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Old 06-16-2021, 11:26 PM   #31
Rupert
 
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Default Re: Jump Distance

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Originally Posted by cptbutton View Post
I suspect that the writers knew that nuclear fusion was much more energy dense than chemical combustion, but thought that meant it was 100 or 1000 times better, when it is more like 1,000,000 times better.

If the jump drives are using that much hydrogen, you need a lot of hand-waving to explain why any world with a grounded Beowulf doesn't have effectively unlimited energy too cheap to meter.
It's pretty clear in the early rules that the 'fuel' wasn't just for fusion, but coolant and who knows what else. The amount required had nothing to do with the designers not knowing how power dense fusion fuel is and everything to do with it being a limit on starships and ship design. The jump fuel requirement being so large is there to require ships to stop at worlds to refuel, and to make long ranged ships pay a large cost for that range (in reduced capabilities in all other areas).
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Old 06-16-2021, 11:29 PM   #32
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Default Re: Jump Distance

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I think Traveller falls in between hard science and space opera. Faster than light travel, gravity control, power plants without massive radiators, and psionic powers are all superscience, but all conventional features of "hard science except . . ." tradition. (Scooping fuel from gas giants without being cooked by radiation also bends the rules.)

Once things like nuclear dampers (Mercenary) and meson weapons and communication are added (High Guard, it moved deeper into superscience. (Particle beam weapons that can penetrate the radiation shields that allow gas giant scooping also bend science.)

But in spite of the presence of a lot of superscience, I think Traveller stays clear of space opera by keeping a hard science philosophy around its superscience. In other words, I see a distinction between superscience that follows consistent rules and space opera, where the needs of the story regularly overrule previously established superscience.

A good intermediate label might be "rigorous superscience".
All this makes is space opera in the style of Poul Anderson's space merchants and 'Flandry' stories. These had what was for the time fairly solid world-building, the behaviour of spaceships was completely super-science, but the rules were consistently applied to them. The stories were definitely space opera, however.
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Old 06-17-2021, 09:26 AM   #33
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Default Re: Jump Distance

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All this makes is space opera in the style of Poul Anderson's space merchants and 'Flandry' stories. T.
Traveller is in the style of these stories but Traveller's treatment of technology is somewhat different. the Anderson stories all have blaster pistols and the thing that makes some people want to call Traveller "hard science fiction" is the lack of blaster pistols.

Really, I'm totally serious. If you want a lot of people to call your stuff hard SF leave out the blaster pistols. A generic expansion of that principle is that you can have lots of superscience as long as you make it large and inconvenient which Traveller does.

Making ships refuel frequently even if you can't or won't explain why that's necessary is an element of that.
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Old 06-17-2021, 07:38 PM   #34
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Really, I'm totally serious. If you want a lot of people to call your stuff hard SF leave out the blaster pistols. A generic expansion of that principle is that you can have lots of superscience as long as you make it large and inconvenient which Traveller does.
This trick works with an amazing number of space opera tropes. Any time your characters ride in a wheeled ground vehicle, make a note of something on a bit of paper instead of an electronic box, take an audio only call, turn a key in a lock and swing open a door, light something with a match, or shower with water instead of sound waves, you build yourself a little bit of credit that helps your audience give you a pass on the psionic jump drives that work on tarot card symbolism. This isn't an effect limited to SF, it works well in horror or fantasy too. Or anywhere really - a lot of plausible little deductions early on goes a long way toward disguising that the mystery breaking deduction at the center of your story doesn't really make sense.
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Old 06-17-2021, 11:54 PM   #35
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Default Re: Jump Distance

Another thing in the categorization of science fiction is the style of the stories.

Is the protagonist the greatest hope to free the universe from evil? And traveling around in a spaceship powered by chemical rockets (except for the obligatory faster than light superscience) and fighting the forces of evil with slugthrowers?

Is the protagonist an ordinary detective who was horribly wronged by powerful corporate villains, who travels in a personal spacecraft that has no obvious constraints on its mobility other than the needs of the story?

The first example is mostly hard science in its technology, but it's a space opera story. The second example (from Jack Vance) is space opera technology but human scale storytelling.
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Old 06-18-2021, 01:08 AM   #36
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Default Re: Jump Distance

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It's pretty clear in the early rules that the 'fuel' wasn't just for fusion, but coolant and who knows what else.
Um... no, it wasn't. Early rules had things like rules for using your drive exhaust as a weapon(it counted as a plasma/fusion type weapon and was hilariously broken), the fuel consumption rules in Beltstrike (exhaust velocity somewhere around 10c IIRC), and the solar powered jump drives in the Annic Nova.
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Old 06-18-2021, 08:08 PM   #37
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Default Re: Jump Distance

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Um... no, it wasn't. Early rules had things like rules for using your drive exhaust as a weapon(it counted as a plasma/fusion type weapon and was hilariously broken), the fuel consumption rules in Beltstrike (exhaust velocity somewhere around 10c IIRC), and the solar powered jump drives in the Annic Nova.
Hence that the fuel wasn't just for fusion. Aside from calling the manoeuvre drives 'fusion drives' in that rules in HG 1980, the early rules are very vague. Power for housekeeping and the 'manoeuvre drives' is provided by a 'power plant', which takes in 'fuel' (ideally hydrogen, but which could just be water) to do this. FTL travel is done using a 'Jump Drive', which also just consumes 'fuel'. How these devices use the fuel to produce power or jumps is not explained (wisely, IMO).

There's a mention of fuel being consumed for manoeuvres in Book 2 (1977), which is gone from the 1981 version (and never mentioned in HG) in favour of the simple 'N tons of fuel per month'.

Later additions started more strictly defining things, which is where we get such dubious things as fairly small fusion reactors consuming tons of hydrogen every month, with the text allowing people to interpret that as using all of it for fusion reactions.
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Old 06-19-2021, 07:13 PM   #38
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Default Re: Jump Distance

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. Early rules had things like rules for using your drive exhaust as a weapon(it counted as a plasma/fusion type weapon and was hilariously broken), the fuel consumption rules in Beltstrike (exhaust velocity somewhere around 10c IIRC), and the solar powered jump drives in the Annic Nova.
As long as we're listing points of confusion we should probably add the drop tanks of the Gazelle-class. Those considerably complicate whatever the Jump drive is doing with that hydrogen.
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