Solve THIS, Algebraist!
December 26, 2006 7:25 PM   Subscribe

[Iain M Banks Filter] In The Algebraist, much is made of the lack of supralight communication with the rest of the galaxy thanks to the collapsed wormhole portal. (And now we get spoilerish.)

How is it, then, that the galactic government can send in these AIs and communication hologram things that answer questions based on the most up-to-date tactical data concerning the Big Bad Guy? In other words, why's that one point of communication still working? Does he answer this in the text, because it's a glaring plothole that has me seriously bugged at page 250.
posted by beaucoupkevin to Media & Arts (4 answers total)
As I recall, the hologram/AI was still speaking in probabilities (it's very likley that bad guy will be doing this by the time this message reaches you). I think the idea was the AI moves at exactly light speed, whereas the fleets are moving at very-close-to-but-still-less-than light speed.

But it's been a while since I read it. This bugged me slightly at the time, and I don't think you're going to get a further explanation of it late rin the book.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 7:33 PM on December 26, 2006

I read the book and I took it as that the good guys had been battling the bad guys for a while.

The AI was sent to warn the local system that the bad guys were coming. Both fleets were taking years and years to travel, but they were moving slower than light.

That's why the message arrives in time to give a warning before the bad guys fleet arrives.

Aside: I still think about the fate of the defeated enemy of Archimandrite and how horrible it would be.
posted by Argyle at 12:32 AM on December 27, 2006

the AI's knowledge wasn't up-to-the-minute; he mentions "the updated version of the signal that the AI signal had brought with it, which was only 17 years old."

he also specifically mentions at least the earlier non-AI transmission as being transmitted by beam of light, so if that's the case, then as both prior comments have said, the signal was moving faster than the fleets.

here's where my memory and page-flipping fail me, but wasn't the AI signal transmitted from the fleet itself? in other words, they'd be much more up to date than a signal being sent from the fleet's port of origin.
posted by sonofslim at 8:36 AM on December 27, 2006

I like to think that Banks worked out all the timelines on paper to make sure they agree; I'm sure he would do that amount of work. FTL travel exists in his Culture books but I think he's always a little annoyed by it.

Of course it exists in the Algabraist's universe too, but he 'broke' it for the length of his narrative.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 9:02 AM on December 27, 2006

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