Science Fiction Trivia

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ffutures
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Re: Science Fiction Trivia

Post by ffutures »

Well, if you're sure? I was thinking of all of the Superman stuff as one answer.

Let's have five SILLY space drives. They may be silly because of the effects described, or because they don't work too well, or work WAY too well, or have weird side effects

For example, the Infinite Improbability Drive (Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy) is silly because of the way it appears to work and because of the ridiculously improbable side effects (e.g. two missiles being transformed into a Megrathean space whale and a small bowl of petunias). I'm sure that we can think of others. And before anyone asks, no more Hitch Hiker's Guide answers!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxEqIt-NUSY

Back to the usual rules - one entry per post, and no two from the same canon/author.

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Re: Science Fiction Trivia

Post by RockDoctor »

ffutures wrote:
Mon Oct 26, 2020 12:22 am
Let's have five SILLY space drives.
OK, here's one.
The grey-haired amongst us may remember the Buttered Cat Levitation system designed be DREADCO (as reported on the back pages of the New Scientist in the late 1970s to early 1980s ; as a developing field of research, multiple applications were under simultaneous development, including as a space drive.
I don't need to summarise this well-known system do I {noises off-stage} It seems I do.

The observant reader will have noted that propensity of slices of buttered toast to fall buttered side down on freshly-laid, very expensive carpets. The probability of the toast landing buttered-side down is directly related to the cost, and cleanliness of the carpet.
The propensity of cats to land on their feet has been acclaimed since Aristotle.
So, if you have a really expensive carpet, some very sticky buttered toast, and strap it to the back of an agile cat, you will produce a levitation system working by well-understood processes.

Development directions in cat-breeding, and conveyor-belt designs for automatic cleaning of really expensive carpet belts led to rapid advances in the "Buttered Cat Drive" (BCD) system for aircraft use before the spooks got their hands on the research ... early in the "Star Wars" developments of the "Ray-Gun" era. And ... that is when strange spacecraft started appearing above Area 49 (the secret baboon farm inside Area 50, inside Area 51). Simultaneously, early Internet filtering successfully took down all other discussion of the BCD system to prevent it's gasoline-into-water applications becoming "£$^%$^*%*^^$^$%^£$"$%^^*( NO CARRIER
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Re: Science Fiction Trivia

Post by RockDoctor »

ffutures wrote:
Mon Oct 26, 2020 12:22 am
Let's have five SILLY space drives. They may be silly because of the effects described, or because they don't work too well, or work WAY too well, or have weird side effects
Unlike the well-understood physics of the Buttered Cat Drive
Take that gun out of my ear, soldier, I'm complying ; can't you read? Oh, well go away and get the one who can.

NASA - fools of dreamers that they are - seem to have fallen for some lunatics wanting to re-write the Laws of Physics &tm; in the most egregious way. As if that would work.
Me, I'm trying to breed cats which - get this - grow toast on their backs, instead of fur. My colleagues are trying to breed cats which sweat butter. We'll have world-leading technology on a timescale consonant with the commercialisation of thermonuclear power.

I'm not allowed to talk about the self-levitating ginger cats I sell by the crate-load to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and an address in New York. But I can talk about it here as long as I use excessively verbose language to escape my principle's attention.
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Re: Science Fiction Trivia

Post by RockDoctor »

ffutures wrote:
Mon Oct 26, 2020 12:22 am
Let's have five SILLY space drives.
Then of course, there is John Archibald Wheeler's suggestion that the universe contains only one of each particle-antiparticle pair, but they cycle through time in both the "forward" direction (as "particles") and "backwards" (as "anti-particles") with (mumble, mumble, Planck time, mumble) resulting in our perception of innumerable trillions of electrons, photons, mesons, etc.
So, the whole idea of a "space drive" is silly. Just pick an electron (other elementary particles are available - I'm no particlist!) and travel along it's time-line until it is in the place you want to go. "Shazam!"
It's not my idea - it's Wheeler's, and I think at least Greg Benford has put it into a story. (Though I was stoned or incredibly bored when I read it. Two books, as I recall. Lots of guff about hidden properties as an explanation of quantum entanglement.)
Hmmm, bottle is empty. I don't think I'm going to come up with five tonight.
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Re: Science Fiction Trivia

Post by Disembodied »

I think it might fall into the "unintentionally silly", but there's the transwarp drive invented by Tom Paris in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Threshold". Basically, you fiddle with some buttons a bit and presto! you can go everywhere, instantly. But it kills you. And then you come back to life. And then you start to turn into a big frog. And then you abduct your captain, zoom off at INFINITE SPEED again - so fast it takes Voyager three whole days to find you, by which time you and the captain have both turned into big pink newts, mated, and produced newty offspring. Fortunately, you and the captain both get better and never speak of the incident again.

Somehow, this was plotted, scripted, recorded, and broadcasted, by professional people, many of whom still have jobs.

https://www.tor.com/2020/05/07/star-tre ... threshold/

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Re: Science Fiction Trivia

Post by ffutures »

OK, that's three from Rockdoctor

Buttered Cats - definitely

EmDrive - yes, wacky pseudo-science fun definitely counts.

The Wheeler idea has made it into a couple of stories, but is it really silly enough? Well, one corollary of this is that if you can destroy even one particle the whole universe comes unravelled, so I think I can say yes. Someone wrote this up as a comic strip, as I recall, but I can't remember where I saw it.

And one from Disembodied

I never saw the Voyager episode AFAIK, but their science was pretty bloody silly at the best of times. Your description made me fall about laughing, so I'm pretty sure it counts. A drabble I wrote for the Buffy fandom may be relevant (some knowledge of the fandom is probably useful):

https://www.tthfanfic.org/Story-11369/M ... ustody.htm

One to go!

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Re: Science Fiction Trivia

Post by Disembodied »

It could be classed as Silly, or perhaps as Ridiculously Charming, but the Clangers had a boat that could fly through space, powered by music (and the musical notes were themselves harvested from a pair of music trees, which themselves grew from notes contained in a metal egg laid by the Iron Chicken …).

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Re: Science Fiction Trivia

Post by ffutures »

OK, the Clanger boat certainly counts, a sonic drive raises some interesting questions in a vacuum...

That makes five, so I pass the poisoned chalice in your general direction!

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Re: Science Fiction Trivia

Post by Disembodied »

OK … sticking with a musical theme, let's have five SF books, stories, episodes etc. which reference songs, singers, or singing in their titles - e.g. if A Song of Ice and Fire was SF, it would count; if The Sopranos was SF, it would count. Usual rules, 1 per author/universe.

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Re: Science Fiction Trivia

Post by Nite Owl »

The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut.
Humor is the second most subjective thing on the planet

Brevity is the soul of wit and vulgarity is wit's downfall

Good Night and Good Luck - Read You Soon

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Re: Science Fiction Trivia

Post by RockDoctor »

Disembodied wrote:
Tue Oct 27, 2020 8:49 pm
OK … sticking with a musical theme, let's have five SF books, stories, episodes etc. which reference songs, singers, or singing in their titles
Once upon a time, in a Galaxy Far Far Away from anywhere far far away from here, a time traveller saw this band playing, and was so impressed that "he" (as best as Gallifreyan anatomy maps onto human ideas) went back eighteen odd years to justify the band's name ...

Alternatively, the whole of Scotty's career in Star Fleet is due to his childhood trauma of watching Travolta and Olivia Neutron-Bomb girning endlessly on and on - which is why he studiously avoids having anything to do with grease. (Does that snooker all other Trekkie suggestions? Oh dear. What a pity. Never Mind. )

Seriously, there is a story I remember from an anthology a very long time ago which had some McGuffin about a FTL ship being lost in a nebula, the crew becoming lost souls "singing" as streams of plasma or something. Lots of pseudo-religious guff which I glazed over at, but the title was a reference to a bit of some "mass" - a "Kyrie Elision" - giving the title "Kyrie" (one of the lost soul protagonists, IIRC).
I researched - it is "Kyrie" by Poul Anderson (reports are for 1968 and 1969). Several descriptions online, of which this one makes some sort of sense. Well, as much sense as you can make out of "a telepathic space nun and a dragon made out pure energy." I'm almost sad to report it as being an Anderson - it really underwhelmed me at the time. "memorably underwhelming" isn't much of a recommendation.
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Re: Science Fiction Trivia

Post by ffutures »

Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey - it's "science fantasy" e.g. there are dragons but later books have a scientific explanation for them, so I think it qualifies.

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Re: Science Fiction Trivia

Post by Disembodied »

Nite Owl wrote:
Tue Oct 27, 2020 10:04 pm
The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut.
That's one, definitely.
RockDoctor wrote:
Wed Oct 28, 2020 1:24 am
Seriously, there is a story I remember from an anthology a very long time ago which had some McGuffin about a FTL ship being lost in a nebula, the crew becoming lost souls "singing" as streams of plasma or something. Lots of pseudo-religious guff which I glazed over at, but the title was a reference to a bit of some "mass" - a "Kyrie Elision" - giving the title "Kyrie" (one of the lost soul protagonists, IIRC).
"Kyrie" is named for a sung prayer from Christian liturgy, so it can count. That's two.
ffutures wrote:
Wed Oct 28, 2020 2:15 am
Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey
They're on another planet, there's enough effort made to push things towards science fiction as opposed to fantasy … that's three (and it takes McCaffrey's The Crystal Singer off the board, too).

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Re: Science Fiction Trivia

Post by spud42 »

i think McCaffery should count as well. in the 5 or 6th book the dragon riders find the original space ship that their ancestors came in on and all the gear that genetically altered the fire lizards. there were clues dropped all through the first book , the liquid used to kill thread that fell to the soil was agenothree. quote "Pernese word for Nitric Acid, or HNO³. This chemical was loaded into portable tanks and used by the riders in the Queen's Wing or thread fighting ground crews to destroy any thread that reached the ground before it could burrow into the soil."when i first read this book in my teens i just knew it was nitric acid had to wait quite a few years to be confirmed..lol

my entry
The Stainless Steel Rat Sings the Blues - Harry Harrison
Arthur: OK. Leave this to me. I'm British. I know how to queue.
OR i could go with
Arthur Dent: I always said there was something fundamentally wrong with the universe.
or simply
42

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Re: Science Fiction Trivia

Post by Disembodied »

spud42 wrote:
Wed Oct 28, 2020 1:46 pm
The Stainless Steel Rat Sings the Blues - Harry Harrison
That's four!

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