Hard SF discussion

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message 1: by Richard (new)

Richard (mrredwood) | 123 comments Goodreads encourages authors to have a presence here on the site, and of course some of them are writing Science Fiction, and some of those are even writing Hard SF.

This folder is intended to provide those authors with a place to (mildly) promote their book, and perhaps note the extent to which they are open to discussing, for example, the book or the process of writing.

Any author spending time where folks read and review their books must be prepared for the bitter experience of poor reviews, but hopefully everyone can stay courteous, right?


message 2: by Graham (new)

Graham Storrs (grahamstorrs) It seemed like a good idea when I read your post, Richard, but I see no one has commented! Of course, it could mean I'm the only hard SF author on Goodreads - we do seem to be a dying breed. Or is it that hard SF authors are a naturally shy lot?

Anyway, maybe you any I can use it as a quiet place to chat over a cup of coffee now and then?


message 3: by Joseph (new)

Joseph Lewis (josephrobertlewis) Okay, well I'm happy to tell the group that I am the author of Heirs of Mars, which I would describe as 70% hard SF. It explores the harsh realities of establishing a colony on Mars, as well as some possibilities for self-aware robots and neuro-cloning.

The other 30% of the book is action/adventure excitement. You know, for those of us who also like car chases and gun fights when thinking deep thoughts about the nature of humanity and technology.


message 4: by Graham (new)

Graham Storrs (grahamstorrs) That's an interesting distinction you're making, Joseph. I've been describing my novel, TimeSplash, as "a sci-fi thriller" because it seems to me the genre (sci-fi) has lots of sub-genres (thriller, romance, detective story, etc..) Savvy marketing types tell me I should call it a "techno-thriller" because a) there aren't any spaceships in it and b)it avoids the stigma of being called sci-fi!


message 5: by Al "Tank" (new)

Al "Tank" (alkalar) | 47 comments Graham wrote: "That's an interesting distinction you're making, Joseph. I've been describing my novel, TimeSplash, as "a sci-fi thriller" because it seems to me the genre (sci-fi) has lots of sub-g..."

Is there ANYONE on Goodreads who's NOT an author or wanna be?

Not being sarcastic, I really want to know.


message 6: by Graham (new)

Graham Storrs (grahamstorrs) Al wrote: Is there ANYONE on Goodreads who's NOT an author or wanna be?

Not being sarcastic, I really want to know.


LOL, I've always assumed that I'm mainly talking to other writers here, Al. Are you one?


message 7: by David (new)

David (davidbrandt) | 105 comments The only writing I've ever been paid for was for an audience that translated my work into 0's and 1's before "reading" it. As much as I wish I had a muse for making my own SF, I don't.


message 8: by Larry (new)

Larry (hal9000i) | 108 comments ANYONE on Goodreads who's NOT an author or wanna be? Not being sarcastic, I really want to know"
Well Im not an author, altho Ive attempted to write stories. Really I just enjoy discussing SF with like minded people!


message 9: by Al "Tank" (new)

Al "Tank" (alkalar) | 47 comments Graham wrote: "Al wrote: Is there ANYONE on Goodreads who's NOT an author or wanna be?

Not being sarcastic, I really want to know.

LOL, I've always assumed that I'm mainly talking to other writers here, Al. Ar..."


Publisher, but avid reader long before that. I do have stuff published under a pen name. Looks like Larry (and possibly David) is the only "customer" here. All the other people are trying to sell him/them a book. ;-D


message 10: by Larry (new)

Larry (hal9000i) | 108 comments Yea I'm finding I'm getting a lot of friends requests and it turns out theyre authors out to publicise their work. Cant blame them but I have to decline.


message 11: by Joseph (new)

Joseph Lewis (josephrobertlewis) Normally, I don't push my work on forums like this because I think Goodreads is for readers and my job is to write (not to annoy!), but this thread was specifically for SF authors.

Most of the discussions I read seem to be readers who enjoy reading. I've not encountered many writers trying to sell here.


message 12: by John T (new)

John T Cullen (johntcullen) | 1 comments Hello all - my name is John T. Cullen. I'm an author. I had the pleasant surprise, during a random web search last night, of stumbling upon a May 2010 BOM list on this blog. My book Robinson Crusoe 1,000,000 AD was listed in great company with Joe Haldeman, Arthur C Clarke, and several other 'contestants.' Several readers gave it 5 stars. Someone must have submitted my book, and someone else seemed to be asking if it is hard SF. Yes, totally. There are no fantasy elements, and the science is carefully thought out. The edition appears to be an older one. I was using the pseudonym Terry Sunbord, but my real name is John T. Cullen, and I only use that now. If anyone has any questions about the story, I'll be glad to answer them. For future note: I am writing two sequels to make it a trilogy, not because that's an end in itself, but because the story calls for much more...e.g., Daniel Defoe wrote at least one sequel to Robinson Crusoe, which he published in 1719. Thanks all!


message 13: by Lorelei (last edited May 14, 2011 05:24AM) (new)

Lorelei (elaynara) | 9 comments I consider myself a hard-core reader and really believe the proliferation of authors on Goodreads has compromised the honesty of reviews in my other reading groups. There seems to be a tendency for fan readers to go gaga over the authors - or suck up because they want a good review for their (unrealistic) future career.
I'm in two minds about having so many authors here, as I really want honest reviews to guide what I consume next. Then again it can be nice to have some insight into the work.


message 14: by Joseph (last edited May 13, 2011 08:17PM) (new)

Joseph Lewis (josephrobertlewis) Lorelei wrote: "I consider myself a hard-core reader and really believe the proliferation of authors on Goodreads has compromised the honesty of reviews in my other reading groups. There seems to be a tenancy for ..."

I agree that's a concern. It's why I no longer participate in the reader forums in any fashion, even if I just want to chat as a reader about other people's books.


message 15: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 17 comments If the review is at the top and they really go into summing up the plot, I assume the review is fake.


message 16: by Rusty (new)

Rusty | 2 comments I used to dream of writing hard science fiction, but gave up on it after spending so much time researching that I wasn't writing. I still write sci fi, but try to be as vague as I can regarding the science. I hope to make it as feasible as possible, and sometimes rule out some things just because I don't think the physics or biology would work that way. But there is no way I would try to write true hard sci fi again.

It's still my first love though.


message 17: by Al "Tank" (new)

Al "Tank" (alkalar) | 47 comments Rusty wrote: "I used to dream of writing hard science fiction, but gave up on it after spending so much time researching that I wasn't writing. I still write sci fi, but try to be as vague as I can regarding the..."

Just remember: Spaceman Spiff doesn't care how his Ford Intergalactic Speeder works. He just hops into the cockpit, slaps on his seat belt, puts the key in the ignition, and steps on the accelerator.

And guess what? The reader doesn't give a damn either.

ANY fiction; hard SF, romance, fantasy, whatever, is about PEOPLE not things. Concentrate on character development and conflict and quit worrying about the physics of FTL flight (I have no idea how to exceed the speed of light and I'll bet no one else does either).


message 18: by Rusty (new)

Rusty | 2 comments Good advice Al. I came to the same conclusion myself, it just took me a while for the light bulb to go on.


message 19: by Patty (new)

Patty Jansen (pattyjansen) | 1 comments I'm an author as well as reader. I couldn't find any space to say hello, so I'll do it here.

I'm Patty Jansen, and some of you may already know me (at least, I'm seeing some familiar names here) and I live in Australia. I have a training in biological science and am a space nut.

A large proportion of the fiction I read and write is space-based hard SF. Sometimes I even sell it (Redstone SF, Writers of the Future, Universe Annex).


message 20: by Graham (new)

Graham Storrs (grahamstorrs) Graham wrote: "It seemed like a good idea when I read your post, Richard, but I see no one has commented! ..."

Ha! So much for my quiet chat. I just checked back and the thread is filling up nicely.


message 21: by Graham (last edited Nov 09, 2011 10:55PM) (new)

Graham Storrs (grahamstorrs) I kind of agree, Al. One of my favourite hard SF novels is The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K le Guinn. She's very vague about space travel and the Ansible her protagonist uses, and it doesn't detract a bit because the world is so cleverly crafted, you just feel that, if you did ask, there would be an explanation.

I also have to confess that, in my novel, TimeSplash, I fudged the mechanics of time travel, just so the story would work. But, if anyone asks, I'm ready to dig to the bottom of my Layman's Guide to Wildly Speculative Physics to dredge up a great-sounding explanation.


message 22: by Graham (new)

Graham Storrs (grahamstorrs) Lorelei wrote: "I consider myself a hard-core reader and really believe the proliferation of authors on Goodreads has compromised the honesty of reviews..."

Lorelei, you're probably right. Some authors are disgracefully unscrupulous, and they "game" sites like this one and Amazon to publicise their often unreadable work. But a lot of authors are avid readers and not all of us are spammers and cheats. I've read sci fi in copious quantities since I was a child and I still favour it over all other genres. I like to know what's out there and I like to know what other readers think of it, so I really appreciate being on Goodreads.


message 23: by S. (last edited Jan 02, 2012 04:55PM) (new)

S. Baker (sspencerb) | 1 comments I like my Sci-Fi hard or not at all. My concern about claiming my first book Slabscape: Reset to be hard SF is that the dictionary defines plausible as reasonable, believable. That causes a serious internal conflict for me. Yes, my future is entirely shaped by the technology that enables it and yes, I try hard to make the internal logic of the physics support itself so in those terms it's believable (at least to me). But is it reasonable to even consider matter transmission (eg) as plausible technology? Surely Star Trek would fall at the reasonable hurdle every time they beamed down to a planet?

I'll leave it up to others to decide if my stuff is hard SF or not.

Many people enjoy the humour in it, but I feel I have to mention that there's a significant amount of profanity in there too. Seems to bother some people.

Also, I understand reader's dislike of author's skulking around these forums for the sole purpose of flogging their wares. I know we're supposed to do this in this socially-networked era when friends are measured by their 'usefulness' but frankly, I come from a culture where it was considered the height of bad manners to self-promote, so I won't do it. I've got a bookface page and that's about as much as I can stand so I may be destined to wear my obscurity like a warm blanket.


message 24: by Laz (new)

Laz the Sailor (laz7) Is there a reason that all the authors above are not "GoodReads" authors? Is there an entrance fee? Anyway, for many books, there are so many reviews that the author can't really influence the rankings.

And what is is about "reasonable"? 300 years ago, many people thought the world was flat (even though the Greeks had proven it was round earlier). And StarTrek predicted the future of many things (cell phones, non-invasive medical monitoring devices, black women as officers - and that's just the Kirk series). The math for FM radio was understood before they had electronics that could create the signals. There are 3D printers today that can replicate their own parts. Don't underestimate the rate of advancement and the likelyhood that the rules will change.

For me "hard" means that the local rules are consistent and believable, and there is no reliance on gods or magic. Telepathy fails, but an embedded comm in the jaw passes.

And not all hard SF is military: try C.J. Cherryh, or the S.L. Viehl or Jack McDevitt.


message 25: by David (new)

David (davidbrandt) | 105 comments Laz: I'm not telling you what to read or enjoy, but (at least with a community such as this group) "hard SF" involves scientific plausibility (at least in the context of knowledge at the time of publication). Of course, scientific understanding evolves over time. It's possible what seems implausible at time of publication may become plausible at a later time. The point is, most SF writers aren't talented scientists on the fringe of current understanding and using their science to see tomorrow's plausibility. Most SF that is implausible at time of publication is stuff just made up of "gee this is a cool story bit". That might be fun to read, but sometimes we want to explore more likely possibilities, and we call that "hard SF".


message 26: by Laz (last edited Feb 12, 2012 05:47AM) (new)

Laz the Sailor (laz7) I almost understand. Can you give me an example?


message 27: by Steph (new)

Steph Bennion (stephbennion) An example might be artificial gravity in space - on the one hand you have the rotating space station in 2001: A Space Odyssey, on the other you have the big switch on the wall of the bar in Moon Zero Two marked 'Artificial Gravity'... (Despite that, the film of the latter is one of my all-time favourites!)


message 28: by David (new)

David (davidbrandt) | 105 comments I'm not sure whether this is what you're looking for, but for a discussion of the scientific plausibility of certain SF elements you might find the non-fiction book The Physics of Star Trek by physicist Lawrence Krauss interesting. (He also wrote Beyond Star Trek about the science in other SF.) His book can be entertaining and Krauss is a Star Trek fan, even if he find some of it unscientific.

In a less entertaining, but educational way, issues of SF scientific plausibility are discussed at my site: http://www.hardsf.org/HSFTech.htm


message 29: by Laz (last edited Feb 12, 2012 06:13PM) (new)

Laz the Sailor (laz7) Steph wrote: "An example might be artificial gravity in space - on the one hand you have the rotating space station in 2001: A Space Odyssey, on the other you have the big switch on the wall of the ..."
... ignoring the monoliths ...

OK, I skimmed the website (thanks!) and it's less restrictive than I expected. FTL is OK! Plus there is a good list of books.


message 30: by David (new)

David (davidbrandt) | 105 comments You might also find Charles Sheffield's Borderlands of Science helpful. Sheffield wrote many SF books, but this is a non-fiction book about science, scientific speculation and science fiction (written at least in part for SF writers). My review of the book is at: http://www.hardsf.org/HSFRBord.htm


message 31: by Patrick (last edited Feb 14, 2012 08:43AM) (new)

Patrick Chiles (pat_chiles) | 2 comments Might as well flog my own work, because I do believe it's quite relevant to this discussion. If you have an interest in the near-future of commercial spaceflight, then you might like PERIGEE:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006...

Personally, it's been difficult to find the type of hard SF that I like. Can anyone recommend some good near-future spaceflight novels? I'm thinking of books like Bova's "Powersat" and "Trikon Deception".


message 32: by David (new)

David (davidbrandt) | 105 comments Patrick: It's more of a very-near-future spaceflight semi-disaster story, but if that's within your tastes you might try John J. Nance's Orbit.


message 33: by Patrick (new)

Patrick Chiles (pat_chiles) | 2 comments Thanks, I read that a few years ago just to make sure there weren't too many similarities with my own work!
Fortunately, there were none.


message 34: by Giulia (new)

Giulia Napoli | 5 comments I've just finished Soul Searching by Keith Caserta. It's one of the best books I've ever read. It's what got me to join this group. I'm hoping for more like it, while waiting for the Soul Searching sequel. This book had great human characters, a brilliantly-conceived awakening computer, the Singularity, romance, a look at using technology to investigate the spiritual realm, and a plot that surprised me over and over again. It made me think about things in ways I never had. So if you have suggestions for anything like it PLEASE LET ME KNOW!


message 35: by Steph (new)

Steph Bennion (stephbennion) Is this still the thread for writers? I read hard sci-fi (I'm currently getting into Alastair Reynolds), but I'm not sure whether what I write can be regarded as such. For instance, where does 'hard sci-fi' stand on FTL travel? Does it have to be explained?


message 36: by Keith (new)

Keith Caserta | 9 comments Soul Searching

Hi everyone!

I'm Keith Caserta, an author of hard science fiction based on thoughtful projections of real science and engineering into stories that take place in the near or far future. My particular niche is hard scifi with a romantic and philosophical twist, which adds a flavor of excitement, meaning and personal depth to the technology of the story. I try to tell stories that focus on the beings (human or otherwise), what’s happening to them as a result of the influence of technology on their lives, what this means to them personally (deep inside), and what they learn about some critical question about existence that’s important to all of us.

For example, in my novel, Soul Searching, the technology involves the birth of a superintelligent machine and a novel way that it interacts with people. The underlying philosophical question is whether or not science and scientific methods could be used to answer theological questions. The story is told through the supermachine’s interaction with two college coeds and the profound affect it has on their lives and relationships.

In my forthcoming book, Galactic Shadows, the philosophical question is whether or not we truly have free will. The story is told through a clash of technology and civilizations. And at its heart, it’s a story of an alien’s struggle to adapt to Earth.

Here's a link to more information about Soul Searching:

http://drkjcaserta.com/page8.php

Please take a moment to check it out. It's available on Amazon and B&N for $5.49. Thanks for reading! Here's the Amazon link:

http://www.amazon.com/Soul-Searching-...

- Keith


message 37: by Keith (new)

Keith Caserta | 9 comments Steph wrote: "Is this still the thread for writers? I read hard sci-fi (I'm currently getting into Alastair Reynolds), but I'm not sure whether what I write can be regarded as such. For instance, where does 'har..."

Here's my view on that. In my upcoming novel, I use FTL. As a hard SciFi writer, I did feel obligated to say something [believable] about how it works. In doing that, I found a neat link into the plot of the early part of the novel. So it worked out for me.

Could I have gotten by without that explanation? Maybe, but I would have felt uncomfortable with just laying it on the reader. Maybe I'm too much of a purist regarding the science in my books. I definitely tried to make my recent novel, Soul Searching, scientifically believable.

BTW, I am a scientist.

I'd love to hear other opinions.


message 38: by Graham (new)

Graham Storrs (grahamstorrs) Kieth, I'm with you. I'm in the middle of a big 6-book space opera that includes two different kinds of FTL and near-light-speed travel. I've felt obliged to explain them all. However, it may be no coincidence that the one novel I've had commercially published is a time travel story where I did not even try to come up with some exotic speculative science to explain the rather unusual way this is done in the book. No-one has complained and I've had quite a lot of people praising the book for NOT trying to explain it.

Nevertheless, I still feel the science behind the technology should be sound, even in fiction. I've noticed there is a trend these days to invoke "new physics" when something impossible is needed. Alastair Reynolds just did this in his new book 'Blue Remembered Earth' and I'm OK with that as long as the "new physics" doesn't contradict the old.


message 39: by David (new)

David (davidbrandt) | 105 comments RE: FTL
1) First question is does the story truly require the travel time be less than what is possible without FTL?

2) Personally, I feel if you must include FTL (or other tech unsupported by science), it's better to quietly sneak it in with as little reference to it as possible. "Explanations" of tech which have no real scientific basis can make many SF reader mistakenly think there is a scientifically accept means of FTL.

3) Depending on one's definition of "FTL", there are means (such as wormholes) which are not absolutely excluded by science.

4) I have a page at my website which tries to present current scientific understanding of issues of FTL by various means. You may find it useful, or you may want to refer me to science sources if you think the page should be updated. http://www.hardsf.org/HSFTFtl.htm

David


message 40: by Keith (new)

Keith Caserta | 9 comments David wrote: "RE: FTL
I agree, David, that throwing FTL or any other as-yet-nonexistant technology into the story when you don't need to shouldn't be done. That said, minor technological "projections" can add flavor, depth and interest to a story. Eg., picture Chicago in the second half of this century. Should it have bridges or buildings constructed from carbon nanotubes? Even though those structures are only incidental to creating a picture of the city, not critical to the plot? I would say that examples like that add to the tale by providing images to the reader.

I agree with Graham - the science should be sound, even if projected into the future. At least it shouldn't go against the known natural laws, unless you make the argument as to why the laws (or theories) might be wrong.

Whatever you do, as a writer, you owe it to your readers to make the story interesting - it is science FICTION after all.



message 41: by Outis (new)

Outis | 64 comments I don't know if reader perspectives are welcome in this thread. If not, apologies.
But with all due respect, I think you're all missing something.

You don't need to explain handwavium technology or give pseudo-scientific rationalizations for your physics-raping plot devices. That's not the point of SF.
The point of SF is consequences. You should show how your imaginary technologies impact people's lives and your imaginary world should make sense.
The difference between "a wizard did it" and technology is that the latter is replicable, predictable and governed by objective rules. A technology is going to tend to be widely used and abused for any number of purposes. Think about the social impact of the printing press or the impact of airplanes on warfare.
If a technical or scientific explanation of an imaginary technology explains why it can be used this way but can't be used that way, it has served a purpose. Otherwise it's superfluous.

I try to keep an open mind but I tend disregard any work featuring FTL and claiming to be hard SF.
FTL is counter-intuitive and logically challenging. It's very corrosive to plots and settings. In space comedy or space fantasy, that's OK. But it's hard to use it and keep things plausible.
Trying to keep things sane in spite of the widespread availability of FTL engines has led serious writers to spend a lot more time explaining how their FTL doesn't work than explaining how it works. It has also led them to make up lots of preposterous technobabble for the sole purpose of protecting their plots and settings from FTL.
If you're going to have FTL in hard SF and want your settings and plots to be internally consistent without having to put a lot of work into it, consider having conveniently limited plot devices like stargates built by an ancient alien civilization instead of things like FTL-capable ships people can build. You probably haven't thought out what people could to with the technology...

The only Reynolds book I finished had one of the best handling of interstellar travel I've read.
I don't recall he wasted any time on explaining how the technology worked. But he took some steps to protect his plot and setting against the corrosive effects of this preposterous technology in a non-obtrusive way (people who are not aware of the issues would probably not noticed it).


message 42: by Steph (new)

Steph Bennion (stephbennion) Outis wrote: "I don't know if reader perspectives are welcome in this thread. If not, apologies..."

A reader's perspective is always welcome! I think I know what you mean about keeping it internally consistent. I read one of Elizabeth Moon's books and to me it seemed odd to have FTL ships that didn't have FTL comms equipment, when you'd expect the communications stuff to be the earlier and more widespread technology (i.e. the challenges of sending a signal through space versus that to send a whole spaceship).

I'm intrigued by your comment, "You probably haven't thought out what people could do..." - what did you have in mind? I used a variation on wormholes (with minimal explanation), as the plot demanded a way of getting from one star system to another in a matter of days. In general though I've tried to keep the science as plausible as possible and even did the maths to work out the centrifugal 'gravity' inside a spinning colony ship...

As an aside, I think space comedy FTL deserves a thread of its own - my favourite is the bloater drive in Bill, the Galactic Hero - truly bonkers!


message 43: by Graham (last edited Jun 11, 2012 03:33PM) (new)

Graham Storrs (grahamstorrs) I agree, Outis, that the consideration of consequences is a major part of what SF is about - and a major part of the fun. Having plausible science and technology is by no means as important but, for some of us, it certainly has *some* importance - and projections of plausible technologies are also part of the fun.

By the way, I don't think you can distinguish SF and Fantasy as easily as saying one has rules and the other doesn't. Much fantasy is indeed just a hotch-potch of magical nonsense, but some fantasy writers are very concerned to create worlds in which magic works within its own rules and that those rules are internally consistent. They create a kind of magical technology based on the laws of a sort of supernatural science. They also tend to have the equivalents of conservation laws and energy budgets to explain the limitations of the magical beings involved in the stories. Why they don't just use real science and technology, I don't know. Maybe it all seems like magic to the people who write like this.


message 44: by Keith (new)

Keith Caserta | 9 comments Steph wrote: "Outis wrote: "I don't know if reader perspectives are welcome in this thread. If not, apologies..."

I agree with everything you said, except the comms part. Only time (centuries, millennia?) will tell if FTL is possible. However, if you take something like the Alcumbierre drive for FTL, it's quite possible that you could move a ship but still not be able to send electromagnetic waves (i.e., signals) faster than light. In that case, I assume civilizations would send probes for communication.



message 45: by Outis (new)

Outis | 64 comments re: the uses of pseudo-wormholes
It depends on what you're talking about.
A single deus ex machina type of pseudo-wormhole that just happens to appear at a convenient location in two star systems is not such a big deal because it's an extremely limited form of FTL. It'd a huge boon for science obviously. Astronomy in particular would benefit from the ability to gain knowledge about the past or the future of distant objects and to plan observations accordingly. People would try to use the quasi-magical power of the pseudo-wormhole as an energy source. I suppose people might want to carry valuable stuff through it. And I would certainly expect the most powerful organizations of your setting to use any means necessary to gain exclusive control of the pseudo-wormhole and all that goes through it (especially information). But at the end of the day our intuition and our causal logic can easily accomodate such a pseudo-wormhole even if its properties would be scientifically implausible (to put it mildly).
If you're talking about a technology that would allow people to create arbitary pseudo-wormholes, it's a totally different deal. The Fermi paradox just got a major upgrade. And if such a insanely powerful technology got in the hand of anyone but a small controlling clique...

re: Dungeons & Dragons magic
I'm simply not familiar with the use of that sort of magic in literature.
In the fantasy I'm familiar with, magic is unpredictable, often involving beings or forces mortals do not understand. And authorial hand-waving reigns supreme.

re: "only time (centuries, millennia?) will tell if FTL is possible"
Anything is possible. That doesn't make everything plausible.
Any story involving FTL is going to be a hard sell with some readers. I guess you can't please everyone.


message 46: by Graham (new)

Graham Storrs (grahamstorrs) The funny thing about FTL travel is that it's happening all the time at a quantum level - if you accept the interpretation that says the moment-to-moment location of subatomic particles can be literally anywhere in the universe (but the probability of them being where you'd 'classically' expect them is extremely high). The universe clearly allows instantaneous travel to happen at quantum scales. (Or have I misunderstood this?) Perhaps one day we'll understand the mechanism behind it and be able to harness it.


message 47: by David (new)

David (davidbrandt) | 105 comments Graham: Whether or not we should view quantum probability as allowing quantum FTL, clearly physicists believe quantum entanglement effects are not limited by light speed. On the other hand, quantum entanglement doesn't seem to allow meaningful FTL communication (as additional info must be sent by non-entanglement methods). Similarly, I've read explanations saying that the laws that could allow the existence of tachyons would prevent them from sending "information". So we may have to distinguish between natural FTL which can't be made "useful" for humans and human-controlled, "useful" FTL.


message 48: by Outis (new)

Outis | 64 comments I don't want to push this thread further off-topic but I don't think Graham was talking about entanglement but indeterminacy. I've heard people comment on the HUP equation that way (recall it has no hard limit on distance).
I dare say you have misunderstood this, Graham. But that's not the issue.
More to the point, if knowledgable readers don't even understand what you're talking about when you try to rationalize FTL...

For an elegant (if implausible) use of QM in fiction, see LeGuin's ansible.
It used entanglement. I'm not aware of any clever (ab)use of indeterminacy in SF, probably because there's nothing to harness.


message 49: by David (new)

David (davidbrandt) | 105 comments Outis has a point about pushing the thread's topic. If there is interest in further FTL talk, we might consider a new thread.


message 50: by Graham (new)

Graham Storrs (grahamstorrs) David, Outis is right, I wasn't referring to entanglement. However, back on the communications thing, I see entanglement used for communication all the time in SF, even though there appears to be no way to pass information that way. I don't recall Le Guin explaining how her ansible was supposed to work. Was that entanglement too?

Outis, I haven't (yet) tried to use uncertainty to provide an FTL mechanism but who knows, perhaps with the right hidden variable model... I vaguely recall an Isaac Asimov story in which he used the Pauli exclusion principle :-)


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