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Why did the FTL Drive fail and strand the aliens?

  1. Aug 20, 2016 #1
    I’d like to start off by thanking everyone that’s posted on this site. I just spent two days reading everything on Writing and World Building. Actually that’s a lie, I didn’t read everything, I read every thread on the Writing and World Building forum that might possibly answer the five questions I had when I joined up.

    I’m happy to report that four of the questions were answered by stuff already posted. Additionally, I had a few laughs, which was a nice bonus. The first thing that made me smile was learning that there are a lot of people around here that are writing sci-fi books/novels/stories. I think that’s great; the more creative souls the better.

    My questions about ship design, propulsion, shielding, and FTL Drive are all now answered and I didn’t even have to bother anyone!

    So here’s the deal. I, like many others, am writing a little story about aliens visiting Earth. (It’s a comedy. It’s already pretty funny and it’s getting funnier every day. Without giving anything away, I can tell you that Uranus plays a part in the title of the story, so in the happy event that you ever see a film with that planet in the title, and it’s a comedy, you can say “Hey, I remember that...)

    I have one quandary remaining. I need a reason for my aliens to visit this planet.

    Due to the nefarious activity of one of the aliens, the FTL drive of their ship has been rendered inoperable. The ship has come out of FTL drive within our solar system and these dudes are way, way far away from home. They simply need to visit the Earth to get [the thing] that will make the FTL drive work again. Once they get [the thing], they can use it to repair the FTL drive and be on their way.

    That's their plan, anyway. It probably won't be that simple, because they will be landing in Lancaster, California.

    To continue: my idea is to use “melted” room temp superconductors made from a synthetic ceramic material as the “reason why” the drive went wonky…something that is made from materials that they can’t just find somewhere in this solar system; something that they must have some human help with, or at the bare minimum, something that is only found (within this solar system) on Earth.

    For example, they might need a kiln and they don’t have one. Or they might need some exotic substance that is blended into the ceramic material that comprises the room temp semiconductor, and is only found on this planet and not on an asteroid or Neptune or whatever.

    Or there could be some other reason that they have to visit. I'm open to other ideas...

    I would sincerely appreciate any of your bright ideas about this.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 20, 2016 #2


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  4. Aug 20, 2016 #3

    Vanadium 50

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    Aspirin. Concrete. Amber. Limestone. Honey. Duct tape. Kitty Litter. Vacuum tubes. This list goes on forever.
  5. Aug 21, 2016 #4


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    How about making them need to replace a superconductor on their ship and they can't simply manufacture the material onboard. Of course, human superconductors are likely to be a poor replacement, so they probably need to acquire equipment to cool this material to superconducting temperatures and perhaps other equipment.
  6. Aug 21, 2016 #5
    Nanobots. They the orcs of the scifi world.
  7. Aug 21, 2016 #6
    Dave, I have to tell you that I have enjoyed reading your posts. Your avatar image is also amusing. Thanks for taking the time to respond to my query.

    Noisy, ditto. I've really enjoyed reading your posts on this site. Thanks. I appreciate your input.

    Vanadium, your suggestions are in line with my overall concept. (I actually wrote a story some years ago about honey starting an intergalactic war.)

    Drakkith, this is precisely what I was attempting to communicate in my post. I'm missing data on the manufacturing process of the material the aliens use for their superconductors.

    I see now that I've been looking for a Wolowitz solution and not a Sheldon solution; the chemistry of ceramics. No need to try and explain how a superconductor works if I'm already cheating on artificial gravity, FTL, and force fields.

    Currently my "backup" idea is capsaicinoids (chili pepper active ingredient).

    Here's what I like most about my trip here so far:

    1. distillation. I arrived with some questions about foggy concepts and three days later the fog has lifted.
    2. recalling all the great scifi books I've read over the years. Brought back some great memories...one member mentioned that "Have Space Suit, Will Travel" changed his life when he was 16. For me, it was (if memory serves) 6th grade, and that was the first scifi book I ever read. Blew me away. I had a similar experience as a teenager when I visited the National Gallery of Art. "Holy crap! i had no idea people could create this stuff!"

    It's a pleasure being in the cybercompany of people like yourselves.

    I'll be around here if anyone needs a joke.

    Claude DeBris (this is actually one of the characters in my current story, probably the deranged drug peddling psychiatrist. His two dogs are Nuck and Futz.)
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