2018-04-24 05:48:53 UTC
of high sub-light speeds has been developed and there are colonies in many
nearby star systems. The colonies stay in touch with Earth by means of
small courier ships, crewed by two people each. The space drive is like
that of the Overlords in _Childhood's End_ in that the ships accelerate
to their relativistic cruising speed in just a few days, so that the crew
experience a subjective trip time of just a few months on each voyage.
This results in them becoming temporal castaways, and each of the
few people willing to do this has their own motivation. The protagonist
enjoys being able to "fast forward" through history, following social and cultural developments.
I remember a couple of details. In this future some fiction has become
legend, and visitors to Hong Kong sometimes try to find the apartment where
Suzie Wong lived. This seems plausible; when I visited Mount Rushmore
one of the park rangers mentioned that tourists there often ask about the
house on top of the mountain, as seen in Alfred Hitchcock's film
_North by Northwest_.
Given the operating characteristics of the space drive, navigation is
extremely critical during the acceleration phase of the flight.
Once they are established on course the crew just has to monitor
systems until it is time to decelerate. When asked by non-astronauts
what it's like to pilot a starship, the protagonist's partner
will typically answer, "It's simple enough: second star to the right
and straight on till morning."