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Big mistakes in sf.

Timewalker

Orthodox Herbertarian
Joined
Oct 1, 2006
Messages
59
Who wanted to write a book? :confused:

(btw -- hello, Omphalos -- it's Hypatia from Arrakeen! ;))
 

Omphalos

הדרךקפיצת
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
777
Hi Timewalker! I thought that was the avatar you were describing.

I cannot remember the woman's name. I sent you a link to the page a loooooong time ago. If you bookmarked it, it was either spookybug or jitterbut dot com. If you read through her entire website, she says at the end that she was trying to get a book on the sources for Star Wars. The website was really dense with information, and the section on Dune as a source for Star Wars was really well written.

You dont know where that page wound up, do you?
 

Timewalker

Orthodox Herbertarian
Joined
Oct 1, 2006
Messages
59
Sorry, no. :( But I save all my PMs so I'll find it and do some searching.
 

Lith

Not Drawing
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Feb 1, 2007
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Dune has always struck me more as a fantasy work than a SF work, at least in spirit. But I also only read the first one... And I never thought about the oxygen problem- but it's funny!

A lot of old SF is riddled with horrible science. More room for the imagination that way.;)
 

iansales

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Joined
May 8, 2006
Messages
3,447
And Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep is set in 1992. And 2001: A Space Odyssey... well, it's going to be two decades after that date before the US sends another man to the Moon. None of Asimov's stories or novels predicted the prevalence of computers. But then sf isn't meant to be predictive. Writing a story set in the future, extrapolated from the science and technology of the time of writing, is always going to result in something will be dated several years later. Those sf novels that haven't dated are usually ones whose background is less tied to hard science and technology. Such as Dune. Herbert neatly got around commiting any faux pas about future computing by banning them entirely from his universe. Much of the technology described in the books is fantasy technology - it does what he needs it to do for the story, but there's no real scientific rationale behind it. Not that it really matters.
 

Marvolo

Medium Rare
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I like SF&F
Very true and quite sly of Herbert.

Most of the stories set near our time period and written before the Challenger tragedy were very optimistic about how far we'd make it by now. Also, NASA did have a fellow working for them, can't remember his name, who had a detailed plan of how we'd have an entire colony at a libration point by now, and a colony on the moon. But he wasn't taken too seriously (and I can sort of agree, for one thing the food problem isn't solved nor the affects of lower gravity on the astronauts) and eventually left and the public opinion of the program's importance was shattered after our first tragedy.

The real problem is that no one in any important position is stepping up and saying, "We have a calling to expand our nation to the only unsettled frontier left to us, space and beyond. We'll make this dream a reality and through diligence also make it bring another financial outlet to our economy. My engineers and scientist tell me that by X year we'll be at Y point, and later at Z year we'll have A, B, and C, completed. In this noble undertaking we'll continue our long history of excellence and devote the necessary resources."

No one is pumped about the space program. No one is setting big goals and getting nations excited about the prospect of meeting them. The best prospect in America right now is a private company that has almost made it to space. But our national space program just sucks.
 

Dave

Custom title not found
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Also, NASA did have a fellow working for them, can't remember his name, who had a detailed plan of how we'd have an entire colony at a libration point by now, and a colony on the moon.
Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven worked as NASA advisors. They had a committee and lobby group with Robert A Heinlein, Poul Anderson, some space industry executives and scientists, the retired general Daniel Graham, and the astronaut Buzz Aldrin. They called it the "Citizens’ Advisory Council on National Space Policy".
 

iansales

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Messages
3,447
Most of the stories set near our time period and written before the Challenger tragedy were very optimistic about how far we'd make it by now.
The fact that manned space exploration is dependent on political will was, I think, ignored or forgotten by those writers.

Also, NASA did have a fellow working for them, can't remember his name, who had a detailed plan of how we'd have an entire colony at a libration point by now, and a colony on the moon. But he wasn't taken too seriously (and I can sort of agree, for one thing the food problem isn't solved nor the affects of lower gravity on the astronauts) and eventually left and the public opinion of the program's importance was shattered after our first tragedy.
Gerard K O'Neill? He wrote the standard text on human colonies in space, The High Frontier.

The real problem is that no one in any important position is stepping up and saying, "We have a calling to expand our nation to the only unsettled frontier left to us, space and beyond. We'll make this dream a reality and through diligence also make it bring another financial outlet to our economy. My engineers and scientist tell me that by X year we'll be at Y point, and later at Z year we'll have A, B, and C, completed. In this noble undertaking we'll continue our long history of excellence and devote the necessary resources."

No one is pumped about the space program. No one is setting big goals and getting nations excited about the prospect of meeting them. The best prospect in America right now is a private company that has almost made it to space. But our national space program just sucks.
Bush has already said the US will return to the Moon by 2020, although whether that happens depends on his successor. But Nasa are already getting started on Project Constellation. The thing is, the standard justifications for manned space exploration don't bear scrutiny. Technological benefits? Well, Apollo gave us... velcro... and teflon. Scientific benefits? We know a lot more about the Moon than we did before. But we'velearnt as much, if not more, from robot explorers. And that's especially true of the rest of the Solar system. An astronaut on the spot is better than a robot? Well, yes - but way more expensive... We should do it because we can. Yes, the money could be better spent elsewhere - but everyone knows it won't be, it'd just be appropriated for something of even less benefit. Like an invasion :)
 

Marvolo

Medium Rare
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Well, it would bear scrutiny if they did things in the right order. They need to make a case for the untapped resources, then they need to present to indepdent companies how they can make money. All that is left is to give heavy incentives to the companies that invest in space exploration and colonization/utilization.

But not a lot of people care really. Bush says that, but at this point he's scraping around for a legacy that doesn't involve huge mistakes made very often.
 

Ursa major

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Velcro was a Swiss invention from the Forties. (I was told the inventor got the idea from burrs that were caught on clothing.)

While it's good that we get inventions (I'm sure there are some) from the space programme, space exploration should be done for its own reasons, not spin-offs. (I mean to say, we get spin-offs from war, but I wouldn't want to give those keen on starting wars another reason for going ahead! :()
 

iansales

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Velcro was a Swiss invention from the Forties. (I was told the inventor got the idea from burrs that were caught on clothing.)
I knew that. I don't know why I said it was an invention from the Apollo programme. Doh.

I do know that the space pen story is a myth - that Nasa spent hundreds of thousands of dollars developing a pen that could write in zero gravity... The Soviets just used a pencil. The Fisher space pen didn't actually cost Nasa anything.
 

Lith

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It's also worth bearing in mind that half the impetus behind the space program related to the cold war, and the shock people felt about Sputnik. Now that the USSR's gone, so's half our reason for pouring vast amounts of money into a space program. That and I think the newness of the idea has worn off in the general public's mind.
 

colmywaykurtz

New Member
Joined
Nov 8, 2007
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4
In addition to the metabolic byproducts of sandworms, Dune also has the sandplankton.

Tattooine, by the way, has the worm-looking thing that almost ate Lando, remember? Jabba's little hover-barge party that went terribly askew?
 

Jimcalagon

Member
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Jan 25, 2008
Messages
11
[...]The thing is, the standard justifications for manned space exploration don't bear scrutiny. Technological benefits? Well, Apollo gave us... velcro... and teflon. [...]

OK, this is a common misconception - neither velcro or teflon were products of the Apollo missions.

However the following are spinoffs from the manned space programmes:-
  • Improved Kidney Dialysis machines
  • Cat Scanners
  • Design and manufacture of sports shoes
  • Water purification technology
  • Cordless power tools
  • Self righting life rafts
  • Barcoding
  • Ionising Smoke detectors
  • Improved Cardiac Pacemakers
  • Scratch resistant glasses
  • Freeze-dried foods
  • Enriched Baby food
  • Infrared ear thermometers
  • Quartz Clocks
Back to big mistakes in SF... In the first edition of Ringworld, Larry Niven had the Earth rotating the wrong way, with Louis Wu travelling from west to east to prolong his 200th Birthday. This was corrected in later editions, making the first edition extremely collectible.
 

lin robinson

Science fiction fantasy
Joined
Jun 18, 2007
Messages
483
Correct about teflon/goretex/velcro.

In addition to those you list are a slew of plastics like lexan (used in the helmets), high tech foams and adhesives...and of course Tang.

I used to have a subscription to a big book of all the new technology NASA developed, making it available for civilian use. It was as thick as a manhattan phone book and came out twice a year packed with everything from metalurgy to microfiber insulation.
 

Jimcalagon

Member
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Jan 25, 2008
Messages
11
Correct about teflon/goretex/velcro.

In addition to those you list are a slew of plastics like lexan (used in the helmets), high tech foams and adhesives...and of course Tang.
Tang was developed before the space program but they had good PR guys.:rolleyes:
 

col_porridge

TimingIsEverything
Joined
Nov 9, 2013
Messages
9
damn you baldur27 :) I was really stoked to have a good answer to that question till you yanked the rug from under. But seriously the Exothermic reaction energy that would come from a spice blow that also converts carbon dioxide to oxygen would be massive.....oh yah....big frikkin worms
 

Son of Valhalla

Active Member
Joined
Jan 24, 2017
Messages
27
*SPOILERS FOR TWO SERIES*

A lot of people have been mentioning that Herbert didn't know the size of the Universe in his day because other scientists didn't know it either. This thread may be dead (noted, data collected, stored), but I know that even if you have the world's most unrealistic science, it doesn't matter. Science fiction isn't about gravity or technology, it's about people.

Asimov was even quoted as saying his Foundation Series was social science fiction, one that focuses on people at individual and mass levels in order to properly tell his story. Granted, most of the characters in the series were little explained and for the most part high and mighty intellectuals who were fighting one another. This especially became true after the introduction of *SPOILERS* mentalics. But even then, that concept throws its elements of hard sci fi completely to the wayside, because at that point you're implying mental control without the need for scientific mastery. Many of the mentalics were noticed at young ages.

That said, in regards to Dune, the science doesn't matter. Poison can freeze at -400 K because, well, the story isn't exactly a sci fi novel, so to speak. If anything, it's more a space opera with elements of fantasy (giant worms people ride? Paul as the Messiah? The spice trade?). It bears more resemblance to biblical times than it does anything else.

I initially believed that the science had to be somewhat true to work, but after reading even older science fiction novels, I now see that the people have to be true, not the science.
 

RX-79G

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 18, 2016
Messages
981
Another thing I don't get is how they move around so fast in The Butlerin Jihad. Fold space drive wasn't invented yet but they could traverse the galaxy in a matter of months.

Also, astronomy seems to be a lost science. The "known universe" in Dune is much smaller than the "known universe" today.
They were folding space. The Guild reinvented fold space navigation after the computer navigators were destroyed.

"Known universe" refers to the portion of the universe that had actually been documented and was "known" about. This was not an astronomical discussion but a political one. All of the Dune books take place in a portion of the Milky Way. Herbert understood basic cosmology and there is no misunderstanding in the books about how the universe is constructed.

I think they are trying to say that Herbert didn't know how large the universe truly is when he originally wrote the novel because the scientists of the day didn't.
I think they just misunderstood the context in the novel.

And Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep is set in 1992. And 2001: A Space Odyssey... well, it's going to be two decades after that date before the US sends another man to the Moon.
That has little to do with any authors ability to estimate the march of technology. The fall of the USSR and the rise of personal computers has more to do with why 2001 didn't come true than the pace of technology. Clarke couldn't predict how uninterested we would be in technological development.

Hi Hypatia. I found that page archived at web archive. Here is the link

Star Wars Origins - Frank Herbert's Dune
Lucas lifted stuff from all sorts of sources, but the desert and trading of spices featured in both SW and Dune are both taken from the real Middle East.
 
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