[DWJ] Tropes

Dorian E. Gray israfel at eircom.net
Thu Dec 7 16:50:18 EST 2006


Minnow said...

> >On Thu, Dec 07, 2006 at 08:08:12PM -0000, Dorian E. Gray wrote:
>>
>>>When an author tells me that the heroine's spaceship is eleventy-billion
>>>kilometres from the other spaceship, I tend to snarl, "why can't you use
>>>light-years, you stupid bugger?", and to decide that the stupid bugger
>>>probably thinks a light-year is a unit of time.
>
> (oh, let's not be pikers: if one is really lucky they talk about billions
> of light-years, and can be ignored to a man, woman and bug-eyed monster. 
> A
> billion light-years away just means "further than the corner-shop".)

A billion light-years away means "further away than can be reached in a 
human lifetime", and how can you even see the other sodding spaceship at 
that distance?  Even if you have a nifty FTL drive that lets you cover those 
billion light-years in two days, why do you care how far away the other 
space-ship is until you're close enough to crash into it (or shoot at it)?

> Roger wrote:
>
>>Well, there's still a factor of nearly 10,000 difference between 10^9km
>>and one light year.

True.  This is why fractions are useful and units such as the light-second 
exist.

>>Of course, what matters isn't the distance at all - it's the time it
>>would take to cover that distance. Fictional spacedrives vary so much
>>that one author's quarter-AU can be a longer distance than another's
>>seventeen parsecs...

Also true.  Which is why (as I didn't mention earlier), I also get pissed 
off with distance in space in general, because who cares how far it is, 
really?  The question is, how soon can I get there?  Or, what are my chances 
of pulling off a spectacular manoeuvre and *not* crashing into it?  Or, is 
it in shooting range yet?

> I would expect one quarter of one-tenth of a nanometre to be rather 
> shorter
> than anyone's parsec, but I'm sure you're right.

On a mildly random note, my very favourite measure of velocity is furlongs 
per fortnight.  I think more writers ought to use it in their SF.  (The 
speed of light is about 1.8 terafurlongs per fortnight, btw.)

Until the sky falls on our heads...

Dorian.
--
Dorian E. Gray
israfel at eircom.net
www.livejournal.com/users/dorianegray

"I will not trust you, I,
Nor longer stay in your curst company.
Your hands than mine are quicker for a fray;
My legs are longer though to run away."
-Wm. Shakespeare, "A Midsummer Night's Dream" 




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