In the SF novel I am currently repairing (the co-authored one), there is no faster-than-light travel. There can’t be, otherwise the Earth ships could intercept the 600-year-old returning hulk way too fast and too easily.
And yet there needs to be FTL in order for the colony ships to get to distant planets. The colonists are all criminals, the ships are automated, the guards are robots. It’s a one way trip – they make the planet habitable or they die trying. There is no going back.
This does not work if it takes forty years to get there. They’ll all be far too old to do much more than weave a Zimmer frame out of reeds then build a post office and queue in it.
But – if the ship has an FTL drive, there is no way it will take 600 years to get back.
So, SF geeks, what do you think of this?
There is a FTL drive but it’s a one-shot drive. It’s a firework. The process it uses in order to bend spacetime will utterly destroy the device. So it’ll get you a hundred light years away in the space of five years but when you get there, you have no engine. No, you can’t carry two – it’s huge and heavy.
It’s a one-way trip and therefore commercially useless. All it’s good for is sending convicts on that one-way trip. The bonus is that whatever happens, Earth knows the convicts are not coming back. To add to the fun, let’s say that every drive has a 50% chance of atomising the ship mid-flight. There is no way it has any practical civilian or military application.
Six hundred years later, the fastest Earth ships are approaching light speed but nobody has solved the root problem of exceeding light speed – total destruction of the drive (and half the time, total destruction of the ship too).
That gives me a FTL engine six hundred years in the past but still has current military vessels unable to exceed light speed.
Does that work? Is it plausible, and is there any physics that could support such a premise?