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FTL In Other SF Series, Books, etc. 
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LEt's take a look at how FTL travel works in other SF series, books, and such.

To start off, here is an explanation of Slipstream written by series creator Robert Hewitt Wolfe for Andromeda:

Quote:


In most space-based science fiction shows, travelling between solar systems is accomplished simply by going very, very, fast. Hyperspeed, warp speed, superzoomorama speed. Not only is this if blatantly impossible, it's been done.

So let's find another way.

While humans were still playing with fun new inventions like the wheel, the Vedra made a startling discovery. The Slipstream. The Slipstream is an extension of our reality, an additional dimension that's integrally intertwined with our own. According to an application of quantum physics called string theory, everything in our Universe is connected to everything else. And the Slipstream is a place where those connections are visible.

In the Slipstream, small and weak connections (those linking small and weak concentrations of matter, such as the link between you and your jelly donut) look like strings, gauzy bits of cotton candy fluff. But large and complex and strong connections, like those between huge concentrations of matter, say planets or suns, form gigantic, pulsing ropes, writhing monstrous tendrils with the diameter of a skyscraper and the length of the universe.

The Vedra also discovered something even more exciting. If you enter the Slipstream, you can harness the energy of these cords… and ride them from one star system to another, like the Universe's largest and most unbelievably convenient rollercoaster.

The only problem is that the strings are in constant motion, crossing and recrossing each other in a hundred different places. So to get from one star to another, the pilot of a ship in Slipstream has to constantly choose between divergent paths in the stream. And the right path changes from moment to moment. Faced with such randomness, all a pilot can really do when it's time to choose it guess.

So, here's what happens when a pilot reaches an intersection. Before the pilot chooses, according to the physicist Erwin Shrödinger (you can skip this part if you want, we'll meet up in a few sentences), both paths are simultaneously right and wrong. In other words, they both manifest the potentiality of being correct and incorrect. It's only when the pilot chooses a specific direction that this potentiality collapses and one path becomes right, and the other wrong. But the cool thing about being an observer in a quantum reality like the Slipstream is that THE ACT OF MAKING A DECISION ALTERS REALITY. So when you guess that a certain path is right, in Slipstream space, 99.9% of the time, you guess correctly.

In other words (start back here if you skipped that last part), human pilots in Slipstream have to guess where they're going, but because of the nature of Slipstream space, they're mostly always right.

Unfortunately, Artificial Intelligences don't guess the way we do. They don't follow their guts. They don't hope they've made the right decision. They really do just pick randomly. In Slipstream, this is not a good thing. It means they're only right 50% of the time. Thus, computers can't pilot ships through Slipstream. Even the Andromeda, a sentient ship, can't pull it off. She requires an organic pilot, or she can never travel between the stars.

Okay, nice theory, but what does it look like? Good question. What we see when the Andromeda travels through Slipstream is this: The Andromeda reaches a point in normal space where the Slipstream is accessible (as far from gravitational sources like suns as possible). Then she shifts, distorts, and suddenly… she's someplace else, riding along a bunch of gigantic glowing ropes like an out-of-control roller coaster on a rail. When the ropes twist and wind, the Andromeda rotates and spins on her axis. When she reaches an intersection, she whips off at wild angles along new tracks, whizzing along to her destination. Finally, thanks to a series of monumentally lucky guesses by her pilot, the Andromeda arrives at her destination and shifts back into normal space. It's like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride on fast forward.

One interesting thing about moving through the Slipstream is that travel time has almost nothing to do with the distance between stars. If you're lucky and the Stream unfolds just right, you could get from here to the next galaxy in minutes. But if you're not lucky, and things get hairy, the same trip could take weeks or even months. About the only rule is that the more frequently a certain path is traveled, the easier and more predictable the journey becomes.

Most of the time. Unless it's not.




Interesting stuff, no? I like that it seems to fit quantuum physics, and still leaves an "out" for moving things along at the "speed of plot". Anyone else got a favorite?

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23 Oct 2011 23:27
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well... my current favorites are a combination of different complementary systems... ; )

short range - jumpdrives - that can go almost anywhere, but are fairly slow < Traveller rpg >
medium range - warp points - are faster, with time dilation along the transit line < Starfire & WarpWar boardgames >
long range - stargates - that were left behind by several periods and waves of ancients < Fading Suns rpg >


-- http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/M ... ightTravel - tv tropes covers almost everything... ; )
-- http://www.projectrho.com/stardrv.txt - one of the earliest web type & classification lists
-- http://flare.solareclipse.net/cgi2/ulti ... 002464;p=0 - links to the site above
-- http://jrients.blogspot.com/2011/10/qui ... ought.html - ftl campaign game design
-- http://roosterteeth.com/forum/viewTopic.php?id=2235137
-- http://bof.polaris.org/serfs_up/ftl_tech.html - umm... using tarot to assign stardrives
-- http://forum.rpg.net/archive/index.php/t-71545.html - more game design

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24 Oct 2011 00:59
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That's very interesting. It taps the very same well I tapped to reimagine the details of warp drive and subspace in order to give them more uncertainty. My ideas about subspace are wholly based on my understanding of connectedness, and as you know, I've tried to expand upon Geoff Mandel's idea of the chi factor influencing warp speed to include subspace "dark" matter density as well. Which ends up leaving you with a parallel subspace "sea" that you can communicate long distances through (much like a whale) but which a ship doesn't enter at warp (it is only influenced by). It is only with transwarp that you would enter subspace by cutting your warp "tether" to realspace. At first that would be like being dropped in the middle of an ocean without power of any kind. You'd be cut off from realspace and have to wait for the dark matter "currents" to take you somewhere. While that might end up being faster than warp, it usually wouldn't. And their would be the problem of getting back to realspace-- with warp, if the bubble collapses you'd usually drop back into realspace as a matter of course. But once in subspace, you'd better be able to light up your transwarp drive or you're going to be there forever.

Another similarity to slipstream would be the presumed future history of transwarp. It would be all about charting those currents, some of which would be stable and some of which (like the objects they connect in realspace) would be wildly varying.

What I really like about what you posted is the "quantum consciousness" element. I'm a big fan of that idea and it figures into my own writing in a significant way (though not in the way you've posted). Very cool stuff, all around.

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24 Oct 2011 08:07
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Davros mentioned warp points with dilation along the transit line. That is similar to the idea of "critical momentum" I introduced in the FRS-- the idea that you had to be very careful how you establish the warp "tether" that connects you to where you're going. If you are moving at relativistic speeds already, your mass is increasing and your momentum is creating its own subspace eddys that will influence navigation. That's in addition to the dilation effects, which leave you throwing your tether into a universe moving hyperfast around you, and if you're not careful, that will get you to your appointment very, very late.

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24 Oct 2011 08:31
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This idea is pretty much rendered impossible based on Trek dialog, plus I really have never thought it through to even decide if it makes sense, but I've pondered the idea a few times that maybe the Transporter itself could be some sort of stream/jump technology. To avoid the whole "everytime your particles are disassembled and then reassembed" you essentially "die" each time thing.

That and for some reason it almost seems like it might 'easier'...relatively speaking...to find a way to transport a person whole, protecting them with a field similar to how they're protected from within the ship. I guess using whatever keeps a ship/shuttle from breaking up itself during travel, and projecting that a short distance to protect an individual.

That seems easier in some ways than the idea of inventing a computer that can memorize and store a copy of every single particle in a human body and brain, along with all their memories and 'soul' and so forth, and then reassemble them all at the other end without a similar receiving machine. And sometimes 22 of them at a pop.

Mark

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24 Oct 2011 13:10
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Quote:
Davros mentioned warp points with dilation along the transit line.


i needed something to get occasional temporal oddities, and having it happen as a feature of a 'closed' warpline envelope seemed tidier than littering space with all sorts of random spatial anomalies... ; )

Quote:
That's in addition to the dilation effects, which leave you throwing your tether into a universe moving hyperfast around you, and if you're not careful, that will get you to your appointment very, very late.


or even very, very early... : )
*to be fair to principles of temporal symmetry

Quote:
To avoid the whole "everytime your particles are disassembled and then reassembed" you essentially "die" each time thing.


well... if transporters actually work the way they're said to work... < innocent >

i'd consider retconning them to some form of quantum superimposition, or directed subspace tunneling effect... : )

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24 Oct 2011 14:32
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Ahkyahnan wrote:
This idea is pretty much rendered impossible based on Trek dialog, plus I really have never thought it through to even decide if it makes sense, but I've pondered the idea a few times that maybe the Transporter itself could be some sort of stream/jump technology. To avoid the whole "everytime your particles are disassembled and then reassembed" you essentially "die" each time thing.

That and for some reason it almost seems like it might 'easier'...relatively speaking...to find a way to transport a person whole, protecting them with a field similar to how they're protected from within the ship. I guess using whatever keeps a ship/shuttle from breaking up itself during travel, and projecting that a short distance to protect an individual.

That seems easier in some ways than the idea of inventing a computer that can memorize and store a copy of every single particle in a human body and brain, along with all their memories and 'soul' and so forth, and then reassemble them all at the other end without a similar receiving machine. And sometimes 22 of them at a pop.

Mark

That's kind of the direction that JJ Trek has gone. It's not really a disintigrator / reintigrator anymore. It's some kind of "hole in space" thing. It might have quantum in the name somewhere, because that always makes stuff sound sciencey.

But this sidesteps many of Trek's dumber plot elements by not having a transporter reset button anymore. (A couple of TAS and TNG shows come to mind.) You won't have to tie your tech into loops (I'm looking at you, Okuda) so that you can explain why they don't just have "backups" of the whole crew on file. AND you get to have scarcity again because your transporters can't do double duty as a hot-fudge sundae machine anymore.

Calon, you feel like chiming in with your un-spoken love of the transporter?

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24 Oct 2011 15:56
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Quote:
That's kind of the direction that JJ Trek has gone. It's not really a disintigrator / reintigrator anymore. It's some kind of "hole in space" thing. It might have quantum in the name somewhere, because that always makes stuff sound sciencey.


well... since they changed so much else, at least they went with something that sounds sciencey... ; )

Quote:
But this sidesteps many of Trek's dumber plot elements by not having a transporter reset button anymore. (A couple of TAS and TNG shows come to mind.) You won't have to tie your tech into loops (I'm looking at you, Okuda) so that you can explain why they don't just have "backups" of the whole crew on file. AND you get to have scarcity again because your transporters can't do double duty as a hot-fudge sundae machine anymore.


yep, pretty much... : )

though i wouldn't discard a series that did want to explore the recorded immortality and post-scarcity aspects... : )

Quote:
Calon, you feel like chiming in with your un-spoken love of the transporter?


please... : )

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24 Oct 2011 16:55
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For a long time I've had the pet theory that you have to have invented warp drive before you can develop transporter technology. I thought of it as an analogy to this: a four-dimensional being in its own environment could look at a three-dimensional object and see inside it without having to cut open the skin. Suppose the transporter used a subspace field as a kind of n-dimensional hologram, taking in everything in the target area at once and storing the data in multiple layers of subspace? Taking a picture from, effectively, outside the universe might be the only way to circumvent the Uncertainty Principle.

Getting back to the FTL subject, I recently reread "The Stardust Voyages" by Stephen Tall. It's a series of short stories written between 1966 and 1974, dealing with Earth's first starship (he wrote a standalone novel about the ship, "The Ramsgate Paradox", in 1976). The ship's drive is called Ultraspan, and one of the stories describes it like this:

An Ultraspan stage can't be described. Nevertheless, I'll try. You are conscious in stage, but nothing has either importance or meaning. In effect, according to one school, during the jump you cease to exist as an entity, and the Nirvana-like consciousness is like a shadow projected forward, your id stripped of all concerns and without a home. I don't know. There is a perceptible time-span in a stage, and you know it's there. Yet theoretically time does not exist, and with the effects of time suspended, one space is as likely as another. Still, stages can be plotted and the target space occupied. We've been doing it for years.

Aside from the interesting psychological aspects, it sounds like your typical hyperspace jump drive. In the story the quote comes from, the ship is making a voyage to a star 88 light years away, and this requires seven jump stages to complete.

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25 Oct 2011 03:51
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I think that the transporter arises directly from the invention of warp drive. Which I think is where Geofrey Mandal comes in with, as a first contact situation, he has the crew of an Earth ship beaming down to Vulcan in 2100 A. D. I also think that the phaser also comes from the same technology.

That is, Cochrane discovers the space warp - "discovered" being the key word here, and that while playing around with what was developed from that discovered other uses for...


25 Oct 2011 15:11
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