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FTL interstellar comunication

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Re: FTL interstellar comunication
Post by The E   » Tue Jun 02, 2020 4:43 am

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vovchara wrote:I am arguing that it destroys drama. Just compare two scenarios:
1. a scout ship encounters an alien race in a new system and destroyed, some times late the "border" systems get overrun, but no one knows why, they have to react, always a too late. Some "heroic" freighter escapes to bring news and the story is an uphill battle.
2. a scout ship encounters an alien race in a new system and sends a message home before it destroyed. Everyone immediately knows, there is a new enemy. Evey overrun system plots progress with no time delay, fleets are gathering without need to slowly collect all the separate patrols. Just send a message. And the only source of drama possible is that the opposition has overwhelming numbers. Add jump drive, reaching a star system without the need to physically cross the space between. And all you get to read how one huge fleet meets another.
There is no hopeless resistance, no starships redlining their compensators to get away, just to get a message.


The part where you're wrong is that your option 2 is not devoid of drama, it's just a different sort of drama.

In the end, it all comes down to which model the author has chosen to follow when writing: Did they choose the Age of Sail model, where messages can only travel as fast as the fastest ship? Did they choose WW2, where radio communications were widespread? Did they choose contemporary operations, where global real time data sharing is a reality?

You can tell stories of a dramatic first contact or a sudden outbreak of war in each of these models, and they're all going to be dramatic and gripping assuming that the writer can pull it off. None of the models is superior to the others in terms of what setups and payoffs they allow; it's all down to the skill of the writer.

The mistake you're making here, vovchara, is that you're essentially saying that you think apples are superior to oranges because oranges are orange and apples are green and red. You are declaring your personal preferences to be an objective measure of quality.
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Re: FTL interstellar comunication
Post by Daryl   » Thu Jun 04, 2020 6:32 am

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Trying to remember the story. No doubt others will get it first. A typical ansible intergalactic empire. Messages arrived instantly and the empire seemed to be able to react quickly. The only problem was a loud BEEP at the end of each message which was getting longer over time,
Eventually the secret came out that the BEEP contained every ansible signal ever sent, so the empire had a sort of time travel warning about upcoming challenges.
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Re: FTL interstellar comunication
Post by Robert_A_Woodward   » Fri Jun 05, 2020 1:26 am

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Daryl wrote:Trying to remember the story. No doubt others will get it first. A typical ansible intergalactic empire. Messages arrived instantly and the empire seemed to be able to react quickly. The only problem was a loud BEEP at the end of each message which was getting longer over time,
Eventually the secret came out that the BEEP contained every ansible signal ever sent, so the empire had a sort of time travel warning about upcoming challenges.


James Blish, "Beep" (a longer version appeared as _The Quincunx of Time_).
----------------------------
Beowulf was bad.
(first sentence of Chapter VI of _Space Viking_ by H. Beam Piper)
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Re: FTL interstellar comunication
Post by orelsi   » Mon Oct 05, 2020 6:42 pm

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I don't mind lack of FTL, either for traveling or for communication. It can enhance or cripple the story, up to the author. Always liked Revelation Space with its take on it.
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Re: FTL interstellar comunication
Post by Erls   » Sun Nov 01, 2020 1:56 pm

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I don't mind FTL when it is done in a realistic way. By this I mean, a FTL that is handwavium and instantly lets everyone know everything is completely unrealistic and thus tends to ruin the story.

Some 'good' versions of FTL that I've read: 1) An FTL that utilizes an advanced compression that travels at higher speeds the greater the distance, meaning something 500 LY away can actually get a message sooner than something 100 LY away; 2) An FTL that requires weird 'wormhole' type 'telegraph' tunnels, that are extremely expensive and complex to build and maintain and thus limited but render instant communication and/or travel; 3) FTL like Honorverse, even one that would allow for the transmission of coms through hyperspace (e.g., a FTL would travel 64x faster through the Alpha bands than a ship could).

All are realistic, in that they have limitations that the universe must work around that are, once the basic suspension of belief is accepted, believable.
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Re: FTL interstellar comunication
Post by Brigade XO   » Sat Nov 21, 2020 7:30 pm

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So for how long/far would FTL signals propagate? And how fast would they get to- Say Griffon- from Manticore? Or Mantiocre to Haven? Or Manticore to Darius (ok, trick question because we don't know exactly where Darius is relative to Mantiocre.

Besides, these are NOT tight-beamed communications, they are gravity pulse communication. You have to wonder at how distant (and against what interference such as stars and black holes) they would be detectable let alone readable.

But we are in Plague conditions now and have too much time on our hands if we are not out and about it the world.
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Re: FTL interstellar comunication
Post by The E   » Fri Nov 27, 2020 6:09 am

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All of these discussions remind me of how long it took police procedurals to figure out how to work mobile phones and constant, continuous connectivity into their stories.

Personally, I think it would be interesting to see a story where universal communication is easy and widespread. That, alone, changes so many of the usual story dynamics in space opera and milSF that in the hands of a competent writer, the result will be very interesting indeed.
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Re: FTL interstellar comunication
Post by Daryl   » Fri Nov 27, 2020 7:43 am

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A number of SF universes have the Ansible. Instant communication to anywhere.
The E wrote:All of these discussions remind me of how long it took police procedurals to figure out how to work mobile phones and constant, continuous connectivity into their stories.

Personally, I think it would be interesting to see a story where universal communication is easy and widespread. That, alone, changes so many of the usual story dynamics in space opera and milSF that in the hands of a competent writer, the result will be very interesting indeed.
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Re: FTL interstellar comunication
Post by Louis R   » Wed Dec 23, 2020 6:38 pm

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There are a lot of authors who wrote assuming universal communication. Pre-70s it was almost routine. Aside from Usula LeGuin, who invented the 'ansible' for her Hainish stories, you will find it in completely different form in Doc Smith, and Robert Heinlein took it so much for granted in some of his stories he didn't even bother to discuss it, never mind explain it. Ditto for Schmitz, and I know I'm blanking on numerous other examples. For current writers, Lee & Miller and David Weber use it as well, although I suppose it could be argued that it's not quite 'widespread' in the Liad universe, since Dutiful Passage earns revenue providing comm services for isolated or less-developed planets that don't have pinbeam systems.

Leaving aside the open question of whether such systems are unphysical, which arose with a better understanding of the consequences of relativity, I think that a consensus arose in the '80s or '90s that efficient communications over interstellar distances made things "too easy" for societies and individual characters: when you know what's going on everywhere, where's the suspense and room for fatal errors? Even LeGuin paired the ansible with an FTL travel system that would kill any live passenger or cargo, meaning that while you could find out what might be about to happen somewhere, you couldn't _get_ there in time to influence the outcome in any way.

Daryl wrote:A number of SF universes have the Ansible. Instant communication to anywhere.
The E wrote:All of these discussions remind me of how long it took police procedurals to figure out how to work mobile phones and constant, continuous connectivity into their stories.

Personally, I think it would be interesting to see a story where universal communication is easy and widespread. That, alone, changes so many of the usual story dynamics in space opera and milSF that in the hands of a competent writer, the result will be very interesting indeed.
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