June 14, 2007

Everything I need to know I learned from anime

Any interstellar visitor, especially one that's hostile, always enters the Solar System on the ecliptic, and always passes by at least one other planet on its way to Earth.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Anime at 05:30 PM | Comments (23) | Add Comment
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1 I have read *so* many books where the defense systems for the solar system make this assumption that it's not even funny.

Posted by: Anachronda at June 14, 2007 05:47 PM (jnCzJ)


They treat the Solar System as if it's a one-dimensional highway, with stops along the road for each of the planets in turn.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at June 14, 2007 05:58 PM (+rSRq)

3 It's a common sci-fi trope.

But why does everyone have to follow it?  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffgCUwIxtP4

One universe that actually does this (sort of) right is Battletech.  The hyperdrive in it requires ships to jump to and from areas with very low, very predictable gravity.  The primary jump points in every system are the zenith and nadir points, several days out (at 1g) from the inner planets.

That said, it has its own quirks, as "pirate" points (assumed but never stated to be L-points) closer in-system can be used as well.  However, these are constantly described as risky, but figuring out where L4/L5 points are should be easy if you know where the planet is at this time of year, shouldn't it?

Posted by: Big D at June 14, 2007 05:59 PM (JJ4vV)

4 Well, if such jump points were real, I'd suggest that while it's trivial to identify the Lagrange points for the system you are in, relativity makes it very difficult to identify with certainty your relationship with the Lagrange points in the target system, and there could be a probabilistic aspect to such jumps that could be arbitrarily tricky. But we usually have to toss out Relativity anyhow when talking FTL.

I did enjoy the Borg attack in the classic ST:TNG episode "The Best of Both Worlds" (two parter where Picard was kidnapped). Even when I was young I thought it was convenient of the Borg to fly by our planetary defenses. Even within the context of Star Trek it makes no sense since they are clearly not in warp at the time. At the speeds the Borg (and everybody else) are capable of, the perimeter defenses should have had a fraction of a second to react. Video evidence clearly establishes that warp is safe all the way to "standard orbit"; the Enterprise routinely warps out from that orbit.

Posted by: Jeremy Bowers at June 14, 2007 06:29 PM (/SMZC)


Crest of the Stars handles it extremely well. Entry to a system is through its sord, which is a gateway into plane space. And Plane Space itself is 2 dimensional.

So most space travel in a system is between the sord and the primary human habitation in that system, whether planet or starbase. And once in plane space, you're on a flat map.

Travel between stars through normal space is possible too, but no one in their right mind does it except in extremely unusual situations, because it's subject to relativistic limitations.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at June 14, 2007 06:32 PM (+rSRq)

6 It occurs to me that maybe people see maps like http://www.cchs.co.uk/tech-coll/primary/resources/ks2/solar-map.jpg and their gut thinks that's actually how it is, even if their brain knows better. (And that's a big if.)

You can see it so often in the scale factors, too, where it's actually feasible to have a "Mars Defense", because it's "right on top of Earth", rather than "separated by an unimaginably large empty gulf of space, which is itself unimaginably tiny compared to truly interstellar distances". Why, on average half the time or so Mars and Earth are separated by at least 90 degrees in their orbit around the sun; what good is a "defense" on the other side of the sun against Star Trek-level ships? What good would it be even at closest approach?

Anime does seem more able to get this stuff right than any video content (cartoon or otherwise) in  the US, which seems to have been irreparably damaged by Star Trek. I've only recently taken the plunge with anime (how long can you read this site and not?), but I'm planning a post about how science fiction fans who are not watching the better anime series are seriously missing out. Both the Ghost in the Shell TV series and Divergence Eve compare favorably to modern written hard science fiction, something I've not seen more than the barest traces of in any American video.

Posted by: Jeremy Bowers at June 14, 2007 06:40 PM (/SMZC)

7 Yeah, I definitely like the CotS FTL.  It's well thought through, consistent across stories, and the implications are thought out (as opposed to Trek warp, which can or cannot do a number of things based on what the plot calls for at any given time; heck, they're even inconsistent on which weapons work at warp).  The one thing that I haven't seen that I had expected to was minefields just outside the realspace end of a sord (in planar space, they'd probably run out of fuel too fast to be practical).

Of course, since it does seem to borrow from WWII at times, I'm still waiting to see UM deploy "subs" with realspace cloaking devices.

Posted by: Big D at June 14, 2007 06:43 PM (JJ4vV)


At the Battle of Aptic Gate (in Banner of the Stars), the defenders did surround the sord with mines at the beginning. The attackers flooded mines into the system from Plane Space and the defending mines were neutralized that way. (Obviously I don't want to go into details.)

As you say, it wouldn't be practical to have a permanent minefield in Plane Space since energy has to be expended continuously in order to maintain a space-time bubble. Based on a certain sequence in Crest, mines in independent bubbles in Plane Space have enough fuel to last maybe 20 minutes, if even that long.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at June 14, 2007 07:43 PM (+rSRq)

9 You will see the mines at the Battle of Aptic Gate.

One writer who gets a lot right is David Weber, but even he slips up sometimes. In In Enemy Hands an incompetent admiral places all of her sensor buoys on the ecliptic, and is completely blindsided by an enemy force that comes in off-plane.  There's a lot of other battles in which forces maneuver above and below each other, or come in somewhat off the ecliptic, but nobody seems to come in way off-plane routinely.

Posted by: ubu roi at June 14, 2007 07:45 PM (VoFTB)


"Realspace cloaking" is bullshit. Not possible. Not even close.

The author of the Crest/Banner series has obviously been careful in his designs and concepts, and I'm quite sure he won't make that mistake.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at June 14, 2007 07:58 PM (+rSRq)

11 Yep.
Arthur Eddington wrote:

If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell's equations - then so much the worse for Maxwell's equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation, well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.

Hyperspace travel on the other hand is merely impossible.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at June 14, 2007 08:44 PM (PiXy!)

12 Jeremy is ready for Rocket Girls (and possibly PlaneteS).

But there's a ton of anime based on Start Trek level of world creation. How about Outlaw Star?

Posted by: Author at June 14, 2007 08:48 PM (9imyF)

13 Pixy, what tag did you use to do that indented quote?

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at June 14, 2007 08:55 PM (+rSRq)

14 Dang, I need to rewatch Aptic Gate; I don't remember the initial mine deployment.

Posted by: Big D at June 14, 2007 09:31 PM (JJ4vV)

15 The [quote] tag.  You can also use [quote=Source] and [quote="Source with spaces in it"].

That's the best way to do it until I can hack the editor to include a blockquote function.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at June 14, 2007 09:42 PM (PiXy!)

16 Pixy, look at how your comment looks on the sidebar.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at June 14, 2007 09:52 PM (+rSRq)

17 Yeah.  The sanitiser code I use for the sidebar is effective but only half-smart.  Anything that looks like HTML or BBCode gets stripped out, and the results can be odd at times.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at June 15, 2007 12:39 AM (PiXy!)

18 There is a much smarter sanitiser used for the comments in the main body of the text, but it's significantly slower and only works for HTML.  So for the main comment area, BBCode tags in the comment are converted to HTML, then the whole thing is sanitised and plugged into the page.  For the sidebar I just need a short, representative excerpt.

I'll fix it eventually, but for now, expect the occasional weird-looking item there.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at June 15, 2007 12:42 AM (PiXy!)


"Realspace cloaking" is bullshit. Not possible. Not even close.

The author of the Crest/Banner series has obviously been careful in his designs and concepts, and I'm quite sure he won't make that mistake.

There's only one rubber science justification I could think of that doesn't violate 2nd Law of Thermodynamics ( or fail to explain why nobody notices the giant heat signature ):  dumping your waste heat into hyperspace or the equivalent.

The problem then is justifying why people don't, or can't, have hyperspace-side sensors to spot just such heat dumping.  After all, if you can stick a radiator out into hyperspace, you can stick a camera out into hyperspace.

And re:  Weber, yeah, he's good about internal consistency.  He handwaves a few issues for dramatic purposes ( notably the radiator issue that everybody else also ignores ), but then again, he's not writing hard sci-fi.  OTOH, his latest books have been excessively dark, is the world I've gotten.

Posted by: metaphysician at June 15, 2007 04:30 AM (lXszF)


I wouldn't say dark, so much as boring.  He can go into a long explanation of the politics without annoying me overmuch (except when its in the middle of a scene) but interrupting a battle to explain in precise detail that 32,067 missiles are traveling at 92,000 kps and acellerating at 720 kps2 are opposed by 2,600 counter missile launchers firing every 30 seconds and 5,200 of the new Mark XX anti-missile lasers firing every 1.2 seconds with an approximate hit ratio of 5.8% means that the cook in the galley is going to lose a few eggs because of a minute flaw in the new 617 alloy armor and some redshirt rating who was just introduced four paragraphs before is going to meet a grisly death because the third beta node's capacitor ring charge is going to feed back through the data cables and explode catastrophically, which should have been impossible except that the yard tech working on it was having a bad day because his wife left him and he botched the insulation job....

You get the picture.

But yeah, it's dark too.  Last novel, the ROH discovered they were being played and had restarted the war on false pretenses; it ended with the largest battle in galactic history. You might recall mention of the previous record holder:  some Solarian battle a few hundred years ago had 600 ships involved in it.  Before Manticore and Haven are through in At All Costs, they have almost that many superdreadnaughts involved, and a single-battle casualty total in seven digits.

Hell, it was almost a John Ringo body count.

Posted by: ubu roi at June 15, 2007 05:53 AM (dhRpo)


Not all aliens are stuck on the ecliptic!  In one episode of Star Gate SG-1, the enemy diverted an asteroid to collide with Earth (somewhat simplified from actual plot), and they purposely had it approach from out of the ecliptic to avoid detection until it was too late to divert it.  It was one of those pleasant surprises that the SG-1 writers often put in that show you that they try to be as accurate as the plot will allow.

Posted by: Siergen at June 15, 2007 02:19 PM (IeSLS)

22 Its not just that.  Its also ( highlight to read spoilers )

the whole Illuminati with mind control conspiracy, which manages to succeed pretty much every single time they try and do something.  And even when pure luck decides something, it works against any hope of peace or justice or anything.

My space opera turned into grand scale cyberpunk, which does not please me.

Posted by: metaphysician at June 15, 2007 03:56 PM (lXszF)

23 Thread closed due to topic drift. This is an anime blog.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at June 15, 2007 04:47 PM (+rSRq)

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