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How Science Fiction books deal with Faster Than Light travel?

How Science Fiction books deal with Faster Than Light travel?

How Science Fiction books deal with Faster Than Light travel?

How Science Fiction Books Deal with Faster Than Light Travel?

Science fiction has always been a genre that pushes the boundaries of what is known and explores the realms of possibility. One of the most intriguing concepts that has been a staple in science fiction literature is the idea of Faster Than Light (FTL) travel. This concept, while currently beyond our scientific understanding, has been a cornerstone in many science fiction narratives, allowing characters to traverse vast interstellar distances in a blink of an eye. But how do science fiction books deal with this concept? Let’s delve into the fascinating world of FTL travel as portrayed in science fiction literature.

The Concept of FTL Travel

FTL travel is a concept that involves moving faster than the speed of light, something that is currently considered impossible according to Einstein’s theory of relativity. However, in the realm of science fiction, authors have found creative ways to bypass this limitation. The most common methods include the use of wormholes, hyperspace, and time dilation.

Wormholes: Shortcuts Through Space

Wormholes are theoretical passages through space-time that could potentially allow for instant travel between two distant points in the universe. This concept has been popularized in many science fiction books, such as Carl Sagan’s “Contact”, where the protagonist travels through a series of wormholes created by an advanced alien civilization to reach distant parts of the universe.

Hyperspace: A Higher Dimension of Space

Hyperspace is another common method of FTL travel in science fiction. It is often depicted as a separate dimension or parallel universe where the laws of physics allow for faster-than-light travel. This concept is famously used in the “Star Wars” franchise, where spaceships use a “hyperdrive” to jump into hyperspace and travel vast distances in a short amount of time.

Time Dilation: Slowing Down Time

Time dilation is a concept derived from Einstein’s theory of relativity, which states that time slows down for an object moving close to the speed of light. In science fiction, this concept is often used to explain how characters can travel vast distances without aging significantly. A notable example is Joe Haldeman’s “The Forever War”, where soldiers fighting in a distant star system experience time dilation, causing them to age slower than people on Earth.

FTL Travel: A Narrative Device

While FTL travel is currently beyond our scientific understanding, it serves as a powerful narrative device in science fiction. It allows authors to explore vast, interstellar settings and introduce readers to a multitude of alien civilizations and worlds. As Isaac Asimov once said, “Science fiction writers foresee the inevitable, and although problems and catastrophes may be inevitable, solutions are not.”1


In conclusion, FTL travel is a fascinating concept that has been creatively explored in science fiction literature. Whether through wormholes, hyperspace, or time dilation, authors have found ways to bypass the speed of light limitation and take their characters on incredible interstellar journeys. While we may not be able to travel faster than light in reality, in the realm of science fiction, the possibilities are truly limitless.

1 Asimov, Isaac. “How Easy to See the Future!”. Natural History, 1975.

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