26 September 2013

FWS Topics: How the FOREVER WAR movie Should Open

I want everyone to know that I am still alive, but deep in research and writing a blogpost on faster-than-light propulsion. But I wanted to talk about something that happened just yesterday, while on my morning commute. It is no secret to those that know me in the real world that I fucking love the band QUEEN. Since the first time I watched the movie Flash Gordon, this band has been apart of my life, and recently while listening to Night At The Opera on the way to work, my favorite QUEEN song, '39 came on and then knew how the Ridley Scott the Forever War movie should open...with that song and a similar opening style to the film Watchmen. The setup of the war with the Tauran and the UNEF could be told with that type of opening style. I could clearly see the opening montage with that music pumping out, and the first scene of the film could be the training on Charon while they are in their powered armor. Just listen to the song and picture it...it is a damn prefect song for film. The great element of the song '39 is that it was written around an astronaut who returns to Earth after a long space mission and experiences the horror of Time Dilation. Once again, it is a perfect song for the film. Call me, Ridley.


  1. Ha ha, yeah, Queen is awesome! I recall that the lead singer for Queen got a Ph.D in astrophysics recently, right?

    Where did you find out that '39 is about time dilation? The lyrics could be easily interpreted as referring to a sea voyage... though space is an ocean, as we all know well. Well, it sort of is like an ocean except a whole lot bigger and a whole lot emptier.

    Anyway, glad to hear you are still alive. There was a rumor that you were abducted by aliens and pickled for display in one of their natural history museums... ;) Anyway, FTL propulsion, sounds fun. The thing with superluminal flight is that, unless some loophole in physics is found, we just can't do it... Special Relativity (SR) pretty well forbids any object attaining a speed greater than C, and also implies that any FTL trips might be used for backwards-in-time signaling or travel, its got something to do with fact that the concept of absolute simultaneity is lost in SR. Thus, FTL would allow for time-travel paradoxes and make a mess of physics.

    NASA has something called the Technological Readiness Level scale (TRL), which runs from levels 1-9, with TRL-1 meaning the concept's basic principles have been observed and reported, but the technology not defined yet. At TRL-2 practical applications of this idea are identified, but still speculative. Higher on the scale, it goes through the various levels of R&D and testing- ground testing, space based testing, etc. to graduate to higher TRL levels. At TRL-9, the technology has been "flight proven" through successful mission operations.

    Boring old chemical rockets are TRL-9. On this scale, I'd guess that solar photon sails are currently around TRL-6, and trying to reach TRL-7 sometime soon. Antimatter rockets are TRL-2. Bussard ramjets are TRL-1, the basic idea is understood but the required tech is not defined (and may never be). Warp drive is at TRL-0, i.e. the basic physical principals behind space warps aren't even proven, and the whole idea could turn out to be impossible just because physical law does not allow for it!!

    *end physics rant* But in stories FTL propulsion is required for most space opera style stories, where adventure rules. This is generally OK. The key is to try to break as few laws of physics as possible, if you can, and once you make up the fictional rules of your drive- stick to them!!

    And at this point we really can't say for sure whether advanced civilizations will or will not be able to do things like create wormholes for interstellar travel. It is just that either a breakthrough occurs, or it never happens. The universe will have to turn out to work a certain way, and it could just as easily turn out NOT to work that way.

    Do you think you might do a post on generation ships sometime? I've been thinking about multigenerational space travel and interstellar arks lately... with warps and relativistic ships ruled out, there still will be the possibility of hurling generation style vessels out on long trips with advanced rockets, solar photon sails, and so on. Even "fast" trips at >10% C will take decades, and thus involve successive generations of space travelers- i.e. the 2nd. generation space colonists will have grown up and joined the original crew in maintaining the ship during the flight to Alpha C.

    At any rate, extending the flight time beyond a human lifetime makes interstellar travel seem a lot more possible. As Asimov said, there really is no objection, other than the question of whether we would be willing to do it.

  2. When I talked to a few people at work about this issue, some assumed that FTL had to be possible. I personally blame mainstream sci-fi for the confusion. I'm not sure if any show has covered the hardships of light speed (or greater) travel.
    I completely agree when it comes to the "rules" of a fictional FTL drive system. Too many times, a way around the basic rules is dreamed up to fill a plot hole.
    Interestingly enough, I've got a MSF book in the works that concerns multigenerational ship and I will be devoting a Ships of the Line to colony vessels in the next year or so.
    Thanks for reading and commenting!