Spaceflight in fiction: Faster or slower than the speed of light?

Owen James writes about some of the concepts I’m exploring in my work-in-progress, and that I’m considering exploring in other stories. Just how does one manage to ‘appear’ to go faster than light, if the speed of light truly is a limit, as relativity tells us it is? Even at lightspeed, the distances between stars are so great that a journey would be quite a lengthy one. And as technology advances at an increasing rate, would a voyage that set out earlier simply be overtaken along the way by a voyage that set out later?

Time dilation does not enter into my story, for the primary reason that current thinking on the workings of an Alcubierre drive is that warping space is not the same as moving at lightspeed, so there would not be a time dilation effect. Time would move at the same rate for travelers as well as those at either end of the journey. On the other hand, there is some theoretical thought warping space in this manner could have some other, perhaps even stranger, effects upon time. I’ll just leave this right here for the moment…

Owen M. James

You might not think it at first, but that’s a decision that affects a story’s whole world, assuming the story spans multiple planets, star systems, or even galaxies. Of course, a story can have multiple forms of space travel.

I’ve previously toyed with the idea of a scenario where an ancient colony ship comes out of stasis, only to find itself overtaken by a shiny new cruise ship with a warp drive. That premise may have been done, but it’d make for some interesting stories.

But let’s look at the different methods on their own, one after another…

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