atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#2787: Pizza-a-go-go

I don't even know what it means when you add "-a-go-go" to something. The title of this post comes from the fictional drive-through pizza joint BA Felton works at in Knights of the Dinner Table.

Last night, after I cut the grass, I ordered a super supreme from Pizza Hut and hied myself out there to pick it up; and of course I came home and pigged out, because I was hungry: the only thing I'd had to eat yesterday at that point was the last of the chicken yakisoba. Good stuff, but the chicken variety seems to have a lot less staying power than the beef kind. I'd eaten that around three and it was after nine, for crying out loud.

Other than cutting grass, I did very little. It was too hot for most of yesteday for me to do anything outside. Today is cooler, and I'm thinking about going out to the garage and having a look at the junk, with a view to finding more crap to get rid of, but I am not thinking very hard about it--it's a holiday weekend.

* * *

Last night I discovered another manga series called Umi no Misaki which is pretty interesting stuff. Basic story: guy moves to remote Japanese island, meets girl, discovers secret about island...and then really ends up in a situation. At its base it turns out to be a harem story, but it's on the serious side and it's really enjoyable. I read 23 chapters at one sitting.

* * *

Sailor V and I decided to have our celebration over here, rather than out at his place. There are several good reasons for doing things differently this year, but the main reason the issue was even in question came from my own laziness.

I don't know how I feel about the whole motorcycle issue, in light of this. I mean, the whole idea was to have everything ready for a day at VHQ rather than at the bunker. But as time went on and I thought about things--including having to drive from VHQ to the bunker to grill brats, and then go back for lighting the fuses--I thought, "Why even go out there?"

His ATV is nonfunctional and the weather has been too crappy for me to fix it; besides, I'm tired and he lives in Mosquito Central. We can still have a day of hooning our machines around--just not tomorrow. WTF.

* * *

In Have Space Suit--Will Travel Heinlein has the main character, Clifford Russell, thinking about the home system of "Wormface" and his cronies. ("Wormface" being a hideous bug-eyed monster alien with cilia ringing its mouth.) Kip thinks "Alpha Centauri" since Wormface uses ships with constant-boost drives; if you don't have FTL capability a constant-boost ship would take about 4.3 years to travel between our star and Alpha Centauri. (It would, of course, seem much faster to those aboard that ship. But it would still take 4.3 years.)

Now, for decades it was commonly accepted that Alpha Centauri wouldn't have habitable planets, because it's a binary star system and the orbital mechanics are a mess. I just wonder if that notion came about after HSS-WT was written; it has a copyright date of 1957 and it reads like it was serialized, so it might in fact be a bit older than that. (Rocket Ship Galileo dates to 1947 and probably began life as a serial in a pulp magazine, but that's a whole 'nother story.) (Both literally and figuratively.)

The whole issue got me to thinking about how science fiction writers are free to ignore theories they find inconvenient.

Hard SF is supposed to be based on science as we currently understand it, accepting the best-understood and -supported theories as fact and going from there. Usually there is some allowable modification, but if you want to write the real hardcore stuff you're stuck with travel below lightspeed and a bunch of other restrictions. You can write some really good stories within those rules.

My problem is, for the most part I find it too confining. I want my characters to travel to other star systems, not be stuck in one. In fact, I find even my own universe's FTL too restrictive. For most of the history of the world, it takes months to travel from star to star. Then there's a breakthrough that cuts travel time to hours--but by then there isn't much left of the overreaching story.

And it has to be like this. The society won't work if travel between stars takes hours rather than months. So I gut it up and deal.

See, by then, the "core worlds" are pretty safe places. Crime is virtually nonexistent and Man has dealt with most of the external threats in this corner of the galaxy. It's really hard to find conflict, and when you do it's highly localized. Though you can find conflict farther from Earth (and we can get there faster thanks to the XXX-drive) (not its real name) I prefer stories set in and around Earth's stellar neighborhood, and I only leave it when I have to, plot-wise.

...and you get into this escalation where you have to go find bigger-badder enemies because the power available to humans is so much greater. Think Star Trek: The Next Generation having to introduce the Borg, because the Federation beat everyone else. Like that. You can't have an interesting story when the protagonist is the baddest dude on the block. "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" is not about the eponymous character's rise, but his fall.

But in order to do these things, I have to ignore the fact that--right now--physics says "FTL travel is not possible."

(Okay; we're starting to figure out that there are loopholes, or "exploits", we can use to get around the pesky speed limit--but bear with me.)

I do it, because rule number one is "never let theories get in the way of a good story". I can't ignore the laws of gravitation or conservation of energy or thermodynamics; I can ignore the speed limit and there is plenty of precedence in SF for doing exactly that, one way or another, as long as it can be defended in a reasonable fashion.

My "reasonable fashion" ends up being a (fictional) doctoral dissertation entitled "Special Exceptions to General Relativity" and it forms the foundation of hyperspatial mechanics. In order for the timeline to work, though, that paper has to be written right about my story also ends up being set in an alternate universe. *sigh*

Oh well. No one said it would be easy.

* * * I'm left without knowing what else to say. But I think the best thing for this situation is another funny one from Sketchbook:


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