Sunday, October 28, 2012

Angels and Aliens

As a Christian science fiction writer, perhaps it's no surprise that I'm interested in both angels and aliens as topics for stories. What I do find surprising is that some people don’t believe there is any difference between the two. 

Such angel = alien correlation has a variety of forms:

American Astronomer Carl Sagan pointed out in 1995 that stories of alien encounters here on Earth resemble stories of demonic capture of earlier times—or of the appearance of angels, or fairy creatures, or gods or demi-gods of even earlier times. Sagan believed that intelligent extraterrestrial life likely exists because he was persuaded evolution most certainly would not have produced life only on Earth—yet he denied that aliens would actually come to Earth and would clandestinely visit and/or abduct people (he was convinced if aliens had come all this way, they surely would have announced themselves). For him, the fact that these kinds of appearances have always existed demonstrated that this is a phenomenon that springs forth from the human psyche rather than what aliens do or do not do. For him, at least one kind of alien, the kind who are supposedly visiting Earth right nowand angelsconsist of the exact same thing, pure neurotic human imagination.

Also surprisingly to me, the atheist Sagan is quoted by an Evangelical Christian website to show evidence for a belief that Sagan would never have agreed to. The creators of the site would concur with the Biblical concept that God has created creatures that serve Him in the spiritual realm—angels—some of whom rebelled against Him and are now called demons. For the creators of the website, Alien visitors to Earth are real but are actually demons. For them, the fact the phenomenon of human beings having reported bizarre encounters with strange beings throughout history demonstrates that the demons are real and have been active for a long time—but now disguise themselves as “aliens” or are mistakenly reported as such. In looking up background information for this post, I stumbled onto an entire sub-culture of Christians concerned about demons posing as aliens. If you’re curious about what they have to say for themselves, I found an interesting place to look around.

By the way, I don’t claim to know what the reality is behind stories of alien encounters and abductions. I’m inclined to agree with Sagan that if an alien species were to travel all this way (which is not at all an easy to do according to the best human understanding of the science of interstellar travel), it would not likely content itself with random captures of lost truck drivers and lonely housewives in remote areas…but I in fact don’t know what aliens would do in reality. One of the prime characteristics they are supposed to have is to be different from human beings—perhaps that means they would do strange things we would not do ourselves. I also in fact believe there are fallen angels operating in the spiritual realm—and I further believe there’s such a thing as human imagination and hysterical hallucination (not to mention hoaxes). Which of these is responsible for the alien abduction phenomenon? I don’t know, but it seems at least possible to me that there may be multiple causes...

As far as the correlation between angels and aliens are concerned, there’s another point of view worth mentioning: the “ancient alien” perspective, the notion that aliens came to Earth in ancient times and were mistaken for spiritual beings. So when the Bible talks about heavenly creatures, these creatures “really” were aliens. Barry Downing in 1968 wrote The Bible and Flying Saucers  in which he laid out this idea. He also claimed, by the way, that Jesus was an extraterrestrial, eventually called up to “heaven” by a UFO…It’s interesting to me that Biblical narratives are supposed to accurately capture what aliens look like (as the description given in Ezekiel 1 would be taken as accurate), but then when these supposed aliens land, everything they talk about concerning, say, the morality and religious practice of ancient Israel either 1) Would not make a lot of sense coming from aliens, 2) Is contradictorily taken as being an inaccurate representation of what really happened. Yeah, I’m definitely not in agreement with this particular concept…

But note the variations among the notions that hold aliens and angels to be the same: 1) Both are imaginary 2) Both are spiritual 3) Both are extraterrestrial. I think all three ideas, while interesting, are wrong.
I believe in the reality of the spiritual realm and accept the Biblical descriptions of angels, as far as they go (there are actually quite a lot of details about angels the Bible never addresses). Aliens, life existing on other planets in our physical universe, would not be the same thing as angels (duh). I think Aliens may or may not exist (for an original idea of mine on this topic, please see a previous post for ideas relating to the Biblical seraphim) but I believe it’s possible they do; I have Christian friends who would disagree that aliens can exist—perhaps I will address their objections in some future post...but I want to make it plain I hold that any alien life would be created by God as much as life on Earth has been created by Him.

Having clarified that, what story ideas can the commonplace confusion between aliens and angels offer a writer? Well, I think playing up similarities between the two would be inherently interesting. In fact, in the  Avenir Eclectia story anthology I contributed to, you would see exactly that. In that story universe, a certain set of intelligent undersea aliens with telepathic abilities are called "angels" by the people of the world Eclectia and their sinister cousins are called "demons." Grace Bridges wasn't equating aliens and angels in the world of AE she created, but rather playing with perceived similarities to create an unusual story situation in which the differences between the two things are blurred in people's minds. I found this very interesting, which is why I wrote a number of tales featuring an "angel" for AE. There are even story arcs I didn't write that mention human beings worshipping the-aliens-partially-confused-with-angels. Which I think would realistically happen—and it would be interesting to see the effects on human beings...

Another potential story idea could create alien races that like us have accounts of a creator God and a fall into sin and a redemption...and also of heavenly beings that serve God but resemble the aliens, literally "alien angels." What would these look like? And if you put them into a story from a point of view that takes faith in God seriously, would these angels be the same set of angels that on occasion interact with human beings, just "in different clothing"? Or could it be that the one creator God would retain a whole entirely different set of heavenly beings for this other purpose—who are not mentioned in the Bible because we humans don't "need to know" about them. If so, what would the relationships be like between angels we know of and the alien angels?

Wouldn't it be interesting if some sort of alien angelor alien rather like an angel—resembled something we think of as evil but was not evil? So imagine one that resembled dragons...or (entirely innocently) one that had cloven hoofs and horms...


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Zombie Physiology

So how does the zombie body function? How is it that only a head shot is guaranteed to kill one of them?

As mentioned in a previous post on Zombie Ecology, there have been multiple ideas of what a zombie is. The original concept of spirits animating dead flesh requires no physiological explanation--that's how it works just because it does.

But the zombie stories that feature a virus, some sort of non-supernatural phenomenon animating dead flesh such as in AMC's The Walking Dead, could use some scientific explanation. How is it that the zombies are able to move about when most of their major organs are non-functional? How is it they resist completely rotting away into skeletons?

I've got some proposed answers (and I thank Paul Clyde and James Lehye for engaging in the conversation that inspired this post):

First off, the easy stuff. Zombies don't feel pain because their brains don't function right...the pain signals arrive at what is left of their brain, but nothing there particularly cares. However, even though the brain is hardly working well, it's still working (as is the nervous system) directing the body of the zombie to move forward and attack. That's why destroying the brain by a head shot or traumatic head amputation stops a zombie every time. Without a brain, no signal arrives at the zombie muscles to drive them forward...

This is a bit of a sidetrack, but that should produce an effect that I've never seen in The Walking Dead. Carrion birds and other animal flesh eaters should be all over zombies, eating them as they shuffle along...since the zombies don't feel pain or react to it only feebly, they would only waive at the birds occasionally to stop them, as say, turkey vultures or magpies perch on their shoulders, eating away at the decaying body as it trudges along...So something about zombie physiology must stop this from happening--more on that in a bit.

So we know why head wounds do kill--why is it that chest wounds don't? Physiologically, the chest is the center of the circulatory system: via the lungs it oxygenates the blood, so destroying the lungs eliminates this capacity, while the heart pumps the blood to the body, so destroying the heart keeps the body from receiving the oxygenated blood. Plus the chest abounds in major blood vessels, many of which will cause someone to quickly bleed to death either externally or internally, should a bullet (or other weapon) pass through them.

So it seems the virus reworks the body so that its need for oxygenated blood is either zero or greatly reduced. Zombie body cells, operating on some form of metabolism that doesn't use much oxygen, can do without the blood, or without much of it. Bear in mind that even without the heart, some circulation of blood could still happen through extrinsic compressions of blood vessels caused by muscle movements--which is partly how lymph flows through the human body.

This could imply that the nature of blood itself is different in a zombie. It could be the blood becomes very thick (I mean with high viscosity), which could have the effect of making it less likely to leak out of damaged blood vessels. It could also be the blood greatly increases somehow its ability to carry oxygen, so what little flows through parts near the skin absorbs enough atmospheric oxygen to carry that to the zombie's internal organs, which don't need a lot of oxygen anyway...

In any case, any zombie is very resistant to bleeding to death and is immune to damage to the heart and lungs, though probably not through any form of rapid healing. This implies to me significant changes in the nature of circulation and blood but alternatively, it could be that interstitial fluid and lymph become the primary way to carry nutrients for a zombie's body. Damage to circulatory system doesn't matter because the zombies aren't using it anymore...

Clearly the zombies do use the digestive system, since they are always trying to eat human flesh. So a gut shot (or multiple gut shots) should in theory kill a zombie, though it would by no means be a quick death. It's noteworthy that among the reasons gut shots kill even if the body doesn't bleed to death from them is that the digestive system carries a lot of bacteria, which can multiply within wounded intestines and directly enter the blood stream and threaten the entire body. Clearly this is not an issue for zombies.

So it would seem then that the virus that creates zombies must also have some antibacterial properties. Actually, a lot of viruses are bacteriophages, so like them the zombie virus would probably need the secondary function of eating bacteria that would naturally attack zombie flesh. This explains why zombies don't rot into skeletons within a few months and how it is they can walk around (seemingly) for years on end, carrying all kinds of dead tissue without loosing it to bacterial decay.

Might this virus also effect the taste and smell of zombie flesh? So it's unappealing to carrion birds? And also to other zombies as well? Who instead of eating each other, always prefer live human flesh...

Since the virus would have to do a rather radical reworking of the circulatory system for zombies to make any sense, perhaps suggesting a radical reworking of the digestive system is in order. Normally, the human body takes what it eats and breaks it down into constituent amino acids, lipids, and carbohydrates and uses these basic building blocks not only to fuel the body in motion, but also to build replacements for body cells that are continually in the process of dying. Could it be the zombies are so radically re-worked that when they eat live human flesh their digestive systems takes whole cells from their unfortunate human victim and transports these whole cells somehow to the parts of the zombie's body that needs new tissues?

That a zombie would be able to process whole human cells to rebuild damaged tissues in itself is a pretty far-fetched suggestion. The virus would certainly have to be genetically engineered to achieve any such effect--but some heavy genetic engineering would also make its replacement of the circulatory system and antibacterial properties more plausible as well, so why not?

To be honest, whole cell replacement probably goes too far in terms of what is in any way possible for zombie physiology. But it would explain, very clearly, why it is that zombies want to eat live humans more anything else...because only the body tissues of a human alive at the time of eating would would have whole cells suitable to rebuild zombie body tissues.

So whatever else a zombie may eat, its deepest instinctual craving would always remain the desire for living human flesh...


(For a 99 cent short story I've written featuring Zombie Physiology, please follow the Zombie Doc Kindle link.)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Eclectia and other Worlds Stranger than Star Wars in Fact and Fiction

Star Wars treated its fans to visually striking worlds, from the ice planet Hoth, to the desert world Tatooine, forest moon Endor, and others covered with ocean or city or lava. Or the Death Star itself, which was essentially a fully mechanical version of the moon. These planetary bodies were generated by a relatively simple method--take a climate or condition available on the Earth we know and craft an entire world out of it.

The real universe is significantly odder that Star Wars. In our own Solar System, consider Venus. With its dense atmosphere, 92 times thicker than Earth's, at a pressure equivalent to a kilometer underneath the ocean, but hot enough to melt lead, lightning swept, with sulfuric acid rain, it forms its own particular version of hell. Or ice-covered Europa, Jupiter's moon, which highly likely has an ocean trapped under the ice, but whose surface is swept by a radiation that would be quickly fatal to humans because of charged particles trapped in Jupiter's magnetic field. George Lucas never took us any place as extreme either of these very real worlds.

Stranger still are more recently discovered planets outside the Solar System, including the discovery of a miniature solar system around a pulsar. These planets have their obits in almost exact proportion to the spacings among Mercury, Venus, and Earth and are immersed in an extended cloud of gas, around 1,500 light-years away in the constellation Virgo. The smallest and latest-discovered of these planets is no bigger than one-fifth the mass of Pluto and all the orbits are proportionally smaller than what's found in our own Solar System. But what's truly exotic about this system isn't its relatively tiny size--it's that these worlds orbit a pulsar—a former star that exploded and collapsed into a dense object that now spins 160 times per second, emitting a pulsing radio signal broadcast from the star's magnetic poles. The sun for these worlds might be nearly invisible and all other stars in the sky hidden by the dust cloud, forming worlds of perfect darkness...unless a planet's orbit intersected at some point with the magnetic pole of its star. Then for several days each orbit the sky would flash weirdly bright...

A new planetary find seems to indicate a world made of diamond based on the temperature, mass, and carbon composition of a planet that closely orbits its star. At an approximate surface temperature of 2150 degrees C (3900 degrees F), Jean-Luc Piccard won't be beaming down anytime soon--not without some kind of suit offering protection from its high temperature (and high gravity). But imagine aliens who could live under such conditions, not unlike the high-temperature crystalline Tholians imagined in Star Trek (who were actually conceived of living in conditions far less extreme, but you get the idea). Or better yet, imagine such a world formed in high temperatures which somehow got pulled away from its star, cooling enough for humans to land on this massive planet with a thick diamond crust. Such a world hollowed out, forming a sphere within, would be not unlike something I created for The Crystal Portal. But as diamond is the hardest substance known, such a world would not only allow diamond mining for jewels--it would allow mined diamond to be used for structures, for cities, or anything else. Imagine a starship carved from a single massive crystal of diamond...

Real worlds observed by the best methods available to astronomy include far more that's odd, as you can see in this Wikipedia link for Extrasolar planet. Most planets that have been discovered, of course, are not in any way realistically inhabitable, since most orbit their stars far too hot or too cold.

Science fiction of a more realistic stripe than Star Wars has at times portrayed living creatures on the most extreme of possible worlds. For example, in 1980 Robert Forward produced Dragon's Egg, which portrays life being somehow possible on the surface of a neutron star (a.k.a. pulsar). This imaginary life is made of highly compacted matter--neutronium life--thriving under conditions completely incompatible with human life. 

Not surprisingly, science fiction usually portrays places humans can inhabit, though many of these are inhospitable. As early as 1935 Stanley Weinbaum penned Parasite Planet, set in a jungle on Venus (not well known in 1935) far more hostile to human life than any jungle of Earth. Even a single unsuited exposure to air would bring an attack of killer fungi that would literally eat a human being alive...

The Planet Eclectia of the newly-minted Avenir Eclectia collection (which I helped edit and wrote stories for), is itself barely on the edge of inhabitable. Pulled by heavy moons into a wobble so fast that the world shifts from winter to summer and back every five days, Eclectia has a badly fractured crust, continual earthquakes, and an atmosphere choked with volcanic ash. If not for the two separated oceans that cover each of its poles teeming with life to produce oxygen, the world would be altogether uninhabitable...but for humans, even these oceans are dangerous, subject to sudden tsunamis, with vicious aliens eager to take human life lurking in the depths. Hostile life isn't limited to the ocean depths, since giant bugs roam the surface of the planet, always ready to attack.

It's noteworthy that even under these extreme circumstances, people find the will to survive and to even thrive. And that some of the most dangerous enemies human beings face, even in extreme conditions, remain other human beings...


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Devil's Hit List, The Underground--an atypical Christian apocalypse

Frank Creed, longtime Internet pal of mine, is the creator of a unique dystopian world. Starting with Flashpoint, he spun forth a view of a future (starting in 2036) in which a one world government persecutes any who does not conform to its dictated, uniform, one-world culture. This persecution, quite naturally, focuses on devout Christians, because they refuse to conform.

"Wait a minute! We've heard all this before!" someone might object. "Almost every story about the future from an Evangelical Christian runs like this...first there is the Rapture, then the Antichrist takes over the world, then Christians are horribly persecuted, then Jesus comes back, and blah, blah, blah. Overdone--thus boring."

If you're thinking that, you're wrong. Frank does not run the standard apocalyptic script. The One State simply takes over, no Rapture is required. And the method the underground church uses to fight back? They go genre, this series of tales is actually Cyberpunk...not something you see everyday in stories that unapologetically embrace Christian themes.

As Frank put it, "The Underground are techno-thrillers with high action pacing and non-lethal weapons, all run on God’s rulebook. This is true of the novel-length fiction as well as the short fiction of Underground Rising: Tales from the Underground." 

To give some flesh to the bones of Frank's comment, I've added details which I lifted mostly straight out of an customer review: The two main characters fleeing persecution wind up getting incorporated into "The Body," a community of physically, mentally, and spiritually-enhanced Christians, and transformed with a technologically-enabled wetware upgrade that grants them access to the full potential of their bodies and minds. Taking on the street names Calamity Kid and E-girl, they join a guerrilla war against the oppression by the One State and the One Church, racing against time to save their captured family. They quickly learn that they're battling more than just human enemies, and that survival means learning to trust God in a whole new way.

In spite of it's non-standard view of the future, this series takes its Christianity very seriously. One true God, one true faith, one true Church (capital-C, the Church Universal). The story isn't preachy, just forthright and honest. These characters have a very personal, dynamic encounter and ongoing relationship with God. For them to not want to talk about it or share it with others would be patently ridiculous. These are freedom fighters who do their best under incredibly trying circumstances to live Jesus' command to love their enemies, no matter how hateful and despicable those enemies may be. They use non-lethal weaponry. They work to better the decayed environment they hide in, the communities of down-and-outers forgotten by the government and dominated by criminal gangs. They pray for guidance and struggle with their own imperfections.

Unlike a lot of Christian lit, Flashpoint doesn't treat technology as an evil force in and of itself. Quite the contrary. Creed handles tech as a gift from God that can do useful and amazing things such as transformation, or 're-formation' as the stories call it, which echo that of Neo in The Matrix, but doesn't crib it. In the Underground, the protagonists gain enhanced abilities in the real world. Their brains are literally restructured--they move faster, think faster, gain enhanced senses and metabolic control, get a download of information critical to their new roles, and also obtain a window into spiritual reality.

The Underground series continued with War of Attrition, the story story anthology The Underground Rising, and now The Devil's Hit List. The back-of-the-book blurb for Frank's latest reads:

The One State has contracted the Ash Corporation to produce virtual-e, a brainwave technology chip so highly addictive that it’s eventually fatal.
The chip is used in the hottest new entertainment product that will hook any who experience it. Calamity Kid and his crew fight the production of virtual-e and get backing from the Body of Christ to run an operation to keep the chip from being marketed in North America. But how far can the underground heroes get when the global government and a megacorporation work together?

I gotta admit when I read that blurb, my first thought is "Why only North America? What about the rest of the world?" I guess I ought to read the book to see if Frank answers that :)
Frank's story ideas are of course his own, but he's done something I really like and admire in The Underground. He's taken a commonly used theme, in this case a Christian-themed view of a dystopian near-future, and has made it uniquely his own. Any friends tuning into my blog for fresh story ideas I recommend you, "Go and do likewise." Like Frank did, but with your own unique twists...
If you'd like to know more about Frank, his new book and series, and his unique views of the world, check out the following links:
Devil's Hit List Amazon link (kindle):


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Gravity...and starships...

You can't really talk about space travel without addressing gravity.

Not only have I written a short story called "Gravity" (included in the anthology Aquasynthesis--but the story isn't what you might think), I've noticed that gravity is dealt with rather poorly in standard science fiction universes...for example, in Star Trek, no one ever floats in microgravity when the ship pulls into orbit around a planet. In reality that had at least as much to do with the fact that the series was filmed on planet Earth than any futuristic talk of "gravity plating" or the generation of artificial gravity on board Enterprise.

Actual weightlessness is dealt with a little bit in the extended Star Trek films (notably VI) and series (in several episodes of Enterprise), but isn't it interesting that every planet seems to have the same gravity? Just like almost all aliens speak English, there are rarely any planets in which a human would be much lighter or much heavier than on Earth...even though in our own Solar System you have a wide range of potential gravity situations—most places humans can actually walk have in fact less gravity than Earth (e.g. Mars and Mercury share about 40% Earth standard surface gravity). And in science fiction deep space, gravity is effortlessly generated by some machine that works so smoothly and efficiently that no one scarcely mentions its existence. Star Wars is even worse, by the way—no explanations of gravity at all in any of the main films.

Why should I care? Well, gravity generation would bring up some interesting circumstances if it existed. For example, if you use artificial gravity to compensate for acceleration, what happens if you suddenly jump up to light speed (as is done often enough in the “Star” shows) and your gravity machine is on the fritz? Wouldn’t that cause sudden massive acceleration that instantly crushes you and the rest of the crew into a fine red mist? Or what if it’s just a little off, so the compensation hits you unequally?…in that case, you might only get torn in two…

Just as some plots in Star Trek feature the engines going bad and you have to get some more dilithium or you wind up going backward in time or something rather silly like that—or the transporter is acting wacky and now you’re cranking out evil duplicates of everthing that beams up—there logically should have been some stories centered around problems with the gravity system. Bones swears it's heavier in sick bay than everywhere else, perhaps. And when the Klingons or other baddies target enemy ships, the artificial gravity (or the “inertial dampeners” as what may be the same system is occasionally called in Star Trek) should be high on the target list…sure the ship still would be able to accelerate after losing gravity, but not faster than the human crew can survive…which isn’t all that fast--a great move in preparation for capturing an enemy vessel. Plus, if a “tractor beam” is based on gravity (and why wouldn’t it be?) sweeping the beam rather randomly through an enemy ship would be a fine tactic…assuming the ship would stand up to the strain (it might not) the crew certainly would not--red mist on every deck. And would the shields block the gravity/tractor beam? I don’t think so…but maybe you could try to compensate by reversing the pull on everything with your own gravity beam pulling the other way...God help you if you failed to exactly counter the other beam...

Of course, plots that involve artificial gravity really cross over into the realm of tech-flavored fantasy, since there isn't a theoretical means to generate gravity from a machine. The stuff works—why? Just because it does, I can’t complain too much about fantasy technology because I use it myself at times. In my novel The Crystal Portal, an elf carries a sword that can cut through anything, just because it can. But I carry that impication forward and have people use it to slice through walls and doors and such, as opposed to just bad guys, which only makes sense given the properties the sword is supposed to have. I’d like to see the same sort of thing happen in stories that feature artificial gravity--that the implications of such technology would be explored at least sometimes in the story universe that employs them.

More sober science fiction shows "artificial" gravity being produced in a realistic way.  More technical science fiction must deal with it, because human beings can’t live forever in weightlessness without experiencing seriously damaging side effects. Examples of greater realism on the generation of gravity include Rendezvous with Rama or 2001 by Arthur C. Clarke, or the spinning Ringworld created by Larry Niven. Each of these tales feature so-called centrifugal force to create a sensation of gravity (by the way, gravity goes unexplained in the crystal world of my own novel). In more realistic stories, acceleration is limited to what a human being can endure…just so you know, the amount of time it would take for a person to get up to 90% speed of light while accelerating enough to push you back into the seat with a force equivalent to standing on Earth (a.k.a. one gravity), would take around 300 days, depending on how fast you were going when you started…and wouldn't that change Han Solo’s getaway just a bit? “Light speed” he orders, but it’s not until next year he actually gets there…Obi Wan needs to trim his beard more than once during the build up...

There have been realistic proposals to use artificial gravity using actual mass with some form of very heavy matter such as neutronium. A ship could be built with a crew pod that moves closer to and further away from a very heavy capsule in the nose. When accelerating hard, the crew pod would move closer to the heavy nose, which would cause the force of being pushed back in the direction of acceleration to be balanced by being pulled forward by gravity. When not accelerating, the pod could be pulled away from the heavy nose to simulate an approximation of Earth gravity (a small difference in distance could make a big difference in gravity experienced because the pull of gravity increases at the square of reduced distance--so half the distance equals four times the force of gravity). My favorite version of this involves miniature black holes that are kept in place by loading them with an electric charge and employing a strong magnetic field.

A problem, of course, comes with using real matter to produce artificial gravity. Anything you put into your starship you have to have to expend energy to move, and it takes a lot of energy to get up to any speed near the speed of light--please see my previous post on Nanite Space Weapons.

Unless you had a Higgs field suppressor , as I made up from thin air in a previous post. In that case, you could cancel out all your mass for the sake of easier movement. Would that cause you also to lose gravity? According to a theoretical physicist's blog post on "What if the Higgs Field were zero?", it would not (he addresses gravity at the end of the post). According to him, mass and gravity are linked by coincidence...gravity really pulls on energy...

However, his post also makes it very clear the fundamental nature of matter would change if the Higgs Field were zero, so there would be no atoms, i.e. you would not survive the field being shut down...for story purposes then, let's be sure to imagine we can reduce the field greatly without going all the way down to you could build a massive starship with black holes in an electrical field to produce gravity and to counteract inertia...while at the same time you'd be able to reduce the mass of the ship to something light enough (well, with low enough mass) to easily accelerate as fast as light speed would allow you to go.

Or even faster, if recent experiments with neutrinos prove to show that the speed of light is not the ultimate limit, the highest speed anything can travel (as I talked about in e does not equal mc2, neutrino story technology).

New takes on science fiction starships await!