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I am trying to write a story occurring in a retro-future setting. The civilization in the story is a hodgepodge of contemporary Canadian-American culture and faster-than-light travel. I know this is unrealistic compared to posthumans strip-mining the galaxy to build dyson spheres, but I am writing for a general audience.

I am using the Alcubierre drive as my point of reference. It requires multiple stellar masses and exotic matter with negative mass to be feasible. I keep running into the question of why the space military are not deploying singularity projectors, offensive teleport, time travel, and similarly apocalyptic weapons when fighting an interstellar war.

I cannot fathom how this civilization developed god-like manipulation of gravity but only use it to make cruise ships.

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closed as off-topic by sphennings, Azuaron, Frostfyre, L.Dutch, Aify Aug 8 '17 at 21:26

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "This question does not appear to be about worldbuilding, within the scope defined in the help center." – sphennings, Azuaron, Frostfyre, L.Dutch
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure how this question is about building a world. It looks like you're asking about in world decision making behind a plot point. You could try to ask on scifi.stackexchange.com. This question may be to broad for them so check their posting guidelines before asking. $\endgroup$ – sphennings Aug 8 '17 at 16:17
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    $\begingroup$ Surely the answer is "because they are Canadian"? $\endgroup$ – Dewi Morgan Aug 8 '17 at 16:24
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    $\begingroup$ A common trope is that FTL drives don't work inside strong gravitational fields, such as, for our star, within the orbit of Neptune or thereabouts; and artificial gravity can be generated inside a special structure, but cannot be extended outside (because it would then be equivalent to changing the mass of the ship). $\endgroup$ – AlexP Aug 8 '17 at 18:12
  • $\begingroup$ @sphennings: I'm trying to write fiction set in a retro-future Canadian-American setting. I keep running into the question of why they don't use their FTL as a weapon when an apocalyptic enemy shows up. $\endgroup$ – Anonymous Aug 8 '17 at 18:31
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    $\begingroup$ You're going to need to explain how your flavor of FTL works and how you intend it to be weaponized for us to be able to comment on why it's not being used as a weapon in your world. $\endgroup$ – sphennings Aug 8 '17 at 18:42
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You could work around this issue by having the FTL tech something which was not developed but discovered - a relic of a vanished race, poorly understood. Maybe something like a FTL train which works only under certain circumstances or in particular areas of space.

There is plenty of precedent for this in science fiction, and imperfect understanding by the protagonists saves you some trouble as the author.

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I cannot speak for the rest, but the reimagined Battlestar Galactica has ships which jump from one point of space to another; though this is called FTL, it's not really accelerating beyond light speed. BSG also has artificial gravity as a matter of course, but how it's generated is never explained, nor is it explicitly related to FTL.

In BSG we do not see "jumps" employed as weapons per se, but the destructive capability of jumps is shown at least twice (once when a Viper jumps away from a point too close to Galactica, the other when a whole group of Raptors jump away from inside one of Galactica's flight pods). We don't know if jumping close to some object causes damage to that object; we do know that it's possible to jump into some other object, which presumably would disturb it.

The reason why jumping is not employed as a weapon is, I think, that it would require the jump coordinates to be calculated very fast, which is plainly not what happens in BSG, or the target must be rather large or stay immobile. It would also require to sacrifice an FTL drive, which is probably not cheap. You can do much more damage with a nuke at close range, even if you have to launch a dozen to get one hit.

It shouldn't be that difficult, though, to mount a nuke inside an FTL-enabled unmanned ship and jump that into an enemy base, for example, unless FTL jumps can be impeded by some shield or barrier, which we don't know for certain.

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As far as Tv stories, if you have a super-weapon then it nullifies to many plot lines for the writers.

To throw a sci-fi reason out there: Interference. Some sci-fi required you to be clear of a large mass in order to 'jump' accurately. Hence 'impulse' drives. To use FTL as a local weapon (you didn't specify scale) the target mass would interfere with the formation of the 'warp' bubble, so setting the weapons course through sub-space would be inaccurate, and dangerous. No targeting solution.

I have read some sci-fi (Cherryh I believe) where someone did jump within a debris field and brought relativistic speed rocks in-system with them, and then slowed down and watched the destruction.

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Considering that no one has any idea how to build an FTL drive, any discussion of how it would work is somewhere between speculation based on the thinnest of facts and making stuff up. So ... make stuff up that works for your story. Others have mentioned the common SF idea that FTL drives don't work near strong gravity fields. You could always say that you can't make an FTL missile because it's not possible to make FTL drives small enough to make a practical missile, or because it takes a team of specialists on site to keep it running for more than 10 minutes, or because the fwacbar coefficient of the trimodium diaphragms cannot exceed 2.73.

SF writers do this all the time: Some stories are written by postulating some hypothetical technology, working out the implications, and then wrapping a story around this. But many, probably most, are written by first coming up with a (hopefully) interesting story, and then postulating hypothetical technologies that make the story work. Sure, it can be amusing to kick around, If FTL travel was really possible and it worked thus-and-so, how would interstellar commerce work? But if your story needs there to be a thriving interstellar trade in rabbit embryos, just make something up to justify it.

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I would suggest an old trope, "hyperspace" or "subspace" as the venue for the actual travel at FTL. This is used in modern shows like "Dark Matter", their FTL is not in any kind of real space; so there is no kinetic energy in the real space. When they "drop out" of FTL, they are at a standstill.

This inability to hit anything at FTL is pretty much a necessity anyway; otherwise you could hit stars, planets, asteroids, dust clouds, even gas clouds would have pretty much devastating impact force (incalculable, really, since we don't know how to account for relativistic effects at all).

Stop thinking of FTL as operating in our current 3D space, and think of it more like wormhole tech that takes a ship to another plane or "dimension" that is a million times smaller than our space, and moves it slightly there: to the crew a 20 mph move for an hour is a light year. So your multiplication factor (or in Star Trek, the "warp" factor) is 293 billion x light speed. Call that a 'warp factor' of 2.93. But when the ship leaves that dimension, it is just traveling at 20 mph, a virtual standstill. On the straight line from where it began to where it ended, it makes no difference if it "traveled" through a star or supernova; it wasn't really in the universe at all.

Inside that dimension, we have only figured out how to travel in the under 100 mph range; so warp factors up to about 15; but they require exponentially more energy, so if it isn't an emergency, they don't exceed warp factor 3.

For more restrictions; limit the size of the field that can be formed to put something into this other dimension: We can't move anything larger than X at FTL, the bubble isn't big enough. So maybe a spherical ship a hundred yards in diameter, but nothing larger.

You can also limit the mass of anything in that bubble; perhaps nothing more than that amount of water. (for a sphere of radius 150 feet, and water weighs 62.43 lbs per cubic foot, about 883 million pounds; or 441,292 tons).

And you can limit the maneuverability: At FTL you cannot maneuver at all, you travel in a straight line until you punch the button to drop out. In fact, for your story purpose, you can require the field to be practically standing still relative to any major gravitational field in its vicinity; be it planets, moons, or a star; if the ship is moving then the gravity gradient is changing, and that prevents the FTL bubble from forming; and the reverse is true upon exiting hyperspace: Say you have to reverse the polarity of your FTL bubble, and that is impossible to do if the gravity gradient is changing too rapidly. It is impossible to enter hyperspace at a high rate of speed, and impossible to exit hyperspace and be traveling at a high rate of speed.

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