The Stuff Of Science Fiction

Observatory

Hyperloop Travel

According to The Independent, China has outlined its plan to connect the world by high-speed rail, including an underwater link to the US running a total 13,000km.

The ‘China to Russia plus the United States’ line (they might want to come up with a catchier name) has been proposed by the Chinese Academy of Engineering, and would start in NE China, travelling up through Siberia, across the Bering Strait to Alaska and down through Canada before reaching the US.

Other planned lines – construction of which has reportedly began in China – are a link to London via Paris, Berlin and Moscow, along with a second route to Europe following the silk road to reach as far as Germany via Iran and Turkey. The international legs of the lines are currently under negotiation – details are in state newspapers, which make it all a bit suspicious.

However, a fourth Pan-Asian line, connecting China with Singapore via Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia, is already under construction and proposals for lines running from China to Africa are currently being drawn up.

This posits a previously unconsidered idea; that there could be a way of travelling the world without creating the massive pollution problems accorded to aircraft. This recalls Arthur C Clarke’s brilliant novel ‘The Fountains of Paradise’, in which satellites in geostationary orbit are linked by elevators. Clarke’s mix of the fantastic and the practical also resulted in ‘A Fall of Moondust’, about disaster striking moon passenger transport.

We now have a fascinating new subject for SF writers to explore, unless someone has already done it – anyone know?

5 comments on “The Stuff Of Science Fiction”

  1. Paul Graham says:

    Harry Harrison’s “A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah!” springs to mind, but the world underground system was one re-used by Gene Roddenberry’s well trod pilot(s) Genesis II/Planet Earth/Strange new world.

  2. Wayne Mook says:

    ‘China to Russia plus the United States’ would this be the C.R.U.S. Cross rail?

    Well, we have the Chunnel which the Victorians tried, so the technology is getting better.

    And never forget the old SF films, notably The Tunnel 1935 plus the earlier silent versions (from the German book.) about building a transatlantic tunnel. There was a series on The Discovery Channel, Extreme Engineering, which looked at new ideas for a floating tunnel with trains under the Atlantic, also the bridge across the Bering Straits and a floating Pyramid to expand Tokyo, sadly the programme after the first series just looked at projects already underway.

    The idea of bridges across the Atlantic have always been mooted, a favourite was to an island halfway across and then flights from there.

    Wayne.

  3. snowy says:

    There is a human fascination with tunnels, usually mixed with some dread. In the wake of ‘Railway Mania’ all sorts of schemes were proposed in fiction and in real life, but tunnels are very expensive, have limited capacity and if the system breaks down it ‘really breaks down’. [There was a fairly small fire in the Eurotunnel in 1996, which took about 12 hours to extinguish and closed one half of it for months.]

    The engineering challenges for a Trans-Atlantic tunnel are enormous, just to balance the energy required the trains would need to be nuclear powered and run in tunnels with the pressure reduced to near vacumn levels. Not so much a train more akin to a spacecraft.

    But if anybody wants to fly from LHR to JFK, with as litte pollution as possible? It’s simple! Book your two week holiday, hop onto a solar powered airship, which will whisk it’s passengers there in comfort.

    Having arrived be assured they will be just enough time, [hopefully], for a cup of coffee and quick trip up that building to see if the big ‘monkey’ has come back. Before turning straight round and heading back home again.

  4. Dan Terrell says:

    Kim Stanley Robinson uses the elevators in his Mars series and later elsewhere. Home Land Security will have a cow figuring out how to handle the arrivals. I think the whole proposal is most problematic. And foreign viruses, molds, pollens, etc. will be a problem.

  5. Ken Mann says:

    The french novels making up “The Billionaire’s Conspiracy” featured a transatlantic train project. The rails were just laid on the sea bed and the trains made watertight. This was written in 1900 by Gustave le Rouge and Gustave Guitton and is available in translation as “The Dominion of the World”. It is a bizarre read as the authors plot like children on espresso. There is even a despairing note from the translator at one point advising the reader to pay no attention to something that has just been described as it will never be referred to again. The climax is however possibly the happiest happy ending in all of literature.

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