Relativity, and Other Fine Tales

The more scientifically geeky of my readers may have noticed that in my books, I have people talking to each other across interstellar distances. In real time. Sometimes one of them is on a ship traveling at relativistic speeds, and no one is the wiser. They might as well have been having a cozy chat in a corner pub.

I know very well this is impossible according to the laws of physics as we know them. You can’t even get away with it on Earth. Ever notice the slight delays on old TV news when a reporter is interviewing someone on the other side of the planet? Yeah. It takes a little time for signals to bounce off satellites, get to their destination, and answering signals to travel back. It’s measured in seconds, but it’s there. There’s no getting around the speed of light in normal space.

That’s why Star Trek had subspace. For Captain Kirk to be dozens of light years away, traveling at whatever the heck Warp Factor 6 is, while talking in real time to Admiral Whoever at Star Fleet Headquarters on Earth, is just flat not possible. I’m embarrassingly vague on the laws of relativity, to be honest, but I’m pretty sure you can’t even talk meaningfully about time when you’re traveling faster than the speed of light.

But I’ve read space operas in which the author adheres rigidly to the constrictions imposed by travel at relativistic speeds. Suffice it to say I was bored.

So 500 years down the road, humanity is going to discover K-space, and develop the Kline-Thompson-Nishida drive, and go zipping around the Orion Arm (the little armlet of the Milky Way in which our sun resides), talking to each other and to a couple dozen alien races who have also discovered how to do this. And discover an empathic civilization on a planet orbiting Beta Hydri, of course.

Breaking the laws of physics right, left, and center, but having a rollicking good time doing it.

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