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[tor dot com] Five Worldbuilding Errors That Should Be Banished from SF Forever
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James Nicoll
2018-09-28 13:47:24 UTC
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Five Worldbuilding Errors That Should Be Banished from SF Forever

https://www.tor.com/2018/09/28/five-worldbuilding-errors-that-should-be-banished-from-sf-forever/
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Dorothy J Heydt
2018-09-28 14:41:46 UTC
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Post by James Nicoll
Five Worldbuilding Errors That Should Be Banished from SF Forever
https://www.tor.com/2018/09/28/five-worldbuilding-errors-that-should-be-banished-from-sf-forever/
"Server connection failed."

This may or may not be Tor's fault; Hal reports that he can't get
onto the LotRO website either.
--
Dorothy J. Heydt
Vallejo, California
djheydt at gmail dot com
www.kithrup.com/~djheydt/
Quadibloc
2018-09-28 16:03:46 UTC
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Post by Dorothy J Heydt
"Server connection failed."
This may or may not be Tor's fault; Hal reports that he can't get
onto the LotRO website either.
Interesting. I got there now. A couple of days ago, I was having a strange
inability to access some web sites, but it was temporary. Maybe their servers had a momentary glitch.

John Savard
Quadibloc
2018-09-28 16:02:28 UTC
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Post by James Nicoll
Five Worldbuilding Errors That Should Be Banished from SF Forever
https://www.tor.com/2018/09/28/five-worldbuilding-errors-that-should-be-banished-from-sf-forever/
Keeping track of the movements of our nearby stars is hard work...

But even more to the point, most SF assumes spaceships have propulsion systems
that get them from here to there quickly. So they go the direct route, and they
don't need gravity assists. Furthermore, unless they've *planned* to benefit
from one, passing by a planet with a large gravity is more likely to divert them
from their intended course.

So what you've identified as a "mistake" there doesn't seem to really be a
mistake to me. If you're going in a straight line from Earth to Saturn in three
days, you probably would rather just make a short detour away from Jupiter than
try and figure out if Jupiter could save you a little fuel.

John Savard
J. Clarke
2018-09-28 22:14:27 UTC
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On Fri, 28 Sep 2018 09:02:28 -0700 (PDT), Quadibloc
Post by Quadibloc
Post by James Nicoll
Five Worldbuilding Errors That Should Be Banished from SF Forever
https://www.tor.com/2018/09/28/five-worldbuilding-errors-that-should-be-banished-from-sf-forever/
Keeping track of the movements of our nearby stars is hard work...
But even more to the point, most SF assumes spaceships have propulsion systems
that get them from here to there quickly. So they go the direct route, and they
don't need gravity assists. Furthermore, unless they've *planned* to benefit
from one, passing by a planet with a large gravity is more likely to divert them
from their intended course.
So what you've identified as a "mistake" there doesn't seem to really be a
mistake to me. If you're going in a straight line from Earth to Saturn in three
days, you probably would rather just make a short detour away from Jupiter than
try and figure out if Jupiter could save you a little fuel.
The real mistakes are the stories where something going half the speed
of light benefits hugely from a gravity assist.
David Johnston
2018-09-28 18:26:00 UTC
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Post by James Nicoll
Five Worldbuilding Errors That Should Be Banished from SF Forever
https://www.tor.com/2018/09/28/five-worldbuilding-errors-that-should-be-banished-from-sf-forever/
While it is true that stars move in all my time consuming science
fiction I can't think of a single story where I would stop and say
"Wait, that isn't possible /because stars move/". It's simply not an
issue. Certainly not a common error in worldbuilding.
James Nicoll
2018-09-28 18:33:19 UTC
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Post by James Nicoll
Post by James Nicoll
Five Worldbuilding Errors That Should Be Banished from SF Forever
https://www.tor.com/2018/09/28/five-worldbuilding-errors-that-should-be-banished-from-sf-forever/
While it is true that stars move in all my time consuming science
fiction I can't think of a single story where I would stop and say
"Wait, that isn't possible /because stars move/". It's simply not an
issue. Certainly not a common error in worldbuilding.
A terrible, terrible book called CUSP required Alpha Centauri have
been near the sun for a billion years, and I think there's a Rob Sawyer
novel set in the far future that also has Alpha C still next door.
--
My reviews can be found at http://jamesdavisnicoll.com/
My Dreamwidth at https://james-davis-nicoll.dreamwidth.org/
My patreon is at https://www.patreon.com/jamesdnicoll
Dorothy J Heydt
2018-09-28 19:21:16 UTC
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Post by James Nicoll
Post by James Nicoll
Five Worldbuilding Errors That Should Be Banished from SF Forever
https://www.tor.com/2018/09/28/five-worldbuilding-errors-that-should-be-banished-from-sf-forever/
While it is true that stars move in all my time consuming science
fiction I can't think of a single story where I would stop and say
"Wait, that isn't possible /because stars move/". It's simply not an
issue. Certainly not a common error in worldbuilding.
Well ... human lives are so short that stories involving humans
traveling between the stars aren't going to involve much
difference.

Unless you're Stapledon.
--
Dorothy J. Heydt
Vallejo, California
djheydt at gmail dot com
www.kithrup.com/~djheydt/
Robert Carnegie
2018-09-28 20:04:30 UTC
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Post by David Johnston
Post by James Nicoll
Five Worldbuilding Errors That Should Be Banished from SF Forever
https://www.tor.com/2018/09/28/five-worldbuilding-errors-that-should-be-banished-from-sf-forever/
While it is true that stars move in all my time consuming science
fiction I can't think of a single story where I would stop and say
"Wait, that isn't possible /because stars move/". It's simply not an
issue. Certainly not a common error in worldbuilding.
I think that _Stargate SG-1_ had multiple explanations
offered of how the Stargate actually works (ahem!);
the Earth people did achieve insight, after finding
that more than one other distant planet /had/ a
Stargate, that a database of coordinates was mostly
non-working because star systems had moved around.
In this version, Stargate dialling (ahem!) presumably
points the wormhole in three dimensions - occasionally
more when some large object is in the way - a solar flare
for instance.
Cryptoengineer
2018-09-29 15:55:16 UTC
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Post by David Johnston
Post by James Nicoll
Five Worldbuilding Errors That Should Be Banished from SF Forever
https://www.tor.com/2018/09/28/five-worldbuilding-errors-that-should-b
e-banished-from-sf-forever/
While it is true that stars move in all my time consuming science
fiction I can't think of a single story where I would stop and say
"Wait, that isn't possible /because stars move/". It's simply not an
issue. Certainly not a common error in worldbuilding.
If a time traveller moves more than 50,000 years or so, and mentions
recognizable constellations, its happening.

A different mechanism can throw off a time traveller's navigation even
faster: The precession of the equioxes. Polaris is currently within 1
degree of the pole (and getting closer), but in ~320 BC the navigator
Pytheas described the celestial pole as devoid of stars.

pt
Robert Carnegie
2018-09-29 16:59:05 UTC
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Post by Cryptoengineer
Post by David Johnston
Post by James Nicoll
Five Worldbuilding Errors That Should Be Banished from SF Forever
https://www.tor.com/2018/09/28/five-worldbuilding-errors-that-should-b
e-banished-from-sf-forever/
While it is true that stars move in all my time consuming science
fiction I can't think of a single story where I would stop and say
"Wait, that isn't possible /because stars move/". It's simply not an
issue. Certainly not a common error in worldbuilding.
If a time traveller moves more than 50,000 years or so, and mentions
recognizable constellations, its happening.
A different mechanism can throw off a time traveller's navigation even
faster: The precession of the equioxes. Polaris is currently within 1
degree of the pole (and getting closer), but in ~320 BC the navigator
Pytheas described the celestial pole as devoid of stars.
pt
Smart time travellers use that to check their navigation.

Interstellar travellers take an interest in constellations.

When you said "recognisable" constellations, I thought you
meant "with visible differences, but identifiable".
More distant stars have less visible movement, but have
to be brighter to be seen.

My impression was that the common "example" of
Ursa Major, mentioned here as getting warped over
the next 50,000 years <https://spaceplace.nasa.gov/review/dr-marc-space/constellations.html>
(but without showing that), is unusually fast breaking up.

I say "common"; we may be remembering it from
the "Peanuts" cartoon?
David DeLaney
2018-10-09 09:25:19 UTC
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Post by Robert Carnegie
My impression was that the common "example" of
Ursa Major, mentioned here as getting warped over
the next 50,000 years
<https://spaceplace.nasa.gov/review/dr-marc-space/constellations.html>
Post by Robert Carnegie
(but without showing that), is unusually fast breaking up.
I say "common"; we may be remembering it from the "Peanuts" cartoon?
... More likely from H.A. Rey's wonderful book "The Stars: A New Way to See
Them", which I think should be freely available in any household containing
children, and many that don't.

Dave, includes a table of planet-visibility for a few decades, which ones
varying with the edition, IIRC

ps: YES, he's the Curious George writer
--
\/David DeLaney posting thru EarthLink - "It's not the pot that grows the flower
It's not the clock that slows the hour The definition's plain for anyone to see
Love is all it takes to make a family" - R&P. VISUALIZE HAPPYNET VRbeable<BLINK>
my gatekeeper archives are no longer accessible :( / I WUV you in all CAPS! --K.
Dorothy J Heydt
2018-09-29 17:50:31 UTC
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Post by Cryptoengineer
Post by David Johnston
Post by James Nicoll
Five Worldbuilding Errors That Should Be Banished from SF Forever
https://www.tor.com/2018/09/28/five-worldbuilding-errors-that-should-b
e-banished-from-sf-forever/
While it is true that stars move in all my time consuming science
fiction I can't think of a single story where I would stop and say
"Wait, that isn't possible /because stars move/". It's simply not an
issue. Certainly not a common error in worldbuilding.
If a time traveller moves more than 50,000 years or so, and mentions
recognizable constellations, its happening.
E.g., the Doctor Who episode "Heaven Sent." The Doctor not only
recognizes that the stars have moved, he can roughly calculate
how much time has elapsed since the last time he saw them.
--
Dorothy J. Heydt
Vallejo, California
djheydt at gmail dot com
www.kithrup.com/~djheydt/
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