If I’m asked what kind of book I like to read my answer is science fiction. And the style that I prefer is usually called ‘hard scifi‘. That would be stories that deal with the technological details and loads of information about far fetched star drives, energy beams, and what not. Needless to say I love reading about all the made up details that are in these stories. No wonder my top three favorite authors are Larry Niven, Robert A. Heinlein, and William Gibson. I happened across the ‘Atomic Rocket’ page today and just had to post about it.
"Another annoying fact is that realistic spacecraft propulsion systems are incredibly weak. They will take forever to push the ship to anywhere farther than, say, Luna. So SF authors try to jazz things up by postulating more powerful propulsion systems. Alas, they then run full tilt into Jon’s Law for SF authors.
Jon’s Law for SF authors is closely related to Niven’s Kzinti Lesson. It states: "Any interesting space drive is a weapon of mass destruction. It only matters how long you want to wait for maximum damage." It goes on to say: "Interesting is equal to ‘whatever keeps the readers from getting bored’".
As an example, a spacecraft with an ion drive capable of doing a meager 0.0001g of acceleration may be scientifically realistic and the exhaust is relatively harmless. However, to most of the audience it will not be interesting. "Nine months just to travel to Mars? How boring!"
The author, not wanting his book sales to go flat, hastily re-fits the hero’s spacecraft with a fusion drive. The good news is that the ship can make it to Mars in twelve days flat. The bad news is that the ship’s exhaust is putting out enough terawatts of energy to cut another ship in two, or make the spaceport look like it was hit by a tactical nuclear weapon."
How cool is that? The page is for ‘science fiction authors who wanted a little scientific accuracy’ but the heck with that, I’m going to read this from ‘cover to cover’.
If you want to read a few book by my favorite masters of scifi, go on over to Amazon and flex the credit chip.