06/25/21 – Waiting for the Call

Spacetrawler, audio version For the blind or visually impaired, June 25, 2021.




In case you were curious, Ema datshi is a popular Bhutan dish made from hot chili peppers and cheese.


  1. …but last they saw, the entire crew of the Spacetrawler were stranded in outer space in some sort of tractor beam thingie. Not sure why they would think they would be in a position to call.

    Not that it would make any difference, of course, if they can’t get there from here

  2. Seymour Joseph

    A spaceship from an advanced civilization that doesn’t know and somehow record where it is or was in space? Erm, stretching believability. Maybe it was low bid and/or some systems are broken?

    1. someone

      The spaceship knows where it is at all times. It knows this because it knows where it isn’t. By subtracting where it is from where it isn’t, or where it isn’t from where it is (whichever is greater), it obtains a difference, or deviation. The guidance subsystem uses deviations to generate corrective commands to drive the spaceship from a position where it is to a position where it isn’t, and arriving at a position where it wasn’t, it now is. Consequently, the position where it is, is now the position that it wasn’t, and it follows that the position that it was, is now the position that it isn’t.
      In the event that the position that it is in is not the position that it wasn’t, the system has acquired a variation, the variation being the difference between where the spaceship is, and where it wasn’t. If variation is considered to be a significant factor, it too may be corrected by the GEA. However, the spaceship must also know where it was.
      The spaceship guidance computer scenario works as follows. Because Diller has modified some of the information the spaceship has obtained, it is not sure just where it is. However, it is sure where it isn’t, within reason, and it knows where it was. It now subtracts where it should be from where it wasn’t, or vice-versa, and by differentiating this from the algebraic sum of where it shouldn’t be, and where it was, it is able to obtain the deviation and its variation, which is called error.

      1. Pete Rogan

        Yeah, that’s what Walter Dornberger needed to get V-2s to London and Antwerp. So long as you are operating in a single 1-G field this works fine, but when you have craft operating in a non-Newtonian environment with variables for G and time against an inconstant physical reference frame, you might as well just wet your finger and hold it in the interstellar breeze.

        Just for reference, today’s Global Positioning Systems are essentially just highly-accurate atomic clocks in precisely measured orbits. A ground station receives the signals from three, preferably four such stations and determines from the variations in times received the location of the ground station. Even before GPS, aerial navigation used ground stations (VOR or VORTAC) to determine their magnetic heading from a particular location, and with even just two could be reasonably certain as to their position. We could do this in 1950. I find it hard to believe Galactic navigation is dependent on navigation techniques not really different from those of the 17th Century. Quick, where’s my quadrant??

        1. someone

          The problem with ground stations and GNSS is that they rely on an infrastructure being present. Scale that up to a galaxy and things become problematic.

          For a start, unless your “galactic positioning system” uses tachyons, it can be literally thousands of years before the signal from it reaches your ship. On these astronomically long distances, the strength of the signal is also quickly lost, what with that pesky inverse square law.

          Of course, Spacetrawler isn’t exactly hard sci-fi, and they do have FTL communications. We also have apparently a purely Newtonian universe, since time doesn’t seem to flow differently for people on starships moving from planet to planet than it does for the people who stay on the planets. Of course very few fictional universes bother with special relativity, it’s very non-intuitive and narratively unwieldy, when generally space opera is approached as a new age of sail, with its space explorers, space colonists, space pirates, etc.

  3. Rikard

    Since they have a deck of cars, just play solitaire. Sooner than later, someone will show up and point out that seven of hearts goes on top of eight of clubs…

    …yeah, that “joke” is probably older than cards.

  4. Pete Rogan

    Let’s see: Diller’s ‘luck’ seems to operate only in times of great personal danger. So I wouldn’t count on it finding a way out of this stalemate.

    Stangor’s ‘luck’ seems to always be bad. Waiting for somebody else with their own agenda to come along and ‘rescue’ Spacetrawler and crew seems to be a really bad way to get out of this mess.

    I hate to say it but this is one of those times I’m sorry Nogg isn’t in command. He would do something appallingly dangerous and without fully appreciating the consequences, but he’d get them out of this fix. Where that would leave them is anybody’s guess.

    Looks like we’re going to have to wait until a) Stangor’s ‘luck’ operates, b) Ciara gets bored enough to ask the ship and its bots about the problems and what it will take to repair them, c) Zakzar decides to find a nearby planet and figure out where they are, d) the GOB revenge fleet shows up and does God knows what, or e) Something else unpredictable and nonlinear occurs and throws the works into a cocked hat.

    Or f), some combination of the above that looks like stir-fried Hungarian goulash and complicates things in an entirely new way.

    No bets. Switching to iced tea for Monday’s revelations and counterindications. I may need to calm myself down.

    1. Muzhik

      YUmm … Goulash …

      How about this for a cocked hat:

      Emily swings by earth to pick up Nogg, Mr. Zorilla and company, then heads out to the last known position of the Spacetrawler. She reunites with Tesfay and finds the debris of all the GOB ships that got blown up. She realizes that the new crew just couldn’t do that, and so are being framed. GOB doesn’t believe her.

      In an attempt to find the others, Mr. Zorilla (not knowing what he’s doing) sends them in a totally random direction that happens to be exactly the right direction. (Shades of the Infinite Improbability Drive!) I cannot WAIT to see Mr. Zorilla interact with the Four Furies (or whatever they call themselves.)

      All topped off with cake.

  5. Night-Gaunt

    So wait for the other to call just ideal to never hear from each other again.

    I wonder if the food fabs can take samples to copy? Robbie could do it in any shape or quantity.

    Passive will be the death of both groups.

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