Is is just me, or is FTL dead in SF?

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Grew up reading Larry Niven and a host of other legit SF writers that all incorporated some form of FTL travel in their books, then Alistair Reynolds came along and wrote even more interesting interstellar SF without any violations of relativity, now that seems to be a trend. Anyone know of recent, good SF with FTL?

Never been able to get into SF that does not leave the solar system like Kim Robinson, Andy Weir et al.
 

Klystron

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A bit dated now but Spider Robinson took an unfinished Robert Heinlein manuscript plus an unpublished short story from Heinlein's youth series and produced SF novel "Variable Star". After some earthbound adventures where scrappy youth encounters the mega-rich (from the short story), the novel departs the solar system via a 'thought-controlled' drive on an interstellar colony ship.

Spoiler: as problems develop with the colony ship drive, an even faster space drive appears.
 
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Ryan_m_b

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Tonnes!

Science fiction where FTL is integral to the plot:

1) Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi - Humanity faces an imminent crises as the natural FTL tunnels their interstellar economy relies on begin to collapse.

2) Pandora's Star by Hamilton - Thousands of lightyears away a system is observed instantly sealing itself with an enormous force field, an FTL spacecraft must be built to investigate.

3) The Expanse by James S.A Corey - (to explain further would be spoilery, but this popular series has a decent mix of hard and speculative sci fi).

4) A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge - The galaxy is divided into zones where the laws of physics allow for faster, and slower, FTL. An ancient threat returns, the weapon against it is lost on the border of the slow zones (one of the books that kicked off the singularity genre).

5) Singularity Sky by Charles Stross - A totalitarian interstellar society is attacked by an unknown entity, their plan to fight back involves using their FTL drives to arrive just as the attack commences, in possible violation of laws against causality violation.

Science fiction where FTL plays a minor role in the plot:

1) A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers - A lighthearted adventure where a tight-nit crew is hired to build a hyperspace lane between the benign Galactic Community and a distant, previously aggressive species.

2) Old Man's War by John Scalzi - Humanity has spread among the stars and discovered it's full of alien species that want to kick the crap out of each other. The elderly are sent to fight so that the young can get on with colonising.

3) The Reality Dysfunction by Hamilton - On a poor, new colony world a discovery is made that threatens to end civilisation (the delay of news due to the maximum FTL speeds of courier ships is a constant headache).

4) Ancillary Justice - The last remaining unit of an AI hive mind seeks revenge/redemption against the Imperialist regime that it supported for millenia.

5) Gridlinked by Neal Asher - An autocratic human polity (administered by AIs) features terrorist threats from within, alien threats from without and an unfolding mystery of why there are more extinct than extant species in the universe.


Every one of these suggestions has sequels, whether it be a single follow-on (Singularity sky) or a multi-part setting that is still ongoing (Asher's 16 book polity series). Enjoy!
 

BWV

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Pandora's star and its sequel was good, did not care as much for the follow-on series. just finished the first book in his new trilogy. The instant wormhole teleportation is an interesting plot device

Liked the first few Expanse books then lost interest as it ventured outside the solar system

May give Scalzi another try, read Old Mans War.

Have the Vinge book laying around somewhere, but not read it. Will take a look at the other authors
 
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Stross' Singularity Sky's convoluted but wondrous sequel, 'Iron Sunrise' set up the plot-line for a humdinger follow-on which, sadly, has yet to appear. IMHO, between his 'Traders' and 'Laundry' arcs, he's been a bit too busy...

( Funny, I love the 'Laundry' tales, but find 'Traders' unreadable. Go figure... )

I suspect a lot of potential 'Hard SciFi' authors may shy away from FTL due 'Dark Matter', where-ever and whatever it is. Okay, the possible envelope for what it actually is keeps shrinking, and one reason we can't detect it here-abouts may be there is none due the supernovas-blown 'Local Bubble'. There is a fun thread in the appropriate forum...

Still, the non-trivial possibility that a discovery a couple of years along will discard your 'Hard SciFi' epic's core tech unto the realms of phlogiston, aether & N-rays must cast a lonnng shadow...
 

Ryan_m_b

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Pandora's star and its sequel was good, did not care as much for the follow-on series. just finished the first book in his new trilogy. The instant wormhole teleportation is an interesting plot device
Hamilton's Confederation Universe (starting with Reality Dysfunction) has a more serious tone and less super-tech than the void trilogy so you might like that. The Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons makes use of portals similar to Hamilton's Salvation, it even had mansions spread across worlds in the same way.

Have the Vinge book laying around somewhere, but not read it. Will take a look at the other authors
If you have any other specific interests or things you are looking for feel free to ask.

Stross' Singularity Sky's convoluted but wondrous sequel, 'Iron Sunrise' set up the plot-line for a humdinger follow-on which, sadly, has yet to appear. IMHO, between his 'Traders' and 'Laundry' arcs, he's been a bit too busy...
Unfortunately there will be no third book. Stross realised that he had made a big blunder in the second book given the whole causality violation plot (for those who haven't read it the second book's plot revolves around two factions trying to use FTL methods to rewrite history in their favour). After that he lost all interest and wrote the series off. Thankfully Singularity Sky was written with no sequel in mind (it was his first published book so needed to stand alone) and works regardless. Iron Sunrise can also be read and enjoyed on its own merits.

He blogged about this a few years ago:
http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2010/09/books-i-will-not-write-4-escha.html

I suspect a lot of potential 'Hard SciFi' authors may shy away from FTL due 'Dark Matter', where-ever and whatever it is. Okay, the possible envelope for what it actually is keeps shrinking, and one reason we can't detect it here-abouts may be there is none due the supernovas-blown 'Local Bubble'. There is a fun thread in the appropriate forum...
I think it's more likely because as science marched on through the 20th century and science fiction readers became more educated it was soon realised that FTL travel was less and less likely to appear. In addition many more authors became aware that putting it in their setting would result in time travel being possible, unless they work in an explicit chronology protection conjuncture.

Interest in more realistic scifi which had been building over time (resulting in things like psychic powers getting ditched from the mainstream despite being long staples) which naturally led to FTL being sidelined from that subgenre.

Still, the non-trivial possibility that a discovery a couple of years along will discard your 'Hard SciFi' epic's core tech unto the realms of phlogiston, aether & N-rays must cast a lonnng shadow...
Funnily enough I think the opposite is true. So many Sci Fi fans grew up reading, watching and enjoying what turned out to be pure fantasy. A lot of people like hard Sci Fi because by sticking closer with established science the chance of the work being invalidated is less likely, and imagining parts of it as a plausible future has more grounding for fans.
 

BWV

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I loved all those old elaborately worked out timelines inevitably at the beginning of 70s SF books that had the either the Soviet Union or the US discovering FTL drives in the early 2000s
 
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Pandora's star and its sequel was good, did not care as much for the follow-on series. just finished the first book in his new trilogy. The instant wormhole teleportation is an interesting plot device

Liked the first few Expanse books then lost interest as it ventured outside the solar system

May give Scalzi another try, read Old Mans War.

Have the Vinge book laying around somewhere, but not read it. Will take a look at the other authors
I think the whole expanse is very overrated (I can list the nonsense in first book), otherwise i also stopped reading at third book.
Some said Old Mans War is very good, later books of Scalzi arent. I am yet to read anything from him.


Otherwise, whether there is any marginal chance to have FTL travel or not, interstellar stories (that dont focus on a single generation ship) arent much more realistic without FTL than with it. Without it, even a decade long travel require planet killer energies.
 

BWV

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I think the whole expanse is very overrated (I can list the nonsense in first book), otherwise i also stopped reading at third book.
Some said Old Mans War is very good, later books of Scalzi arent. I am yet to read anything from him.
If you did not like Expanse you wont like Old Mans War - same sort of pulp SF escapism

Otherwise, whether there is any marginal chance to have FTL travel or not, interstellar stories (that dont focus on a single generation ship) arent much more realistic without FTL than with it. Without it, even a decade long travel require planet killer energies.
True, constant 1G acceleration requires almost as much magical new physics as FTL. Now we get more plausible SF technologies like full brain uploads
 
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If you did not like Expanse you wont like Old Mans War - same sort of pulp SF escapism



True, constant 1G acceleration requires almost as much magical new physics as FTL. Now we get more plausible SF technologies like full brain uploads
I didnt mind a bit pulp escapism in Alita for example. What i did mind that i totally hated the characters of the second book, it is ending (the conspirators were simply nutjobs) and the third became even worse.
Otherwise even the first book had ridicolous events.

Personally i prefer hibernation to brain upload (in my story upload can save someones memories but still something will be missing from the original person) to decrease necessary amount of resources. The ship still has to reach another solar system in a good shape, otherwise the information will become useless.
 
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He blogged about this a few years ago:
Thank you.
There seem several ways to get out of the apparent bind but, if Stross' Muse is weary of that Mythos, better to let it lie...
Besides, “That is not dead which can eternal lie, And with strange aeons even death may die”

==
FWIW, given our current math seems to allow an Alcubierre Bubble to go FTL, but apparently requires both Handwavium and Unobtanium to implement, I've just spotted a potential cross-over with my WIRS mythos. Teaser at...
https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/the-short-story-thread-post-yours-here.914630/
 
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I think it's more likely because as science marched on through the 20th century and science fiction readers became more educated it was soon realised that FTL travel was less and less likely to appear. In addition many more authors became aware that putting it in their setting would result in time travel being possible, unless they work in an explicit chronology protection conjuncture.
I'm curious why something like the Alcubierre bubble or an Einstein rosen bridge type arrangement would result in time travel?

I'll be the first to admit I'm not an expert in general/special relativity, but I was assuming these two "solutions" to the equations do not result in time travel, they *just* need negative mass or negative energy...
 
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I'm curious why something like the Alcubierre bubble or an Einstein rosen bridge type arrangement would result in time travel?

I'll be the first to admit I'm not an expert in general/special relativity, but I was assuming these two "solutions" to the equations do not result in time travel, they *just* need negative mass or negative energy...
To start with:
"
However, if the events are causally connected, precedence order is preserved in all frames of reference. "

In case of FTL message it is pretty obvious one will see it arrives before it was sent.


In my story i wont go far, how relativity should be updated or rewritten, simply have an analogy about two dimensional beings live on flatland to describe hyperspace jumps. (in that analogy the jumped flat being can detect the past, but not change it)
 

Klystron

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Interesting thread and responses. Must admit my SF reading has dropped considerably as I age. Staying current in actual science provides more value IMO and often better writing.

I agree with an old Isaac Asimov essay regarding the original Star Trek series. Interesting characters, excellent social metaphors but Fantasy rather than Science Fiction; directly referencing "warp drive" and FTL, apropos to the thread title.
 
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Interesting thread and responses. Must admit my SF reading has dropped considerably as I age. Staying current in actual science provides more value IMO and often better writing.

I agree with an old Isaac Asimov essay regarding the original Star Trek series. Interesting characters, excellent social metaphors but Fantasy rather than Science Fiction; directly referencing "warp drive" and FTL, apropos to the thread title.
He used that too. As well as telepathy in some Foundation books.
 
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To start with:
"
However, if the events are causally connected, precedence order is preserved in all frames of reference. "

In case of FTL message it is pretty obvious one will see it arrives before it was sent.


In my story i wont go far, how relativity should be updated or rewritten, simply have an analogy about two dimensional beings live on flatland to describe hyperspace jumps. (in that analogy the jumped flat being can detect the past, but not change it)
Again I feel I should reiterate my lack of expertise in general/special relativity, especially before I question it :oldshy:

To me it seems they are saying you cannot exceed speed of light, therefore, things separated in space by more distance than the time between two events*c cannot be causally connected because that "cause" would be exceeding the speed of light, which we just said you cannot exceed, therefore such causality cannot exist.

So the question I have is this: given that there are solutions to equations that do allow FTL (with albeit exotic materials), is the above logical reduction of a hard limit correct?

Then the appearance of something happening "backwards" from the perspective of the observer does not imply time travel, you are just observing events, then all the observations are happening after the events occurred.

You could for example keep moving away from an object and keep re observing the same event from a different distance, but that doesn't mean you can some how go back in time?
 
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I agree with an old Isaac Asimov essay regarding the original Star Trek series. Interesting characters, excellent social metaphors but Fantasy rather than Science Fiction; directly referencing "warp drive" and FTL, apropos to the thread title.
Although I think the "warp drive" is the most sciency thing on star trek, its all the rest of the stuff that makes it really hard to watch (alien of the week, mystery magic cloud aliens, frigin mushroom powered insta space drives).
 

Klystron

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He used that too. As well as telepathy in some Foundation books.
To be sure. Honestly, I enjoyed Asimov's non-fiction books and essays more than his fiction. He admitted along with his friend Robert Heinlein that they wrote fiction to pay the bills. [Implying he wrote textbooks and science essays in order to educate.]

Asimov eventually published hundreds of books. I have read many/most (up to Opus 200) but vastly prefer his hard science plus critical essays given the tough competition in F&SF genre.
 
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A bit dated now but Spider Robinson took an unfinished Robert Heinlein manuscript plus an unpublished short story from Heinlein's youth series and produced SF novel "Variable Star".
I was excited when I saw that, then I read it. Sadly not a well reconstructed Heinlein, and as Robinson's author notes described, he took what was basically a sniff of Heinlein's story line and went from there. It was a one-star review on Amazon.com from me.

But as for FTL, it's definitely not dead. Jay Allen's entire 'Blood on the Stars' series requires it. As does Bobby Adair's 'Freedoms Fire' series. As does Joel Shepherd's 'Spiral Wars'. There are many other recent examples not covered above, but I'd need to trawl my reading history to expose it all.

As for any thought of 'why' FTL may have gone out of vogue, I doubt it's anything more than selection bias. And I certainly don't think it's because of any "time travel makes it implausible" vibe. It's generally ignored by readers and authors because the story does not need such complications (including myself. I literally just switched from writing 'Tyranny', which involves FTL via wormhole and while I've considered the time travel aspect, it's not necessary for the plot so I've just chucked it aside).
 
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FTL is alive and well in science-fiction. Who are you reading where it isn't ?

That being said, speculative fiction has been embraced by mainstream entertainment, where the closer the story elements are to real-life experience and precedent, the more accessible the product is.

So, ironically, one of the major handwavium elements of previous generations of SF, is being ignored by a crossover genre that doesn't care about actual 'science'.
 
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So, ironically, one of the major handwavium elements of previous generations of SF, is being ignored by a crossover genre that doesn't care about actual 'science'.
Indeed, which is what almost turned me off The 100. Their space stations were not rotating but had Earth-like gravity. Talk about not caring. At least The Expanse cast had the good grace to float around a lot of the time!
 

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