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Debunking the "<5 tons of fuel" and corresponding speed limitations from TCW novelization

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Tyralak    12,067

Watched that this morning. Since, I had never seen the film in question, or read the novel, this was interesting. While Disney did a great job of taking out the trash as regards the EU, we now have another (albeit smaller) problem. There will inevitably be disagreement between printed and film sources. This time though, there is no "lower canon" The books and films are on equal canon footing. So, how do we rectify situations like this? I suggest we follow George's "latest version" standard. Whichever one was filmed/written last takes precedence in case of disputes. It seems to me to be the only way to do it that avoids the appearance of cherry picking.

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DSG2k    4

Video Synopsis:

Having heard tell of my point from the TCW novelization regarding fuel density (though he doesn't seem to get it right, he does at least get the broadest strokes), Brian spends seven of eleven minutes proving the obvious insofar as that scene not being in the film itself, which is true of numerous scenes, both in this novelization and all the others.

His goal in this case, I trust, was to try to argue that the scene's hooks to the rest of the narrative were contradicted by the film, under the theory that if the hooks don't exist then the scene doesn't exist and if the scene doesn't exist then the facts from it don't, either. Realizing his mistake, he then tries to explain why his chosen directly-contradicted facts are still useable material, such as the RotJ novelization's hyperbole of Wedge doing "barely sublight" coming out of the DS2 when he is clearly doing many meters or perhaps even kilometers per second, visibly in the film. Such directly-contradicted facts "corroborate" other details, whereas he claims the fuel thing does not.

Perhaps realizing the apologetics are insufficient, he claims to be more scientific-y than thou, and ties it all together with one of his wide-ranging insults of anyone who might disagree with his view, attacking those who would dare question the concept of ultra-dense fuel for Star Wars, suggesting such a person is an idiot, physics-wise, slinging insults but not naming names . . . in other words, the usual behavior where those who disagree are wrong-headed fanatics, perhaps even egregious liars if they use prepositions in a wiki (e.g. answer vs. "answer to"). He also does that funny thing where he tries to suggest Roddenberry would've been on his side, or something, as if those 'silly Trekkists' (to paraphrase an associate of his) will somehow be moved to tears and change their ways while gazing at their WWGRD bracelets.


First, I'm not aware of anyone arguing that the scene appeared in the film, so that was kind of useless. I hadn't even watched the film again to check on that since it was, well, obvious. The novelizations are "canon where they align with what is seen on screen in the 6 films and the Clone Wars animated movie". That's a bit less specific than I would like*, but in any case I did not claim nor do I require that the scene be in the film to analyze it. And as noted, I don't find it to be aligning at 100% with the starship densities from "Sinking Ships" that were curiously ignored here (what with them being the main thrust of my point), as it makes the Twilight mass much lower than that example might suggest.

Of course, that's the whole issue here . . . I don't disregard this merely because I worry it might not jive with my other conclusions. But that's something I'll come back to shortly.

Second, as long as he's arguing the point and claiming that the scene is contradicted by the film, let's play devil's advocate. After all, I recall back in the day the EU-Completist ethic as used in inflationist circles was that contradictions could almost never be claimed, because there were an infinite number of ways to massage or reinterpret things. So, obviously, the ship is not being pursued by Vulture droids in the scenes he shows. However, it was under attack and pursuit when we last saw the Twilight in the film, when it was near the Republic Attack Cruiser. So where'd they go? Might they not have been outrun via the dumping maneuver? This would involve changes to the precise timing in the novel and other details (in other words, to deal with small easily-handled contradictions by adjusting the timing of certain elements, et cetera), but wouldn't require simply ignoring the canon source.

And there's some logic to this thought, as well. The Republic Attack Cruiser fired on the Twilight thinking it was a Separatist vessel. It was ... it was the spy droid's ship and had battle droids on it. Why would the Vulture droids be firing on it at all? Obviously they were ordered to, and indeed the novel features Ventress ordering the Vultures to try to prevent the ship from docking with the Attack Cruiser, destroying the Twilight if necessary. It makes sense, since for both sides the Twilight was the most important thing in the fight at that point.

The alternative is that we should believe the most important ship should be allowed to escape unchallenged after a single landing bay on the mothership was blown up. That hardly follows.


(It's no big deal to me either way, of course, which is why some will fixate on this part.)

Third, claiming the scientific high ground is audacious, but wrong. The problem with that point of view is a very old one I've brought up many times before . . . indeed, this has been the inflationist problem for a long time. This isn't ghost-hunting, UFO nonsense, creationism, quasi-religious numerological nonsense, or any other pseudo-scientific claptrap where the "evidence" itself is properly presumed false. We are pretending here to actually be watching documentary evidence of another universe, one which we can clearly observe to have certain technologies and capabilities far beyond our modern comprehension. The universe itself features a separate spatial domain we've never even heard of that allows for fantastic velocities, for instance, not to mention mystical energy fields that violate time and space.

And yet, rather than accept that in this context we are stupid and should behave accordingly, not being too overbold in our assertions, some people think it best to ignore most all evidence in favor of our modern, limited comprehension of our own hyperspaceless, Cosmic-Forceless, Living-Forceless, Floating-Island-less, Crazy-Masked-Chicks-less universe.

That's awfully silly. Can you imagine Ben Franklin watching a documentary of modern electrified life and outright rejecting pieces of what he sees because he can't imagine how they might work in reference to some of his pet theories about keys and kites? Or showing a car to someone who has no conception of gasoline and thus concludes the car is ultra-light and has bicycle pedals, rejecting all evidence to the contrary?

The moment we start ignoring canon because we think we know real science and thus don't have to listen to that pesky canon thing anymore, we undercut the entire enterprise of analyzing a sci-fi universe.

And, of course, at that moment we're just talking about our assumptions plus a few scenes from Star Wars we've deigned to bother discussing. Suffice it to say, that's not Star Wars anymore. The sci-fi universe the inflationists have created is nifty and might even be entertaining to watch, but calling it Star Wars is just unoriginal, and the Star Wars I can watch on blu-ray and Netflix, featuring nary a gigaton not fired by a Death Star, doesn't look anything like their version.

Finally, a person isn't an idiot about physics merely for disagreeing with the inflationist point of view. If we set up a battle of canon versus crap-you-think . . . well, we're talking about Star Wars, so you lose, immediately and without mercy. The claim that physics might require certain things is an entertaining note of one's opinion, but does not override the canon facts for the purpose of this exercise. If it's canon that 1+1=3, everytime and everywhere, then it's canon in that universe . . . you can't just ignore it. If you don't like the universe anymore because of it, then that's your prerogative. But if you're analyzing the facts of the universe . . . well, that is one.

Case in point . . . you know and I know that hyperdrive and transporters are impossible, and yet we accept them as canon facts of the universe instead of rejecting them because of their physical impossibility.

The correct role of one's local astrophysicist fanboy at that point is to take his knowledge of science and use it to explore and discuss ways in which the canon reality could be possible, or point out where to our knowledge it just couldn't be. If the conversation turns to power requirements, then the correct behavior is to discuss it in terms of the known power technologies, not make up new ones. And if the stated fuel supply is inadequate, then we simply acknowledge that and move on, maybe going and finding a harder sci-fi universe to play with if that sort of irregularity pisses us of too much.   That would be both educational and highly respective of the universe being discussed.

This is the tack I take with Star Trek and Star Wars, but inflationists do not. I've noted many times and in many ways how Star Trek and Star Wars have elements that don't make sense, and I'll continue to do so. I take the universe for what it is, warts and all, and try to rationalize it, taking all the evidence and deriving a consistent whole. Brian talks a good game about how to treat a universe being analyzed, noting that it is only loony fanatics bent on winning Vs. Debates who would seek to ignore the truth about their preferred franchise, but seriously, if that were so, this video would not have been made. He just explicitly rejected a non-contradiction and defended use of a directly-contradicted scene. The way I figure, direct contradiction is obviously wrong. Something running contrary to a load of assumptions forced onto Star Wars is not.

Put simply, inflationism was born from a perceived need for Star Wars to beat up other sci-fi universes, not from Star Wars itself. Some would say, though, that love of a franchise would best be served by respecting the franchise. Indeed, I think Brian has paid lip-service to that idea at some point, himself.

So where should normal Star Wars tech fans draw the line? At what point do we decide "okay, here is where we start rejecting what the result of the combined effort of the writers and designers and artists involved tells us about the universe . . . indeed, what the universe tells us about itself, the rules of its game . . . and instead start injecting our own sensibilities."

As far as I'm concerned, that should be a very rarely used maneuver, preferably in situations akin to a total blatant one-off error, like if Luke's lightsaber suddenly emitted its blade from the side or something.  Perhaps at some point I'll try to concoct a logical list of how to deal with such issues, since so many people obviously just fly willy-nilly in that regard.


However, for Star Wars, the liquid fuel issue is not a one-off error . . . it is what Star Wars fuel is, period. It does align nicely with all other instances of fuel, contrary to his claim that it doesn't merely because it doesn't fit his preferred belief system. The scene's bits about the fuel density correspond nicely with all other appearances of fuel elsewhere in the canon, where it gives every appearance of being a normal-density fluid (sometimes refined, clear, and flammable, sometimes dark and flammable, sometimes unrefined-and-glowy, but always a fluid).

It is only in inflationist dogma where ultradense tachyonic fuel that futzes about with the complex mass of the ship exists (though, for reasons unexplained, the engineers supposedly refuse to use to diddle with the ship's mass at sublight, since that would be an evil Roddenberry-esque mass-reduction effect and that's not permitted).

See, trying to shield themselves from rebuttal by claiming to be more scientific than you is unwise when they fail to follow perhaps the most basic element of science . . . observe. Instead of observing the universe, they cherry-pick and ignore what they don't like, and this is a classic example, right up there with the Death Star rings and reactors that are likewise handwaved away in favor of a set of assumptions about the superlaser and Death Star not represented in the canon.

Having to disregard or reinterpret evidence is a last resort in the case of unmitigated contradiction. That's the very reason I went to such lengths in regards to the "Sinking Ships" final scene anomaly. Put simply, you don't just dismiss inconvenient evidence as Brian so clearly does, and you don't include convenient evidence as Brian so clearly acknowledges doing. It's not good form. It's a horrible idea in real life to ignore inconvenient data that doesn't jive with previous conclusions. You have to be willing to acknowledge that old conclusions might be wrong. That's why I sought to understand the difference and consider it with a wider range of mathematical and physical considerations. As one might rephrase, "the scientific investigation of science fiction relies on mathematics. While mathematics itself is precise, its application to the understanding of science fiction always involves an approximation. The approximate nature of mathematical application ultimately limits the scientific approach to science fiction, but the freedom to make appropriate approximations allows us to understand complex phenomena on the basis of a few simple principles in approaches that are limited only by imagination. In each case, the understanding offered by the mathematical model must be verified by fitting the model to data; this is part of the usual scientific method."

Inflationists, curiously, do not bother with this last part in regards to this hobby, which suggests to me that claiming "moar siyenz!" for their side is rather silly.  If they did follow the method properly, the curious lack of gigatons and other results of their inflationism would give them pause. Clearly, this is not the case, whether in regards to the power generation claims or in regards to the density of fuel in Star Wars.

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DSG2k    4

(* For instance, I fully anticipate Brian trying to make use of all the gobbledygook about magic clonetrooper helmets in the novel, for instance, which is why I was going through them all for NoLettersHome.   Brian's always talking about all the super-duper built-in stuff that doesn't exist except on super-trooper Gregor, but it actually appears here on everyone.  In the rest of the canon, even lights and night vision and binoculars aren't built-in like he claims, but instead are add-on pieces.  Here, every trooper has 'em, which would've been awfully handy, except for the fact that it obviously doesn't exist.)

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