you could possibly use. Use of that mechanic wasn't isolated to just that book either.

It just wasn't particularly popular with the spacers, or the people who owned the jump ships as it was a great way destroy/burn out the jump drive, or just simply outright lose the ship to who knows where. So such acts were reserved for either the highly desperate, or someone throwing a LOT of money around(such as a government).

As their preferred/safest/most reliable means of recharging the drives was through the use of collection sails. They wanted to get as close to the system's sun as possible. Which made the "solar poles" (relative to the orbital planes) their preferred entry/exit points. So actually, they were typically the most in system of the FTL options, as they normally jumped from sun to sun.

What made travel so slow in Battletech is artificial gravity and inertial dampeners don't exist. So when your typical "comfortable transit" is happening at somewhere around 1G of acceleration or deceleration respectively, there is a simple formula that is then going to dictate your travel time from "goldilocks" planet to the "Solar pole" or vice-versa. Which isn't to mention recharge times when the sails are used to do it. (They REALLY don't like using fusion reactors to do it because it tends to cause "problems" for reasons I don't remember as it's been over 15 years since I read any of them)

In general though, my FTL preference depends on the story being told, and ultimately that comes down to how well the author "makes it work" for their setting.

Battletech, at least as Battletech, made it work. Can't speak to MechWarrior.

Babylon5's hyperspace implementation was very interesting in my book.

I have no issue with Warp Drive either, at least up until TNG made it a reality destroyer. Then Bad Robot gave up on "reality" as it relates to Warp Drive(or Star Trek) in general.

The "Gates" used in Mass Effect were clever and unique as well in my book.

Fel and his Subjugation series also deserves an honorable mention, even though he doesn't really present anything completely new, the implementations are still interesting iterations of prior examples/concepts.

Replies:   sunkuwan  BlacKnight
sunkuwan

The ones I like the least, are hyperlanes and jump-gates.

Your formulation of hyperlanes implies that the lanes are some kind of artificial construct like the jump gates, not a natural phenomenon.

Unless you establish that the lanes/gates were created by a now vanished ancient alien civilization, you need some other method of FTL travel to explore new systems and construct new gates/lanes.


I don't remember any stories about Hyperlanes, only videogames. If it's artificial, there has to be an explanation why they only connected near star systems. Maybe a range thing?
If its natural, that would be too much order in the chaotic narrative of the Universe.

What method of sub-light travel are you imagining that would allow such a trip in mere decades?

At anything under .25C (1/4 light speed) such a trip would take hundreds to thousands of years for all but the closest stars.

Even Alpha Centauri, the closest star system to Earth would take .5C to reach in a decade.

Yes, there was 0,7 to 0,8 sub-light speed. Not Human tech but old Alien tech (Humans were taken over by the race that introduced them to Space-travel.) With some of the old tropes (shorter time inside the ships etc.) without the other impossible implication of fast sub-light travel.

Another part of the story was the arrival of Von-Neumann-Probes that slowly (sub-light-travel) mined out every System they encountered.
Von-Neumann-Probes are really scary if you think about it. Even with only 0,10c they could swarm the whole Milky Way in a million years from just one starting system and completely "eat" the systems empty.

They are one of the Fermi Paradoxes. If there was a civilization capable of launching probes into other systems to mine them for their resources, they must have done that a Billion years ago already. It isn't even a part of "maybe they don't go into systems with intelligent life", because our Solar System is a late bloomer and the first civilizations would have arisen even before the solar System got born.

Not_a_ID
Updated:

@Dominions Son


The ones I like the least, are hyperlanes and jump-gates.

Your formulation of hyperlanes implies that the lanes are some kind of artificial construct like the jump gates, not a natural phenomenon.

Unless you establish that the lanes/gates were created by a now vanished ancient alien civilization, you need some other method of FTL travel to explore new systems and construct new gates/lanes.


I'm a fan of going klepto and doing themes on all of the above. It also creates for "fun" first-contact scenarios if multiple options exist, but that they could potentially screw with each-other.

For example if a ship in a hyperspace lane happens to have really lousy timing and a warp-capable ship also happens to be in the right (wrong) place at the time, they could knock each other out of FTL. Which one or both parties may take to be an act of interdiction, which most would view as a hostile act....

Bonus points if one side or the other starts to re-initialize their respective FTL system and blows up critical components in the FTL drive of the other guy.

But that is a digression.

At least from one of the "Standard" views on "What is a hyperlane?" At least if you're going with a more Star Wars type-take, is that a Hyper Lane is a region of charted space that is free of obstructions likely to interfere with operation of a hyper-drive.

So in some respects, the hyperdrive is almost exactly like a warp drive, just capable of potentially faster speeds, but likewise far more twitchy about what is "in its path of travel." Which means navigators and pilots prefer to stick to known "proven" routes rather than blaze their own trail.

Or to go with an alternate example: Warp Drive propelled craft can "turn" to avoid hazards without needing to drop out of warp to do so. A Hyperspace vessel on the other hand will need to leave hyperspace, maneuver to a new vector and reenter hyperspace. That stop & turn aspect would probably be a big factor in preferences to stay on charted routes. As there are plenty of reasons that can be invented to account for why 22 known way points for a trip may be preferable to charting your own new route.

sunkuwan

@Not_a_ID

Yeah, sorry, don't remember it in clear detail. The last time I read a BT book was, when the dark age nonsense began, must have been 15 years ago or so.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID

@sunkuwan

Yeah, sorry, don't remember it in clear detail. The last time I read a BT book was, when the dark age nonsense began, must have been 15 years ago or so.


FASA went bankrupt, several of the book authors never were paid for copies sold, not sure what happened to the Printing rights for Battletech in English/North America, I just know the only place those books still saw print after that is in Germany, and they didn't make any new ones. Would love to get my hands on legal Digital copies, or failing that, a copy of Decision at Thunder Rift(without paying obscene amounts for it) and one other title IIRC. I have all of the rest in paperback form. =P

Never got into their Mechwarrior "Reboot" set 70-some years later. Cue complaining about incomplete/abandoned stories here on SoL and apply in full to that situation. Ok, yeah sure, they can mention "what happened" as back story within the Mechwarrior setting, but really.... I was very unhappy with "The Final Resolution...70 years later" they came up with for everything that they had been building up for right until the bankruptcy. Sure, it probably is 90-some percent true to the outline that they were working within(I somehow doubt that much of an actual outline existed, other than the Federated Commonwealth was never going to be reunified after Katerina "Katrina" Steiner(-Davion) did her thing, and Victor was ultimately going to abdicate in favor of his "love interest") but seeing it actually play out likely would have sold it much better.

But then, I guess I also wanted to see Stackpole's Nameless Assassin cause some more mayhem. He's probably one of the most memorable characters I've encountered.

helmut_meukel

I least like David Drakes approach on FTL with riggings to sail through hyperspace in his 'Republic of Cinnabar' series.
I ignore the details as much as possible because I like the stories.

I see the two versions of FTL traffic used in Weber's Honorverse as an ideal combination: a Warp-like FTL drive with the capability to use natural Wormholes connecting to distant areas of space.

HM.

AmigaClone

@sunkuwan

Many universes/storylines use more than one of those methods.

Star Trek for instance most often uses "warp drive", but in some canon stories has also used Jump Gates, Hyperlanes and wormholes.

I find Jump-gates when implemented as they were in the Stargate series interesting. I also liked the way it was done in Starrigger which has one way single destination Jump Gates.

Dominions Son

@Not_a_ID

So in some respects, the hyperdrive is almost exactly like a warp drive, just capable of potentially faster speeds, but likewise far more twitchy about what is "in its path of travel." Which means navigators and pilots prefer to stick to known "proven" routes rather than blaze their own trail.


True, but trail blazing would be possible for those crazy or desperate enough.

Or to go with an alternate example: Warp Drive propelled craft can "turn" to avoid hazards without needing to drop out of warp to do so. A Hyperspace vessel on the other hand will need to leave hyperspace, maneuver to a new vector and reenter hyperspace. That stop & turn aspect would probably be a big factor in preferences to stay on charted routes.


Commercial travel in such a situation would generally prefer to stay on charted routes.

However, there would be a significant market for scouts to chart new routes and explore new systems. Also military ships, particularly in a war situation, would have strong reasons to go off the charted routes.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Wheezer

I envision a FTL drive such as a "warp drive," or whatever name you call it, something that removes the ship from Einsteinian space with it's 1C speed limit and places it 'elsewhere' where the laws of physics either do not exist or behave differently. This could be another dimension, etc. If the ship is not in 'normal space' then objects in normal space such as planets, asteroids, stars, other ships, etc. would not be a barrier or obstacle. Navigating without the landmarks of normal space is a factor to consider, as is knowing how and where to re-enter normal space to avoid colliding with other objects. Re-entering normal space inside a star would be very exciting, if only briefly. Inter-system travel at less than lightspeed is still an issue to consider because the distances are still vast.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID

@Wheezer

I envision a FTL drive such as a "warp drive," or whatever name you call it, something that removes the ship from Einsteinian space with it's 1C speed limit and places it 'elsewhere' where the laws of physics either do not exist or behave differently. This could be another dimension, etc. If the ship is not in 'normal space' then objects in normal space such as planets, asteroids, stars, other ships, etc. would not be a barrier or obstacle.


Star Trek has "Tech Manuals" and a whole host of other associated material that makes it clear they remain "anchored" in reality. That fancy deflector dish isn't just for use while on the Impulse Drive. It's "clearing the path" ahead of the ship of smaller space debris prior to the ship entering that area. Shields take care of some of the larger debris/objects that didn't displace quickly enough. But otherwise their sensors are looking for "larger hazards" so the ship can make "minor course corrections" to avoid them without leaving warp. Presumably the ships systems do this "automagically" so long as the course corrections remain within a specified set of parameters.

But this something where scale has to be appreciated, an issue even as large as a sun, or Jupiter for that matter, detected from over 1 light year away, can be "dodged" with only a relatively minor course correction. In terms of scale, it is probably (poorly) comparable to not passing your tires over a dime someone left on the street. (Both the dime, and the car tire are too big)

Replies:   sunkuwan
sunkuwan

@Not_a_ID

Is gravity taking into account? Just nearly dodging celestial objects isn't enough in Einsteinian space. So if the ship doing Warp-Travel has to account physical objects, it has to take gravity into account, too. Gravity is savage.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID
Updated:

@Dominions Son

However, there would be a significant market for scouts to chart new routes and explore new systems. Also military ships, particularly in a war situation, would have strong reasons to go off the charted routes.


That depends on what the "penalties" are for entering/ exiting hyperspace. Particularly if those penalties differ based on how you enter/exit it.

There also are other "social considerations" to make. In the Star Wars setting, interstellar travel has been around for a very long time. If a route has been "lost" or otherwise "forgotten" there probably is a reason for that. Also relevant is if others have deliberately "gone off grid" they may prefer to remain that way. As such, those "high demand" exploration jobs are probably considered insanely high risk(best to be heavily armed--which is an expensive status to maintain), and likely to have little to no reward in and of itself. (It could be worthwhile for a smuggler or pirate however)

Of course there also is the matter of departing and/or arriving somewhere from "an unusual vector" which could also earn you some less than pleasant attention.

But getting back to the military side. Reference the "best done when heavily armed." Paired with the paradox that they're only likely to risk "scout craft" to such missions, and non-return may simply signify "don't send larger craft there."

Replies:   Dominions Son
Not_a_ID

@sunkuwan

Is gravity taking into account? Just nearly dodging celestial objects isn't enough in Einsteinian space. So if the ship doing Warp-Travel has to account physical objects, it has to take gravity into account, too. Gravity is savage.


In the case of stars and planets, those are likely to have been accounted for when the course was plotted to start with. So the gravity wells of those would already be addressed. As to uncharted ones, for Starfleet, that would be grounds to exit Warp and investigate.

Which basically leaves asteroids and smaller interstellar objects. Most of which are unlikely to generate a gravity well of much significance over great distances. If they do, and are uncharted, you know Starfleet at least would stop to find out how/why.

Replies:   sunkuwan
sunkuwan

@Not_a_ID

Just imagine what type of gravity well VY Canis Majoris would have. I would like to know which types of planets could orbit this massive star or if the gravity has sucked up every matter in the vicinity in the birthing of this star.

Dominions Son
Updated:

@Not_a_ID


and likely to have little to no reward in and of itself.


No, that is exceedingly unlikely. Outside of a very old galactic civilization where there is little to no uncharted space anywhere in the galaxy, new inhabitable worlds and new sources of major resources would be extremely valuable.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID

@Dominions Son

No, that is exceedingly unlikely. Outside of a very old galactic civilization where there is little to no uncharted space anywhere in the galaxy, new inhabitable worlds and new sources of major resources would be extremely valuable.


But you have to survive the round trip to benefit. The "core world" region is likely to have been fully explored and exploited. If a route was abandoned, it likely was because illegal activities made it too dangerous, or lack of sufficient economic activity means "lack of support" available along said route.

So too much chance of ending up stranded deep in a poorly traveled region of space. And/or encountering desperate survivors who found themselves in that state, who may be more than willing to take your stuff and strand you in turn.

Basically risk Vs reward makes remaining on the more traveled routes preferable. "Explorers" also likewise have to with stumbling upon "off grid" types that will forcefully maintain that status. As such "near space exploration" is likely to land you either somewhere worthless(whose charts were "forgotten" over time because "nobody goes there"), or somewhere that is likely to leave you either dead or stranded.

And the deep space exploration requires you to pass through a lot of space that is hostile(dead or stranded problems once more) or so far off the beaten path few ("people of means" that are trustworthy) will bother with the risks of going there, so once again, little to no reward.

Dominions Son

@Not_a_ID

so once again, little to no reward.


I disagree, the potential reward of finding a new inhabitable world or new source of a valuable resource would be astronomical, as in instant billionaire.

It won't matter how high the risks are, there will be no shortage of people willing to take those risks.

Replies:   Not_a_ID  awnlee jawking
Dominions Son

@Not_a_ID

If a route was abandoned, it likely was because illegal activities made it too dangerous, or lack of sufficient economic activity means "lack of support" available along said route.


Abandoned routes would only be a major issue in the fully explored, no uncharted space left mature galactic civilization scenario.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Capt. Zapp

@Not_a_ID

So in some respects, the hyperdrive is almost exactly like a warp drive, just capable of potentially faster speeds, but likewise far more twitchy about what is "in its path of travel."


I believe Han Solo said it perfectly:

Han Solo: Traveling through hyperspace ain't like dusting crops, boy! Without precise calculations we could fly right through a star or bounce too close to a supernova and that'd end your trip real quick, wouldn't it?

gruntsgt

I know Green Dragon has done the FTL in all 3 of his stories, but I am not conversant on his theories. If anyone else has read them and can explain, it may be what you're looking for.

Not_a_ID

@Dominions Son

I disagree, the potential reward of finding a new inhabitable world or new source of a valuable resource would be astronomical, as in instant billionaire.


"Value" is a very subjective thing. If the cost of extraction + transportation exceeds the value obtained at the destination, it is a net loser.

And when you're balancing that far-flung world's available resources vs the potential costs of transiting "hostile space" in both directions and likely losses incurred on average. Well, cost/benefit may lead to your "sitting on it" rather than trying to do anything with it.

Sure, you could still make a go of it, but you're likely looking at decades if not centuries for a positive balance to occur. And as there is no indication that the "rank and file" in Star Wars are significantly longer lived than 20th Century Humans, the time frame on ROI makes it undesirable, and highly unlikely to benefit the person who discovered the world in any significant way. Their great-grandchildren might benefit hugely from their efforts but that's about it.

Replies:   Dominions Son  sunkuwan
awnlee jawking

@Dominions Son

I disagree, the potential reward of finding a new inhabitable world or new source of a valuable resource would be astronomical, as in instant billionaire.


From the history of our planet, the bulk of the riches rarely accrue to the discoverer of a new territory. Still, I'm sure Congress would be quite happy to grant patent rights to the exploiters of a new planet :(

AJ

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@awnlee jawking

patent rights

I am under the impression Patents last 17 years. Depending on transit times, that period seems rather short to make a significant amount of money for the discovery.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@Dominions Son

... in the fully explored, no uncharted space left mature galactic civilization scenario.

Really, DS? Were you trying to make that as difficult as possible for those reading it to understand?

It's things like this that make me appreciate the wisdom of the conventions about the use of hyphens and commas to clarify meaning when lengthy and complex adjectival expressions are used before a noun. For something like THAT! ... I would be inclined to use as many of those punctuation marks as those conventions allowed - just to make it clear what I was doing. I would have written that as:

... in the fully-explored, no-uncharted-space-left-mature, galactic-civilization scenario.

PS I am feeling unusually cranky at the moment. The local time is 4:30 AM. I have a broken tooth, the strongest painkillers I have on hand aren't working, and I am not looking forward to discovering tomorrow the quality of dentists in this god-forsaken hellhole I live in. I'm going back to bed now, hoping for some success this time in my attempts to get some sleep. :(

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Dominions Son

@Not_a_ID

in Star Wars are significantly longer lived than 20th Century Humans, the time frame on ROI makes it undesirable


Star Wars is not a good comparison for the issue. That falls into the range of mature galactic civilization with little to no uncharted territory.

It's a very different issue when the whole of known space fits into less than 1% of the galaxy and there is lots of open uncharted territory to explore.

Even in the Star Wars universe, someone, at some point in the distant past had to take the risk and do the exploration into uncharted territories despite the risks.

awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

no-uncharted-space-left-mature


Get an editor ;)

AJ

Replies:   Ross at Play
saquestor

Some thoughts...

FTL needs sensors that are also FTL, i.e., RADAR & LIDAR are too slow for FTL use.

Lots of ideas for quantum sensors, using quarks & muons and other stuff, but to the best of my knowledge they're still limited to c, so... gotta use something different to 'see' the hazards so a minor course change now can avoid the hazard... whatever it is... later.

Travel time. No matter how fast you travel, it's gonna take some amount of time to make the trip.

Galactic rotation. How do you get from here to there? Gotta have some damn good predictive algorithms if'n you're gonna travel a few – or a few dozen – light years distance and arrive anywhere close to the goal. I'm not at all confident that movement of any great distance – a couple of light years maybe at the lower end – will not require intermediate stops to calibrate your location referencing whatever your chosen signposts are.

I've lain awake many a night thinking on this whole idea and the best I can come up with is folding space-time like a sheet of newsprint so that instead of traversing the entirety of the sheet (at some/any speed) to get from A to B, one 'only' has to 'jump' a small gap – maybe that's where an artificially created wormhole might come into play. But that implies being able to control and direct massive amounts of energy in order to jump that fold gap.

In my mind, folding space-time implies time travel into the past would be relatively easy as the calculations for where something was are doable. Calculating where a point will be has a few more variables it seems to me, especially when gravity of the entirety of that galaxy along with its movement and rotation are factored in.

Additionally, yer gonna need some sort of road map and road signs when you're galavanting about, regardless if it's in the local neighborhood or you're planning on jumping across a gap to the next galactic arm. Quasars and pulsating neutron stars come to mind as sign posts. But even then, they're in 'normal' space and their light or radio signature is still only moving at c.

Somebody in a different thread on this forum argued (IIRC) that time is an artificial construct and that 'out there' time does not exist. Horsepucky. In the universe that we can observe and measure, we know of nothing that can move instantaneously from here to there. Everything moves at some speed, and we're pretty sure that the upper speed limit is the SOL, measured by humans and applying human terminology as ~300k km/sec.

Even with FTL travel – of whatever nature – it will take some measurable amount of time to traverse any distance. I don't care what unit of measurement you choose to use, anything from a pico-second to a significant percentage of galactic rotation, it takes time to move from A to B.

Green Dragon was mentioned and his stories, TJ & Morg and Aggy 1&2 – great tales BTW – use hyper bands to escape this reality and its travel/speed limitations, allowing movement at accelerated rates, go to a higher hyper band and you find FTL as referenced to normal space where we and his civilizations live and breathe. But I cannot recall any reference on how to transition from normal space to hyper space. What created or allowed the transition? No clues, as in the stories it's assumed that you know what it takes. Shame really, that that 'minor' detail is so glossed over.

All this gibberish to say I favor figuring a way to harness and control massive amounts of energy to fold space-time so the distance between point A and point B is minimal. I can envision a small fold as being easy and (relatively) safe and increasingly larger folds becoming more and more risky to the point of calculated suicide.

Replies:   sunkuwan  richardshagrin
sunkuwan

@saquestor

Those are jump drives or natural Wormholes.

Stargate, Battlestar Galactica, and Dune are pure examples of this.

The German literature Series "Perry Rhodan" started with them exactly like you described, with time needed to calculate a safe course and then instant travel to the location, it wasn't without risk and was taking longer to calculate and riskier, the longer the distance.
Until they switched to Warp Travel, which was safer but not instantaneous. Also, there was no issue with distance 8as long as you had supplies).

Replies:   Not_a_ID
richardshagrin

@saquestor

the upper speed limit is the SOL

Stories on Line. Do Stories off Line move faster?

Replies:   saquestor
sunkuwan

@Not_a_ID

"Value" is a very subjective thing. If the cost of extraction + transportation exceeds the value obtained at the destination, it is a net loser.

And when you're balancing that far-flung world's available resources vs the potential costs of transiting "hostile space" in both directions and likely losses incurred on average. Well, cost/benefit may lead to your "sitting on it" rather than trying to do anything with it.


Depends on the crowding of the space empire and the availability of resources. Planetary mining would be the least desired method until you are at a technological step to take apart a whole planet effectively. Scouring the Asteroid fields is cheaper and precious metals are easier to find.
If the space empire doesn't want to build a complete Dyson sphere (which can take up the complete resources from 3 to 5 Star systems, dependent on the needed "green-zone" distance of the Star) 99,9999% of any star systems mass is not desirable. So, to get those precious metals, you need to expand. This is a task in diminishing returns/rising costs to find/extricate of your charted systems and the easy availability of those ressources in new star systems. Like peak oil that gets pushed to later years because we can now afford fracking etc. We wouldn't do fracking if there was easier accass to oil elswhere.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Ross at Play
Updated:

@awnlee jawking

no-uncharted-space-left-mature

Get an editor ;)

What do you mean?
And please don't quote me out of context. You should quote a complete noun phrase if you are questioning its punctuation:

the fully-explored, no-uncharted-space-left-mature, galactic-civilization scenario.

It's possible you interpret the author's intended meaning differently than me [sic].
I interpret 'no uncharted space left' as functioning to modify 'mature'.
All the more reason the original author should have attempted to clarify their meaning to start with.

saquestor

@richardshagrin

Stories on Line. Do Stories off Line move faster?


All depends on your point of reference...

Not_a_ID

@sunkuwan

Stargate, Battlestar Galactica, and Dune are pure examples of this.


Battletech was a pure example, since when a jumpship "jumped" it "punched a (worm) hole through space" that transitioned them from point A to point B with only a few moments in a hyperspace type limbo state. Objectively transit time was believed to be only seconds. Although some of the passengers may disagree.

Stargate had the Stargates which were controlled artificial wormholes. But it also boasted Hyperspace drives that acted a lot like Warp Drives, only without that related theory of movement(which gives it its name).

The "problem" in Sci-fi is that "Warp Drive" is so strongly linked to Star Trek that it seems writers are afraid of using the term. "HyperDrive"/HyperSpace is the widely accepted "generic" alternative.

So discussions on "how hyperspace works" gets weird in relation to fiction because in many cases its basically Warp Drive by another name, or it becomes some form of "wormhole drive" for lack of another term.

In even more cases its simply technobabble the Author threw in to "explain" the rules of movement in their setting, and has more bearing in regards to story/game mechanics vs any relation to actual Science.

Not_a_ID

@sunkuwan

Like peak oil that gets pushed to later years because we can now afford fracking etc. We wouldn't do fracking if there was easier accass to oil elswhere.


That one has a "funny" associated metric, and it is one we should be concerned about. We did push back "peak oil" but we're on the downslope in regards to net energy gains from oil extraction. It actually isn't uncommon for more Energy to be expended to extract the oil than is gained from the oil itself.

But with energy being comparably cheap in relation to the utility oil provides, it remains profitable at present.

Ross at Play

What about FTL communications?

I tend to view "science fiction" as an oxymoron as soon as any sort of space travel is involved. There must be some explanation provided. I am okay with anything, as long as it's plausible, well, plausible enough to not induce vomiting. The less said by authors, the better, in my opinion: efforts to explain how FTL travel works can only serve to endanger my already-fragile capacity to suspend disbelief.

I've no real problems with any of alternatives discussed above as long as authors avoid attempting to convince me whatever work-around they have chosen is actually plausible.

However, I cannot think, off hand, of any explanation in fiction for long-distance communications in anything like real time.

I can think of examples that handle this by not allowing any kind of long-distance communications - any vessel out in deep space is effectively incommunicado with anyone else not in their close proximity. That works okay if your story can cope with that restriction.

I tried to develop a plot for a story recently which broke down, not because I couldn't think of a plausible explanation for FTL travel by spacecraft, but because I couldn't think of a plausible explanation for FTL communications within a small group of worlds within a very much larger empire.

The scenario I was working on required:
* An empire which controls a large segment of a galaxy to be at war with another empire on one of its frontiers
* A group of worlds within that empire rebels against its central authority
* Distracted by an existential external threat, the empire simply cuts off all contact with the rebel worlds. "We'll deal with you later!"
* Left undisturbed for an extended period, the rebel worlds develop a new form of government. It has one level for the entire group, another for each inhabited world, and local administrations within each world.
* The empire turns its attention to the rebel worlds once their larger war is under control. They mount a somewhat exploratory invasion to reassert control over only one of the rebel worlds.

Nothing unusual about any of that!

I wanted the central conflict of my story to be the frustrations the empire's troops experienced attempting to effectively exert control over the world they'd retaken. The rebels knew the empire would return sooner or later and they could never withstand their military power. So, they used the time they were left undisturbed to develop an integrated communications, government, and monetary system that would allow an underground resistance, whenever it was needed, to attack the empire's troops, at will, then disappear back into the community.

My idea was the communications system would have anonymity built into it. The empire's troops would be able to determine things like which apartment someone shot at them from, but they could not then find out who has access to that apartment. They would be told the data needed to identify them is not kept on this world. Meanwhile the resistance continues communicating with each other, transferring funds, etc. in complete secrecy.

To fund itself - with no idea who is doing what - the government created a totally cashless society with a high tax rate imposed on almost every financial transaction. Social welfare policies were mostly satisfied with a basic no-questions-asked living allowance paid to every citizens.

My problem is how could any integrated communications system like that function if communications between worlds are limited to light speed? Updates to "the internet" on one world would not take hours or days to reach other worlds, they'd take months or years! Likewise, no central government could function if discussions between officials on different worlds were impossible.

Does anyone have any ideas for any vaguely plausible explanation to get over that problem?

Replies:   helmut_meukel
helmut_meukel

@Ross at Play

My problem is how could any integrated communications system like that function if communications between worlds are limited to light speed? Updates to "the internet" on one world would not take hours or days to reach other worlds, they'd take months or years! Likewise, no central government could function if discussions between officials on different worlds were impossible.

Does anyone have any ideas for any vaguely plausible explanation to get over that problem?


Hmmm, I read about that problem in a novel and the author solved it somewhat by using FTL-capable message drones with all data stored and when arriving in the target system after some hours or even days or weeks – depending on the distance – the messages get tight beamed or broadcasted with lightspeed to its recipients.

Sorry don't remember where I read it.

HM.

sunkuwan

Peter F. Hamilton had two different explanations of communication in Night's Dawn Trilogy and Commonwealth Saga

In Night's Dawn you had FTL Ships that jumped through artificial wormholes and they were the only means of communication between worlds. If there was news that had to be delivered to every world, the Government or the News Station would hire ships to spread it to the next Systems, from there it would spread again in an outgoing wave or spider net.

In Commonwealth, the planet-bound Wormholes are nearly always active and communication can travel through those wormholes.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID

@sunkuwan

the planet-bound Wormholes are nearly always active and communication can travel through those wormholes.


This was how Babylon 5 and a number of other settings dealt with it. The Jump Gates/Jump Drives(on capable ships) never completely closed, and they would beam their light-speed communications through hyperspace (relays) to overcome that limitation.

Ansible Communication (theory) is, IIRC, an offshoot of some Quantum Mechanics theories. (Quantum Entanglement is closely related, if I am not mistaken) So that wasn't even a "whole cloth invention" by Sci-Fi writers.

And then of course there are the FTL messenger ships and/or drones/torpedoes. If FTL travel is possible, but communications is not, then it stands to reason that couriers of some form specialized in moving information would exist.

They still exist on earth after all, and that's with the telegraph, the telephone, satellite communications, fax machines, and the internet. So unless you make FTL travel obscenely expensive in general, there is no reason to expect such FTL courier services to NOT exist even with FTL comms at hand.

Replies:   AmigaClone
AmigaClone

@Not_a_ID


And then of course there are the FTL messenger ships and/or drones/torpedoes.


One example of that method of FTL communications is used in Al Steiner's Homebodies.

http://storiesonline.net/s/16328/homebodies

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID

@AmigaClone

As well as Flight of the Code Monkey, The Swarm Cycle, and Lordship Mayhem's (what happened to him anyway?) Spica II series off-hand. Although in the case of Spica, they do seem to have FTL comms as well, the high security stuff still tends to be transported physically.

Replies:   JohnBobMead
JohnBobMead

@Not_a_ID

C. J. Cherryh, in her Company/Merchanter/Foreigner Universe, part of the cargo every ship transports is the information update from each place they stop. There's a flat fee associated with said transport, and the penalties for altering the data are draconian.

I remember a series of books with FTL messenger drones, but can't for the life of me rememeber which series.

The lack of FTL communications has been the justification for neo-feudal heirarchies within Intersteller Hegemonies for a number of authors, especially when FTL travel is not all that FTL, as it were, or so expensive that only a small number of individuals can afford to travel that way; authority and responsibility needing to be delegated longterm to trusted individuals.

Crumbly Writer

I'm coming in late to the conversation, but I've tackled this topic numerous times using multiple strategies, and my favorite is the expanding-space idea. This is where, just like the expanding universe, a ship (with a MASSIVE power supply) expands space ahead of it, while simultaneously shrinking it behind them. Thus you'd have a push/pull with no real change to the space between planets.

The key to this idea, is that the ship nears light speed (since you can never actually travel as fast as light due to relatively), and they'd continue traveling just that fast, but they're effectively traveling multiple times the speed of light. Think of it as being on the very edge of the expanding universe and being "sucked" along with it, despite only traveling at your normal speed.

It's a more elegant explanation, without having to dance around relatively.

The other option is based on string theory, where you essentially 'bend space' (access the points of the 'string' linking different physical objects) so you can almost instantly travel hundreds of light years distance.

The final option (which I've used, at least), is where you transition to an alternate universe (which parallels our own), travel a short distance, and transition back, resulting in a tremendous difference is distance. This is how physicists interpret the 'hyper-drive' in Star Wars. The hyper-drive experience is what they see while in this other universe.

You can use whichever you wish (they're all scientifically justified, they just rely on different theories of the universe), or chose your own as long as you're consistent throughout the story. As always, if you set out rules for your universe, and then change it in the middle of the story, expect to get a lot of grief over it. :(

As for FTL communications, that's relatively easily handled by quantum physics. Since quantum elements (most often created in black holes, but they've also created them in the lab) function identically despite distance (think thousands of light years), your communication would consist of an array of single quantum atom changing to 'spell out' the communication message. The best part of this idea, is that these quantum particles are small enough to fit INSIDE each character's brain.

Note: I did a lot of research into these various methods, and refreshed my knowledge while writing my newest book, "Lost With Nothing to Lose", book 2 of my "Not-Quite Human" trilogy.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


I'm coming in late to the conversation, but I've tackled this topic numerous times using multiple strategies, and my favorite is the expanding-space idea. This is where, just like the expanding universe, a ship (with a MASSIVE power supply) expands space ahead of it, while simultaneously shrinking it behind them. Thus you'd have a push/pull with no real change to the space between planets.

The key to this idea, is that the ship nears light speed (since you can never actually travel as fast as light due to relatively), and they'd continue traveling just that fast, but they're effectively traveling multiple times the speed of light. Think of it as being on the very edge of the expanding universe and being "sucked" along with it, despite only traveling at your normal speed.


Well, other than being the exact opposite, that is Warp Drive theory in a nutshell. It "warps" space around the ship, causing the space in front of it to "shrink" while expanding the space "behind" it so it can basically "ride the wave" across the cosmos.

The shrinkage ahead of the ship "pulls" the ship along(as it shrinks/retreats from the ship), and also serves to make the distance traveled shorter, while the expansion behind the ship "pushes" the ship along(as it expands back to its normal dimensions) and basically "resets things back to normal" after they pass.

edit to add: The "subspace bubble" they often reference the ship as being in is a pocket of protected space surrounding the ship keeping it safe from what the Warp Engine is doing, and thus keeps things "normal" within the ship.

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Not_a_ID


The shrinkage ahead of the ship "pulls" the ship along(as it shrinks/retreats from the ship), and also serves to make the distance traveled shorter, while the expansion behind the ship "pushes" the ship along(as it expands back to its normal dimensions) and basically "resets things back to normal" after they pass.


You wouldn't "warp" space (that's yet another theory, also string theory based), instead your "expanding" or "contracting" much like happens in either an expanding or contracting universe. As far as negating the effect, that's why the distance from one end of the universe is continually expanding at an ever increasing rate. Any measurement of the universe would be hundreds of light years off in only a month (guessing on the exact time duration, since the observable universe is as old as the "Dark matter" phase following the Big Bang.

Dominions Son

@Not_a_ID

The "subspace bubble" they often reference the ship as being in is a pocket of protected space surrounding the ship keeping it safe from what the Warp Engine is doing, and thus keeps things "normal" within the ship.


It's also used in some as a mechanism to prevent/cancel time dilation effects.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
sunkuwan

In regards to time dilation and sub-light speed.

Gunbuster was such a powerfully emotional piece about the effect.

(Spoilers)
In the first 5 Episodes we learn about the alien race that tries to destroy Humanity and follow our two heroines through their training and already some years of time dilation.

The punch in the gut is the 6th (last) Episode which was aired completely in black and white. A final effort from the Humans to destroy the Aliens has them throw everything (and Jupiter) at the aliens at the center of the galaxy.

Our two heroines make a final effort to set off the black hole bomb and have to sacrifice themselves. They survive it and take 12,000 years back home.
The find the earth dark, no light at the surface. Until... some lights come on and spell the words "Welcome Home"

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

It's also used in some as a mechanism to prevent/cancel time dilation effects.

That's interesting, as I need to address that in my book. You can limit the time dilation effect, since you aren't actually traveling faster-than-light yourself, but it's assumed that you're nearing light-speed (at least 85 to 90%), which would have time dilation effects.

Note: It isn't the actual speed of travel which has that effect, it's the speeding up and slowing down. Thus, if you had the instant faster-than-light communications, you could theoretically have an actual communication (unlikely, but it wouldn't be completely impossible), but once you stopped, those you were communicating with would likely have died. :(

The only way to avoid the time dilation is to go from a dead stop to faster-than-light (i.e. expanding/contracting space around a stationary ship), which is more difficult to support.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Crumbly Writer

@sunkuwan

Our two heroines make a final effort to set off the black hole bomb and have to sacrifice themselves. They survive it and take 12,000 years back home.
The find the earth dark, no light at the surface. Until... some lights come on and spell the words "Welcome Home"

Of course, ALL modern electronics last 12,000 years (assuming that's around 8,000 years after humanity died off). That's one fancy iApp!

sunkuwan

The electronics only needed to last some hours/days, that's the real time both of them took from the center to Sol.

But Humanity had the technology to compress Jupiter to the size of the moon and make a black hole bomb out of it. Shouldn't be more difficult to make electronics last some years.

Capt. Zapp

@Not_a_ID

The shrinkage ahead of the ship "pulls" the ship along(as it shrinks/retreats from the ship),


I don't recall exactly what story it was but many years ago (pre-internet) I read about a ship that projected a singularity ahead of it which pulled the ship towards it. This of course moved the projector resulting in the singularity being projected further away, thus pulling the ship forward. The drive could not be used within a system of course. I seem to recall that at the end of one book, somebody witnessed a ship using this drive rising out of a lake or ocean.

Replies:   Not_a_ID  JohnBobMead
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

That's interesting, as I need to address that in my book. You can limit the time dilation effect, since you aren't actually traveling faster-than-light yourself, but it's assumed that you're nearing light-speed


Under the Star Trek version of warp drive, the subspace bubble is a bubble of normal space surrounding the ship. The warp field is actually pushing on that bubble rather than the ship itself, so the effective relativistic velocity of the ship is what ever sub-light velocity it had when it entered warp.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Not_a_ID
Updated:

@Capt. Zapp


I don't recall exactly what story it was but many years ago (pre-internet) I read about a ship that projected a singularity ahead of it which pulled the ship towards it. This of course moved the projector resulting in the singularity being projected further away, thus pulling the ship forward.


Sounds like the probable inspiration for the "Mass Effect Drive" in the video game series "Mass Effect"

It basically projects a field of extreme gravity in whatever direction they want the ship to go(preferably the front) and project it just outside the ship's hull. The ship will then proceed to "fall" in the direction desired.

Edit: They're able to alter internal gravity independent of that, so the crew doesn't (normally) feel anything during maneuvers.

Edit 2: Which reminds me, I might want to revisit The Foundation series at some point to revisit how Asimov described the operation of a ship equipped with a gravity drive.

Replies:   Capt. Zapp  Geek of Ages
Capt. Zapp

@Not_a_ID

Sounds like the probable inspiration for the "Mass Effect Drive" in the video game series "Mass Effect"


I am pretty sure that is not where I saw it having never played the game. I'm pretty sure I read this back in the late 70s or early 80s. I think it was referred to as a 'kk' or 'double-k' drive. (I almost said Quantum-II hyperdrive, but that's from Niven's 'Known Space' and 'Ringworld' stories.)

Centaur

{

@Capt Zapp

I don't recall exactly what story it was but many years ago (pre-internet) I read about a ship that projected a singularity ahead of it which pulled the ship towards it. This of course moved the projector resulting in the singularity being projected further away, thus pulling the ship forward.


FTL Jimm uses a gravity drive, i also think he used the quantum atoms for FTL communications

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

Under the Star Trek version of warp drive, the subspace bubble is a bubble of normal space surrounding the ship. The warp field is actually pushing on that bubble rather than the ship itself, so the effective relativistic velocity of the ship is what ever sub-light velocity it had when it entered warp.

Personally, I think I prefer listening to astrophysicists who're fans of sci-fi, rather than television script writers, who aren't known for sticking to plausibility. I don't mind stretching the truth for a good story, but I'd prefer keeping it reasonable, since so many sci-fi fans DO know a lot about the physical universe.

Crumbly Writer

@Centaur

FTL Jimm uses a gravity drive, i also think he used the quantum atoms for FTL communications

I agree on the FTL communications, but I can't fathom how a 'gravity drive' would work, as you'd have to create an artificial mass (planet) of immense size to attract a full-sized starship, or a small black hole, which would suck up everything around it (including light and communications) before consuming the ship itself). It's sounds nice as long as the story doesn't try to explain how it works, but it doesn't hold up under scrutiny.

Artificial gravity makes sense on a small scale (like in a spaceship, since you wouldn't have much of a story if all your characters are floating around in random directions), plus it's relatively easy to create with a rotating ship, and since there's no friction in space, there's nothing preventing FTL travel even with a rotating ships. Still for each of my stories, no one even raises the issue of artificial gravity. It's become such a cliche in sci-fi, no one questions it. Gravity drives, not so much.

By the way, I'm a real sucker for science stories, so I read up on it every time someone suggests a new alternative.

Geek of Ages

@Not_a_ID

I am pretty sure that description of how FTL travel works in Mass Effect is wrong. Isn't the whole point that eezo can manipulate effective mass, thereby negating a large chunk of relativity?

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID

@Geek of Ages

am pretty sure that description of how FTL travel works in Mass Effect is wrong. Isn't the whole point that eezo can manipulate effective mass, thereby negating a large chunk of relativity?


The gravity drive is for propulsion in general. FTL is via relays that basically "capture" and then launch the ship across space on a predetermined vector. Larger ships have a limited range FTL ability of their own, but they don't get into that.

But as they're basically playing with gravity to accelerate, from the little bit I do remember from Asimov, the only speed limit at that point is physics itself and how long you're willing to accelerate and decelerate.

Replies:   Geek of Ages
Geek of Ages

@Not_a_ID

I though sublight was taken care of with "conventional" propulsion, which is why there are thrusters on the back of the Normandy (and other ships) and why fuel is a resource you have to manage.

AmigaClone

@Geek of Ages

I though sublight was taken care of with "conventional" propulsion,


True "sublight" propulsion can but does not need to use advanced versions of currently used propulsion technologies.

Some authors have used the term sublight erroneously based on the distance traveled and time taken to reach a destination. When they are consistent, I would consider that term to refer to a short range and relatively slow FTL system compared to their main FTL system.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ross at Play
Updated:

Thanks to all who made comments about options for FTL communications.

If I ever return to that story I'll probably stick to something simple like shuttle services carrying people, cargo, and data updates run regularly between the main world and all other worlds.

It could create interesting dilemmas for the invading empire, for example, they could be told, "The government here will run out of money unless you allow the data updates to continue!"

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Geek of Ages

I though sublight was taken care of with "conventional" propulsion, which is why there are thrusters on the back of the Normandy (and other ships) and why fuel is a resource you have to manage.

Sure! That's why it takes decades to reach a point where you can safely launch your FTL trip. (That makes for really terrible storytelling, detailing what happens throughout that extended trip, with the entire crew ready to slit one another's throat before they ever start their journey.)

You really can't talk about FTL travel and still waffle about 'conventional' propulsion. The best solution, for me at least, is to detail how FTL travel works, but skip how they get around within each system, simply assuming it works without question.

Replies:   Geek of Ages
Crumbly Writer

@AmigaClone

Some authors have used the term sublight erroneously based on the distance traveled and time taken to reach a destination. When they are consistent, I would consider that term to refer to a short range and relatively slow FTL system compared to their main FTL system.

I agree with this. In a few of my stories, travelers still use the 'expanding/contracting' space to travel within systems, but are limited by the amount of 'space junk' (comets, floating rocks and debris, basically anything floating around within the protected sphere of the solar winds--I forget the technical name for this zone).

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

Thanks to all who made comments about options for FTL communications.

One key element about FTL communications. In short, it doesn't exist. Even quantum entanglement isn't instantaneous. They've created quantum pairs in a lab—in Japan, of all places—and they recorded the speed at which the communications travel. It's light speed. This seems to be an absolute limit for everything!

However, for most stories, readers assume that quantum pairs do travel FTL, so you can get away with it for everyone but physicists. :)

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

They've created quantum pairs in a lab—in Japan, of all places—and they recorded the speed at which the communications travel. It's light speed.

I read about that experiment. As I recall, they sent one of pair up into orbit. The primary purpose of the test was to determine if quantum pairs could potentially be used to alert the recipient of an electronic transmission that it had been tampered with or inspected en route.

Geek of Ages

@Crumbly Writer

My comment was within the context of the Mass Effect universe, per the conversation that was going on and the post I replied to.

JohnBobMead
Updated:

@Capt. Zapp


The drive could not be used within a system of course. I seem to recall that at the end of one book, somebody witnessed a ship using this drive rising out of a lake or ocean.


Alan Dean Foster. His Humanx Commonwealth universe. The KK Drive: It can't be used in the near vicinity of a planet without causing catastrophic effects to that planet, so doing so is banned. His Pip & Flinx series, a subsection of his Humanx Commonwealth: Flinx ends up with a ship which a race of geniuses has modified such that it can operate that drive anywhere at all, with no adverse effects; thankfully, he didn't turn that into a deal breaker, it was mentioned very rarely; the scene you recalled was one of the few times.

Replies:   Capt. Zapp
Not_a_ID
Updated:

@Geek of Ages


I though sublight was taken care of with "conventional" propulsion, which is why there are thrusters on the back of the Normandy (and other ships) and why fuel is a resource you have to manage.


Uh, in the first ME they explicitly mention(in the Codex) that the Normandy has no thrusters because the ME field it can generate is more than adequate for the task.

And if you watch the animation really close, there is no "glow" from thrusters on Normandy's backside the few times you get to see it.

As to ME2, that's a different(larger) version of the ship. I assumed the "fuel" was reaction mass for whatever they're using to make power so they can manipulate the Mass Effect field, among other things(in reality it was a "gameplay element" to give you both a resource to manage, and a money sink). But I'll also agree the art team DOES seem to show thrusters being used in ME2. I haven't played through ME2 completely yet(years behind), so cannot speak to later iterations.

Replies:   Geek of Ages
Geek of Ages

@Not_a_ID

It's been years since I read through the ME codex, so it's just as likely that I'm misremembering, then. When I get a spare moment, I'll have to take a look again.

What I do very much remember is being impressed with how thought-through the universe and technology was.

Capt. Zapp

@JohnBobMead

Alan Dean Foster. His Humanx Commonwealth universe.


Thanks JohnBobMead. That's it. Pip was an Alaspin Minidrag that attached itself to Flinx. I'm going to have to find and read that series again.

Replies:   JohnBobMead
JohnBobMead
Updated:

@Capt. Zapp


That's it


The whole Universe is still in print, I think, with new novels appearing periodically. Pretty much all of them are now available as eBooks. Definitely all the Pip & Flinx stories are.

Not hard to find used copies at reasonable prices, and your local library should have some of them, as well.

He's put a fair amount of work into filling out the background of the Humanx Commonwealth, including a series dealing with first contact and the following events; given how well integrated the two species are in the Pip and Flinx stories, it's kind of interesting just how rocky the beginning of the relationship was; the physiological differences caused negative reactions on both sides, and took some getting over; trying to avoid spoilers, but let's just say other events at the time led them to realize that outward appearance was much less important than inner character.

I'm a little behind on them, myself, I don't think I've read the last couple, but I started reading them in the early 1970s. That they still interest me says something about his skill as a writer; while not the best out there, you can depend upon him for a good story, pretty much every time.

BlacKnight
Updated:

@Not_a_ID

As their preferred/safest/most reliable means of recharging the drives was through the use of collection sails. They wanted to get as close to the system's sun as possible. Which made the "solar poles" (relative to the orbital planes) their preferred entry/exit points. So actually, they were typically the most in system of the FTL options, as they normally jumped from sun to sun.


The standard zenith/nadir jump points are actually a considerable distance above/below the orbital plane - exactly how far depends on the star class. Safe jump distance for a G2 like Sol is about 1.5 billion km, which is a little further out than the orbit of Saturn. Basically anywhere outside the sphere of that radius is okay; the reason the zenith and nadir specifically are used is to minimize interference from the gravity of large planetary bodies and so not have to factor them into the jump calculations.

"Pirate" points, like the star-planet Lagrange points, allow you jump to points well inside the normal safe jump limit, which can put you much closer to the destination planet, and incidentally to the star. They require you to have precise ephemerides for the system bodies, though, and being even slightly off with the calculations of their positions can result in drive damage or ship loss.

(cite: Dropships & Jumpships, the only RPG sourcebook I own where the game rules have you calculate square roots.)

Note that the Battletech universe's FTL logistics don't really stand up to any close examination. They don't have enough jumpships, it takes too long for them to get anywhere, and their dropships don't have enough capacity. There's no way they could support the sort of interstellar civilization depicted in the setting.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID
Updated:

@BlacKnight


Note that the Battletech universe's FTL logistics don't really stand up to any close examination. They don't have enough jumpships, it takes too long for them to get anywhere, and their dropships don't have enough capacity. There's no way they could support the sort of interstellar civilization depicted in the setting.


Well, that pretty much holds for every widely known SciFi setting that makes an attempt at hard numbers, or simply even hints at some.

Like the BattleMechs being huge force multipliers, to the point that a single Regiment is sufficient to pacify multiple worlds normally speaking. Which IMO only worked while in the "lost technology" pile, or only when dealing with a planetary population barely pushing into the 8 digit range.

Yes, mechs are technically complex machines with a whole lot of "logistics tail." (And the justification for rarity) But they also exist in a setting where both the technical capability to mass produce them exists, and fusion power is a common power source(as that's what the mechs use).

This ignores other practical considerations, which ironically, many of their own novel authors frequently pointed out in their novels when unarmored infantry were taking out mechs. (And as the United States discovered in Iraq and Afghanistan)

Having the biggest and baddest equipment around only matters when facing off against people who think their equipment is pretty big and bad(ass) as well.

Asymmetric warfare is an entirely different matter.

sunkuwan

Oh yeah, I remember the Battletech flamewars in the 90's and early 2000's.

"Battletech is not Logi(c)tech" was a very often used phrase. The tonnage was idiotic (bridges that couldn't even hold 50 tons? Most of today's military vehicle weigh more than those mechs.)
the range of the weapons,
the utter lack of long-range weapons and missiles.
They would be completely useless in urban warfare (especially with those low tonnages, every tripwire is an instant win for the defenders
Why are flamers heating up your mech if the flamer uses YOUR OWN heat to burn the enemy? A flamer in BT is just a focused heatsink
The total negation of air power, those mechs would be prime targets and easy pickings for helicopters.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID
Updated:

@sunkuwan


"Battletech is not Logi(c)tech" was a very often used phrase. The tonnage was idiotic (bridges that couldn't even hold 50 tons? Most of today's military vehicle weigh more than those mechs.)


Should read as "some" but yeah, the M1A2 weighs over 60 tons itself. But as a truck driver, I can tell you a number of Interstate Highway bridges are only rated for 40 tons. ("per vehicle") Of course there are weight displacement games that can be played, by spreading it across more axles and/or distance.

And logistically, that 40 ton limit? That was assuming a 40 ton truck in every lane, and potentially running nose-to-tail with each other across the entire bridge. So if you run one Tank in place of two big rigs side by side, you're probably safe enough.

That said, even the Army had to acknowledge weight was getting out of hand, it ultimately is what killed the Crusader gun platform, IIRC. The thing just simply weighed too much, and that weight only made it viable for fighting in "set piece battles" as might be expected against say, the Soviet Union... Which wasn't much of a threat 15 years ago. =P

Edit to add: And the bridge considerations in Battletech have to consider hovercraft are in common use within the setting. Which in comparison to mechs means "flying car" for all intents.

Because the hover-vehicle spreads its weight across the entire under-carriage of the vehicle, meaning it is often putting only negligible amounts of "weight" on any given square inch of ground. Kind of like the guy in snow shoes vs the guy in normal boots negotiating several feet of powdered snow.

The moment that mech moves onto "unimproved ground" that has any kind of moisture content, the mech might as well be walking through mud. Truckers have the easiest examples of what that entails. The difference between the ~30 psi of pressure a car applies on the ground(where they think the ground is "rock solid") vs the ~100 psi a heavy truck can potentially apply, where they promptly sink several inches into the ground and heaven help them if they should stop moving.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Not_a_ID

That said, even the Army had to acknowledge weight was getting out of hand, it ultimately is what killed the Crusader gun platform, IIRC.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XM2001_Crusader

According to the Wikipedia article on it, the Crusader was lighter and faster than the M109A6 Paladin it was intended to replace. Cost was the issue that killed it.

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