[LMB] OT: Firefly and willing suspection of disbelief, was reading and watching recommendations

Paula Lieberman paal at gis.net
Fri, 20 Aug 2004 09:30:59 -0400

-- Paula Lieberman
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Royce Day" <sir-talen at comcast.net>

> Paula Lieberman wrote:
> >-- Paula Lieberman
> >----- Original Message ----- 
> >From: "Royce Day" <sir-talen at comcast.net>
> >To: <lois-bujold at lists.herald.co.uk>
> >
> >>Paula Lieberman wrote:
> >>
> >>>{sarcasm mode} what about using a cargo plane to do a train robbery?
> >>>
> >That's
> >
> >>>is a lesser suspension of disbelief for me.
> >>>
> >>Because they didn't have a cargo plane, they had a ship.  Which was
> >>perfectly capable of flying in an atmosphere, and didn't have any messy,
> >>traceable rental documents on that planet.
> >
> >{sarcasm mode} A spaceship is less traceable than a plane? It's got a
> >set of observables signatures, it's easier to track,
> >
> <snip utterly irrelevant example of a primitive 20c ground/water vehicle>

The DUK=Vs are =not= that primitive. The relevance is that a spacecraft
designed to also do airplane stunts, is going to act a lot more like the
Flying Brick space shuttle, that an AV-8B Harrier viffing around.... that
sort of movement takes a LOT of fuel.  I mentioned the DUK=V because they
are neither replacements for boats, nor replacements for cars, they do both
land and water travel, but they do neither as well as a vehicle designed for
just land or just water travel. And the same is true for a vehicle that's
both spacecraft and aircraft, it's going to be clunsy, like the shuttle, at
=both= of them.  And its going to be utterly detectable.  It would have been
lighting the original WWII sensor systems and identifiable easily with
technology in place and operating years before maglev was invented.

> It was flying a over a frontier world, at low level, through a valley,
> with no local air tracking capability mentioned (therefore, AFA the

Uh uh, anybody who has maglev technology is going to have sensor systems
that can pick up a spacecraft or they will not have the capability to
operate and keep a maglev system operating.  Detection and tracking
technology is a lot simpler to implement and keep running, than somthing
with a superconducting magnetic field generation system for a train.  Radar
and optical tracking and IR tracking were around as operational military and
civilian technologies decades before maglev's invention, and years more
before any practical implementations of maglve for transporation use.  For
that matter, they'd probably better have sensor systems operating with the
blasted train, or it's going to stop operating in violent fashion, the
stopping distances involved mean that there have better be decent sensor
systems for colllision avoidance  that include detecting and identifying
what could be in the vicinity that could get in the way of the train and/or
interfere with the field generation. The configuration of the train also
wasn't credible to me.

> script was concerned, such capability didn't exist.)  Mal already
> *owned* Serenity, which from the Alliance crew's conversation in
> "Bushwacked" is a fairly common vessel.  He didn't own a dedicated
> atmospheric flyer, and saw no need to get one.  Switch off the
> transponder and who's going to know it from a hundred other vessels like

You're assuming that there aren't other ways to do ID besides transponders.
What, nobody keeps track of the equivalent of flight paths, nobody notices
class and can't ID based on who's been where lately?  Or does ID even have
to be relevant?  Anyone hanging around with a large detectable object, and
there wasn't any visual electronic veiling sysems at optical frequencies for
Serenity, that's not supposed to be there, is a threat to a maglev system,
and detectable a long way away.... 1960s radar could pick out metal
basketballs thousands of miles away, Baker-Nunn cameras of the same vintage
could see basketballs in geosynchronous orbit--those were old clunky analog
systems, suystems with digital computer systems less sosphisticated that
guidance and nav9igational computer systems that have a lot less processing
power than PalmPilots, do a -lot- better than that, and can image very
closely indeed, down to a few inches hundreds or thousands of miles away...

I don't remember a whole lot of details about the episode, I mostly
rememeber that I thought the whole thing was utterly stupid and force-fitted
to Wild West train robbery cliche mode.  And I have a major aversion to
forcefitting space technology into 19th concepts and cliches, I had that
problem with people who thought there should be "keepaway" distances from
orbital space vehicles, when orbital mechanics makes that physically stupid,
it's not like ships traveling around on an ocean surface. The physics don't
work that way, spacecraft in orbit are in orbit and it's the orbits that
determine how close to satellites get to one another when, not the really
lame analogy of sea flotillas.  The environments cause different physical
constraints, the ocean surface is at first approximation a flat surface,
while orbital mechanics involve closed orbits and circling the planet at a
period at at least 89 minuted per revolution about "the non-=rotating
Earth." Since Terra rotates to get the ground track of the satellite, you
need to add in the Earth's rotation to the NRE model calculations, and then
there is the footprint of communications and/or sensor coverage, and that
goes both ways, if a point on the ground is within the coverage of the
spacecraft, the spacecraft is within coverage of ground sensors.  If you can
see -them-, -they- can see -your- unless you have really sophisticated
system for evading being detected and tracked.  And something like Serenity
would have lit up detection and trackign systems even as primitive as the
original British radars, bigtime, hundreds of miles away.

> I should point out that in "Ariel" they *did* use another flyer, because
> they needed an ambulance craft to infiltrate a hospital on a Core world.
>  Which they had to purchase and repair at some time and expense. About
> five to ten minutes worth of script time IIRC.  Five to ten minutes of
> script time which would have been utterly wasted in "The Train Job"

Five to ten minutes of what?  Why would they have had to purchase and
repair? Scripts can always be written so that there just happens to be an
accomplice dropping in conveniently with a relevant tool.

> because it was *already* was a densely packed info dump of an episode
> which was trying to stuff 2 hours of exposition from the pilot in a 60
> minute script *and* make it "exciting" enough to satisfy Fox network
> execs who wouldn't know a watchable drama if it beat them over the head
> with a copy of "The Complete Works of Shakespeare".  It worked, it was

No for me, it didn't, I thought the episode was completely and
unremittingly -stupid-.  I will admit that that could very easily be
beecause it was a rush fix-up job to go on as the opening episode when Fox
decided it wasn't interested in showing or at least not as showing for the
first episode aired, what had originally be intended and shot to be the
first episode.  But it did NOT work for me.  It worked for you--that is an
opinion, not a fact, it worked for =you-.

> exciting, and it showed off both Serenity's capabilities and Wash's
> piloting skills, which was the whole point of the exercise anyway.

Once again, it worked for you.  For me, it was a crock of excrement.

Whedon does really well with =characters-. His technology and science is
best left to Buffyverse Magick.