Worldbuilding: Carson and Ship (Sixteen Tons of Light)

What drives people into space?

It’s a key question especially if I’m working with a universe where the laws of relativity are very much in play. What makes individuals and groups willing to leave the relative safety of the known for the unknown?

Well, money, for one. But as my husband pointed out during an exploratory debate (in which he generally chews apart any theoretical I managed to come up with *sighs*) unless there was some sort of commodity that was worth the enormous expense of intersystem travel, no one would waste the time. In the fifty years it takes to get from point A to point B, someone would invent a substitute (if it was a more mundane commodity).

But if we go with the ‘magical jet fuel’ argument, then it’s easy to say that companies would be actively pushing the boundaries of space looking for the next motherload. Oil rushes, gold rushes, diamond cartels… humans are all about the shiny.

But I’m loath to take the easy way out. I’m still fighting the idea of defaulting back to ‘hyperspace’ travel and I’m not ready to give into the ‘magical jet fuel’ quite yet.

So what else moves people other than cold hard cash? Religious persecution, for one, but those colonies would probably be highly disinterested in help from ‘home’.

The lure of a better life, maybe, but if it costs too much, that means the people who would want to go, can’t. And I’m thinking government sponsored ‘relocation’ ships would be taken the wrong way. ^_~;;

So what if it costs almost nothing to move? If it just boils down to the time you loose in transit, then you’ll pull in the religious folks, the folks who are just looking for a different/better future, and possibly the business that are looking to make money supporting them.

You’d have quite a few crazies out there, since no one at ‘home’ would bother stopping them, but there would be a good handful of honest to God settlers who are just interested in owning their own bit of land and living somewhere a bit less controlled than home.

But again, you have the time lag between points A and points B, and there’s the ‘overtake’ risk as the technology advances while the people are in transit. Still, if the driving force for colonization is only a small percentage of the population, there wouldn’t be much of a risk that the planets would already be inhabitant when you got there. The rest of humanity would just be too lazy to move much past the central hub.

The folks on the rim are settlers and crazies and maybe a prison colony or two in the worst case. The are people who still could use an old fashioned five and dime store, or a slightly higher tech xenobiologist to help fend off the local fauna.

Of course I need to poke it a bit more, and see where the logic fails, but I think I can make this work, lack of magical jet fuel and all. *ponders*

Martha Bechtel

My name is Martha Bechtel and I write fantasy and science fiction stories, paint small model horses silly colors, cast resin and plaster magnets, code random code (and Wordpress plugins)... Come on in and join in the fun!

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. meggins

    Just some thoughts: people who just have to see what’s “out there” for themselves, utopia builders, people who want to “light out” for the territories (Daniel Boone types), people who have nothing to hold them at home, people who are trying to escape something (religious or government persecution on the larger scale, family dysfunction on a smaller scale), people whose skills have become obsolete in their society, people on the lam, political exiles (i.e., they didn’t necessarily leave voluntarily), people who see profit in serving/supplying all of the above, people who see profit in preying upon all of the above.

    1. Martha Bechtel

      The problem comes that even assuming Drake’s Equation is valid and that terraforming is possible, but not practical, there is a high probability that the habitable planets won’t be near each other.

      That means, if I’m sticking with relativity, that the initial colony ship would need to be an all or nothing venture. Once they are out there, help from home (or from neighbors) is highly unlikely. The chances that a second set of colonists would head out to a know ‘taken’ planet is also very slim, since the time dilation between ships A and B would make the reception of the second ship an unpredictable thing (even if A and B were on friendly terms to start with).

      Carson and Ship, whilst flitting about will thus spend a LOT of ‘real’ time in travel. So for them it’s a few weeks between jobs and for the planets it’s a few years (or months, depending).

      I really need to sit down and do the math for real-time and space-time travel. Otherwise the pair might end up loosing more time than is viable. There’s nothing stopping them from being semi-immortal (relatively speaking), but the rational behind a Company that supports such long down-times might not be realistic. The time it would take to pay back the initial expenditure of funds for Ship might negate the possibility of them dealing with normal relativity.

      Hrm, might be more of a ‘bend not break’ if I have to tweak things. … *ponders* Ah, the joys of trying to flirt with hard science. ^_~ heh

      1. meggins

        Oh, yeah, right. You not only have to have a reason for people to colonize, you have to have a reason for Carson and Ship to be flitting around out there.

        *face palm*

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