I need this image. Blown up and nicely framed, hanging in my writing space. It pushes my buttons in all the right ways. When you write Science Fiction, and part of your world encompasses interstellar travel, you have to explain that shit. You can’t just hop on a passing spaceship and hitch a ride. Unless you’re Douglas Adams. Then you get to do all kinds of things like naming characters Zaphod Beeblebrox and Slartibartfast, but I’m squirreling.
Me and my fellow SFR (Sci-Fi Romance) authors all have to explain how we traverse such extraordinary distances in our worlds.
In my Sandarian universe I use Faster Than Light (FTL) drives for spaceships and large items. For smaller masses like people, there are portals which are governed by the Portal Masters. At least they are until a new kind of psi is discovered and the Portal Masters Guild is overthrown, but that’s not until book three 😉
Below is an excerpt from Alien Attachments, book one in the series. Balastar Alder is explaining to Jared (who’s a human Earth Protector support agent) how FTL travel and portals work. Let’s listen in.
“Speaking of different planets, Balastar, how long you guys been flyin’ all faster than light? I find it fascinating, you know. Do you time travel when you do that?” Jared asked.
“Only a short period of time is actually faster than light,” Balastar said. “The bigger piece is bending space.”
“Bending space?” Jared asked, placing his drink down and crossing his arms.
Balastar settled against the rail. “Yes, it’s all very complicated and fascinating. Think of a round ball made out of sponge. You’re on one side and want to travel to the other, say from Sandaria to Earth.” Balastar raised his eyebrows a hint when he looked at her.
He continued, “First, you jump to FTL speed, then you squeeze the ball.”
“Beg pardon?” Jared said.
Balastar pinched his finger and thumb together. “The points on opposite ends of the ball come together momentarily. You move to the other side, release the ball, and decelerate. The mechanics involved are exceedingly complicated, but that’s basically what happens. I share your fascination with the subject. When I was younger, I flirted with the idea of becoming an engineer so I could more fully understand. However, by my calculations, I would still be in school right now, so I decided against it.”
“I can see why. How about those portals? Now that’ll blow your mind, huh?” Jared said.
Balastar smiled, enjoying himself. “Yes, another interesting topic. From what I understand, it uses a similar principal of bending space; however, it’s completely powered by psi. That’s why there are limits to their use. The Portal Masters that created the portal are drained a little each time the gateway is used. You get four uses per hour and no more.”
“What happens if you go more than four times?” Jared asked.
“They have safeguards built in and will shut down automatically. Same thing happens if you try and exceed the weight limits. It just won’t work.”
So there you have it. How I get my characters from one planet to another, Alien Attachments style.
I’d love to hear from other SF writers on how they get it done, or if you’re a reader, what’s your favorite method of interstellar travel?