When is a Bridge Not a Bridge

A while ago, I read a book by Orson Scott Card on the writing of science-fiction, and there was a section in that stood out to me at the time – and given what I am now working on stands out to me still. He was discussing possibilities related to FTL in fiction, and made the point that he found the use of 'warp drive' to be evidence that the writer had no grasp of science fiction, and was simply reverting to Star Trek science. (Take that Doctor Alcubierre!) I might not agree with his specific example there, given that NASA is currently working on warp drive theory (still hope to make it to Proxima Centauri yet...) but he does have a point – how often do people resort simply to 'Star Trek-isms' out of laziness or lack of creativity.

I took this point well – especially given the basic conceptions of the series idea I was working on, but I always stumbled across one hangup. I couldn't not call the bridge 'the bridge'. I tried all sorts of things in earlier drafts, ranging from the 'Flight Deck' to 'CIC', but none of them ever really seemed natural. I ended up allowing myself this single Star Trek-ism...heck, ships have bridges, anyway, this isn't really a major step, is it? Is it?

As for FTL? Well, I ran around on that topic for months trying to come up with something, and you know what? I gave up. If I could work out a method of travelling faster-than-light that fit with known physical theories, I wouldn't be writing science fiction, I'd be collecting my Nobel Prize and building a starship. I ended up, well...fudging it a bit. FTL works by reaching 'points of gravitational stability' – basically Planet-Sun Lagrange Points – and then transiting through some unspecified means into 'hyperspace'. Maximum range about nine light years, which puts stars like UV Ceti and Sirius on the outer reaches from Sol. That's going to lead to some interesting maps at some point...something I intend to get around to in plenty of time for the later books, but at the moment I only need to cover one area.

I have come to the conclusion that I haven't been doing sufficient reading of late; I'm way behind on a series of books I've ordered, and I've got a bundle of Naval Institute Press books on the way from the States at some point in the next few weeks – so I'm setting myself a reading list to get through in the near future. Starting tonight, hopefully. (I will review them as I finish them, if they are of more general interest.) Right now, it boils down to:

The Challenge: Britain against America in the War of 1812 (Andrew Lambert)
The Black Pharaohs (Robert Morkot)
A Nest of Corsairs (Seton Dearden)
The Pirate Coast (Richard Zacks)
The Age of Invincible (Nick Childs)

In no particular order. One of these books I will pick up off the stack tonight.

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