Along side these
stories which more or less toe the line with special relativity,
proclaiming that FTL travel is impossible are stories that
took the next step following the developments in Einstein's
General Theory of relativity. Authors began, tentatively at
first and then with increasing boldness, to find technological
solutions to space travel that did not involve moving through
ordinary 3-dimensional space with its nasty "thou shalt
not exceed the speed of light" edict. These methods might
be termed 'inter dimensional travel' since that is often the
manner in which the problem is solved. This sub-genera of
writing probably had its inception when authors began exploring
certain conceptual ideas in general relativity. As they became
more comfortable with the ideas of multi-dimensional space,
developed an increasing array of applications for it. At first,
these journies were limited to laboratory experiments that
went badly wrong.
The story by
Donald Wandrei The Blinding Shadows(1934)
described an inventor who builds a complicated optical
machine that rotates in all maner of directions, with lenses
made of Rhillium. This fictitious element has the unusual
property, according to the stories Dr. Dowdson, that 50 percent
of the energy falling on it just vanishes, presumably into
the fourth dimension. The rotation of the Rhillium lenses
are so complex that, not only does motion occur in the normal
3 dimensions to space, but occasionally into a fourth as well.
The good doctor's goal is to image objects from the 4th dimension
in 3 dimensional space. What happens is that the black shadows
of alien beings soon appear, escape from his lab and start
to gobble up most of the inhabitants of New York City!
This idea that
some new element might emit or transform radiation in this
way also appears in Milton Smith's The
Mystery of Element 117 (1949). Our universe extends
a short distance into a fourth spatial dimension. Because
of this, it is possible to rotate matter completely out of
3-space by building a 4-dimension translator. Element 117
is a fictitious, magnetic monopole substance which can be
made into an optical lens and used to open a window into this
new dimension. It turns out that this other world is the one
inhabited by already dead humans. They live in a neighboring
world to ours, but just slightly shifted from ours along the
fourth dimension. We also read in this story that our 3-space
is but one 'hyperplane of hyperspace'. Succeding layers are
linked together via their quantity of imaginary mass just
like page numbers in a book.
Phillips in The Cube Root of Conquest
(1948) proposes that we co- exist along with other universes
in space, but are separated in time. These universes are separated
from one another along a 3-dimensional time continuum which
are in the 'imaginary' direction from normal 3-dimensional
space. Travel to these parallel worlds requires solving a
cubic equation, whose roots give the proper time-like shift
to enter these worlds.
In 1940 Robert Heinlein's shor6t story '...and He Built a Crooked House' followed the
misadventures of a California archetect who built his house
to resemble the projection in 3-dimensional space of a 4-dimensional
hypercube; a shape identified in the story as a 'tesseract'.
An earthquake triggered the collapse of this inherently unstable
shape into a real hypercube with amusing consequences to its
inhabitants! Some windows, for example, look out over a desert,
or a street intersection from a vantage point hundreds of
floors above the ground. One window even looks into Nothing.
This 'nothing' is described as a view of a place where space
doesn't exist at all, lacking color, form or magnitude. Evidently
pure nothingness this is an unsettling thing for the human
brain to try to interpret, giving the residents of the house
a very unsettling feeling. This idea that entry into other
dimensions can be caused by sufficiently violent natural phenomena
also appeared in Orphan of Atlans(1947)
by William Hamling. A natural cataclysm unleashes forces
and "...a rent was made in the ether itself...A great
space warp was formed around [Atlantas]". This catapulted
the last few survivors of Atlantis out of their normal space-time
and into the future, to arrive in the 20th century.
E. Nourse's Tiger by the Tail
(1951) describes a civilization living in the 4th dimension
that manages to coerce a human shoplifter to send them more
aluminum through a gateway into our dimension that resembles
a pocketbook. The shoplifter is apprehended by police who
devine the purpose of the pocketbook immediatly. Lowering
a hook nto the pocketbook, they manage to "pull a non-free
section of their universe through the purse, putting a terrific
strain on their whole geometric pattern. Their whole universe
will be twisted" a fact which the humans now use as a
ransome against invasion.
A similar story
of human misadventure in the 4th spatial dimension can be
found in Arthur C. Clark's short story
Technical Error(1950). A technician working in the
bowels of a superconducting electric generator was rotated
through the 4th dimension due to an unexpected power surge
in the magnetic field. He becomes laterally reversed and can
no longer metabolize food unless it is provided to him in
the 'left-handed' state. As the story goes, the magnetic surge
produced a momentary extension into the 4th dimension termed
'hyperspace' by Dr. Hughes. Since time is the 4th dimension,
the doctor reasons that the actual rotation must have been
through the 5th dimension. The Doctor explains that "...space
of several million dimensions has been frequently postulated
in sub atomic physics". Of course, no such statement
of this kind ever appears in real scientific literature by
Simak's Shadow of Life (1943) we hear of martians who
had learned how to shrink themselves to subatomic size by
extending themselves into the fourth dimension, causing them
to lose mass and size in the other three dimensions. That
all matter has some extension into higher dimensions is also
stated in Simultaneous Worlds(1938)
by Nat Schachner. A machine is used to image the supposed
'heavy photon' precursors to cosmic rays. The images formed
turn out to look a lot like earth, but with subtle variations.
the idea is soon developed that since all matter has wavelike
properties, more than three dimensions are required to describe
matter. Every particle extends into higher or 'ultra' dimensions
which can be imaged using this device, however, there is also
an inevitable time displacement between these alternate earths.
The first useage
of the term 'hyperspace' is difficult to track down, but by
1950, readers of the magazines Amazing Stories and Astounding
SF had already been introduced to it several times. By this
year, stories such as Robert Abernathy's
The Ultimate Peril describe Venusian psycho-physicists
attacking earth with hyperspace weapons, and S.
M. Tenneshaw's Who's that Knocking at my Door?, about
a honeymooning couple whose hyperdrive breaks down near a
white dwarf star en route to Deneb. The origin of the technology
becomes, to some authors, an impossibility for earth scientists
to have figured ot by themselves.
of the Yellow Crystal(1948) by Guy Archette,
a mysterious crystal is found on Mars among the empty ruins
of the martian civilization. The 'Thulani' as they were called,
knew how to re arrange the molecular structure of crystals
without mechanical technology, to tap 'extra-dimensional or
sub-spatial energies'. They also knew about hyperspace, and
apparently used it in some unfathomable way to leave Mars
rather than face extinction. This notion that, just as for
FTL travel, humans had to be shown how to use hyperspace or
'space warps' for spaceship propulsion also appears in Nelson
Bond's 1943 sort story That Worlds May Live.
We also hear
of "warp generators" in The
Flight of the Starling by Chester S. Geier in 1948.
The maiden flight of the reserach vessil 'Starling' involves
a circumnavigation of the solar system in 3 hours at a velocity
close to the speed of light using atomic-powered warp generators.
These generators "...create a warp in space around the
ship...a moving ripple in the fabric of space." The ship
rides this ripple like a surfboard. The speed of light is
acknowledged to be the absolute maximum velocity, however,
the Starling is thrown out of normal space and into negative
space, whose entry occurs once the ship nears the speed of
light. Upon exiting they find themselves thousands of years
in the future orbiting another, older earth. A modification
to the 'Hyperspace Equations' showed that in between normal
space and negative space is a zone called hyperspace. They
had overshot hyperspace and entered negative space where time
travel is possible. To travel to distant points in their own
universe, they have to carefully accelerate into the hyperspace.
In 1947, Asimov's
short story Little Lost Robot has 'Hyperatomic Drive'
shortened to 'Hyperdrive' and goes on to describe how "...fooling
around with hyper-space isn't fun. We run the risk of blowing
a hole in normal space-time fabric and dropping right out
of the universe".
The term 'Hyperspacial
Drive' also appears in Chester S. Geier's
1944 story Environment but aside from the comment that
"... You go in here, and you come out there..."
and that where you come out is uncertain by several million
miles, that's all that is said about it.
in 1943 describes the first artificial space warp into the
4th dimension, but humans are not the ones to have discovered
its secrets. Humans have to travel to Jupiter to consult with
the scientists there who then show the humans how to build
FTL ships. The operating principle of this 'quadridimensional
drive' is described as "...the Jovians create a 4 dimensional
space warp between points in 3 dimensional space. A magnetized
flux field warps 3 dimensional space in the direction of travel...its
as easy as that." Also in 1943 A.E.
van Vogt's M 33 in Andromeda recounts the exploits
of the expedition ship 'Space Beagle' which receives mental
messages from an advanced civilization in the Andromeda galaxy.
Earthlings use 'hyperspace' in planet to planet matter transmission.
Hyperspace s described as not 'strictly an energy field' but
requires external pressre in the form of gas pressure at both
the outlet and inlet positions otherwise, the hyperspace opening
takes millions of years to heal itself and an explosion could
result. Focussing a hyperspace transmitter on a spaceship
moving FTL requires specifying coordinates in a 900,000-dimensional
space and is impossible to control.
The famous 'Lensman'
and 'Skylark' series written in 1928 by E.E 'Doc' Smith
represented a complex universe where some attempt was made
to create 'new' physics apparently patterned after field theory
and quantum physics developed during the 1930's. Much of the
language used to describe the propulsion mechanisms involve
terms normaly found in nuclear physics such as 'fields', 'rays'
in December, 1939 has several references to 'Dirac Holes and
negative energy weapons' and we also hear of a scientist who
had developed a new math capable of handeling 'the positron
and the negative energy levels'. The '5th order drive' developed
by a scientific race called the Norlamins, could create controlled
timewarps and allow the travelers to voyage anywhere in the
universe at millions of times the speed of light. The only
catch is that the rays that give rise to the 5th-order drive
are only emitted by a rare element called Rovolon: an element
found only in some stars. To get to these stars which can
be identified spectroscopically, you have to travel for years
at sub-light speed. Also in Grey Lensman the Boskonians attack
the Lensman ship Dauntless with a weapon that made the crew
feel as though they "... were being compressed, not as
a whole, but atom by atom...twisted...extruded...in an unknowable
and non-existent direction". They were no longer in the
space that they knew and speculated that they "...wouldn't
have surprised me if we'd been clear out of the known universe.
Hyperspace is funny that way..." . In addition, a weapon
known as a 'hyperspatial tube' is mentioned and used by the
Boskonians and their alies the Delan's to attack earth. It
is descrived as an 'extradimensional' vortex. the terminus
of such a tube cannot be established too close to a star due
to its apparent sensitivity to gravitational fields. In 1947,
Children of the Lens by E.E. 'Doc' Smith
describes the planet Boskonia attacking Telus by sending a
fleet of warships through a 'hyperspacial tube'instead of
through normal space. This transport method is regularly used
by Palainians and was not invented or discovered by earthlings.
In 1940, Nelson
Bond had also aluded to hyper-space in a story The Scientific
Pioneer Returns. Using a 'velocity intensifier' powered
by hypatomic motors, a ship accelerates into 'imaginary space'
which turns out to be a parallel universe. Exceeding the speed
of light in normal space is impossible, and instead of traveling
to a distant point in normal space, the ship is thrown into
another universe entirely. "...Einstein and Planck fiddled
around with hyper-spatial mechanics and discovered that mass
is altered when it travels at high velocity. Thay gadget worked
better than you expected."
An attempt was
made several times in the 1950's to combine the limitations
of relativistic travel in 'normal' space with the perceived
unlimited possibilities of inter dimensional travel. In Citizen
of the Galaxy(1957) by Heinlein, and The
Stars Like Dust by Isaac Asimov and published in 1950,
for example, a space ship would first have to boost to near-light
speed in normal space using atomic motors, before it could
make the transition into hyperspace. FTL travel is acknowledged
to be impossible in normal space. Great expenditures of energy
are needed to enter this 'space within space'. Traveling into
and out of hyperspace can be a tricky, and even deadly, process.
secret to interdimensional travel is an extreemly difficult
one to discover. It represents a technology and understanding
of the physical world that in many instances only mysterious
supercivilizations possess. Earthlings are reduced to passively
using this technology without really understanding it. Journeys
through hyperspace are not willy-nilly. The trajectories taken
must be computed beforehand with considerable care. Entry
into hyperspace can ocur by a variety of means: The sudden
unleashing of natural forces; the application of powerful
magnetic fields; traveling to places in space where natural
'incongruities' exist, or the application of the emenations
of mysterious new elements.
Jones(1953) by Robert Heinlein describes how the transition
into something called 'N-space' was a delicate matter requiring
careful calculations. At some points in interstellar space,
space was folded over on itself in 'Horst Anomalies'. These
gentle foldings of space do not represent 'warpage' so, apparently,
do not cause unusual gravitational fields in empty space.
This makes them difficult to locate. We learn that to attempt
to travel faster than light speed causes a ship to 'burst
out' of normal space. If the ship does this carefully near
a Horst Anomaly, however, it is merely shifted to a distant
point in normal space. Anomalies have to be carefuly mapped
by exploration ships to find out just where the journey ends.
Astrogation consists of putting the ship at exactly the right
spot in an Anomaly, with exactly the right velocity and acceleration
to insure that the Jump ends up where you want to go. The
relationship between 'N-space' and hyperspace is a bit unclear,
but they function in similar ways in the story so we can probably
assume that they are equivalent.
Some other periles
of hyperspace are pointed ot by Milton
Lesser in his 1950 short story All Heros are Hated.
The year is 2900 AD, interstellar travel has been a commonplace
for centuries. Travel to the Magellanic Clouds takes a few
years, and a hop to the colonies around Fomalhaunt takes 6
days; at least until the 12 billion inhabitants of these 6
worlds were annihilated. The spaceship Deneb exited hyperspace
with its drive still turned on by the time it entered normal
space. This caused Fomalhaunt to go nova and incinerate all
life in this planetary system! An even more terrifying possibility
is described in Alfred Bester's The
Push of a Finger(1942). By creating an 'osmotic spatial
membrane' scientists are able to tap a limitless source of
energy from hyperspace. This energy, however, begins to drain
into our universe causing our universe to come to a premature
end. Fortunately, this event was stoped by a time traveler
from the future who interceded at just the right moment!
In the Foundation
series by Asimov, hyperspace travel in 'Gravitic ships'
had to be made far from strong gravitational fields otherwise
the calculations became progressively more difficult and physically
uncomfortable for the human cargo. These ships isolate themselves
completely from external gravitational fields. Asimov's epoc
of the fall of the galactic empire also presents us with the
scenario that the secret of FTL travel, and the building and
servicing of such ships, is a skill that can be easily lost
to a civilization.
The magic of
hyperspace became the favorite mode for FTL travel that circumvented
completely the ordinary relativistic prohibition against FTL
travel in 'ordinary' space. From this, vast galactic empires
and sprawling epocs of adventure were created almost over
night. With few exceptions, the need for explaining the details
of 'hyperdrive' became less intense as the story lines were
developed with ever increasing depth and complexity. With
the entire galaxy as a stage, the scale of human science fiction
imagination grew by orders of magnitudes.
In the imagination
of Larry Niven as well, humans did not invent FTL travel as
discussed in The Borderland of Sol
(1974), but had to buy this secret, along with entire preassembled
spaceships from a civilization known only as the Puppet Masters.
Evidently, there are many levels of hyperdrive. The unlucky
space traveler that enters a strong gravitational field can
easily get scattered into one of the other hyperdrive levels
and never find their way back to normal space.
also developed a new mode of transportation in He
Fell into a Dark Hole (1974). A new 5th force discovered
by the physicist Alderson is found to have a 5th dimensional
component to it, and is produced in all nuclear reactions.
Every star becomes the node for a complex network of field
lines called 'tramlines' in the Pournell-Niven novel A Mote
in God's Eye, which voyagers may take advantage of
since the Alderson force propels the traveler along the tramlines
through hyperspace. Again, expedition ships have to identify
the destinations for each tramline emerging from the sun.
When the ship arrives near its intended destination, the local
gravity snaps the ship out of hyperspace and back into normal
space. Arthur J. Burk's The First Shall
be Last also describes spaceships that travel along
'gravitic lines of force' from planet to planet at nearly
light speed. The solar system is a complex webwork of lines
connecting each planet and crisscrossing interplanetary space.
Navigation is a complex matter of starting out on one line
and switchingover to others to get to the desired destination.
These lines do not run straight. Similar accounts of mysterious
currents flowing through space are found in Raymond
F. Jone's Correspondence Course(1945). These 'magnetic
currents' can be ridden by space ships to various destinations.
C. Clark's 1968 novel 2001:A Space Odyssey
is a less complicated introduction to hyperspace travel that
involves mysterious black 'monoliths' built by a supercivilization,
which act as gateways to other locations in the galaxy or
the universe. It is never actually made clear whether the
journey by Bowman is to another location within our spacetime,
or if he actually leaves our universe entirely. No details
are given how the transfer occurs from place to place, or
what role the monoliths serve in this process. The novel by
Carl Sagan Contact (1985) is
a story that runs along similar lines to 2001:A Space Odyssey
in terms of FTL technology. A message we receive from a supercivilization
gives us the intructions for building a vessil, creating a
'dimple in spacetime' to which alien engineers may attach
a 'wormhole' bridge. The voyagers find themselves traveling
across space to the center of the galaxy after a stop over
A similar story
is Age of Miracles by John Brunner
published in 1965. Earth is invaded by dozens of 'cities of
light. An advanced civilization has decided to set up a local
node for their interstellar transportation system in our solar
system. The 'cities' are not made of matter as we know it,
but 'slowed down coagulations of energy'. Their interiors
are twisted into higher dimensions and result in disturbing
sensory shifts to any unshielded human who enters. Eventually,
earthlings find themselves free to use these doorways to travel
much as rats cross the Atlantic Ocean on ships. The aliens
are indifferent to our invasion of their 'subway' system.
suaries into alterate Realities are explored by Michael
Moorcock's novel The Sundered Worlds (1966) which is
probably one of the most detailed excursions of its kind.
During the 26th century, human civilization extends to the
limits of the galaxy thanks to hyperspace drive. To navigate
through hyperspace and the other 'alien dimensions to space
time', rare individuals called 'Space Sensors' with ESP-like
talents are used. Renark was one of these, and the 'hero'
of the story. He meets up with strange humanoid beings from
the galaxy M 31 who tell him that the universe will recollapse
in a few years. To save humanity, Renark must find a way for
humans to leave our 4 dimensional continuum completely. He
heads for a strange solar system called the 'Shifter' whose
orbit is at right angles to the rest of spacetime and which
passes through our universe every few hundred years. Our 4-dimensional
universe coexists with an infinitude of other universes in
multi-dimensional space; a view which is called the 'Multiverse'
theory. Like the separate pages in a book, each continuum
has its own laws and indigeneous intelligent race. In the
Shifter, Renark meets the beings called the Originators. The
Originators are multi-dimensional beings who created and maintained
the multiverse as a nursery for a lifeform to replace them
and keep Reality from decaying into chaos. Renark finally
learns from them the secret of the 'inter-continuua drive'
and saves humanity. The Originators then evolve humanity to
serve as their replacements, and thereby save the Multiverse
The End of Eternity(1955) by Asimov an even more complex
tale is woven in which in the distant future, humans have
learned how to exist outside normal spacetime. They then set
about making minor alterations to the unfolding of human history
in order to minimize strife and maximize human progress. This
story spans millions of centuries and developes through the
guidance of computer calculations of probabilities for various
earth histories. Technicians re-enter normal spacetime and
make subtle adjustments whose propagating effects multiply
down earth's timeline and lead to the correct, desired result.
A barrier in spacetime is discovered millions of years in
the future, which is caused by even more advanced humans who
are trying to protect themselves from the world-line tampering
going on during these earlier ages. This future earth civilization
and discovered that they lived on a very low probability worldline
for human history and used this fact to uncover the tamperings
during the early ages. A similar story is Fritz
Leiber Jr's Destiny Times Three(1945). Eight humans
obtain possession of the 'Probability Engine' which is a supermechanism
operating outside spacetime. In secrecy, they use it to split
time and create alternate histories for the earth, allowing
only the best to survive.
about alternate time streams in found in A.E.
van Vogt's Recruting Station in 1942. Future earthlings
from 200,000 years from now recruit 20th century earthlings
to fight a war against a second group of earthlings from the
rest of the solar system. The terrestrial time stream is manipulated
to create 18 alternate solar systems in which the battles
over political control are waged. Eventually, a more advanced
race of humans from the 4900th century step in to save the
embattled underdogs against doimination by the hostile pseudo-facist
Arthur C. Clarks' Rendezvous with Rama,
Gregory Bear's Eon and Eternity begins with the entry
into our solar system of a hollowed-out asteroid. The drama
unfolds rapidly when the human explorer's discover that although
its external length is only a few hundred kilometers, inside
it extends billions of miles! Built by earthlings called Geshels,
13 centuries in our future, it is fashioned out of artificially
twisted spacetime. This cylindrical world called the 'Way'
is an entry corridor into superspace. Every thousand kilometers
of travel down its axis represents a time shift of one year
in history. Within each fraction of a millimeter along the
axis are 'stacked' individual spacetime geometries representing
the alternate possibilities. Artificial gateways can be created
into these alternate spacetimes and searched for habitable
versions of the earth. The walls of the way are described
as being formed from 'jammed-up probabilities' from alternate
universes attempting to take-on a particular state, or in
the slang of the human geometrodynamicists 'superspace trickery'.
Its creation, however, turns out to be a disaster to the harmonious
laws of superspace and, ultimatly, must be destroyed.
It took several
decades for this to become an established principle of SF
fact, but it is now widely recognized that so long as we travel
through ordinary space, we must abide by the limitation that
we cannot travel faster than light speed. Few of the spaceships
carry their own reaction mass with them to reach these high
velocities which means that in the world of SF, humans have
learned how to finesse the laws of physics to avoid the conservation
of momentum difficulty. Arthur C Clark's 'Quantum Drive' or
Poul Anderson's 'Interstellar ram jet' are plausible basis
for such ideas.
If the techologies
in the worlds of SF can overcome the need for reaction mass,
then the door is wide open for what you might call 'wonder
drives' technology which has no basis in the workings of the
known universe, although they sound plausible.
common thread behind nearly all FTL or trans dimensional technology
is that space drives can produce the appropriate conditions
needed for them to operate including 'space warps', 'new forces'
or 'phase shifting'.. They do so by expending only a miniscule
portion of their own rest mass. Ordinarily, enormous energies
have to be marshaled by the universe to create locallized
space warps called black holes whose sizes are only a few
kilometers. If we were to use black holes as a probe of the
relevant physics, to warp space at a scale of 100 meters in
order to accomodate a small spaceship, this would require
expending 3% of the sun's rest mass! The resulting gravitational
field would shred all forms of matter into their constituent
elementary particles, and although a 'throat' might be created,
so too will an event horizon. Only a 'Quantum Drive' has the
potental of harnassing this much energy since the quantum
fluctuations of space that provide the energy contribute 10
to the 60th power solar masses per cc of space. The manner
in wich such energy would be converted into a useable 'hyperspace
doorway' is unknown to SF authors.
the world of SF we are currently living in the brute force
era of space technology where we do not as yet know how to
manipulate space and its structure without expending vast
amounts of energy and at the same time, having to deal with
lethal gravitational fields.
It is also taken
for granted that the passage out of our continuum and into
hyperspace will be comfortable enough for humans to travel
through. By some means, future science will have mastered
the ability to create large 2 meter to 100 meter class wormholes
while holding at bay the enormous gravitational fields that
such openings in spacetime invariably represent. Without proper
shielding, humans and ships alike will be crushed or fractionated.
Only for some authors is this travel described as unpleasant
or psychologically upsetting, and no special precautions are
needed to survive the gravitational forces.
SF written during
much of the Space Age appears to be comfortable with the notion
that spacetime is a 'fabric' that we will eentually learn
how to work as in Eon or Contact. Travel through space will
still be limited to sub-light speeds, but the conviction seems
to be great that a shortcut around this annoying limitation
will be found. With modern technology and scientific nderstanding,
it is infinitly easier to part the waters of the ocean and
to walk upon air, than to alter the geometry of space. But
perhaps, oneday, just as we readily create magnetic fields
from electrical fields, we may discover how to convert electric
fields into gravitational ones, without at the same time vaporizing
our laboratory equipment.
SF has been
with us as a recognizable literary genera for nearly a century
and represents an evolving network of ideas that develope
almost parallel to revolutions in scientific thinking. Jules
Vern's submarines and airships were almost patentable. Then
came atomic powered rockets of the Buck Rogers variety, followed
by a progressive refinement of drive technology into 'warp
engines', hyperdrive and teleportation. As the technology
of SF has become more sophisticated, it has also found itself
more in the league of magic. It has all but left the real
world, or reasonable extensions of it. Only the setting (the
Galaxy) and the human condition ( greed, power, love, war)
remain as fixed reference points operating in recognizable
ways. Has SF finally evolved beyond its own definition?
Unlike the science
fiction of the past century, modern SF provides no satisfying
linkage between what we know today and a plausible route to
the technology of the future. The old Maine saying 'You can't
get there from here' applies to nearly all of the SF worlds
the genera is curently obsessed with. Without this linkage,
SF has perhaps unintentionally transformed or evolved itself
into the category of Fantasy; a landscape also populated by
magical solutions to physical problems. Isaac Asimov's injunction
that a sufficiently advanced civilization will have technologies
that are imperceptable from magic might amelorate this difficulty.
However, it is probably just as well that SF as such masters
as Arthur C. Clarke to serve as a necessary regulator on unbridled
Yet there is
not one of us who has never been inspired by the awesome possibilities
opened up by FTL travel, the opening up of the alaxy to human
commerse and colonization. Whether we will ultimately be able
to create furnature from curved space, partake of a multidimensional
reality, or directly view all of humanities alternate histories,
becomes less of a issue than being able to fuel the imagination
with these endless possibilities.