Saturday, 19 December 2015

Hyperdrive Fields

Does Poul Anderson's Psychotechnic History present any rationale for the sf cliche of "hyperspace"? His later Technic History presents a beautiful rationale: a ship in hyperspace is not in another space or another dimension but is making many instantaneous quantum jumps through normal space. Thus, it has a "pseudo-velocity" in a very real sense:

it disappears at point A and appears at point B without having traversed the space between them;
however, points A and B are very close so that many such jumps must be made.

Hyperspace in the Psychotechnic History has the following features, some of them familiar from other works -

(i) A spaceship generates "hyperdrive fields."
(ii) While building up, the fields cause a twisting sensation in human bodies.
(iii) The ship then moves at a pseudo-velocity.
(iv) It is safer to go hyper in a weak gravitational field.
(v) Too close to a star and planet, the drive builds up "...with distressing irregularity." (The Peregrine, Chapter XIV, p. 126)
(vi) Any hyperdrive ship is elongated because "...field generators must be mounted fore and aft." (p. 123)

I am reminded of a humorous sf novel by Bob Shaw. An interstellar spaceship, shaped like a long trailer or a railway carriage, has a teleportation transmitter at one end and a receiver at the other. Thus it is seen continually turning around in space as it repeatedly transmits itself to itself.

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