Tuesday, 5 March 2013

World Without Stars

Thematically, Poul Anderson's World Without Stars is like a detail from his Tau Zero. In the latter novel, a spaceship on a cosmic journey flashes past a solitary star with planets in intergalactic space. The main action of the former is set on a planet of such a star.

Conceptually, the two novels are set in different universes. Tau Zero is entirely relativistic whereas World Without Stars is yet another faster than light (FTL) scenario. It has to be to allow its protagonists to travel from their civilisation to intergalactic space and back again in a reasonable time. The STL ship of Tau Zero simply never returns home.

Recently, this blog noted three different Andersonian rationalisations of FTL:

the many instantaneous quantum jumps of the Technic History;
the closed spatial curve allowing limitless acceleration in The Star Fox/Fire Time series (for which I suggest the title Star Time);
the interference fringes of standing waves in After Doomsday.

Now we have:

gravity is too weak and slow to explain cosmic cohesion;
every point is equivalent to every other in the intrinsic unity of space;
locations are distinguished only by the coordinates of the mass present in them;
matter-energy field configurations described by these coordinates can be altered artificially;
then the mass instantaneously jumps to the other location;
it retains its momentum plus or minus the difference in gravitational potential;
energy differentials must be made up in stages;
hence the need for time-consuming spatial journeys between jumps;
but really remote galaxies can be accessed by a series of jumps.

As I said about After Doomsday, it is a pity that there is not an entire series set in this scenario.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

if WORLD WITHOUT STARS hadn't ended with exact death dates being given given for Hugh Valland's long dead love, then we could have speculated that TAU ZERO came later. Or, maybe not--the antithanatic which gave indefinitely extended life spans for humans was not mentioned at all in TAUZ ZERO. If those two book had shared a time line, they would have been separated by more than two centuries.

Rather a pity they don't share the same time line. It would have fitted in so neatly with the intergalactic star and planets the Eleonora Christine passed.