Denseman on the Rattis

Formerly known as the Widmann Blog


Tau Zero

I decided to read Poul Anderson’s Tau Zero because I was getting frustrated with the physical implausibility of most science fiction, in particular the ubiquitous use of the warp drive (i.e., faster-than-light space travel), and I had heard that this book explored space travel at slightly less than the speed of light.

Although this did turn out to be the case, I was ultimately frustrated, however. The book’s conclusion (which I won’t reveal here) strikes me as being just as physically implausible as the warp drive.

Why is there so little science fiction that is physically (and biologically) plausible? Most SF that doesn’t involve warp travel instead uses sleeper ships where the crew is kept in some form of stasis, but that is assuming some biological developments that are by no means certain to happen.

According to the principles of relativity, time on a space ship travelling at speeds close to light will slow down so much that putting the crew into stasis isn’t necessary at all. Why doesn’t this form of space travel get explored more? Is it considered too boring?

I think it would be fascinating to explore the cultural and linguistic diversification of worlds unable to interact in real time.

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