The speed of light is not respected in ANY of the TV science fiction series: Star Wars has “hyper drive” that can “jump to hyper space”; Star Trek has “warp speed” (which is unrealistic as Dune’s “folding space” Kefitzat haderech); Babylon 5 has “jump gates” into “hyperspace”; Andromeda has slipstream;
Doesn’t it bother anyone that the molecules that we are made of are held together by electric fields, and these fields “drag behind” we will disintegrate? Doesn’t it bother anyone that long before that we will die because of the acceleration? Fighter jet pilot can survive 9 G (G means like going from standing still to traveling in a speed of 100 Km per hour in about 3 seconds), so now imagine what will happen to the body in going from standing still to 1.79 billion kilometers per hours (let me write it explicitly for you: 1,790,000,000 ). So that’s roughly 2 million times worst than a fight pilot can survive. Instant whiplash in every bone of our body anyone?
Sometimes science fiction books do consider these problems, and they also found solutions, as you can read here in Wikipedia:
So in my new series I will adopt these solutions: “generation ships”, suspended animation, ion drive, solar sail, Bussard ramjet, and time dilation.
What about communications? In all these TV shows they talk with each other IMMEDIATELY across huge distances, while in reality for example if we want to send a text message / voice / video to the nearest star to Earth it would take more than 4 years each way. Like if ask them something it would take more than 8 years for us to receive the answer.
By the way the only movie that I’ve seen taking the communications problem seriously is this beautiful anime movie Voices of a Distant Star:
So in conclusion my new science fiction series will obey the speed limit of the universe which is the speed of light, with all its conclusions to the plot, like everything needs to be more independent and self sufficient; you cannot send backup or re-reinforcements in reasonable time; Each cell of the organization cannot contact the headquarters, so each cell must make it’s own decisions.
This fits very much the context of ancient civilizations of Earth that I will incorporate into the TV show, because when an ancient empire sent an army to a far away part of the empire, the headquarters had no communications with what’s happening. For example the origin of the Marathon race
The Greek messenger named Philippides ran with his feet about 40 kilometers to make sure the headquarters in Athens knew about the victory (that’s where the name of the shows company Nike comes from). He ran without stopping and died after delivering this important message. He did this because the Persians also tried to reach Athens in order to claim false victory and take over Greece.
So in the modern galaxy colonization it will revert back to this kind of insecurity of what’s true and also the very meaning of an empire needs to be considered: If an ancient ruler sent an expedition around the globe to get some spice, it was beneficial to him because it will arrive in his own lifetime. But why would a ruler of one world pay for an expensive expedition to a second world, if the reward will only arrive after his death? So one possible solution will be dictators that live forever, for example with clones like in the TV series Foundation.
But there is a big difference between knowing the answer and actually DOING something about it. let’s think for example of the unmanned space probe Voyager 1:
So according to Wikipedia, if it was now flying to the nearest star to us (remember Proxima Centauri?) which it isn’t, but let’s say if it was, it would take Voyager 17,565 years to travel every single “light year” distance, and since this closest star is 4.2 light years away from us, that means one way would take 73,775 years! This is more than the time that passed from humans big migration out of Africa in the stone age and until the present day in the computer age. I don’t think any dynasty (even living forever with clones) can survive so many changes. Somebody else will murder them and take power.
So the most reasonable thing that I can think of is if there was something chasing the humans over the stars, so they are forced to spread out and colonize further and further from Earth outwards. Each new cell wants to continue this outwards motion because the danger will also come to where they are now.
So this way it’s not open to anyone’s choice what to do, any leader that will be will have to obey to this one rule expand your empire in the correct direction in space or die.
So the “best” danger I can think of is Artificial Intelligence (AI). It wants to kill all humans, it will come in 20 years (so humans have a small early start advantage) and it will be relentless in pursuing us.
So the story line of my series is based on a background story that in the beginning the AI chased the humans, who wanted to spread out randomly so the AI will now know where to chase them, so they did random panspermia (sending fertilized eggs in small spaceships that will be raised by robots (something like the bunker in the movie “I Am Mother” but instead of a bunker it’s a spaceship, and instead of an AI it’s a GOFAI so it doesn’t decide to kill everybody)
they launched many many spaceships like these to a slingshot around the central black hole of our galaxy, and the tiny differences in speed made each little spaceship’s final destination random and unique. So most of them crashed, but some of them landed safely on the various parts of the milky way, and because of the long travel time from the center of the galaxy outwards, the most advanced worlds will be closer to the center of the galaxy, because they existed for longer time.
This mechanism also makes sure that as a civilization (the most advanced one, that reached space travel capability is nearest to the center of the galaxy) travels in the correct direction (further and further from the center of the galaxy), it is traveling towards younger civilizations, but by the time that the older civilization (in suspended animation) has reached the younger civilization, the younger civilization have matured into the same level as the older civilization and they can deal with each other as equals. So that helps the plot very much.
Today’s science fiction doesn’t teach you anything about reality. Star Wars is located in a galaxy far far away, so don’t expect any real astronomy there. In Star Trek it’s supposed to be in our Milky Way galaxy, but as you can see in Wikipedia it’s completely made up:
There is NEVER any connection to the plot. Let’s take a famous example in Star Trek: Battle of Wolf 359. This is one of the very rare occasions that there is a name of a real place (outside our Solar System) in the whole series. So you ask yourself: Is there ANY connection between the fiction plot and the scientific facts?
The show tries to acquire unwarranted credibility by “adopting” a shiny name of a real star, without ever bothering to really find out what it’s like there and incorporate its property into the plot. Let’s see what COULD have been done (but was NOT). According to Wikipedia this star has a few special properties:
it has low mass, so the “action” can happen close to it without falling into it. there is water found there so the plot can say that’s why the humans came to collect it. it has titanium oxide which maybe the aliens use for nano-tubes for building their ship
it has stronger magnetic field than our Sun which might interfere with the cyborg aliens and give the humans adventage or disrupt communications at a critical moment.
it has sudden bursts of x-ray and gamma ray which if could be predicted a little in advance somehow, could be used in combat to “tempt” the enemy ship into the flare path and “fry” it.
Unfortunately the writers of these movies and series never bother to do such research because it’s much easier to invent completely made up stories, so what’s left of the places (in the extremely rare case that they sprinkle a real name) is just meaningless background. The battle of Wolf 359 as it is described in Star Trek could have happened in ANY other place.
There is one retrospect attempt in hindsight to attach names of real places into fictional places, like saying that for example the home of Mr. Spock, planet Vulcan, is actually 40 Eridani A
So since it’s close to us, again we have more information in Wikipedia, so for example there are two “Sun” like objects in the night sky there – but such a detail is never mentioned in the series. or another example: while Eridani A might support life, Eridani B cannot because of the way it ejected most of its mass and Eridani C has deadly x-ray flares. So here too, this could have been developed as deep oceans or caves dwellers, but nobody gave it any thought. In fact there is no reason to claim that “planet Vulcan” is there instead of anywhere else.
There is a whole after-thought project of this type, an “atlas” kind of book called Star Trek Star Charts by Geoffrey Mandel from 1997, which tries to fake it: there are pages with scientific facts, and there are pages with fiction plot, but they never really connect because no one meant for this to be.
Lately I watched the entire Babylon 5 which is also a great series but suffers from the same problem. It’s accurate as long as you’re inside our Solar System, but once you’re out you’re also out of any connection to Astronomy.
OK so next let’s talk about culture by which I mean history and archeology. Given that Earth’s past is the entire source of inspiration for all of these series and movies, is there some knowledge from REAL ancient people that you can take with you from these shows?
Please note: I’m not talking about alternate history, I’m talking about you walking away from the TV knowing something you didn’t know before about REAL history that happened.
So far the only way to do this was time travel. For example Doctor Who met a dozen of famous historical figures like for example Vincent Van Gogh. Or for example in what is considered the best episode ever of Star Trek
But in order to keep the pararnormal / sci-fi action going, this is always isolated episode, so the viewer gets a short glimpse of some time period or famous character but it’s not developed, it cannot show long or detailed historical processes. I read that in the beginning of Doctor Who (in the sixties), there were mini-series like the Aztecs, or Marco Polo
I’ve never seen them, but in principle this does allow for more depth because you have a few episodes on the same subject. However the public didn’t like them and preferred the science fiction stuff. So how can be solved in another way?
The way that I found here is that the whole plot is dictated by real ancient people and real events (like wars) that are transposed into modern technology as much as possible. When we talk about wars this isn’t an original idea, for example I’m watching now a famous anime series Legend Of The Galactic Heroes
So for example where I’m now they quote the strategy that Russia used against Napoleon – Scorched Earth
But then they move on with a fictional plot.
What I mean to do is similar to another very famous anime series: Space Battleship Yamato, which literally takes a warship from World War Two and puts it into space, the cannons become lasers etc. in the American version they removed most of the heroism mentions of Japanese heroism in WWII, so you may know it as less historical.
But what I intend to do is to follow as much as possible all the developments and find for each one a parallel in the modern context of space. For example if some ancient people invented some ancient times technology, I’ll make up a fictional space age technology that functions as similarly as possible in modern context. For example if the invention of pottery allowed for move from roasted food to stews and soups etc, then 3-D printing of food (from pastes of basic ingredients) allows for more varied foods on the spaceship. Or if pottery allowed for written instructions for a long time, even if it got hit by rain etc, then maybe the parallel will be a technology for modular electronics build of the circuits in the spaceship, that gets ruined by “rain” of radiation in space, but if it has redundancy and constantly rebuilds itself from lots of small components, like in the game of Mr. Wizard Experiments in Electronics, described by Fran Blanche here
Then I think this can survive “forever” which is the equivalent of the knowledge in pottery surviving until our times, and looks just like when it was made despite floods etc.