Sci-Fi Sci-Fi Methods of Faster-Than-Light (FTL) Travel?

Kevin

Code Monkey
Staff member
Joined
Mar 20, 2004
So I'm watching Heavy Metal 2000 the other day (which doesn't hold up as well as the original Heavy Metal IMO) and what caught my attention was the method of ships going faster-than-light (FTL). In short, the ship is placed in a giant tube at a space station and then the space station launches the ship to achieve FTL. The effect, including the visual shown, is that the ship is essentially shot out of the tube like firing a bullet out of a gun. :o_O:

That is a method that I don't recall seeing before in sci-fi movies/TV/books. It got me thinking then of other methods usually depicted.

The most common method, of course, is the ship itself being able to go FTL under its own power. This is seen in Star Trek, Star Wars, and various shows like Andromeda. Think of almost any movie, tv show, or book and the odds are pretty good that the method of FTL used is the ship itself.

Then there is the 'jump' method where a ship jumps from one point in space to another. This can been seen in the SyFy series Dark Matter where an experimental "blink drive" allows them to jump to different points. The science behind these types of drives usually aren't explained but I would suspect they follow the basic principle of folding space. In space folding think of the usual example shown where you take a piece of paper and place two dots on it on opposite sides, Point A and Point B. The traditional method of connecting the two dots would be traveling in a straight line between the two points but in space that could be pretty slow. Instead take the piece of paper and fold it in the middle so now the two dots are touching each other; if you were traveling in a ship you would have just arrived near instantly.

Dune
is great example of ships using space folding to travel though the method shown is a bit more complicated than a electronic gizmo you can install in your ship like on Dark Matter. Wormholes, like shown in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine would fall under the 'space folding' method as well. In the Stargate verse multiple methods are used. There are ships capable of FTL and then there are the stargates themselves that act as a portal to create an on-demand wormhole.

As shown on screen the TARDIS in the Doctor Who verse also uses on-demand wormholes but when you take time into consideration as a factor I'm not sure if that would fall into the space folding category as well or if that'd be its own branch.

I'm not sure what category omnipotent characters like Q from Star Trek would fall into. Being able to snap your fingers and go anywhere you want is certainly convenient but the science behind it would be interesting to find out. I suspect somebody could find a way of explaining his powers at the quantum level which kind of takes back to space folding.


So, we have assisted launches, self-powered launches, space folding, and omnipotence. Do you recall coming across other methods? :einstein:
 

sci-fi-dude

1963, 1899 called they want every thing back....
Joined
Jul 20, 2017
Location
DFW
So I'm watching Heavy Metal 2000 the other day (which doesn't hold up as well as the original Heavy Metal IMO) and what could my attention was the method of ships going faster-than-light (FTL). In short, the ship is placed in a giant tube at a space station and then the space station launches the ship to achieve FTL. The effect, including the visual shown, is that the ship is essentially shot out of the tube like firing a bullet out of a gun. :o_O:

That is a method that I don't recall seeing before in sci-fi movies/TV/books. It got me thinking then of other methods usually depicted.

The most common method, of course, is the ship itself being able to go FTL under its own power. This is seen in Star Trek, Star Wars, and various shows like Andromeda. Think of almost any movie, tv show, or book and the odds are pretty good that the method of FTL used is the ship itself.

Then there is the 'jump' method where a ship jumps from one point in space to another. This can been seen in the SyFy series Dark Matter where an experimental "blink drive" allows them to jump to different points. The science behind these types of drives usually aren't explained but I would suspect they follow the basic principle of folding space. In space folding think of the usual example shown where you take a piece of paper and place two dots on it on opposite sides, Point A and Point B. The traditional method of connecting the two dots would be traveling in a straight line between the two points but in space that could be pretty slow. Instead take the piece of paper and fold it in the middle so now the two dots are touching each other; if you were traveling in a ship you would have just arrived near instantly.

Dune
is great example of ships using space folding to travel though the method shown is a bit more complicated than a electronic gizmo you can install in your ship like on Dark Matter. Wormholes, like shown in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine would fall under the 'space folding' method as well. In the Stargate verse multiple methods are used. There are ships capable of FTL and then there are the stargates themselves that act as a portal to create an on-demand wormhole.

As shown on screen the TARDIS in the Doctor Who verse also uses on-demand wormholes but when you take time into consideration as a factor I'm not sure if that would fall into the space folding category as well or if that'd be its own branch.

I'm not sure what category omnipotent characters like Q from Star Trek would fall into. Being able to snap your fingers and go anywhere you want is certainly convenient but the science behind it would be interesting to find out. I suspect somebody could find a way of explaining his powers at the quantum level which kind of takes back to space folding.


So, we have assisted launches, self-powered launches, and space folding. Do you recall coming across other methods? :einstein:
Heavy Metal rules. Thought travels faster than anything, unless you are doped up, LOL!
 

Tom

An Old Friend
Joined
Dec 6, 2004
Location
Gulf Coast
The Borg used transwarp corridors. Not sure what the mechanics were. Perhaps warp and wormhole together?

Star Trek's warp shows time in warp so not really folding space like in Dune.
Babylon 5 was also a wormhole that showed time in third space.
The Stargate has travel duration as well but much quicker.
Wing Commander used singularities to open wormholes with a nav computer.

The original question asks what source initiates FTL; a launch station, the ship or an entity
If this interface were able I would make 5 collumns across the top and fill in the references under each collumn. As it is, the best that can be done is 5 bulleted lists vertically. I added OTHER for examples that will not fit in the other 4 groups.

LAUNCHED FTL
  • Heavy Metal 2000
  • They Live
  • Mass Relays from Mass Effect
  • The Quadrail System from Tim Zahn's Night Train to Rigel

SHIP FTL
  • Star Trek
  • Star Wars
  • Andromeda
  • Tardis from Dr Who
  • 'Heart Of Gold' Infinite Improbability Drive from HHGTTG
  • 'Max' in Flight of the Navigator
  • Starship Troopers
  • Babylon 5 (later in the series)
  • Battlestar Galactica
  • Red Dwarf
  • Bloater Drive in Bill, The Galactic Hero novels
  • Rodebush-Cleveland Drive from Triplanetary
  • The Bergenholm from Lensman
  • Lost In Space film
  • Event Horizon
  • Farscape
  • Avengers Tesseract Wormhole Generator
  • Star Trek's Red Matter Wormhole
  • Outsider's Hyperdrive from Niven's Known Space series
  • Independence Day
  • Battle Beyond the Stars
  • The Last Starfighter
  • Blakes 7
  • Charmed Whitelighters' Orbs
  • V & V The Final Battle
  • Technomages from Excalibur
  • Dead Space ships
  • Galaxy Quest
  • Ships in the Alien Universe
  • The 5th Element
  • Riddick movie series
  • Valerian
  • Predator ships (not shown, implied)
  • Avatar (not shown, implied)
  • District 9 ships (implied)
  • Pandorum (implied)
  • Men In Black (implied)
  • Arrival (implied)
TUNNEL/CORRIDOR FTL
  • Stargate
  • Deep Space 9 Wormhole
  • Wing Commander
  • Babylon 5
  • Interstellar
  • Honor Harrington
  • Buck Rogers in the 25th Century
  • Transformers 'Space Bridge'
  • Fringe 'Bishop Pattern'
  • Farscape (lost in a wormhole)
  • The Star Window from Perry Rhodan
  • Quantum Slipstreams, multiple references (Think Halo)
  • After Earth
  • The Fly
  • Fireball XL5
  • Earth: Final Conflict
  • The Pattern from Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny
  • Doom
  • Original Planet of the Apes

ENTITY FTL
  • Q from Star Trek
  • Dune Navigator Guildsmen (Holtzman Effect)
  • Farcasters of Hyperion
  • Caleban from The Dosadi Experiment by Frank Herbert
  • The Force Storm created by Palpatine
  • Carol Danvers (Binary) white hole linked in Marvel Universe
  • Jumper
  • Dr Strange
  • Heroes (Bending Spacetime)
  • Farslayers Sword from Fred Saberhagen's Swords novels
  • Green Power Ranger (teleportation power)
  • Nickelodeon's The Tomorrow People teens (teleportation)
  • Nightcrawler from X-Men
  • Ego from Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (travels by avatar {Kurt Russell})
  • Superman (example Christopher Reeves Superman 1 saving Lois Lane)

OTHER
  • Voyager Species 8472 (Teleporting Travel)
  • Stargate Atlantis, Atlantis Station (Teleporting)
  • He-Man, Master of the Universe
  • Sliders (not FTL, dimensional travel)
  • Quantum Leap (not FTL, entity time travel)
  • Primeval (not FTL, time travel)
  • Psionic FTL in Rowan Series novels by Ann McCaffrey
  • The Spin Membrane in the novel Spin by Robert C Wilson
  • The Tachypomp (short story, don't recall the name of it)
  • Contact (the great machine)
  • Mimics from Edge of Tomorrow (implied travel by time dilation)
  • Therns from John Carter (uses medallian of the 9th ray)
Wow, Kevin, This has been fun...
 

Kevin

Code Monkey
Staff member
Joined
Mar 20, 2004
Interesting list, Tom, you have some that I'd forgotten about. (y)

I wonder if time travel should be its own category with sub-categories for stationary time travel (eg: HG Wells travelling through time at the same spot) versus time & location time travel (Doctor Who).

After seeing that list it got me thinking then if writers will consider the method before starting out or if the method they choose develops on its own as the story progresses. If either @Verna or @astonwest are out there, how did you guys decide on which method to use?
 

Tom

An Old Friend
Joined
Dec 6, 2004
Location
Gulf Coast
I wonder if time travel should be its own category with sub-categories for stationary time travel (eg: HG Wells travelling through time at the same spot) versus time & location time travel (Doctor Who).
That's the beauty of it being your thread - you can decide things like that. LOL
But how would you categorize Quantum Leap, Twelve Monkeys and stuff like that?

After seeing that list it got me thinking then if writers will consider the method before starting out or if the method they choose develops on its own as the story progresses.
Wouldn't it be cool to ask some of the early writers? Back before the concept of FTL travel was mainstream.
I wonder how Gene Roddenberry formulated warp drive? Did he have Wagon Train to The Stars stories first or did he imagine Warp drive and say, "Hey, I could do a Wagon Train to the Stars with this Warp drive."
 

Tom

An Old Friend
Joined
Dec 6, 2004
Location
Gulf Coast
Y'know, thinking on this with a different head, I wonder if folding space and teleportation is actually faster than light travel? Sure vast distances are crossed, nearly instantaneously, but they were not crossed with speed like a hyper drive or warp drive. With folded space, for instance, a ship without FTL ability can cross those distances too.

Might also want to consider works like Serenity where no FTL ability exists but there are still adventures in space that include battles?
 

sci-fi-dude

1963, 1899 called they want every thing back....
Joined
Jul 20, 2017
Location
DFW
So I'm watching Heavy Metal 2000 the other day (which doesn't hold up as well as the original Heavy Metal IMO) and what caught my attention was the method of ships going faster-than-light (FTL). In short, the ship is placed in a giant tube at a space station and then the space station launches the ship to achieve FTL. The effect, including the visual shown, is that the ship is essentially shot out of the tube like firing a bullet out of a gun. :o_O:

That is a method that I don't recall seeing before in sci-fi movies/TV/books. It got me thinking then of other methods usually depicted.

The most common method, of course, is the ship itself being able to go FTL under its own power. This is seen in Star Trek, Star Wars, and various shows like Andromeda. Think of almost any movie, tv show, or book and the odds are pretty good that the method of FTL used is the ship itself.

Then there is the 'jump' method where a ship jumps from one point in space to another. This can been seen in the SyFy series Dark Matter where an experimental "blink drive" allows them to jump to different points. The science behind these types of drives usually aren't explained but I would suspect they follow the basic principle of folding space. In space folding think of the usual example shown where you take a piece of paper and place two dots on it on opposite sides, Point A and Point B. The traditional method of connecting the two dots would be traveling in a straight line between the two points but in space that could be pretty slow. Instead take the piece of paper and fold it in the middle so now the two dots are touching each other; if you were traveling in a ship you would have just arrived near instantly.

Dune
is great example of ships using space folding to travel though the method shown is a bit more complicated than a electronic gizmo you can install in your ship like on Dark Matter. Wormholes, like shown in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine would fall under the 'space folding' method as well. In the Stargate verse multiple methods are used. There are ships capable of FTL and then there are the stargates themselves that act as a portal to create an on-demand wormhole.

As shown on screen the TARDIS in the Doctor Who verse also uses on-demand wormholes but when you take time into consideration as a factor I'm not sure if that would fall into the space folding category as well or if that'd be its own branch.

I'm not sure what category omnipotent characters like Q from Star Trek would fall into. Being able to snap your fingers and go anywhere you want is certainly convenient but the science behind it would be interesting to find out. I suspect somebody could find a way of explaining his powers at the quantum level which kind of takes back to space folding.


So, we have assisted launches, self-powered launches, space folding, and omnipotence. Do you recall coming across other methods? :einstein:
Kevin I keep thinking of the Guild navigator on the dune movie, he set it up so ships can fold space, quickly, I loved that 1984 film...
 

Tom

An Old Friend
Joined
Dec 6, 2004
Location
Gulf Coast
Started watching Star Command but got too tired to continue.
In it they use a device (they named it but I was too tired to remember) that creates folded space that is depicted as a tunnel. The ship fires the device and a fold appears and they fly the ship into it.
A ship device opening a wormhole. What is different is that the wormhole is folded anywhere in space and is not restricted to a location. (sorta like the White Star from Babylon 5 opening a jump portal).

I will rewatch Star Command again and try to get more info on the device. The movie looks like a failed TV show pilot film. It is a 1996 film. Jason of Star Command (1978) was a TV show (I have yet to watch).
The film is called Fold aka Star Command (1996)
It stars Actors: Chad Everett Chris Conrad Dennenesch Zoude Emilio De Marchi Erik Hansen Errol Shaker Eva Habermann Francesca Tu Hans Martin Stier Ivan Sergei Jay Underwood Jennifer Bransford Jonathan Kinsler Joseph Sumner Kelly Hu Matthew Burton Morgan Fairchild Nancy Cser Nigel Bennett Tembi Locke
 

astonwest

Writing Fool
Writer
Joined
Nov 23, 2008
Location
Kansas
After seeing that list it got me thinking then if writers will consider the method before starting out or if the method they choose develops on its own as the story progresses. If either @Verna or @astonwest are out there, how did you guys decide on which method to use?
Sorry for the delay in response...

I think in my own case, it developed throughout the course of writing my series...eventually, I got around to showing (through the course of having problems with the drive) that I open a rift in space that the ship flies into...

That said, other than the random issue that pops up, it doesn't usually come up in the story.
 

Boreas

Scout
Joined
Sep 27, 2015
Location
Infinite Fun Space
The fastest speed of all isthe speed of plot!

In Dune, Herbert's spice melange drug that grants prescience and has other innumerable attributes is a key component in FTL travel. One of the factions of humanity that use it extensively are the Guild Navigators. They use it so extensively that their very evolution has bifurcated from baseline humanity over many thousands of years. But the spice gives them a higher awareness of mathematical realms, and they are able to pilot ships through interstellar space by "folding space". Essentially, moving from one space-time location to another without moving. That's got to be the fastest way to travel...instantaneously.
 

Boreas

Scout
Joined
Sep 27, 2015
Location
Infinite Fun Space
Oops, just saw that you already mentioned folding space.

What about the infinite improbability drive from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy? That's as instantaneous a way to travel as with folding space, but without requiring the individual to do all the mathematical calculations.
 

sci-fi-dude

1963, 1899 called they want every thing back....
Joined
Jul 20, 2017
Location
DFW
Oops, just saw that you already mentioned folding space.

What about the infinite improbability drive from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy? That's as instantaneous a way to travel as with folding space, but without requiring the individual to do all the mathematical calculations.
I liked the original it was more interesting, plus the second film forgot the restaurant at the end of the universe! You can't do that! And the delicious cow that talks to you before you consume it. LOL!
All original films are the best, remakes have me scratching my head. LOL!
 

Tom

An Old Friend
Joined
Dec 6, 2004
Location
Gulf Coast
I just rewatched Star Command...meh, I can see why it didn't get picked up as a series.
I liked some of the ship designs but the graphics were very limited. Script was really stupid, even worse than a syfy original movie stupid.
 

Verna

Rocket Babe
Writer
Joined
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Location
Alabama
In our book series some factions have FTL and their ships are capable of generating their own corridor/wormhole. They're not called star ships but that's pretty much what they are. Most alien races do not but have those abilities but in the next book coming out this spring I found out there is more than one way to skin a grey when a 1980's space fighter needs to get to Draco to search for the heroine. It's kind of a "where there's a will there's way" thing.
 
Joined
Mar 16, 2018
Hi all,

Just a few thoughts on if we could travel at speed of light, based on achieving a means to propel that fast.

I'm sure there are those who say its impossible because you couldn't make a safe flight plan but I disagree with that because you would be moving so fast the need for prediction would be very limited in terms of what is going to be in your way when you get there. a good computer should be able to do that.

What size is too big to be able to go through? I imagine the ship would need a shield which could vaporize any small rubble floating in the path of the ship but since going at that speed would create a need to know what you could bull through and what you needed to work around? Or is any size object going to cause a wreck?

Sorry if a bit off topic, but I didn't think it was too far off as to warrant starting another thread.
 

sci-fi-dude

1963, 1899 called they want every thing back....
Joined
Jul 20, 2017
Location
DFW
Sounds like an Einstein topic, Refer to his famous E=MC2 equation, with mass, speed, Time travel etc. You might check out Asimov, and perhaps Jules Verne for sci-fi equivalent. Gene Rodenberry had the warp speed thing down, as well as George Lucas with hyper drive.:einstein::einstein::einstein::einstein:
 

Tom

An Old Friend
Joined
Dec 6, 2004
Location
Gulf Coast
I'm sure there are those who say its impossible because you couldn't make a safe flight plan
The safe flight plan is not why traveling at the speed of light is improbable.
First, I need to state that I don't think it is impossible but it is improbable.
There are the fundamental forces of the Universe that would be broken.
would be moving so fast the need for prediction would be very limited in terms of what is going to be in your way when you get there
Space is really big and very sparse.
However, the faster you go and the further you travel makes predition mandatory.
This is because
Or is any size object going to cause a wreck?
The faster you go the more impact force increases.
This means that any forward shield you might have will impact debris with a larger impact force.
Think crash test dummies and the effects of collisions at higher and higher speeds.
Even at 1/2 c the impact force would exceed any known material.
A tiny meteor breaching a space station punctures right thru.

Space has mass.
The fact that the Sun has a heliopause that is teardrop shaped indicates there is some type of resistance in interstellar space.

1521268250256.png

In the picture above the Sun's system is depicted.
Notice how the Termination Shock Boundary is round but the Heliosphere is oblong?
The Sun moves thru the Orion Arm of the galaxy.
Not only does it move spirally towards Sagittarius A (The Milky Way's Super Massive Black Hole)
it also moves vertically (up and down) in its orbit.

1521268562936.png


To achieve light speed (c) the craft would have to overcome the mass of space as well.
Since we have never been to interstellar space, there is no way to know what objects or the characteristics that happen out there.
The Voyager crafts just left the safety of the Termination Sphere. They are still within the protection of the Sun's Heliosphere. All bets are off once they pass thru the Heliosphere's heliopause. There may or may not be a Bow Shock. That's why there is a question mark on the graphic.
 
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