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Author Topic: Bad Sci-Fi
Timothy-
Lane
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Post Re: Bad Sci-Fi
on: September 11, 2018, 12:22
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Your point about take-off is certainly a very good one. The key concern in the story is some sort of acceleration or deceleration later in the trip, at which point the weight difference becomes relevant. One can come up with some sort of explanation for many of these points, such as only being able to afford just enough fuel. I can't remember if, or how, such questions were considered in the story. But if they're discussed as flaws, they probably weren't dealt with adequately. One might also note that the take-off isn't as important a fuel-consumer when you launch from a ship as when you launch from the bottom of a gravity well.

Brad-
Nelson
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Brad Nelson
Post Re: Bad Sci-Fi
on: September 11, 2018, 12:44
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My biggest question was "if weight is so important for the successful completion of the mission, why the hell didn't they have someone watching the space ship all the time to ensure there were no stowaways?"

Indeed. The really lame dialogue in this from mission control is that she broke the rules so her life is forfeit. She brought this on herself, etc. There’s not even the smallest attempt to find a solution. This in itself could be a plot point. But it wasn’t from what I could see. Just stupid writing.

And, okay. Fine. I “break the rules” if I get on board the next crew destined for the useless International Space Station. (But not useless for purposes of Kumbaya.) But, come on, due diligence. If someone can sneak aboard a vessel that small, someone didn’t even run down the most basic checklist. “Oxygen. Check. Enough food to eat. Check. No one crept aboard because of crappy TSA security. Awe. I’m sure no one snuck aboard.” Or, as you said, post a guard if the mission is so damned important.

This is really awful stuff that probably would be considered good if written by a twelve-year-old. Even then, I might be surprised at how detail-oriented many twelve-year-olds can be, especially if they are sci-fi enthusiasts.

After all, the greatest part of the fuel used in space exploration is used in taking off, thus the girl's extra weight would have already done the damage.

They give some B.S. excuse about not having enough fuel for the descent. It’s a lame point. Your observation is surely the relevant one.

I also thought about the margin of error. This chick can’t be over 130 lbs. That’s a rounding error for a spacecraft being launched that far.

No, you’re not being too picky, Mr. Kung. Sure, small details in any story might cause one’s eyes to roll at the implausibility. But these weren’t small details. This was the basic scaffolding. And the writers failed miserably. If you get the big stuff wrong, don’t expect anyone to hand around for your smaller touchy-feely points.

Again, if any of you are so bored out of your mind that you’re looking for something to do, watch some of this. It’s hilariously obvious that there is junk all over that spacecraft that could be tossed out before you tossed out the hot blond. Crap. I’d cut my hair, throw out my clothes, and chuck all my rations. I’d take triple laxative. I’d trim my nails extra short. I’d even go so far as to throw my desk chair out the hatch (that’s gotta be 10 pounds right there) and maybe even the table its sitting on. Just for starters.

Had this been some smooth, egg-like shell of a spacecraft with nothing but a few blinking lights embedded in the wall, then okay. I can see where it would be hard to lose some weight.

Timothy-
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Post Re: Bad Sci-Fi
on: September 12, 2018, 15:44
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I finally decided to check out the wikipedia entry, with interesting results. The critics concede that it's valid physics, but also very bad engineering for failing to put in a margin for error. Thus, the emergency is created by the author not on the basis of reasonable design, but for the purpose of confronting a moral problem. There's no indication that there was a problem with launch. This may mean that -- in space and with low gravity -- very little energy was needed to set the transport in motion. One can suspect that the transport would be very spare, with little that could be jettisoned, given the priority placed on saving energy.

Interestingly, Godwin wanted to end up saving the girl anyway. John W. Campbell, the editor, wanted to force the dilemma to the end. Oddly enough, as an engineer himself Campbell should have been aware of the concept of having a margin of error. (The reason the Brooklyn Bridge is still standing when many far newer bridges have fallen is that it was designed with a large margin of error. Perhaps engineers stopped doing that somewhere along the line. Bad idea, bad results.)

Brad-
Nelson
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Brad Nelson
Post Re: Bad Sci-Fi
on: September 12, 2018, 21:33
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Timothy, I never contended this was an issue with physics. This is a matter of MacGyver. He could have easily stripped five hundred pounds out of that ship using no more than a tooth brush and a rubber band. And I think it’s a safe assumption that the short story and this movie have some major differences. The short story can’t be this bad.

In retrospect, it’s hilarious that the pilot (once back on earth or at least on the ground) now goes all noble and outs the corporation for the bad working conditions, etc., of the miners. Well, bucko, it’s a little late in the day to earn your John Wayne stripes. The time to act was when you needed ground control to inform him (or Major Tom) how to reduce enough weight for at least a survivable hard landing.

But, again, from the views of the physical ship shown in the movie, there’s enough decorative trim you could tear off the walls do be rid of 200 lbs. without breaking a sweat. Just. Bad. Filmmaking.

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