transportation in science fiction and fantasy

I’ve been enjoying the discussion of Princesisto’s mag-lev ships and trains–over on the energy sources thread. So I’d like to continue the topic here.
Personally, I’m really tired of the private automobile both in real life and in science fiction. I’d like to discuss alternatives. In fantasy, I’ve gotten rather tired of horses. I’d like to see how magic could be used to move freight and passengers. An important part of this is how to transport food. Often it’s perishable so there needs to be ways to preserve it, keep it cool, and transport it quickly.


As a fierce, undying public transporation advocate, I adore thinking of interesting and inventive ways of transporting people and goods in a future world. My web novel ATL is definitely “retrofuture” in that its technologies are very cartoonishly unfeasible in real life, but the idea of a sky rail zipline-type system zooming around all the skyscrapers in the downtown of a city gets me all giddy in a childlike way. As does the idea of banning private vehicles within the city limits, forever ending traffic jams…


Fun. I like the zipline.
And yes! Let’s ban private vehicles inside cities. I like the idea of vehicles being built in, like elevator cars but going horizontally.

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Some cities in real life have banned private vehicles; Madrid, Spain, I think is the biggest of them because it has reduced pollution by a huge amount. Of course, there’s still huge opposition to it because there isn’t any nifty sci-fi solution in place for it, just trains and buses.

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Well teleportation Portals. In science i think that could be the answer, because it is not so hard to believe in an book but i want to be more crazy so i have an other idear:

What about a city that is build like a dyson sphere and it is big but there are elevators al over the place so you can go everywhere very fast XD

And in Fantasy, well maybe there is an parallel Dimension and you go in there and from there you can go everywhere you want in the world.

I’d love to know more about the transportation systems being used in science fiction stories.
I have a planet where the land is all broken up into islands. They use ferries as public transportation. This is like real life places that are similar. People live in towns and villages that are compact enough that they can get around on foot within the town or village.
Aircraft land and takeoff from the water so there’s no need to build runways.

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In an ideal world all the elevators in a city would be connected with the sideways passages down in the basement - passing through the same spaces where electrical and water mains are strung today.

So you could walk down the hall from your office, get into the elevator, and get out of the elevator on the ground floor of the restaurant six blocks away where you want to have lunch. I don’t need to have them going sideways inside the building, and besides nobody wants to devote that much space, redesign, reconstruction, etc. to them. But running around on tracks below ground, with access to the elevator shafts in OTHER buildings? Yes please.

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That’s what I’m thinking. You could automate freight delivery. To send items to the next building or across town, you load the goods into a reusable capsule or container, address it, and load it into the elevator. I would want above ground public bike paths and walkways. I’d put the freight and the commuters in the utilidor, but for lunch you’d have something above ground.

I like this kind of thing, but with futuristic variations on pneumatic tubes sucking everything up and spitting it back out on the other side somewhere else. I don’t know if there’s any feasible way to develop this kind of tech for human transportation, but if there is, that sounds like a real fun future.

It’s called the hyperlooper.There has been talk of setting it up on Southern California. Also of running it across the US along the existing Amtrak routes. It’s got some challenges and problems, mostly with where the route runs.

giant slingshot

Ah yeah hyperloop is a possible viable future technology sometime in the next 100ish years (hopefully?) though it’s currently VERY dangerous for living beings and highly susceptible to terror attacks and such.Something like it for very short distances (tube elevators) might be more fun and less scary to think about though, lol

Duck Dodgers needs a new movie

100% agree

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With the hyperloop I problems with the relationship between rural and urban areas, It would serve people in urban areas while cutting through and cutting off rural areas. I’ve seen proposals that run in on the I-70 route over the Rocky Mountains. This won’t work because that route goes through narrow canyons; there’s not enough room and it would be horrendously expensive. It would be better to run it along I-80, the original transcontinental railroad route. A spur could sever Denver and Albaquerque. This would put a hub at Cheyenne. To get around the problem of user serving rural areas, there needs to be a way for rural passengers and freight to be brought aboard without slowing down the coast to coast traffic. It see capsules which are routed off the mainline for stops. This does bring in the old railway problem of charging more for people and freight going a shorter distance. The stop adds cost either by slowing down the other passengers and freight or by the cost of building side-tracks.

Oh, for anything in the near future, high-speed rail already exists, doesn’t need extensive, expensive tech behind it (except of Mag-lev) and is time-tested to work across the world. Rail in general coming back could be HUGE to rural America, if we were willing to spend the money on it. America only doesn’t have it because America sucks, but that could change soon. The future of transportation in the near-future is an important topic to me lol

Hyperloop’s current designs are also mostly single-passenger, which sound like a nightmare for long-distance trips, and extremely inefficient. That’s gotta change before anything else, though I’m not sure the technological requirements for creating essentially a train car or bus-sized capsule.

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The wealthy in my dystopian world travel in quadcopters. They were manufactured to be the size of two small cars and are kited out with all this new tech only available to the military.

Mag-lev is essentially faster high speed rail, so they have the same barriers which are socio-political. I think in the US the major problem is the divide between urban and suburban/rural. Urban areas want rail because reduced traffic congestion and allows for denser development. Suburban areas don’t like it because mass transit makes it easier for thieves to get into their neighborhoods. They also feel safer in a private vehicle than they do on a bus or train. To top it off they don’t want to pay for it.
Transportation seems to be more of an urban design problem than one of mechanical engineering.



Anyway, transportation is over-rated. In an ideal world you shouldn’t need to go anywhere except on holiday. In technologically stable societies people worked at home, or the fields nearby, and the food they ate come from their garden or their land. In our technologically more “advanced” societies the need to actually go anywhere to work is diminishing rapidly, and the emphasis on eating locally is growing.

That’s good solution. If all manufacturing and food production is done locally, there’s no need for transportation. How do you seeing this working in places where food can’t be easily grown such as in the near arctic and in desert areas?
Are you suggesting that people don’t live in these areas?
What about raw materials? Concrete, gravel, steel, aluminum?
Maybe the houses don’t have foundations. The people live in temporary huts.

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