Sci-fi plausibility

Things that don't belong anywhere else. (Check first).

Moderators: Moderators General, Prelates, Magistrates

User avatar
Sableagle
Ormurinn's Alt
Posts: 2149
Joined: Sat Jun 13, 2015 4:26 pm UTC
Location: The wrong side of the mirror
Contact:

Sci-fi plausibility

Postby Sableagle » Sat Oct 03, 2015 7:59 pm UTC

Does anyone else have an irate scientist living inside their skulls, metaphorically speaking, who rants at sci-fi stuff that doesn't make sense?

"How would that work? What do you mean it has to be tuned to reflect them? You mean if I gave ten soldiers ten weapons tuned to ten different frequencies he could only block one of them per hour? Come off it. Nobody tried that? Why is that guy's visor broadcasting everything he sees? It's in physical contact with his head. It doesn't need to do that. Why is that plasma not dispersing on its way through space? Why can I hear your weapons firing in space? How come these laser bolts glow as they go, and seem to be going at about 1000 m/s not most of 300,000,000 m/s? What does that magnetic field *do*? WHY did anyone develop THAT without using that technology to solve any of THOSE problems first? Oh, come on. You guys have those things and they can do that, but you can't be bothered to help these people out and they still want to help you in exchange for what's basically a string of glass beads? No, viruses don't actually do that. You're thinking of bacteria, or fungi or amoebae or something, not viruses. You ... doctor? Doctor of what, astrophysics? You ever heard of sterile technique? It's not just for downloading porn, you know. You can hover 30 miles up without having to orbit, you have a wand of wall-building and your problem is a few thousand orcs packed closely together and crossing a bridge an hour from now? How are you not thinking what I'm thinking?"

That would work, wouldn't it? Wand that magically creates a 120ftx20ftx5ft slab of rock in front of you, 30 miles up, not at orbital speed ... 36.576mx6.096mx1.524m slab of basalt, nearly 340 m3, at 2.4-3.1t/m3, so about 918t of rock, just over 48km up ... maybe 300 gigajoules of kinetic energy at impact, like 75 tonnes of TNT? How accurately could that be aimed?

Can sci-fi be compared this way? Once things get into "clearly sci-fi not just predicted near-future advances," can we say that one film, book or game has more plausible sci-fi than another, or at least more internally consistent sci-fi, or is "technology advanced enough to be mistaken for magic" beyond our comprehension and thus beyond our judgement?
Zohar wrote:You don't know what you're talking about. Please spare me your quote sniping and general obliviousness.

CorruptUser wrote:Just admit that you were wrong ... and your entire life, cyberspace and meatspace both, would be orders of magnitude more enjoyable for you and others around you.

User avatar
Neil_Boekend
Posts: 3220
Joined: Fri Mar 01, 2013 6:35 am UTC
Location: Yes.

Re: Sci-fi plausibility

Postby Neil_Boekend » Sun Oct 04, 2015 9:47 am UTC

It's called suspensions of disbelief. That is what paves over glaring plotholes.
Mikeski wrote:A "What If" update is never late. Nor is it early. It is posted precisely when it should be.

patzer's signature wrote:
flicky1991 wrote:I'm being quoted too much!

he/him/his

User avatar
ucim
Posts: 6888
Joined: Fri Sep 28, 2012 3:23 pm UTC
Location: The One True Thread

Re: Sci-fi plausibility

Postby ucim » Sun Oct 04, 2015 3:23 pm UTC

... although in some cases it's more like suspension bridges over disbelief. See (Warning - TVTropes reference) "rule of cool", "rule of funny", and the like. There is also simply poor writing.

Yes, Sci-fi (and other forms of fiction) can be broadly rated in this category, but one man's junk is another man's cliché.

It also falls under the "not everything is shown" trope. You don't watch or read about every little detail that a person does (that makes him or her ready for the next thing you do see or read about); but you just assume that whatever was necessary was done. Likewise, when the Heliotrope Expansion button is pressed and the enemy ship blows up, you assume that the two are connected, without having all the physics explained (nor how it acquired the misnomer everyone uses - see "nuke" for "microwave"). (Seriously, who explains the science behind the internal combustion engine every time the ignition key is turned?).

Yes, some things grate, but overall, what really grates is a poorly written story, not a missing textbook.

Jose
Order of the Sillies, Honoris Causam - bestowed by charlie_grumbles on NP 859 * OTTscar winner: Wordsmith - bestowed by yappobiscuts and the OTT on NP 1832 * Ecclesiastical Calendar of the Order of the Holy Contradiction * Heartfelt thanks from addams and from me - you really made a difference.

User avatar
Sableagle
Ormurinn's Alt
Posts: 2149
Joined: Sat Jun 13, 2015 4:26 pm UTC
Location: The wrong side of the mirror
Contact:

Re: Sci-fi plausibility

Postby Sableagle » Sun Oct 04, 2015 5:52 pm UTC

Oh, yeah, that. That thing. The alien mothership in Independence Day, installation zero-four in Halo:CE, probably one of the Death Stars, a Borg Cube or two and a few Cylon Basestars all blow up with a flash and a fireball in the middle and a ring of pale blue plasma-like stuff that always expands in a ring, trailing bits as if it's encountering some sort of air resistance, tilted slightly left or right and slightly towards the camera, and the ship flying away from it always goes off the top of the screen. What is that ring, and why is it always just below the ship that caused the explosion?

I may be exaggerating the frequency, but after a few times you start thinking maybe it's the signature of a recurring killer in a meta-horror-movie that spans decades and genres.
Zohar wrote:You don't know what you're talking about. Please spare me your quote sniping and general obliviousness.

CorruptUser wrote:Just admit that you were wrong ... and your entire life, cyberspace and meatspace both, would be orders of magnitude more enjoyable for you and others around you.

User avatar
Kewangji
Has Been Touched
Posts: 2254
Joined: Sun Oct 07, 2007 5:20 pm UTC
Location: Lost in Translation
Contact:

Re: Sci-fi plausibility

Postby Kewangji » Sun Oct 04, 2015 5:58 pm UTC

If a story contradicts itself I quickly invent some shenanigan theology for the world it takes place in. Probably the very simple explanations they laid out early on were not actually true, but dumbed down versions of a vast, almost incomprehensible truth. Plot holes are good for you -- they make you an active reader, and you engage with the work thusly. I also see movies as something like abstractions of what "actually happened" in the world that the fiction is about. (This is why Bond can be the same character even when played by different people, and this is why aliens speak English. It is not historically known whether Han shot first or not, and eyewitness accounts are unreliable, and it all happened so fast.) I think, lately, I prefer things that are not internally consistent, at least to some degree.
If you like my words sign up for my newsletter, Airport Tattoo Parlour: https://tinyletter.com/distantstations

The Great Hippo wrote:Nuclear bombs are like potato chips, you can't stop after just *one*

User avatar
ucim
Posts: 6888
Joined: Fri Sep 28, 2012 3:23 pm UTC
Location: The One True Thread

Re: Sci-fi plausibility

Postby ucim » Sun Oct 04, 2015 8:05 pm UTC

Sablegate wrote:Oh, yeah, that. That thing. [...] What is that ring, and why is it always just below the ship that caused the explosion?

That's the polymorphic resonance wave. It occurs whenever a subspace power generator falls out of phase; of course it's most intense when such a generator falls out of phase because it blows up and there's no polyphasic synch wave following it. Without the synch wave, the resonance between normal space and subspace causes stress at the boundary, and this causes a high intensity photonic emission. It's not subject to the inverse square law because the energy comes from local space itself, not from the subspace power supply that blew up.

Normally, polymorphic resonance waves and their associated synch waves are harmless and invisible, kind of like the radio waves of early Earth technology. It's only when the two components are separated that these effects happen. As a crude analogy, you can think of an electromagnetic wave (like a radio wave) stripped of its magnetic component.

What is often called "Banyan Space" is a six dimensional resonant structure composed of ordinary space (three ordinary dimensions and three tightly-curled dimensions), and subspace (three tightly curled dimensions and three ordinary dimensions). The two components are tightly bound; the curled up dimensions of one component wind around the ordinary dimensions of the other. As the two components of B.S. interact with each other, polymorphic resonance waves occur, along with their associated synch waves. It is through these interactions that subspace was initially discovered.

B.S. has a very high binding energy; attempts to peel apart its components meet with very high resistance. But once peeled apart, that binding energy is available to power spaceships and whatnot, limited only by the total binding energy of the universe (which it's a good idea not to exceed!) It's a little like the wing of a primitive flying machine, which splits the air stream temporarily, and uses the binding energy of the atmosphere (sometimes called "pressure") to keep aloft.

The actual dissociation of space and subspace happens in the locally weakest binding direction; the other two (sets of paired) dimensions are the ones that manifest the stress. This is why the outgoing polymorphic resonance wave is ring-shaped. Simple photonic pressure accounts for some of the debris motion, but by and large the acceleration effects are due to the fact that the circumference outside the ring is larger than the circumference inside the ring, causing a net acceleration vector in the radial direction.

The reason it's "below" the spaceship is that it is a subspace phenomenon. If you were "in" subspace, watching the explosion from there, you'd perceive the ring to be "above" the spaceship.

Really. I thought this was all covered in elementary school!

Jose
Order of the Sillies, Honoris Causam - bestowed by charlie_grumbles on NP 859 * OTTscar winner: Wordsmith - bestowed by yappobiscuts and the OTT on NP 1832 * Ecclesiastical Calendar of the Order of the Holy Contradiction * Heartfelt thanks from addams and from me - you really made a difference.

User avatar
Flumble
Yes Man
Posts: 2263
Joined: Sun Aug 05, 2012 9:35 pm UTC

Re: Sci-fi plausibility

Postby Flumble » Sun Oct 04, 2015 9:55 pm UTC

Great explanation ucim! I hadn't even made the connection to airfoil mechanics yet.

Though I think the main reason to fly just above the ring is mostly a matter of safety: the bow of a space ship is heavily shielded, so you want to have the worst stresses on the underside, and perpendicular to the ring -like a quasar- you may encounter a deadly stream of quantum radiation (which is invisible from aside), so you want to stay close to the less harmful resonance wave.

User avatar
Whizbang
The Best Reporter
Posts: 2238
Joined: Fri Apr 06, 2012 7:50 pm UTC
Location: New Hampshire, USA

Re: Sci-fi plausibility

Postby Whizbang » Sun Oct 04, 2015 11:09 pm UTC

image.jpeg


Spoiler:
image.jpeg
image.jpeg (23.48 KiB) Viewed 7123 times

Iv
Posts: 1207
Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2007 1:08 pm UTC
Location: Lyon, France

Re: Sci-fi plausibility

Postby Iv » Mon Oct 05, 2015 12:20 am UTC

Every science-fiction work makes sense. Every. Last. One. Of. Them. Proving it is our mission at https://xs.reddit.com/r/asksciencefiction

User avatar
Whizbang
The Best Reporter
Posts: 2238
Joined: Fri Apr 06, 2012 7:50 pm UTC
Location: New Hampshire, USA

Re: Sci-fi plausibility

Postby Whizbang » Mon Oct 05, 2015 2:06 am UTC

Well, shit. There goes my productivity.

User avatar
Sableagle
Ormurinn's Alt
Posts: 2149
Joined: Sat Jun 13, 2015 4:26 pm UTC
Location: The wrong side of the mirror
Contact:

Re: Sci-fi plausibility

Postby Sableagle » Mon Oct 05, 2015 7:59 pm UTC

Kewangji wrote:This is why Bond can be the same character even when played by different people.
Actually, Bond is two people. If you read the original books and take careful notes, you can use references like scars and things to create a timeline and arrange the books along it, but you'll find that after the first few it splits into two parallel timelines, both of which refer back to themselves and things in those first books and neither of which ever refers to events in the other timeline ...

... which is weird, right?
Zohar wrote:You don't know what you're talking about. Please spare me your quote sniping and general obliviousness.

CorruptUser wrote:Just admit that you were wrong ... and your entire life, cyberspace and meatspace both, would be orders of magnitude more enjoyable for you and others around you.

User avatar
Kewangji
Has Been Touched
Posts: 2254
Joined: Sun Oct 07, 2007 5:20 pm UTC
Location: Lost in Translation
Contact:

Re: Sci-fi plausibility

Postby Kewangji » Tue Oct 06, 2015 8:17 am UTC

That is pretty strange, and I accept it without question, although I'm not convinced the movie Bond is portraying the same universe as the book Bonds. (Also, it sounds like there were two ghost writers.)
If you like my words sign up for my newsletter, Airport Tattoo Parlour: https://tinyletter.com/distantstations

The Great Hippo wrote:Nuclear bombs are like potato chips, you can't stop after just *one*

User avatar
Lazar
Landed Gentry
Posts: 2151
Joined: Tue Dec 29, 2009 11:49 pm UTC
Location: Massachusetts

Re: Sci-fi plausibility

Postby Lazar » Tue Oct 06, 2015 8:35 am UTC

When I was a kid I invested myself very heavily in the Star Trek universe, but as I grew more aware of the plotholes, technical inconsistencies and other dissatisfying elements within it, I had to step back. I still do enjoy watching it from time to time, for entertainment and nostalgia value – but I no longer fantastize about it in depth, envisioning myself inside it, like I once did. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not some purist who insists on rigorous scientific plausibility; I have no problem with warp drive, transporters or artificial gravity, and if anything I prefer sci-fi that includes those sorts of things. But I think that you should introduce speculative elements only to the extent that they're needed to facilitate the story, that you should try to supplement known science rather than actively contradicting it, and that you should adhere to consistent rules within your fictional universe. I think many of the problems with Star Trek stemmed from the fact that it was constructed in a piecemeal, ad hoc fashion by too many different writers, which not only disrupted its internal consistency but also prevented it from attaining an overarching sense of dramatic vision.
Exit the vampires' castle.

User avatar
FierceContinent
Posts: 275
Joined: Wed Apr 04, 2012 8:30 pm UTC
Location: Ireland

Re: Sci-fi plausibility

Postby FierceContinent » Sun Oct 11, 2015 1:17 pm UTC

Well if you told a scientist of the Nineteenth century we'd someday get electricity from sunlight, they'd probably give you five reasons why that would be "impossible".
The greatest Science Hero is almost certainly Norman Borlaug. His selectively bred crops have saved many, many people from starvation.
Just to be clear, the number of lives Norman Borlaug is credited with saving is in the BILLIONS.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ScienceHero

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: Sci-fi plausibility

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Oct 13, 2015 10:58 pm UTC

FierceContinent wrote:Well if you told a scientist of the Nineteenth century we'd someday get electricity from sunlight, they'd probably give you five reasons why that would be "impossible".


Maaaybe. But even then, the sun was attributed with significant power to make things grow. Sure, the modern solar cell is only about 60 years old, but getting useful work from the sun is an old, old thing.

Note that plausibility is at least as much about consistency as it is about big jumps. You introduce some crazy element that is basically a superpower...fine. But I expect a certain degree of exploration of repercussions of that. Thats...the point of sci fi. And I generally expect the characters not to randomly forget that this power exists when plot demands it. Look at the Culture novels. They have a LOT of elements that are way, way beyond what we can do. And maybe beyond what we can ever do. But, things are still consistent, and thus, fairly plausible, despite the otherwise lofty elements.

User avatar
doogly
Dr. The Juggernaut of Touching Himself
Posts: 5538
Joined: Mon Oct 23, 2006 2:31 am UTC
Location: Lexington, MA
Contact:

Re: Sci-fi plausibility

Postby doogly » Wed Oct 21, 2015 12:05 pm UTC

FierceContinent wrote:Well if you told a scientist of the Nineteenth century we'd someday get electricity from sunlight, they'd probably give you five reasons why that would be "impossible".

This is certainly false.
LE4dGOLEM: What's a Doug?
Noc: A larval Doogly. They grow the tail and stinger upon reaching adulthood.

Keep waggling your butt brows Brothers.
Or; Is that your eye butthairs?

User avatar
FierceContinent
Posts: 275
Joined: Wed Apr 04, 2012 8:30 pm UTC
Location: Ireland

Re: Sci-fi plausibility

Postby FierceContinent » Mon Oct 26, 2015 3:10 pm UTC

Ok. Bad example.

This is better?
"In his 1842 book The Positive Philosophy, the French philosopher Auguste Comte wrote of the stars: “We can never learn their internal constitution, nor, in regard to some of them, how heat is absorbed by their atmosphere.” In a similar vein, he said of the planets: “We can never know anything of their chemical or mineralogical structure; and, much less, that of organized beings living on their surface.”


https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn ... y-science/
The greatest Science Hero is almost certainly Norman Borlaug. His selectively bred crops have saved many, many people from starvation.
Just to be clear, the number of lives Norman Borlaug is credited with saving is in the BILLIONS.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ScienceHero

User avatar
doogly
Dr. The Juggernaut of Touching Himself
Posts: 5538
Joined: Mon Oct 23, 2006 2:31 am UTC
Location: Lexington, MA
Contact:

Re: Sci-fi plausibility

Postby doogly » Mon Oct 26, 2015 3:17 pm UTC

Another bad example. He wasn't a scientist, he was a philosopher of science - ie, completely useless. The Hugginses were already actually getting spectroscopy from Sirius in the '60's.
LE4dGOLEM: What's a Doug?
Noc: A larval Doogly. They grow the tail and stinger upon reaching adulthood.

Keep waggling your butt brows Brothers.
Or; Is that your eye butthairs?

User avatar
Lazar
Landed Gentry
Posts: 2151
Joined: Tue Dec 29, 2009 11:49 pm UTC
Location: Massachusetts

Re: Sci-fi plausibility

Postby Lazar » Wed Nov 11, 2015 12:24 am UTC

Okay, here's a bugbear of mine: shatterable glass. It seems like no space opera is complete without somebody falling, jumping or diving through a shatterable glass surface. Examples:

– In Star Wars: Episode II, when the flying assassin droid tries to kill Padme, Obi-Wan dives through a glass window in order to grab it. And in typical action movie fashion, he doesn't suffer horrific gashes from doing so.

– In Mass Effect 2, Shepard can push an Eclipse mercenary through a glass window.

– In the Star Trek: TNG episode "Heart of Glory", when Worf shoots Korris on the engineering room balcony, Korris falls through a glass floor to the deck below. That's right, it's a floor that people walk on, and it shatters if you fall on it. And it was established in Star Trek IV, made two years before this episode, that the Federation has had transparent aluminum for centuries.

– In Star Trek VI, Scotty shoots Colonel West as he's preparing to kill the Federation president – and West then falls through a glass window to the floor below. You could argue, since the action takes place on a planet's surface, that this might be a historic building with old-fashioned glass in it – except the planet is Khitomer, a colony world, so no building on it would predate interstellar travel.

– In Star Trek: Generations, we see that the skylight on the Enterprise bridge is shattered after the ship crash-lands on Veridian III. And mind you, this is on the dorsal surface of the ship, not the ventral or forward surfaces which took the brunt of the impact – so I guess it must have been a tree limb or rock skimming over the top of the ship that did it. How is this delicate piece of glass supposed to handle micrometeoroid impacts? (And did I mention that they explicitly established that transparent aluminum is used in this universe?)

This is exactly the sort of thing I mean when I talk about unnecessary departures from reality. In none of these cases is shatterable glass even remotely essential to the story – instead of having somebody fall through glass, just have them topple over a guardrail instead. The idea that civilizations capable of FTL travel and other wondrous technologies would still be using plain, untreated glass to make windows is just stupid. The idea that they'd use it to make floors or exterior windows on starships is… beyond stupid. (Seriously, Star Trek, you take the cake on this one.) And I know there's someone out there would say, "What's the big deal? You can suspend your disbelief for so many other, bigger things in the story, so why can't you accept some little thing like this?" That's a fallacy, and there should be a name for it.
Last edited by Lazar on Wed Nov 11, 2015 12:38 am UTC, edited 2 times in total.
Exit the vampires' castle.

User avatar
SecondTalon
SexyTalon
Posts: 26528
Joined: Sat May 05, 2007 2:10 pm UTC
Location: Louisville, Kentucky, USA, Mars. HA!
Contact:

Re: Sci-fi plausibility

Postby SecondTalon » Wed Nov 11, 2015 12:31 am UTC

"What's the big deal? You can suspend your disbelief for so many other, bigger things in the story, so why can't you accept some little thing like this?" That's a fallacy, and there should be a name for it.
Moff's Law seems a likely candidate.
heuristically_alone wrote:I want to write a DnD campaign and play it by myself and DM it myself.
heuristically_alone wrote:I have been informed that this is called writing a book.

speising
Posts: 2363
Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2012 4:54 pm UTC
Location: wien

Re: Sci-fi plausibility

Postby speising » Wed Nov 11, 2015 12:38 am UTC

That the bridge of a (military) starship would be anywhere but at its core, surrounded by lots of sturdy bulkheads, is a stupidity only topped by running plasma conduits and high voltage wires through said bridge's consoles, anyway.

User avatar
RGB-es
Posts: 23
Joined: Mon Jun 15, 2015 6:55 pm UTC
Contact:

Re: Sci-fi plausibility

Postby RGB-es » Wed Nov 11, 2015 11:54 am UTC

I think there are two problems here. For one part, most "science fiction" is just "pure fiction" without any grain of science on it so it is wrongly labelled, nothing more, nothing less. The other problem is self consistency, which tend to abound on the so called "sci-fy" genre but it is not exclusive of it.

I do not care too much about the first problem, but the second one is fundamental on any kind of literature/film/whatever. Of course any kind of literature needs some kind of "surprise" but not to the point of absurdity. On an interview, Jorge Luis Borges once said (I'm quoting from memory) that and author must be able to feign that there are thing he/she do not know: that's completely different from a "this plot hole is the only way to solve the story".

SPOILER ALERT!

For example, on 1982's Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, I'm ready to accept the "let's hide on that nebula" idiocy, but not that Mr Chejov pick the wrong planet because, as Khan explains, the one he was looking for exploded and the explosion changed the orbit of the other planed that went to where the disappeared planet was, or Khan's use of trained scorpions to mind control people by introducing them on their ears so the insect could reach the host brain, and even less that at some point on the film one of the scorpions try to scape... I mean, WTF!!! The Kobayashi Maru test at the beginning of the film and the dead of Spock at the end are perhaps the best moments on the whole Star Trek universe, how they dared to ruin them with the rest of that movie!

User avatar
Neil_Boekend
Posts: 3220
Joined: Fri Mar 01, 2013 6:35 am UTC
Location: Yes.

Re: Sci-fi plausibility

Postby Neil_Boekend » Wed Nov 11, 2015 1:35 pm UTC

RGB-es, Science Fiction has come to mean "fiction set in the future" while what I understand to be "hard schience fiction" is what you would probably prefer. There aren't very many hard science fiction films, so if you want to stay entertained in that genre (and not rewatch 2001 over and over again) then you're "stuck" with books.
Mikeski wrote:A "What If" update is never late. Nor is it early. It is posted precisely when it should be.

patzer's signature wrote:
flicky1991 wrote:I'm being quoted too much!

he/him/his

User avatar
Zohar
COMMANDER PORN
Posts: 8567
Joined: Fri Apr 27, 2007 8:45 pm UTC
Location: Denver

Re: Sci-fi plausibility

Postby Zohar » Wed Nov 11, 2015 2:00 pm UTC

Neil_Boekend wrote:RGB-es, Science Fiction has come to mean "fiction set in the future" while what I understand to be "hard schience fiction" is what you would probably prefer. There aren't very many hard science fiction films, so if you want to stay entertained in that genre (and not rewatch 2001 over and over again) then you're "stuck" with books.

That's not exactly true, some sci-fi movies do a decent job with science. A few I recall from recent years - The Martian, Edge of Tomorrow, 12 Monkeys if you go back a while, there are probably a lot more I can't think of off the top of my head. They're not necessarily perfect (I wish I could just erase the last two minutes of Edge of Tomorrow), but they're pretty good.
Mighty Jalapeno: "See, Zohar agrees, and he's nice to people."
SecondTalon: "Still better looking than Jesus."

Not how I say my name

User avatar
RGB-es
Posts: 23
Joined: Mon Jun 15, 2015 6:55 pm UTC
Contact:

Re: Sci-fi plausibility

Postby RGB-es » Wed Nov 11, 2015 3:45 pm UTC

I think you did not understand what I wrote, probably I was not clear enough, but as I'd already said I have no problem on accepting deviations from science established facts like out-of-reality density of nebula or asteroid fields: my main problem is with internal inconsistencies and ridiculous inventions like the "mind control scorpions".

Another example (and other spoiler alert!) is Asimov's "The End of Eternity". In this novel there is a scientifically impossible "physiological time field" used to justify that characters continue to exist even after a change in history avoid their birth. Well, I accepted that during reading, no problem there. The problem is that this "physiological time field" makes the end of the novel impossible: it is clear that in this frame "The Eternity" cannot be destroyed even if the protagonists manage to avoid its creation because The Eternity was inside the same kind of physiological time field that protect the protagonists: hence, a contradiction. I don't like contradictions.

Regards

User avatar
SecondTalon
SexyTalon
Posts: 26528
Joined: Sat May 05, 2007 2:10 pm UTC
Location: Louisville, Kentucky, USA, Mars. HA!
Contact:

Re: Sci-fi plausibility

Postby SecondTalon » Wed Nov 11, 2015 4:35 pm UTC

I still like the variant definitions of Sci-Fi and Fantasy.


Fantasy - The story is about the hero who uses a thing to solve a problem.

Sci-Fi - The story is about the thing a hero used one time used to solve a problem and how that impacts society.

Warp drives, teleporters, death spells, wish-granting fairies, phase plasma inducers, jackalope-powered steam-shovels... doesn't matter, if the story is actually about the thing and how it changes and shapes the culture (or the story starts with a culture that's been dramatically shaped by said thing), it's probably Sci-Fi. But it the story is about how the hero solves the problem by using the jackalope-powered phase plasma wish-granting warp fairies, then it's Fantasy. Star Wars is Fantasy. Star Trek and TNG kinda straddles the line. DS9 strays closer to Sci-Fi, but while the Prophets objectively existing and influencing the world and the stable wormhole and so on are the Things, it sill has more to do with it being stuck in a singular location and not able to just whisk the "solution" away via not being near the planet of the week and able to forget about it.

And on the whole, Sci-Fi is logically consistent, or at least the author tries to make it consistent and tries to imagine how society would react to a thing existing and how it would change.

Fantasy assumes society would be basically Today plus the thing. Star Wars, with a mind-influencing laser-sword government sponsored paramilitary organization would have crazy, crazy paranoia about people who gesticulate when talking if it was Sci-Fi, just as a quick example.
heuristically_alone wrote:I want to write a DnD campaign and play it by myself and DM it myself.
heuristically_alone wrote:I have been informed that this is called writing a book.

User avatar
Zohar
COMMANDER PORN
Posts: 8567
Joined: Fri Apr 27, 2007 8:45 pm UTC
Location: Denver

Re: Sci-fi plausibility

Postby Zohar » Wed Nov 11, 2015 4:59 pm UTC

That's a pretty interesting definition. It just seems so disconnected from the traditional definitions of sci-fi and fantasy that we should use different words instead. I believe sci-fi is often called "speculative fiction", I think that would work pretty well with your definition. I don't know about fantasy though.
Mighty Jalapeno: "See, Zohar agrees, and he's nice to people."
SecondTalon: "Still better looking than Jesus."

Not how I say my name

User avatar
SecondTalon
SexyTalon
Posts: 26528
Joined: Sat May 05, 2007 2:10 pm UTC
Location: Louisville, Kentucky, USA, Mars. HA!
Contact:

Re: Sci-fi plausibility

Postby SecondTalon » Wed Nov 11, 2015 5:26 pm UTC

Epics, maybe? Tons of them follow the Hero's Journey Monomyth blueprint.
heuristically_alone wrote:I want to write a DnD campaign and play it by myself and DM it myself.
heuristically_alone wrote:I have been informed that this is called writing a book.

wumpus
Posts: 546
Joined: Thu Feb 21, 2008 12:16 am UTC

The golden age of sci-fi is eleven.

Postby wumpus » Wed Nov 11, 2015 6:51 pm UTC

"The golden age of sci-fi is eleven." - this works for a lot of things, but quite likely works best for science fiction and that was where I first heard it.

The catch with science (and pretty much all knowledge) is that it increases exponentially while the amount any one human can learn expands linearly (from birth to death). This means that each person will know some small portion of all available knowledge. When you are 11, you are unlikely to know all that much more than your typical science fiction writer. If you are the type to still read science fiction much longer, you are likely to branch off into some specialization that would take an author *years* to get right, and can spot the errors a mile off.

Between this becoming obvious and the difference in money between hard-sf types and Hollywood writers, Micheal Crichton, and Dan Brown, you can pretty much guess where much of science fiction went. Larry Niven might be independently wealthy, but they all want to get paid. Any time you are cross-checking yet another obscure fact is time you aren't writing paying copy.

User avatar
PeteP
What the peck?
Posts: 1451
Joined: Tue Aug 23, 2011 4:51 pm UTC

Re: Sci-fi plausibility

Postby PeteP » Wed Nov 11, 2015 7:04 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:I still like the variant definitions of Sci-Fi and Fantasy.


Fantasy - The story is about the hero who uses a thing to solve a problem.

Sci-Fi - The story is about the thing a hero used one time used to solve a problem and how that impacts society.

Warp drives, teleporters, death spells, wish-granting fairies, phase plasma inducers, jackalope-powered steam-shovels... doesn't matter, if the story is actually about the thing and how it changes and shapes the culture (or the story starts with a culture that's been dramatically shaped by said thing), it's probably Sci-Fi. But it the story is about how the hero solves the problem by using the jackalope-powered phase plasma wish-granting warp fairies, then it's Fantasy. Star Wars is Fantasy. Star Trek and TNG kinda straddles the line. DS9 strays closer to Sci-Fi, but while the Prophets objectively existing and influencing the world and the stable wormhole and so on are the Things, it sill has more to do with it being stuck in a singular location and not able to just whisk the "solution" away via not being near the planet of the week and able to forget about it.

And on the whole, Sci-Fi is logically consistent, or at least the author tries to make it consistent and tries to imagine how society would react to a thing existing and how it would change.

Fantasy assumes society would be basically Today plus the thing. Star Wars, with a mind-influencing laser-sword government sponsored paramilitary organization would have crazy, crazy paranoia about people who gesticulate when talking if it was Sci-Fi, just as a quick example.

Hmm there is fantasy about "how would the world look like if there was this kind of magic." But yeah speculative fiction does fit the seconds one well enough I think.

User avatar
PAstrychef
for all intimate metaphysical encounters
Posts: 3068
Joined: Sun Dec 21, 2008 6:24 pm UTC

Re: The golden age of sci-fi is eleven.

Postby PAstrychef » Thu Nov 12, 2015 3:31 am UTC

wumpus wrote:"The golden age of sci-fi is eleven." - this works for a lot of things, but quite likely works best for science fiction and that was where I first heard it.

The catch with science (and pretty much all knowledge) is that it increases exponentially while the amount any one human can learn expands linearly (from birth to death). This means that each person will know some small portion of all available knowledge. When you are 11, you are unlikely to know all that much more than your typical science fiction writer. If you are the type to still read science fiction much longer, you are likely to branch off into some specialization that would take an author *years* to get right, and can spot the errors a mile away.

I can't read most of the current crop of mysteries about foods, or with "chefs" as characters. The errors are small but irritating or huge and infuriating. Anthony Bourdain's first two books were quite good mysteries, using his experience at the CIA as background. I liked being able to tell a fellow alumnae from the bits about cooking.
And plenty of SF writers are specialists in a field of science.
As more and more of what was once science fiction becomes part of our everyday lives-just think about that computer you carry around and watch cat videos on-the science either gets more specific, as in Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars books, or moves into the background of the story-this book is SF because it's set in a galaxy far far away. The society is a bit different from ours in this one way, and here's how it works out. It's gotten harder to find stuff that's really new, technologically speaking.
Don’t become a well-rounded person. Well rounded people are smooth and dull. Become a thoroughly spiky person. Grow spikes from every angle. Stick in their throats like a puffer fish.

User avatar
Felstaff
Occam's Taser
Posts: 5178
Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2008 7:10 pm UTC
Location: ¢ ₪ ¿ ¶ § ∴ ® © ™ ؟ ¡ ‽ æ Þ ° ₰ ₤ ಡಢ

Re: Sci-fi plausibility

Postby Felstaff » Thu Nov 12, 2015 8:43 pm UTC

A (science fiction) story I'm writing at the moment has a scene where something heats exponentially. It gets hot enough to melt through the hull of a spaceship and then carries on getting hotter as it drifts away into space, until it heats enough to cause a nuclear fusion reaction and kaboom. Then I mention that the spaceship rocks from the blast, like a boat in a storm.

How...how incorrect is that? Perhaps I should post this in Fictional Science...
Away, you scullion! you rampallion! You fustilarian! I'll tickle your catastrophe.

speising
Posts: 2363
Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2012 4:54 pm UTC
Location: wien

Re: Sci-fi plausibility

Postby speising » Thu Nov 12, 2015 8:48 pm UTC

If it has lots of mass to create a plasma shock wave, why not. And to cause fusion, it needs a pretty sturdy containment anyway. (Well, rocking in the strict sense needs alternating forces in opposing directions, of course)

User avatar
Felstaff
Occam's Taser
Posts: 5178
Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2008 7:10 pm UTC
Location: ¢ ₪ ¿ ¶ § ∴ ® © ™ ؟ ¡ ‽ æ Þ ° ₰ ₤ ಡಢ

Re: Sci-fi plausibility

Postby Felstaff » Thu Nov 12, 2015 9:10 pm UTC

Sweet. Yeah, it only rocks once, in a kind of exploding-Death-Star-shockwave sorta wave. Although I'm thinking it should just roll, now you mention it. There would be no counterbalancing forces, as the spaceship in question is non-functioning and has no power.

I'm just wondering how far away does this reaction have to be from the ship for the ship to not be caught up/destroyed in the explosion. Given an earth-bound Fat Man-sized nuclear explosion would destroy everything within ~2km, I am assuming a similar measurement for spacenukes, too, or would a nuclear explosion operate under very different laws in space (except making it spherical rather than mushroomical)?
Away, you scullion! you rampallion! You fustilarian! I'll tickle your catastrophe.

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: Sci-fi plausibility

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Nov 12, 2015 9:33 pm UTC

Vaguely. Heat should be similar, blast shouldn't really be as big of an issue, because of a lack of air/water to carry the blast. Radiation should be largely unchanged, if we're talking those ranges. Close enough to not matter for sci fi purposes.

An induced roll seems appropriate.

User avatar
Lazar
Landed Gentry
Posts: 2151
Joined: Tue Dec 29, 2009 11:49 pm UTC
Location: Massachusetts

Re: Sci-fi plausibility

Postby Lazar » Thu Nov 12, 2015 9:40 pm UTC

And if it's a beyond-near-future setting, the ships will presumably have some fancy cosmic radiation shielding which would mitigate the effects of the charged particle burst. I liked how nukes were handled in new BSG – still pretty destructive, but survivable for a sufficiently large and armored ship.
Exit the vampires' castle.

User avatar
Sableagle
Ormurinn's Alt
Posts: 2149
Joined: Sat Jun 13, 2015 4:26 pm UTC
Location: The wrong side of the mirror
Contact:

Re: Sci-fi plausibility

Postby Sableagle » Mon Nov 23, 2015 3:10 pm UTC

Felstaff wrote:Sweet. Yeah, it only rocks once, in a kind of exploding-Death-Star-shockwave sorta wave. Although I'm thinking it should just roll, now you mention it. There would be no counterbalancing forces, as the spaceship in question is non-functioning and has no power.

I'm just wondering how far away does this reaction have to be from the ship for the ship to not be caught up/destroyed in the explosion. Given an earth-bound Fat Man-sized nuclear explosion would destroy everything within ~2km, I am assuming a similar measurement for spacenukes, too, or would a nuclear explosion operate under very different laws in space (except making it spherical rather than mushroomical)?


I think the ship should "be set spinning," "be sent tumbling" or "be nudged into a steady, stately cartwheel," depending on its mass and the position of the blast's thrust vector relative to the ship's centre of mass.

The mushroom cloud isn't really the explosion of a nuclear bomb. It's the aftermath. The bomb explodes fast and hard, as you'd expect from an exploding bomb. After the explosion, the hot stuff produced rises up and spreads out.
Zohar wrote:You don't know what you're talking about. Please spare me your quote sniping and general obliviousness.

CorruptUser wrote:Just admit that you were wrong ... and your entire life, cyberspace and meatspace both, would be orders of magnitude more enjoyable for you and others around you.

User avatar
Neil_Boekend
Posts: 3220
Joined: Fri Mar 01, 2013 6:35 am UTC
Location: Yes.

Re: Sci-fi plausibility

Postby Neil_Boekend » Mon Nov 23, 2015 3:31 pm UTC

Also, conventional bombs (if powerful enough) will also cause a mushroom cloud. It's just that nuclear bombs are very good at being powerfull.
Mikeski wrote:A "What If" update is never late. Nor is it early. It is posted precisely when it should be.

patzer's signature wrote:
flicky1991 wrote:I'm being quoted too much!

he/him/his

User avatar
Lazar
Landed Gentry
Posts: 2151
Joined: Tue Dec 29, 2009 11:49 pm UTC
Location: Massachusetts

Re: Sci-fi plausibility

Postby Lazar » Mon Nov 23, 2015 5:30 pm UTC

Another interesting feature of nuclear explosions is the double flash, which is caused when the shockwave momentarily obscures the fireball. But as with the mushroom cloud, this wouldn't happen in space.
Exit the vampires' castle.

User avatar
Izawwlgood
WINNING
Posts: 18686
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:55 pm UTC
Location: There may be lovelier lovelies...

Re: Sci-fi plausibility

Postby Izawwlgood » Mon Nov 23, 2015 7:11 pm UTC

Lazar wrote:Another interesting feature of nuclear explosions is the double flash, which is caused when the shockwave momentarily obscures the fireball. But as with the mushroom cloud, this wouldn't happen in space.

Out of curiosity (the answer is probably no) have there been any detonations of nukes in space? I wager there a ton of simulations, and now I'm super curious how the two detonations are different.

I mean, there have been underground detonations, how are THOSE different? Does it vaporize a small region of dirt that results in cavitation and bubble upward?
... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.


Return to “General”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 33 guests