Saturday, 20 December 2014

On The Bridge

We have become familiar with the bridges of large, faster than light, interstellar spaceships through watching Star Trek, even though I strongly doubt that any such craft will ever exist. The Apollo Missions were dissimilar in every way to The First Men In The Moon. Interstellar travel, if it ever happens will not be as it has been imagined. (A good British TV adaptation of The First Men... ingeniously fitted Cavor and Armstrong into a single timeline. See here.)

Poul Anderson, of course, gives us bridges of ships in hyperspace, e.g.:

"On the bridge, optical compensators projected an exact simulacrum of whichever half of the sky they were set to show."
-Poul Anderson, Rise Of The Terran Empire (New York, 2011), p. 78.

David Falkayn sees:

"...a wilderness of stars..." (ibid.);
the Milky Way;
the Magellanic Clouds;
the Andromeda galaxy.

A simulacrum is necessary because stellar images would be Dopplered and distorted at near light speeds and I do not know what would happen to them in hyperspace. We read what Falkayn sees in the projected simulacrum but not what his bridge looks like. The omniscient narrator is more forthcoming in another ship later:

"Save where viewscreens showed heaven, the admiral's bridge was a narrow and cheerless cave. It throbbed slightly with engine beat; the air blew warm, smelling faintly of oils and chemicals." (p. 111)

Descriptions of bridges have become another kind of detail to look out for.

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