Transphasic shields in the novels

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by DS9forever, Aug 19, 2012.

  1. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Well, the armor was initially used to defend Admiral Janeway's shuttle against the ship that tried to stop her from going back in time. But Seven does say, "The technology aboard the Admiral's ship is impressive. Much of it appears to have been designed to defend against the Borg." It's never made completely explicit that the armor was specifically a Borg defense, but that does seem to be the implication.

    Even so, there's no reason to treat it as a default assumption that the armor is some kind of ultimate defense. And there are plenty of reasons not to want the armor to be used again.
     
  2. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    The underlying technology could have other uses. If, as it appears, it uses replicator technology to materialize armour onto the hull, surely it could be used to instantly repair hull breaches by replacing entire bulkheads in a flash?

    Or is it maybe holographic armour and not "real" at all?
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Sure, that could be useful. But as I tried to get across with my comparison with the Defiant's ablative armor, the problem is with the specific execution. There are ways that something with certain similarities could be done plausibly and well, but this was not.


    Which would make it just a forcefield disguised to look like solid matter, so why not just make it a forcefield?
     
  4. DS9forever

    DS9forever Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Vorta engineer: Damn, that's the third time that's happened!
     
  5. RPJOB

    RPJOB Commander Red Shirt

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    Is it necessary to retcon away the various parts of previous episodes in the name of more made up science?

    Should Spock now be written as a full blooded Vulcan who was simply raised by a human mother in the name of more realistic biology? Would he be as interesting a character if his background was simply "Nature vs nurture" as opposed to being a Human/Vulcan hybrid?

    What's wrong with Michael Okuda, explaining how the Heisenberg Compensators work, simply saying "Very well, thank you"?

    If you're going to get ride of the ludicrous science in the name of reality then we can say goodbye to warp drive, phasers, McCoy's magic healing rays transporters, subspace radio....

    If you want to add your own threads to the tapestry that is Trek and make it based on real world science then feel free but I don't see the need to overwrite what has come before. I'm smart enough to recognize when Trek is handing me a beaker full of Bolognium.
     
  6. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    ^There's a huge difference between replacing a few words of ultimately inconsequntial impossible technobabble for something a little more plausible, and making the big changes to the universe you're describing.
     
  7. RPJOB

    RPJOB Commander Red Shirt

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    Christopher must not have thought it was inconsequential or he wouldn't have changed it.

    Norman Spinrad wrote that it was neutronium. Therefore, it's neutronium. Accept it, technobabble some way around it without changing it or simply ignore it. Don't rewrite the past.

    What's next, using CGI to replace Shatner, Nimoy and the rest of the cast with Pine, Quinto and the others? Doing so wouldn't change the stories after all.
     
  8. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

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    And originally the Enterprise used lithium in its energy reactors (whatever they were at that stage in the production). But it was quickly realized that using a real element with known properties was going to restrict story-telling potential. So they created dilithium, possessing any potential properties the writers might need in the future.

    Similarly, neutronium is a real thing, with known properties. It couldn't be a hull material; better to invent hyponeutronium with whatever properties the story might require (including being able to be made into hulls and doors).
     
  9. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    In "The Cage", the Enterprise crew were armed with lasers. By the time they started the series proper, they changed the name to phaser because lasers don't do the cool things or work the way TPTB wanted them to.

    These are minor retcons. It's not like it makes any more difference to the overall tapestry of Trek than Kirk's middle initial being R or T.
     
  10. RPJOB

    RPJOB Commander Red Shirt

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    Both lithium -> dilithium and lasers -> phasers were done early in the run by the people who were making the show. It was part of the evolution that any such show undergoes. TOS is a finished work and has been for over 40 years. Accept it for what it was. Trying to "fix" things just seems unnecessary. It ain't broken. It is what it is. Like I said before, should we now CGI the faces of the crew from the last movie over Shatner, Nimoy, etc? Should the uniforms be CGI'ed with the little delta pattern? Sjould the random blinky lights on the bridge be replaced with more modern displays?

    If someone wanted to creadte a new artifact that used hyponeutronium then more power to them. The books should be there to expand the universe, not change what someone perceives as an error or a flaw or what have you.
     
  11. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    While I do agree novels should stay away from becoming fix fic, I really don't think it makes any difference whatsoever to "The Doomsday Machine" or any of it's spin-offs to swap out neutronium with hyponeutronium.

    TOS hasn't really finished in Trek's expanded universe. There are always new adventures being slotted in, sometimes casting a new light on the 40+ year old episodes (Like "Forgotten History" building a story around TOS and TAS' time travels). The tapestry's always being tweaked.
     
  12. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

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    Well, it's just tie-in fiction, so no one is going to alter the TV shows, or movies.

    But since no one is making the TV shows anyone, in a way, the authors of the tie-in fiction are the show runners. Their changes are as legitimate as anything the writers of the TV episodes made. It's all equally imaginary.
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    And again, I should mention that the credit for "hyponeutronium" goes to Diane Duane, who coined it in My Enemy, My Ally. She didn't actually define what it meant, but it's obvious from the prefix that it means something "below" neutronium, presumably in density. And it was used as a material in a security hatch, somewhat like the door in "What You Leave Behind." So when that door was mentioned as being "neutronium," which is an absurdity in that context, I had the thought that maybe it was actually Duane's hyponeutronium and they were just calling it neutronium as a shorthand. And I actually ended up saying as much in The Buried Age.
     
  14. RPJOB

    RPJOB Commander Red Shirt

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    I have no problem whatsoever with Diane Duane using hyponeutronium as she was creating something new, not retconing another writers work. Also, Christopher is certanly free to use her creation as long as it's in the spirit that she intended. In The Doomsday Machine, however, Spinrad used neutronium so that's what should be accepted. Expamding the universe = good. Rewriting another persons work = not good.

    SPOCK: Sensors show the object's hull is solid neutronium. A single ship cannot combat it.

    SPOCK: Negative, Captain. Its hull is pure neutronium. There is no known way of blasting through it.

    SPOCK: The object's neutronium hull makes sensor readings of the inner mechanism impossible.

    Unless Spock is going to be portrayed as unreliable then the orignal work should be taken as it exists.
     
  15. Edit_XYZ

    Edit_XYZ Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Unless you can manipulate mass and gravitation to a large degree - such as when you generate a warp field, something everyone and his idiot brother can do in star trek.


    About transphasic shields - their breaking thermodynamics is minor by comparison to warp drive, cloaking, transporters, etc breaking various other physical laws.
    And explaining these shields in half-fantasy physics terms (this is star trek physics) is a LOT less convoluted than explaining some of the other trek tech.

    You're welcome to try to come up with a relatively more plausible explanation for various trek tech.

    But, if you want to be self-consistent and you claim that transphasics must be censored out of trek due to their implausibility, you should claim a LOT of other trek tech must likewise be censored.
    I don't see you advocating warp drive or transporter censorship, Christopher.
     
  16. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    I'm faintly astonished to see such an irritated reaction to Christopher's subjective choice to retcon an incredibly minor piece of technobabble so that it's more scientifically plausible, without interfering in any meaningful way with the dramatic integrity of the episodes so being retconned. That's a much bigger emotional investment in whether it's "neutronium" than the episode writers in question probably ever had.
     
  17. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

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    Too bad Spinrad didn't just call the material "unobtainium", because then fewer people would be complaining about the addition of a little prefix decades later.
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    "Fewer" people? Isn't there just one person complaining?

    Actually it is remotely possible that the Doomsday Machine could've been armored in actual neutronium, if the neutronium could be encased in some kind of material strong enough to resist its degeneracy pressure -- similarly to how Robert L. Forward proposed that electron-degenerate matter (i.e. matter of white-dwarf density) could be encased in synthetic diamond (see my discussion of this in Ex Machina). The DM actually does look as if it's coated in some kind of shiny, smooth material (which is actually plastic sheeting on the original miniature, but it looks really neat if you don't examine it too closely). It's a reach, but it's within the realm of suspension of disbelief, given the super-advanced technology in play.

    It's when you get to the later uses of "neutronium" in DS9 and VGR, as an armor material on doors and stuff, that it becomes implausible, because of the sheer weight and density of the substance. That's where it's handy to think of it as a shorthand for some kind of material that isn't literally neutronium.

    Hmm... now, Memory Alpha makes the claim that "Since 1942, it has been used in various science fiction material to refer to a super-dense alloy or a trans-uranic element on the periodic table." However, the OED's SF terminology citations site doesn't quite agree with that. There's a reference to a "neutronium hull" in a 1931 Jack Williamson story, but most of the references cited there (except the ones from Trek novels) are referring to the actual neutron-star kind of neutronium either literally or as a metaphor. (The 1942 Hal Clement reference to cities of neutronium is in a story about beings that live in the core of the Sun, so it's certainly not about a material that could survive in M-class conditions.)
     
  19. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

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    Ok, there'd be exactly one person fewer complaining. But who am I to complain about someone complaining? It's just sad that such a minor detail has been fixated on.

    Make that one person less, not fewer.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2012
  20. RPJOB

    RPJOB Commander Red Shirt

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    Christopher is, of course, free to white Trek however he wants (within the confines of canon) but I just don't see the need to try to "fix" elements of TOS. TOS is fine as it it. Writing a story that expands what we saw in an episode would add background and make the whole thing richer. Changing what the original author wrote, in this case Norman Spinrad, just seems counterproductive.

    If you're going to change what has come before in order to make it more scientifically accurate (or plausible) then Trek as we know it will pretty much be undone. No FTL, no transporters, no human/alien hybrids, no psionics, no universal translator, no phasers. The list goes on.

    I read and watch Trek for stories about humanity and how we can grow as an individual and a species. I'm not looking for a science lesson. Too much of Trek is simply absurd from a scientific perspective. And that's fine. It's not absurd in a Lost in Space/Red Dwarf/Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy sort of way. Trek is relatively believable within the confines of it's setting. There's eye rolling moments to be sure (The Counter-Clock Incident, One Little Ship, Threshold) but for the most part the "science" is believable enough that it doesn't take me out of the story.

    We should be going forward, not looking to repair or fix or alter what's already been done. Leave the original authors work to stand or fall on it's own and let's move out into the great unknown.