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View Full Version : How about the COOLEST starship drive in SF?



Ilya
2007-Jun-21, 08:58 PM
My vote goes to Conjoiner Drive in Alastair Reynold's Inhibitor series. A Conjoiner Drive contains one end of a microscopic spacetime wormhole. The other end is located few seconds after Big Bang. Ultimate rocket engine with free energy and free reaction mass. Million-ton ships accelerate at 1 G indefinitely, up to 10 G for short bursts.

Even with unlimited delta-V, Conjoiner ships never go much faster than about 0.8 c -- beyond that interstellar medium becomes too dense. Even so, they must carry a huge ice shield in front, to protect from micrometeorite collisions.

mike alexander
2007-Jun-21, 09:11 PM
The spindizzy, from Blish's 'Cities in Flight' stories. Why fly away from New York when you can just take it along?

Noclevername
2007-Jun-21, 09:36 PM
The spindizzy, from Blish's 'Cities in Flight' stories. Why fly away from New York when you can just take it along?


Especially when your propulsion system is also your FTL drive, artificial gravity, atmosphere containment, inertial damping, meteor shield, and landing/takeoff system?

JustAFriend
2007-Jun-22, 01:59 AM
The spindizzy, from Blish's 'Cities in Flight' stories. Why fly away from New York when you can just take it along?


+1 the first thing I thought, too....

SkepticJ
2007-Jun-22, 06:59 AM
The Spacing Guild's Heighliner's Holtzman drives in Frank Herbert's Dune series. They fold space, allowing travel without moving.

Roy Batty
2007-Jun-22, 03:59 PM
The Spacing Guild's Heighliner's Holtzman drives in Frank Herbert's Dune series. They fold space, allowing travel without moving.
I dunno about coolest, but they were certainly the spiciest :)

Trantor
2007-Jun-22, 07:39 PM
My vote for the coolest stardrive would go to "The Tardis" from Dr. Who. I mean that ship is absolutely amazing. Small outside, big inside; able to go anywhere and anytime in an instant. I don't think it's possible to have a faster ship.

szyzyg
2007-Jun-22, 10:46 PM
ahh but technically the TARDIS is just moving it's entrance, the interface with the rest of the universe. The TARDIS itself exists in the time vortex and doesn't really need to move anywhere, it's just moving the doorway - it's all just clever use of transdimensional engineering.

ASEI
2007-Jun-22, 11:34 PM
Heinlein's "Citizen of the Galaxy" had some sort of stardrive that worked as follows: The ship accelerates up to nearly the speed of light, does something (FTL magic), and ends up on the other end of the light-speed barrier in "plus-space" where they behave tachyon-like and interact with that hypothetically unseen portion of the universe.

Damburger
2007-Jun-23, 10:22 AM
The jump drive in the new Battlestar Galactica. Possibly contraversial.

Largely because it doesn't represent hyperdimentional wormholes as being two-dimensional structures. Theres just a flash and you are gone. Spinny-disk wormholes are a bit cheesy to me.

Doodler
2007-Jun-23, 09:37 PM
The gravity drive in Roger MacBride Allen's Hunted Earth series. Does its best not to violate any physical laws with respect to light speed and the flow of time in deep gravity wells.

Interstellar travel involves "tuning" two black holes to a similar frequency with orbiting rings that act as tuning forks to the gravity well to create wormholes. Wormholes themselves are explained to be a pocket continium that a mass enters, then is transported from one ring and hole set to another.

In the Earth's solar system, the singularity used was formerly Pluto and Charon.

thecolorofash
2007-Jun-27, 11:36 AM
how about the improbability drive from Hitchhikers Guide? :)

thecolorofash
2007-Jun-27, 11:38 AM
sorry - it should go in the other thread "funniest / silliest"

Noclevername
2007-Jun-27, 02:55 PM
The jump drive in the new Battlestar Galactica. Possibly contraversial.

Largely because it doesn't represent hyperdimentional wormholes as being two-dimensional structures. Theres just a flash and you are gone. Spinny-disk wormholes are a bit cheesy to me.


It always looked to me like the wormhole forms in front of the ship, and sweeps rapidly back over it. Thus, it could be interpreted as a 2D object moving in 3D space.

Damburger
2007-Jun-27, 06:12 PM
It always looked to me like the wormhole forms in front of the ship, and sweeps rapidly back over it. Thus, it could be interpreted as a 2D object moving in 3D space.

I get your point, but I don't think that moving from the front to back of the ship makes it unrealistic: the ship would have to move into the wormhole in at least one dimension, and it may as well be the long axis of the ship.

Also, I can't see myself and 2d structure in the effect that propagates the length of the ship when they jump.

publiusr
2007-Jul-03, 12:24 AM
I like the concept of city-ships.

grant hutchison
2007-Jul-03, 12:37 AM
The waybeasts from Robert Wilfred Franson's Shadow of the Ship. You move into subspace, where distances are much shorter than in conventional space. (So far, so standard.) But in subspace you encounter a surface called the "meadow", which you traverse by using sleds harnessed to animals called waybeasts: they drag you up in a long spiral out of one gravity well, across flat space and then down into another gravity well.
Interstellar travel using waggon-train technology! :)

Grant Hutchison

m1omg
2007-Jul-03, 09:23 AM
Holzman drive, Dune.

Disinfo Agent
2007-Jul-03, 09:26 PM
I liked the improbability drive used by the Tandu in David Brin's Startide Rising (http://www.amazon.com/Startide-Rising-Uplift-David-Brin/dp/1857233727/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/103-4680015-5015802?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1183497194&sr=8-1): the Episiarch, a creature which they genetically engineered to temporarily "deny" reality, and make the impossible possible.

Or the one used in Bob Shaw's Ragged Astronauts (http://www.amazon.com/Ragged-Astronauts-Bob-Shaw/dp/0671654055/ref=sr_1_1/103-4680015-5015802?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1183497787&sr=1-1): hot air! :cool:

Noclevername
2007-Jul-03, 09:44 PM
I liked the improbability drive used by the Tandu in David Brin's Startide Rising (http://www.amazon.com/Startide-Rising-Uplift-David-Brin/dp/1857233727/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/103-4680015-5015802?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1183497194&sr=8-1): the Episiarch, a creature which they genetically engineered to temporarily "deny" reality, and make the impossible possible.



Which they also used for walking on water. Literally. :D

dgavin
2007-Jul-06, 03:14 PM
I can't remember the name of the book, as I read it over 30 years ago. Similar to the Star Wars books, it had a group of strugelling rebels that invented a new form of stellar drive called a Blink Drive wich gave them the upperhand.

It worked on the priciple of altering where the ship (and contents) existed in space time. And had some drawbacks that if the engine was damaged, it could simply blink out of existance for good.

DaveC426913
2007-Jul-06, 04:42 PM
Scariest: Stephen King's 'The Jaunt'.

publiusr
2007-Jul-21, 08:14 PM
Matt Visser of Washington University in St. Louis conceived an arrangement in which the spacetime region of a wormhole mouth is flat (and thus force-free) but framed by struts of exotic matter that contain a region of very sharp curvature.

Visser envisages a cubic design, with flat-space wormhole connections on the square sides and cosmic strings as the edges. Each cube-face may connect to the face of another wormhole-mouth cube, or the six cube faces may connect to six different cube faces in six separated locations.

Visser, M. (1995) Lorentzian Wormholes From Einstein to Hawking, Woodbury, NY: AIP Press (1995).

eburacum45
2007-Jul-22, 09:56 PM
Here is an image from Orion's Arm of a cubic wormhole as described by Visser;
http://www.orionsarm.com/tech/wormhole_img.html
the faces of the cube tend towards the spherical, making the 'hole look like a soap bubble.
More recently we have moved away from Visser's design, because our physics guys couldn't figure out how to make a box out of negatively charged cosmic string. But I still like this image myself.

DaveC426913
2007-Jul-23, 02:34 AM
I want to build a wormhole so that I can take one doorway, turn it sideways and pass it through the other doorway. I'm hoping I can tie it in a knot.

mike alexander
2007-Jul-23, 10:33 PM
I'm also partial to the planoforming drive in Cordwainer Smith's Instrumentality of Mankind stories.

EDG
2007-Jul-23, 11:06 PM
"LUDICROUS SPEED, GO!"

(they've gone to plaid?) :)

Doodler
2007-Jul-24, 02:19 PM
Battletech's Kearny-Fuchida jump drive was pretty good too.

Two standard "jump points" at the zenith and nadir of a star's gravity well (the closest points to the star from which a jump was possible, with "pirate" points where gravitational forces between the star(s) and its planets sufficiently nullified each other to allow a jump (This was a little risky, as it required VERY precise knowledge of the orbit of the planet you were looking to pop in on. Most ships using pirate points were assumed to be pirates, since no . Powering the ship up required anywhere from a day (Class O blue stars) to almost a week (Class M red stars) via kilometer(s) wide solar sails (stowed for jumps and in-system transit), one jump per charge. Maximum jump range, about 30ly.

Transit times from jump points to the planets could take months in some cases via steady acceleration, with the maximum acceleration around 2gs before the ship started having issues with it.

In other words, it was quite simply the most thoroughly thought out, unhandwavingish interstellar drive I've seen in science fiction.

mike alexander
2007-Jul-24, 05:36 PM
Mmmm. For thought-out drives, there was the one in The Mote in God's Eye. After the novel came out Niven and Pournelle published an article about how they wrote the book, including the idea of using a fifth force to move the ship (after converting it into correspondence particles) into a continuum universe with no upper speed limit. Transits between stars along tramlines of equipotential nuclear flux. Tramline endpoints could move, appear or disappear, depending on shifting stellar geometries. Ships had to get to transfer points using reaction drives, no handwaving.

Roy Batty
2007-Jul-24, 06:21 PM
Ships had to get to transfer points using reaction drives, no handwaving.
Ah yes, the 'Alderson' or 'Crazy Eddie' point :-)

eburacum45
2007-Jul-24, 06:35 PM
Niven's Known Space fusion drives were pretty clever, if I recall them correctly. One problem with fusion drives is that they are so hot they could potentially melt the rocket itself. Niven used a reaction chamber lined with a stasis field if I recall correctly, and stasis fields also came in useful in several other applications in the Known Space stories.
Additionally Niven used monopoles to catalyse the fusion in the drive, something which would conceivably work if monopoles could be found or manufactured.

tofu
2007-Jul-24, 06:48 PM
the most thoroughly thought out

yep. Because they wanted to make the game fun to play. And it worked! Did you ever play battlespace? Actually, when I started with mechwarrior and battletech it was considered impolite to attack a jump ship, because there were so few of them. That was before the clans though.

Noclevername
2007-Jul-24, 06:59 PM
Additionally Niven used monopoles to catalyse the fusion in the drive, something which would conceivably work if monopoles could be found or manufactured.
And monopole mining was the main industry of the "Belters", because with automated manufacturing and asteroid mining, it was the only thing rare enough to base their economy on.

Ilya
2007-Jul-24, 08:33 PM
Mmmm. For thought-out drives, there was the one in The Mote in God's Eye. After the novel came out Niven and Pournelle published an article about how they wrote the book, including the idea of using a fifth force to move the ship (after converting it into correspondence particles) into a continuum universe with no upper speed limit. Transits between stars along tramlines of equipotential nuclear flux. Tramline endpoints could move, appear or disappear, depending on shifting stellar geometries. Ships had to get to transfer points using reaction drives, no handwaving.

And the whole point of it (and of Langston Field) was to make interstellar empire based on British Empire, complete with hereditary nobility, Naval Tradition, uneducated recruits, and teenage midshipmen, to make sense.

Doodler
2007-Jul-25, 12:20 PM
yep. Because they wanted to make the game fun to play. And it worked! Did you ever play battlespace? Actually, when I started with mechwarrior and battletech it was considered impolite to attack a jump ship, because there were so few of them. That was before the clans though.

I owned Battlespace, played it quite a bit. Their detailed damage system made for some entertaining engagements, particularly when you started losing directional controls.

"Ensign Earnheart, what do you mean you can only make left turns?"

I also owned its predecessor, Aerotech, though it was less flexible. The new design rules in Battlespace were half the fun. What killed me was how poorly optimized their canon ships were.

Of course, on a gag, I created a battleship design who's sole armament was Small Lasers. Standard Small Lasers.

Get within a space of that thing, and it would shred anything it fought. Getting that close could be a bit of a challenge. :)

Delvo
2007-Jul-25, 04:25 PM
Some of the last several posts about which systems made the most sense tempted me to start a new thread on the most logical or realistic drives... but I think it wouldn't take long before everyone was saying "There can't be any such thing, the all have fatal flaws, it'll never happen"...

eburacum45
2007-Jul-26, 05:35 AM
I think it wouldn't take long before everyone was saying "There can't be any such thing, they all have fatal flaws, it'll never happen"...

That could be interesting in itself.

Swift
2007-Jul-26, 01:51 PM
Some of the last several posts about which systems made the most sense tempted me to start a new thread on the most logical or realistic drives... but I think it wouldn't take long before everyone was saying "There can't be any such thing, the all have fatal flaws, it'll never happen"...
I find that interesting too, but I think you are right about the discussion that will happen. All we know will work is stuff that is within our current understanding of physics and engineering. It is sort of like asking the Wright Brothers about what is the best design for going back to the moon.

tofu
2007-Jul-26, 02:12 PM
Doodler, there's another tabletop game called (I think) battleship gothic. Have you ever played that one? I haven't, but I'm curious to know what the FTL theory was in that game, if it even had one. I think the game is related to Warhammer, and I seem to remember that they traveled through "warp space" and that it was similar to Babylon 5 in that the bad guys lived in warp space.

Doodler
2007-Jul-26, 03:42 PM
Doodler, there's another tabletop game called (I think) battleship gothic. Have you ever played that one? I haven't, but I'm curious to know what the FTL theory was in that game, if it even had one. I think the game is related to Warhammer, and I seem to remember that they traveled through "warp space" and that it was similar to Babylon 5 in that the bad guys lived in warp space.

Battleship Gothic is Warhammer 40k's space game. The Warp, as its called is the origin point of the chaos forces, though the Emperor nominally protects human space. Never played it though.

The one I liked a LOT for tabletop starship combat was out of the UK called Full Thrust. The storyline that managed to bring the US back under the British crown was always good for a chuckle, but the system was very streamlined and butt simple to use. Its FTL was something of a jump system of the here now, there then type, with theoretically unlimited range (in practical terms, about 20 ly at most), but accuracy of arrival was inversely proportional to the distance jumped, plus you could only make one jump every 8-12 hours because of physical effects of jumping on humans. A fleet would leave a system on a long jump which would scatter them all over the place in transit, then use shorter jumps to reform in the target system.

Movement in the game was straight 2D physics. Thrust would add to velocity, velocity was maintained until acted upon, and it had a system that allowed for pythagorean computation of directional vector. To keep things sane, it used a hexagonal based turning system, one "face" turn took one unit of thrust to accomplish.

They also added a sourcebook which introduced a pair of alien races. One was an insectoid species and another was an organic tech species (they weren't overly thrilled about introducing an organic species, considering that this came out at the height of Babylon 5's run, they felt organic tech was kinda being "done to death", but they did it anyway for variety).