Hello everyone, I thought today I would entertain my fellow science fiction authors and readers with my musings on the nature of teleportation, space travel, and moving faster than light. These are always interesting subjects, especially FTL, because for many hard sci-fi authors, it’s currently an impossible concept and difficult to explain in their stories. Below are my suggestions for how one might handle these subjects in their own novels.
Teleportation: everyone has at least heard of Star Trek at this point, I feel reasonably confident in saying this, and so are hopefully knowledgeable of the phrase: beam me up. The various captains make prolific use of teleportation in their episodes, and although this was mostly a way to cut set-building costs at the time, it is still an interesting feature of science fiction. The idea is that a person or object is broken apart and then reconstituted on the other end. The idea sounds accurate in theory, but who is to say that when you are reformed on the other side you will be exactly as remembered, or that your mind and memories will survive the trip. If you want teleportation to be a feature of your sci-fi then go for it, and if your writing softer sci-fi then you don’t need to worry as much about the specifics and what might go wrong. Although, the flaws of this device can also make for interesting story hooks. Imagine if the first part of the relay malfunctioned, and instead of breaking down your body it merely copied you at the other end. Imagine the ramifications for your character when he runs into his double. Who would legally be the real one, how would you classify them. These details could add and interesting level to your story, maybe even be a main part of the plot.
Space-travel: Now, I have separated this from FTL because I feel there is a distinction between the two. There are a number of ways to depict space travel in your novels, and they can all make for very interesting stories. The classic slow-ship is one such example, and the technology is already in our grasp, with the pilots and passengers taking the slow route to their destination. Common technologies found alongside these ships are stasis pods of some kind that preserve the passengers until they arrive at their destination. Although, an interesting story might focus on people who have to live aboard this ship for the whole time, a journey of years as opposed to seconds, and focusing on the psychological impacts of so long confined in a ship. Maybe, if you really wanted to explore this idea, you could have the destination be so far away that only their grandchildren will see the destination. There is plenty of directions to take with space-travel, and they can lead to equally interesting stories.
FTL: Ah, these three little letters have a habit of causing a lot of disagreements in the sci-fi community, but if you are an author that wants to include it this is my suggestion. Many authors in science fiction have one golden rule that they are allowed to break while writing. Commonly this is FTL travel, allowing this type of travel to feature in hard sci-fi even if it doesn’t make scientific sense. It’s not a bad method, and as long as you stick to this as your golden rule your readers will accept it, just make sure this is the only rule you break. Our other option for being able to travel vast distances is wormholes. Connecting two points of space together so your travel a smaller relative distance while actually covering a considerable distance. This could easily feature as your one rule and raises fewer questions than FTL does. Remember that science should in no way get in the way of telling your story, because your characters will always be more important than the science in your story.
If you want to read a little of my work on the subject of FTL I have a flash fiction available here
That’s it for me for this week ladies and gentlemen, and I hope you have enjoyed my musing on the nature of science fiction. To my fellow authors, I hope this has given you some ideas, and to my fellow readers: how do you feel about these tropes in your science fiction. I would leave to hear back from you on this subject.
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