Wednesday, November 27, 2013

[Resources] The Tyranny of Distance

The Tyranny of Distance: How Distance Shaped Australian History (1966) by Geoffry Blainey, explored how the vast distance between Great Britain and Australia shaped Australia's past, present and future, and cultural identity and attitudes.

When I first heard of this book a few years ago, I immediately became interested. However, my local library does not have this book available so I'll have see if I can get it from inter-library loan.

The book has piqued my interested because many science fiction stories posit a vast, star-spanning empire that has FTL ships and huge navies to protect it's colonies, very similar to the wooden ships of England's Royal Navy. Yet many of these stories also posit an ever-present enforcement when the sheer vastness of space requires the empire's ships to traverse these great distances to these far-flung colonies. It's no surprise that many stories explore issues related to rebellion and unrest.

A favorite set of novels of mine is the Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons. I think that these books do a good job of dealing with the distances by expressing them in "time-debt." Sure, the books have jump gates (or the equivalent) but even with them, distances take months and even years to travel, creating a relativistic time-debt.

I used to think that Traveller's Jump 1 spaceships were annoying, jumping one hex at a time, travelling for a week to get to each location, refuel there then do it again, from system to system. But it should have been a bit more than that, more far flung.

It's something to think about when, instead of getting there days later, you get there years and decades later. What changes will occur while your gone, in both your origin and in your destination?

After all, space travel is not simply driving down the street to the store a half-mile away to get milk........

No comments:

Post a Comment

Unfortunately, due to spam, I have set up comment moderation. I will review and approve your comment as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience.