SyFy Q of the Day: Interstellar Communication

By Azcolvin429

Before I even started this blog, I would occasionally pose a SyFy Question of the Day to my facebook friends. Sometimes, it was directly related to what I was writing, and I really did want some input to help me decide what direction to take with the story. Other times, it was purely fun. Here’s one of my favorites, from April 2011:


SyFy question of the day: Writers have explained space travel in many ways, but what about communication between the stars? What is plausible? Must it take months to send a message to another solar system?

Al                            If there is FTL travel, perhaps a version of the Pony Express can exist with unmanned ships that carry physical mail or electronic transmissions between planets. Being FTL, they’d be faster than radio or laser comms. Unless you postulate some kind of sub-space or super-space radio that is effectively FTL. Or using paired quantum particles to somehow communicate datas.

Or… if you have people with psychic abilities, there might even be trained communicators who use such powers to instantly transmit messages.

All sorts of possibilities exist.

AB                          I liken the Pony Express idea to the early 1990’s when computer bulletin boards (BBS’s) would link together to send e-mail. A series of near-instant jumps, several hours apart.

‎…or were you talking about Pony Horton? 😛

Bernard                Al nailed it, quantum particles.

Al                            LOL! Nope, not Pony Horton… But, not like FIDOnet either…

I’m talking about FTL ships that travel from planet to planet and upon arrival, contain communications. Are then serviced, loaded with return comms, and dispatched back.

Relays would still be too slow, and limited by the speed of light. You want some method that is FTL.

Star Trek invented Subspace Radio (or adopted it from earlier SF stories) to allow near real-time communications in their stories. But were very inconsistent in its use. Some stories had it real time for instantaneous communications, and others had it take days or weeks to send a message.

Back in the day, Ocean liners would carry mail from port to port across the Atlantic. So, could space liners in your stories.

Perhaps the arrival of a liner would be exciting for the news, mail, entertainments and the like which would be on board?

AB                          Now I’m thinking about some “THING” that might not be a ship, but can go FTL. It’s cargo is virtual, it is information…

And the next novel (which may end up being the first novel) the MMC works for a communication company and sometimes has to make business trips to earth…

And I am OCD about being consistent within my own world!

Al                            Yes! Exactly…

AB                          Oooh! Like we have satellites that bounce info around one planet, I think I’ll have… some THING like a satellite that, instead of orbiting, spends its time bouncing back and forth between two distant points… relaying packages of information at each end…

Bernard                I really like the quantum particles idea.

Consider a split-particle production facility located between two distant points. Particle packages are sent to remote areas the slow way. When used in a packet array, so that individual particles represent a binary bit (like Internet packets) information can be exchanged instantaneously.

Shane                   Madeline L’Engle’s tesseract.

I would love to hear what you think! Even if you are reading this post a year or more after posting, I hope you will leave a comment with your own ideas on this topic.

Shortlink for this post is http://wp.me/p1qnT4-bI

Skip ahead to the next SyFy Q of the Day at http://wp.me/p1qnT4-ck

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About AmyBeth Inverness

A writer by birth, a redhead by choice.
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6 Responses to SyFy Q of the Day: Interstellar Communication

  1. Hmmm… well, for me, is is Space Opera(ish), where I can create anything and laws of science be damned, or hard science fiction? If the first, I’d want to take the idea of Alfred Bester’s “The Stars My Destination” and have the human jaunte would belay the problems of communication, and space travel. Once someplace, you just go.

    Hard science: not my field of expertise.

  2. Branli says:

    Awesome ideas!
    I had a similar obstacle in one of my stories. I think I ended up going with tachion communication/particles

  3. All possibilities are welcome!

    The hard thing about extrapolating “real” science that far is that we really have no idea what will or will not be possible. That’s how we ended up with an entire genre called “steampunk”. Science Fiction is now old enough that we have entered an age where we are living many of the dreams that our forefathers posited. In Steampunk, the writers go with the idea that some past invention, such as energy from a steam engine, was THE thing, and all kinds of technologies stemmed from it, even though we now know that many other sources of energy quickly replaced steam

    When I’m writing, I want all the science to seem plausible. But bees can fly even though science once thought it was miraculous that they did so. Many things we consider “impossible”, might someday prove to be true, or we might find a different route altogether.

  4. ErrolTD says:

    Bear with me on this one. If you have a known origin and a known destination then you put someone at each end, preferably related and royal. And then:

    The only things known to go faster than ordinary light is monarchy, according to the philosopher Ly Tin Weedle. He reasoned like this: you can’t have more than one king, and tradition demands that there is no gap between kings, so when a king dies the succession must therefore pass to the heirinstantaneously. Presumably, he said, there must be some elementary particles — kingons, or possibly queons — that do this job, but of course succession sometimes fails if, in mid-flight, they strike an anti-particle, or republicon. His ambitious plans to use his discovery to send messages, involving the careful torturing of a small king in order to modulate the signal, were never fully expanded because, at that point, the bar closed.

    — (Terry Pratchett, Mort)

  5. LOL!!!

    I was about to say “Gee, this sounds like Diskworld logic…” and then I saw the signature on the comment.

    Actually, on Kingdom Come (the planet in my novels) they do have Kings, Queens, Dukes, Duchesses, Counts and Contessas, but the succession is neither hereditary nor instantaneous. When one set retires, another set is appointed in a similar way that the Supreme Court is appointed. Therefore, the laws of physics must be different, and the FTL communication would not work.

    I do sometimes dabble in fanfiction, Star Trek in particular, and although I do see the occasional Klingon, I have never mentioned a kingon nor a queon.

    Thanks for visiting! I’ll put up another SyFy Question of the Day next Tuesday.

  6. Pingback: SyFy Q of the Day: Holidays | AmyBeth Inverness

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