2014-05-10

Travel Time Continuity

Per the novelization to ANH, we know that the trip from Tatooine to Alderaan and back was expected to take about three weeks, since that's how long Han told Jabba it would be before he would be back with the money from the trip.

Of course, I don't expect the JJ films to make use of such figures . . . after all, his Trek film shortened the trip to Vulcan during the TOS era from the "days" of TMP to seemingly mere minutes, which is just crap.

That's not just his own failing, of course . . . Star Trek: First Contact has Picard order battlestations before going to warp from the Romulan Neutral Zone toward Earth, which seems quite unnecessary if the trip's going to be longer than even a couple of hours, and of course there are several similar examples.

It's a curiously easy trap to fall into for writers.   Even the old series 24 that ostensibly ran in realistic time tended to have people driving across large cities in mere minutes.   But, it is still a bit of weak writing either way, and even moreso in a science fiction setting.   It's one thing to have an unusually traffic-free trip rather than have Keifer Sutherland looking intense and pondering the torture of other drivers for a quarter of a season's episodes, but with science fiction you have to keep a firmer hand because otherwise it becomes too obvious that your ship moves at the speed of plot.   That's not world-building . . . that's just haphazard, ad hoc, and other things that should be insulting to writers and moreso the movie-goer or series-watcher.

Folks who cannot write interesting stories within the established continuity simply aren't trying hard enough to do their jobs correctly, and I think that applies to both characterizations and technology.   I realize that's a bold statement and smells of excess nerdiness, but it's true all the same.  


2 comments:

  1. Eh, I just assume that Hyperdrive routes can wildly affect the speed at which you go. A good Hyperdrive route can get you across the galaxy in days, a bad one takes considerably longer. The Falcon might have the fastest hyperdrive in the galaxy, but if the route needs hundreds of detours, you're going to take longer than if you have a straight line.

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  2. I think that Star Trek has ample evidence that projected travel times aren't as simple as velocity*distance.

    Sure it is speed of plot in reality, but they imply there are unmentioned factors often enough like in "Future Imperfect" where a computer capable of simulating the crew of the Enterprise-D couldn't easily calculate travel times.

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