I was talking to an old friend the other day about astronomy and stars and what not. He's become interested in visual astronomy, and I've been doing some reading about near earth astronomical phenomena for the fiction I'm writing.
Recently I've realized that I do a fair amount of my outlining and brainstorming in instant message windows. I suppose whatever works, but it is a bit odd. Sorry to all of my bored friends out there.
Anyway, so I was talking about why the hell I decided to spend time looking at information about nearby stars, particularly, you know when you're writing vaguely space-opera-ish stuff, and I realized that it was all about hyperspace.
Mostly that I don't like the concept.
It seems that there should be some cost on traveling between great distances. Otherwise, from a story perspective it's all one place. If you can get between one planet and another in a few hours, or even a day or two, and its reasonably economical, then is there a lot of difference between going to Epsilon Eridani (or something further) and Kansas?
Not so much.
And if that's the case, it has all sorts of implications about population sizes, cultural transmission, and the like. Mostly that it wouldn't change things all that much. If going to EE is like going to Kansas, then in our minds it might not be very much different than going to Kansas in our own minds, and thats, well boring (Nothing wrong with going to Kansas, and I will be in a week, nevertheless...)
So for instance in Station Keeping, there has to be faster than light travel, but there are still relativistic effects. People spend lots of objective time traveling from place to place. Going out to the area of space that Hanm is in, if they're from the core, basically means leaving everything behind. SK is the closest I get, but I really do think that putting some sort of narrative cost for all the wizz-bang of SF is a no-brainer. Circle Games, the precursor to the novella I'm finishing the edits on now (and some other future projects) had FTL, but that was the least of it's problems. Eh.
Anyway, omitting FTL has of scores of implications for population dynamics and cultural transmission, but it's fairly clean cut. Without hypers-pace, I'm also dealing with social and emotional experiences that are very historically relevant, but not contemporarily (I'm playing with emigration as a sort of general theme in the novel). And not having hyperspace makes this much, much, easier, and frankly pretty cool.
Onward and Upward!