Friday, 8 April 2016
The change from slower-than-light to faster-than-light in space must be like the change from sail to steam at sea. Future histories feature this change from STL to FTL. Poul Anderson's Technic History began with FTL interstellar exploration but Anderson later added an earlier story of interplanetary exploration by light sail ships. In his earlier Psychotechnic History, the STL period involves interplanetary travel and an interstellar generation ship. Heinlein's Future history had introduced the generation ship idea and showed the start of FTL travel.
In Larry Niven's Known Space future history, the transition from STL to FTL is an important part of the history. In Poul Anderson's Known Space/Man-Kzin Wars story, "Inconstant Star," an interstellar expedition departed from Alpha Centauri thirty years ago and never returned. It would have taken ten years to cross five light years and the crew, kzinti with one man, Peter Nordbo, would have been in stasis. Now an FTL ship with Peter's daughter, Tyra, in the crew will investigate. For Tyra, those thirty years are "...the dark backward and abysm of time..." (see here) but the FTL ship will cross five light years in almost no time.
"'...what are we trying on this voyage but to probe the past and learn what happened long ago?'" (p. 222)