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View Full Version : The silliest and funniest star drives in scifi.



m1omg
2007-Jun-18, 06:16 PM
imo, these are my two favourites;
1.Infinite Improbability Drive ; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infinite_Improbability_Drive ; from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
2.Hyperdrive from Star Wars

Noclevername
2007-Jun-18, 06:18 PM
The expansion drive from Bill the Galactic Hero. Hands-down winner.

novaderrik
2007-Jun-18, 06:39 PM
whatever they used in galaxy Quest.
or the one in the space Winnebago in Spaceballs..

Noclevername
2007-Jun-18, 06:43 PM
whatever they used in galaxy Quest.
or the one in the space Winnebago in Spaceballs..

"Prepare... for ludicrous speed!" :)

NEOWatcher
2007-Jun-18, 06:47 PM
"Prepare... for ludicrous speed!" :)
Yep; anything that causes you to go plaid has got to be silly.
I wonder what ridiculous speed causes?

m1omg
2007-Jun-18, 06:48 PM
"Prepare... for ludicrous speed!" :)

:DD I forgot that :DDD, this well may be the record winner :D

Chuck
2007-Jun-18, 07:01 PM
A star drive that could really work is the suspended animation drive. When the ship sets off for Alpha Centauri, its crew and everyone on earth is frozen. The crew is unfrozen at the Alpha Centauri system and explores it for ten years. Then they're frozen for the return trip. Ten years before they're scheduled to arrive, the population of the earth is unfrozen so they'll age ten years before the ship arrives. From everyone's point of view, the crew was gone ten years and spent ten years exploring, and transit times were zero. Robots take care of the planet while everyone is frozen.

DaveC426913
2007-Jun-18, 07:07 PM
A star drive that could really work is the suspended animation drive. When the ship sets off for Alpha Centauri, its crew and everyone on earth is frozen. The crew is unfrozen at the Alpha Centauri system and explores it for ten years. Then they're frozen for the return trip. Ten years before they're scheduled to arrive, the population of the earth is unfrozen so they'll age ten years before the ship arrives. From everyone's point of view, the crew was gone ten years and spent ten years exploring, and transit times were zero. Robots take care of the planet while everyone is frozen.
That's silly.

danscope
2007-Jun-18, 07:18 PM
imo, these are my two favourites;
1.Infinite Improbability Drive ; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infinite_Improbability_Drive ; from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
2.Hyperdrive from Star Wars

Hi,
Those two are my all time favourites, and the infinite improbability has to be
the greatest piece of work I could ever imagine! Of course the occupants looked a little peculiar when they arrived, but it all worked out rather nicely,
don't you think? :) Oh...and bring a towel .
Dan

Chuck
2007-Jun-18, 07:18 PM
That's silly.

Yes, but it's the only one that has a chance of really working.

Noclevername
2007-Jun-18, 07:32 PM
whatever they used in galaxy Quest.


IIRC, in Galaxy Quest they had to pass through a wormhole to get to Earth from Thermia.

Roy Batty
2007-Jun-18, 07:55 PM
Infinite probability drive yes, but what about Slartibartfast's Bistromathic (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bistromathic_drive) drive? That's far sillier - oh, hang on, having been to a number of restaurants late in the evening, maybe not (as in, when/how did I get home afterwards?!... ;)).

I also think despite not being a star drive per se, the Oscillation Overthruster from Buckaroo Banzai deserves an honorary mention :).

mike alexander
2007-Jun-18, 10:32 PM
There's the drive in the Planet Express ship on Futurama, where the ship doesn't move at all but the drive moves the rest of the Universe around it.

For that matter, the warp drive on Star Trek, which needs these funky crystals to operate. Every time Scotty opened the crystal container it looked like a rock garden.

Paul Beardsley
2007-Jun-18, 10:48 PM
I had this idea of a crew being frozen, and the spacecraft launched. Only then did someone point out that cryogenic suspension has not actually been invented...

Chuck
2007-Jun-18, 10:59 PM
People can be frozen. We can worry about reviving them later.

Nowhere Man
2007-Jun-18, 11:15 PM
The cheddite drive from Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers.

Fred

Doctor Know
2007-Jun-19, 12:34 AM
I'll go with the Holly Hop Drive from Red Dwarf. "Just a box with stop and start on it." :D

danscope
2007-Jun-19, 02:48 AM
imo, these are my two favourites;
1.Infinite Improbability Drive ; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infinite_Improbability_Drive ; from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
2.Hyperdrive from Star Wars

Hi, I should have mentioned Dr. Who's Tardis , the ultimate vessel for the ultimate traveler. Now, that's the way to travel, my friends.
And I'll take Sarah Jane or Leila to go.
If you are going to dream, dream BIG!!!
Best regards, Dan

novaderrik
2007-Jun-19, 05:29 AM
There's the drive in the Planet Express ship on Futurama, where the ship doesn't move at all but the drive moves the rest of the Universe around it.
and it's powered by dark matter- that comes out of Nibbler after a meal- and is shoveled into the engine like coal on an old steam rail road engine.

AGN Fuel
2007-Jun-19, 06:34 AM
I'll go with the Holly Hop Drive from Red Dwarf. "Just a box with stop and start on it." :D

I loved Holly's instructions on how to operate the drive...

"When you want to start, press the button marked 'Start'. You can probably work out the rest of the controls as you go..."

Tog
2007-Jun-19, 07:46 AM
I the cartoon version of The Tick there was an alien race called the "Heys". Their drive ran on fear and could achieve the speed of lint.

Tick: Lint?
Hey: Yes. You know how when you wash your pants there is already lint in the pocket. How did it get there?
Tick: I don't know?
Hey: It's that fast!

m1omg
2007-Jun-19, 01:47 PM
Yes, but it's the only one that has a chance of really working.

Why?If exotic matter really exist and can be stabilised, you might end up with a wormhole links all over the galaxy ala Orion's Arm.
And why freeze people?
Even at sublight speeds, you can make ship basically a big habitat - all people will be feeling comforable and they even may forget that they are on a ship.

Click Ticker
2007-Jun-19, 04:56 PM
Minor correction:

Ludicrous speed was acheived by Spaceball 1, not by the Winnebago. Spaceball 1 went right past Lonestar and Barf. At that time, Lonestar said, "They've gone plaid!"

Noclevername
2007-Jun-19, 05:26 PM
At that time, Lonestar said, "They've gone plaid!"

*nitpick* "They've gone to plaid!" *nitpick*

Matherly
2007-Jun-19, 06:15 PM
and they even may forget that they are on a ship.

Metamorphosis Alpha (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metamorphosis_Alpha) anyone?

phunk
2007-Jun-19, 06:52 PM
"She's built like a steakhouse, but she handles like a bistro." - Zap Brannigan

The bistromathic drive gets my vote for the 'silly stardrives' category. :)

Chuck
2007-Jun-19, 10:31 PM
Why?If exotic matter really exist and can be stabilised, you might end up with a wormhole links all over the galaxy ala Orion's Arm.
And why freeze people?
Even at sublight speeds, you can make ship basically a big habitat - all people will be feeling comforable and they even may forget that they are on a ship.
If we used wormholes to get around the speed of light then we'd be stuck with time travel paradoxes. A habitat ship would take many generations to reach another star which defeats the hyperdrive concept.

nomuse
2007-Jun-21, 04:32 AM
Bloater drive, hands down.

(Although a friend of mine has nasty things to say about Larry Niven and his "Blind Spot.")

On the more plausible journeying, might I paraphrase Brian Aldis that generation ships are fine and all but who wants to read a story that spans twenty generations of Nothing Bad Happens? So fictional generation ships are cursed...ever since Joe-Jim picked up his club they've been slipping into barbarism and forgetting the stars. Or just dying off completely. Sleeper ships, on the other hand, have the annoying habit of not awakening. Or sometimes you finally get there only to find out someone invented FTL while you were asleep.

Actually, one of the strangest I've ever seen was a Sheffield juvenile in which the elite in their sub-C ships artificially slowed themselves down; from their perspective, a trip to the next star took a couple of weeks. From the perspective of the planet-bound, the star travelers were immortal. Not sure how they managed to govern things, tho, even with the robots. Fifty years between visits is LOTS of time for a revolution to forment.

nomuse
2007-Jun-21, 04:40 AM
Slightly off the subject, but I tend to think of fictional FTL drives as being "special effects drives." That is; the defining nature of them is a black box that allows you to have your interstellar voyages, your doughty crew of traders, your interplanetary wars or whatever. Anything else is just a special effect.

They might have an unusual appearance; nested rotating and ever-precessing rings for Grimes, lots of fine wire in intricate coils for Giles Habibula to stare drunkenly at. They might have fun names and even more fun rubber science "explaining" them. Or they might have added plot effects; the implausible effects that coincidentally add up to make warships in the Honor Harrington universe wallow around like Lord Nelson's Line of Battle, or "warp bubbles" which do everything from create pocket universes to turn pilots into salamanders (reversing the polarity is optional). Or they might just have added fun, turning you space-happy if you look out the ports too long, or making all your fur fall out.

jja
2007-Jun-21, 04:51 AM
Quoting Damon Knight on Robert Sheckley (from In Search Of Wonder, a collection of Knight's literary criticism):

"Sheckley, like Bradbury and Matheson, is a "science fiction" writer who does not write about science. His engine rooms have nothing in them but big rotating shafts ..."

Unfortunately, a specific example is not given. However, I find the idea of an enormous cylinder spinning in midair to be quite amusing, particularly if it generates enough excess power to drive a starship.

There's also James Blish's Cities In Flight. The antigravity drive which serves to cut entire cities loose from Earth and hurl them across space is called a Spindizzy.

Should I ever write a SF story that requires one, I'll cut to the chase and call it the MacGuffin drive. It uses technobabble to distract everyone while it violates physical law in order to get the protagonists where they need to go in a dramatically reasonable amount of time. As J. Michael Straczynski recommended, it will move at the speed of plot.

Ronald Brak
2007-Jun-21, 05:38 AM
In Who Goes There? by Bob Shaw, the protagonist, Warren Peace, finds himself on a ship with a matter transmitter on each end. It travels by beaming itself to itself millions of times per second.

(Who Goes There? was an amusing read, but the sequel sucks more than a hole punched into your pleural cavity.)

eburacum45
2007-Jun-21, 07:08 AM
The expansion drive from Bill the Galactic Hero. Hands-down winner.
That was a very good one. The ship expands until it is at least as big as the gap between the current location and the destination; it then contracts, but now centred around the new location.

Strangely enough, it isn't all that different to the way the Alcubierre drive 'works'; that relies on an induced expansion of space too, and as we all know, the expansion of space isn't constrained by the speed of light.

eburacum45
2007-Jun-21, 07:14 AM
One idea I had decades ago was the 'Eliminator' drive; a ship is enclosed within a chamber which can generate an eliminator field. Eliminator fields have the physical property of making it utterly impossible for matter to exist within the field; but because of the conservation of matter, the ship has to go somewhere else.

The tricky part is controlling exactly where that 'somewhere else' is.

nomuse
2007-Jun-21, 07:47 AM
I can just see John Campbell leaning over his desk and saying "And now tell me this. One day, they send a ship out and it _doesn't_come_back. It didn't come out _anywhere_. So what happened to it? I want to know _that_ story."

HenrikOlsen
2007-Jun-21, 07:57 AM
The was a drive in the Star Trek novel Enterprise: The First Adventure by Vonda McIntyre I really like since its way of working meant there could by definition only be one ship with that drive.
It was on The Ship, and it worked by The Ship being motionless at all times and simply moving the universe around to bring the places to it.

Ronald Brak
2007-Jun-21, 08:14 AM
I see no way to disprove that every ship works that way.

nomuse
2007-Jun-21, 09:53 AM
I seem to recall The Ship was more like a philosophical viewpoint in the novel anyhow...at least, other characters strenuously argued against that particular interpretation of how the drive worked!

Does put one in mind of the stuff that went through Bill's head during one space trip. If the ship was really large, or if it just made all the stars and planets very small.

By the by, this is an interesting aspect of geocentrism as well. Since the Earth's rotation measurably changes with even such minor events as earthquakes, a geocentric, non-spinning viewpoint seems to require the entire observable universe adapt itself at much faster than the speed of light. Or at least anticipate what moves Earth might make -- which does hook in neatly to predestination, at least!

JonClarke
2007-Jun-21, 10:40 AM
How about David Brin's neuro-convulsive hyperdrive?

Jon

Delvo
2007-Jun-21, 04:28 PM
One idea I had decades ago was the 'Eliminator' drive; a ship is enclosed within a chamber which can generate an eliminator field. Eliminator fields have the physical property of making it utterly impossible for matter to exist within the field; but because of the conservation of matter, the ship has to go somewhere else.

The tricky part is controlling exactly where that 'somewhere else' is.That sounds like a large-scale application of quantum "tunnelling".

Noclevername
2007-Jun-21, 04:37 PM
The "Rowan" series by Anne McCaffrey has a group of psychics who telekinetically teleport starships.

nomuse
2007-Jun-21, 07:45 PM
So did the Witches of Karres...."The one you have to do with yourself," to quote The Leewit.

Not a drive per se, but extra points have to be given to Star Trek for mentioning a "Heisenberg Compensator." Ah, but that is hot ice and wondrous strange snow!

Noclevername
2007-Jun-21, 08:00 PM
Strangely enough, it isn't all that different to the way the Alcubierre drive 'works'; that relies on an induced expansion of space too, and as we all know, the expansion of space isn't constrained by the speed of light.


In the Alcubierre drive, the ship itself isn't expanded; in fact it has to be contained in a bubble of "normal" space, or get shredded.

As I understand it, the Alcubierre drive has a few other flaws, like no brakes, no on/off switch, no navigation, no way to get a ship into or out of it, and requiring more energy than the universe contains.

Ilya
2007-Jun-21, 08:46 PM
Actually, one of the strangest I've ever seen was a Sheffield juvenile in which the elite in their sub-C ships artificially slowed themselves down; from their perspective, a trip to the next star took a couple of weeks. From the perspective of the planet-bound, the star travelers were immortal. Not sure how they managed to govern things, tho, even with the robots. Fifty years between visits is LOTS of time for a revolution to forment.

Irrelevant, if only the ruling class has access to relativistic propulsion. A few rocks will take the wind out of any revolution...

Swift
2007-Jun-21, 09:18 PM
As I understand it, the Alcubierre drive has a few other flaws, like no brakes, no on/off switch, no navigation, no way to get a ship into or out of it, and requiring more energy than the universe contains.
Ok, but other than that what's wrong with it. ;)

eburacum45
2007-Jun-22, 06:09 AM
In the Alcubierre drive, the ship itself isn't expanded; in fact it has to be contained in a bubble of "normal" space, or get shredded. Quite; in fact, in one variant of the Alcubierre drive (Van Den Broeck's drive), the ship isn't expanded, rather it is contracted in order to fit in a much smaller bubble.


As I understand it, the Alcubierre drive has a few other flaws, like no brakes, no on/off switch, no navigation, no way to get a ship into or out of it, and requiring more energy than the universe contains.
Van Den Broeck's variant at least does not require an impossibly large amount of energy, as the bubble is so much smaller; but it does still suffer from all the other problems. Both drives are pretty silly, if you ask me...

Maksutov
2007-Jun-22, 10:44 AM
I liked the way John Carter got to Barsoom.

Of course I liked the princess (http://tonova.typepad.com/thesuddencurve/princess_of_mars.jpg) even better...

DaveC426913
2007-Jun-23, 03:57 PM
I liked the way John Carter got to Barsoom.

Of course I liked the princess (http://tonova.typepad.com/thesuddencurve/princess_of_mars.jpg) even better...

And how did she? Carried by a handsome Prince?


"I just flew here from Earth, and boy are my arms tired!"

Noclevername
2007-Jul-03, 06:34 PM
In the "Red Limit Freeway" series by John DeChancie. Hyperadvanced aliens have built a road for space truckers, across various planets connected by "tollbooths" which use columns of relativistically rotating virtual particles to create a Kerr-Newman metric wormhole-- on a planet's surface.

Jim
2007-Jul-03, 07:02 PM
I can't remember the title or author, but I read a short story years back in which a multi-alien space ship lands on earth looking for a replacement for their Pusher. They need a human.

It seems all beings have some sort of special ability. Some species can communicate telepathically across vast distances, for instance. Humans are Pushers. They have the ability to stand next to the ship's bulkhead, push against it, then run in place faster and faster and propel the ship to FTL speeds.

m1omg
2007-Jul-03, 08:12 PM
If we used wormholes to get around the speed of light then we'd be stuck with time travel paradoxes. A habitat ship would take many generations to reach another star which defeats the hyperdrive concept.

No.The current wormhole theory allows for links not violating casuality - when there will be about to create time link, that wormhole will collapse.
See http://www.orionsarm.com/tech/wormholes.html
http://www.orionsarm.com/intro/wormhole-faqs.html
http://www.orionsarm.com/tech/wormhole_design_and_physics.html

http://www.orionsarm.com/intro/wormholes_and_exotic_matter.html
"Q. What difference does it make if wormhole ends get too close together, anyways?

A. The concept of Wormholes allows possible time travel, which leads to an acausal and unstable universe. Matt Visser and others have proposed that one or both of the wormholes will collapse whenever a spacelike path allows time travel...
see http://www.aleph.se/Trans/Tech/Space-Time/wormholes.html if somebody doesn't realise that, time travel will creep into the scenario, and there will no point in having a timeline."

Romanus
2007-Jul-03, 08:16 PM
I like the beryllium sphere for Galaxy Quest--not because it's good, but because, IMO, the drive itself pokes fun at convenient plot catalysts in science fiction. They need another sphere, and lo! there's a complete, brand-new one on another planet!

What a great movie. :)

Strider1974
2007-Jul-06, 03:12 PM
I think Douglas Adams wins hands down with the Infinite Probabilty Drive, The Bistromathic drive and of course the Star Drive powered by Bad News.

"since it is well known that nothing travels faster than bad news, research was done and a prototype drive system created. However, spaceships powered with bad news were soon found to be so profoundly unwelcome whenever they arrived anywhere that it really was not worth the trip"

Roy Batty
2007-Jul-06, 03:15 PM
I think Douglas Adams wins hands down with the Infinite Probabilty Drive, The Bistromathic drive and of course the Star Drive powered by Bad News.

"since it is well known that nothing travels faster than bad news, research was done and a prototype drive system created. However, spaceships powered with bad news were soon found to be so profoundly unwelcome whenever they arrived anywhere that it really was not worth the trip"

I'd forgotten about the Bad News Star Drive :lol:

Disinfo Agent
2007-Jul-07, 07:12 PM
Well, the old Baron (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0096764/) used a balloon. And blowing yourself out of a cannon (http://www1.jsc.nasa.gov/er/seh/index1.htm) is kind of funny, if probably unhealthy.

nomuse
2007-Jul-07, 07:16 PM
You left out being lifted by geese (I was unaware they flew so high!) and the most poetic, being lifted by flasks full of morning dew.

But, technically, these are _space_ drives. I don't believe the Baron ever went interstellar.

(Still beats traveling to Mars in a coffin....)