Science-based FTL drive

I think this is an example of where we want to use rather than . We know that real FTL is impossible, and the scientificly sound Alcubierre Drive is specifically not to the story's needs.

Rather, the author wants a sci-fi convention that will be understood and accepted by readers without distracting from the story. It doesn't even need to be “hard” SF! We can suggest devices (double meaning of literary and engine) as used in familiar stories, and discuss the perials of such a device with more up-to-date audiences.

  • $\begingroup$ See also my question When is “that's not possible” an appropriate answer? $\endgroup$
    – user
    Commented Jul 9, 2016 at 10:16
  • $\begingroup$ True... but fragile in light of such feedback causing tags to be changed or the question to be refined. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented Jul 9, 2016 at 10:22
  • $\begingroup$ Only fragile to such point that such edits would risk invalidating other answers as well. Editing in such a way as to invalidate existing answers is strongly discouraged already; if the OP realizes that the question was ill-posed to the point of attracting answers that address something other than what they wanted to know, it's generally better to take the knowledge thus gained and ask an entirely new question. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Commented Jul 9, 2016 at 10:44

1 Answer 1


Questions like this fall into a grey area that's a fuzzy set between science-based and science-fiction. My interpretation was the OP wanted a FTL drive with something approaching scientific plausibility. This isn't the same thing as scientific reality. It just needs to be grounded enough in science to sound better than just turning on a FTL drive. If it's a wormhole drive or translocation-drive, that sounds more scientific and many readers will expect that. Of course, there will always be readers who don't.

After all, no-one objects to vampires in vampire fiction, because the blood suckers don't exist. They're a fictional convention. FTL drives are a conventional contrivance of science-fiction. Even if they're impossible, there will be writers and readers who want make their FTL drives seem more scientific.

The issues about questions and answers and how they're edited are extremely complex and fluid. Some questions have answers that are blatantly wrong or illogical and receive lots of points. While good answers are ignored or passed over. Not always, of course, but enough of the time. This is offset by the sheer brilliance and quality of other questions and answers filled with well reasoned arguments and a breadth of knowledge displayed by people who do have expertise.

The tags should be better regarded as sign posts pointing the way to what the questions and answers are about, and not absolute arbiters of content. Any system or theory of classification always runs up against this realisation.

Only conceptual sets are pure. The real world is filled with impure and inexact groupings of everything and anything. Where tags fall short they can be refined but they will never be made perfect. Maybe tags can be improved in the long run, but this will only happen in small steps. That doesn't mean people shouldn't stop trying to get them better.

  • $\begingroup$ “something approaching scientific plausibility. This isn't the same thing as scientific reality. It just needs to be grounded enough in science to sound better” that is a good description of science-fiction (non hard) and we could use that on the tag. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented Jul 26, 2016 at 0:12
  • $\begingroup$ There's a lot of so-called hard SF that is solidly grounded in scientific plausibility, because no-one knows what the scientific reality was, is, might be or will be. Hard SF can be as ambiguous a category as any other. Going from plausible pseudoscience to unbelievable, improbable scientific reality, while grabbing whatever speculation comes to hand. Thanks for the compliment. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Commented Jul 26, 2016 at 13:51

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