Time-Dilation in Science Fiction stories?

It is not the sort of story you are talking about, but Common Time by James Blish is an amazing time dilation story.

The thing is, I don’t think he knew that he was violating relativity. The whole book reads like a textbook on relativity, except it’s an incorrect textbook.

You may be right - it’s been a while since I read it (maybe I should read it again). The suggestion in MC that somebody ought to just try cranking up the engine hard to see if just maybe you could go FTL showed he definitely didn’t understand relativity in the 1940s, but I thought that by the time he wrote TftS he might have learned more about it.

Came in here to mention this song.

'39 was written by Brian May, Queen’s guitarist. He had studied astrophysics in college, and had begun to work on his PhD in astrophysics when Queen became a successful band (causing him to leave his studies). He returned to scholarship a few years ago, and was awarded his PhD in 2008.

In the Giants of Ganymede, the crew of the starship Shaperion experience twenty years ship time in a voyage that lasts for millions of years by Earth time, because their broken engine can’t slow down properly ( they were fleeing a supernova, and couldn’t finish fixing it ).

I was gonna post that. Wiki on Tau Zero – the very title comes from the formula for calculating time contraction. I remember vividly two characters talking over some point for a minute or two. Several times they felt a slight quiver as they passed through a galaxy and were tugged this way and that, their 100,000 year passage being reduced to the blink of an eye, subjective time.

Yet more proof, as if any were needed, that Queen is awesome.

Ursula LeGuin explored this theme a number of times in her Hainish Universe novels, most notably in Rocannon’s World.

Playing in Amazon found some.

Tyrannosaur Faire, by Steve Carper

The Time Travelers Academy by Reginald Williams

The Time Tourist by Tom Pierce

Starman’s Quest and Other Works by Robert Silverberg

Dilation effect, by Douglas R Mason

The last three come up in a search but don’t have explanatory text that puts them directly in the time dilation genre. But what else would Dilation Effect mean?

L. Sprague de Camp’s Viagens Interplanetarias stories all involved sub-light interstellar travel with the corresponding time dilation effects.

More specifically, it’s about a young man who, due to time dilation effects, ends up visiting a backwater planet every 7 years (I think). He has an affair with a teenage girl, and each time he comes back she’s seven years older, while he’s basically the same age. It’s very poignant.

The Hyperion/Endymion series (4 books, not 3) features quite a lot of time dilation, along with plenty of other time-related mishugas. Note, however, that the time-dilation is a side effect of FASTER-than-light travel, so the story doesn’t exactly stick to relativistic physics in this regard.

I’d like to mention The Songs of Distant Earth by Arthur C. Clarke. It concerns a world seeded by STL spaceship several hundred years before the time of the story, which has developed a small but thriving population. Then it is visited by one of the last colony ships to leave Earth, a sleeper ship with hyperdrive, manned by a crew generations junior to them. During their stay there, romances and friendships develop, with the knowledge that when the starship crew leave and by the time they arrive at their ultimate destination, all those that they knew on this planet would have been dead for centuries.

What did Heinlein get wrong in “Time For The Stars”?

Any of Alastair Reynolds’ “Revelation Space” novels cover relativistic travel very well, plus he used to work for ESA.

I coulda SWORN that I posted in this thread earlier. Anyway, F. M. Busby wrote several novels which had time dilation as an essential part of the plot.

I wonder if anyone has thought of a situation where the time traveler returns to earth just BEFORE he left, and the repercussions of that kind of time dilation?

I think it was Ursula K. LeGuin (as Aspidistra has already noted) who use such time dilation to “explain” prophecies in one of her works – because of the time dilation, a certain person would be coming in 200 years or something. It was a cute way to give a scientific explanation of such a common trope – something leGuin would be very tuned in to.

Poul Anderson also used the combination of time dilation and telepathy (as in Heinlein’s Time for the Stars) to chilling effect in his short story Kyrie.

Other than telepathy being instantaneous, nothing that I know of. It and The Forever War are two of my favorite time-dilation stories. Fans of the latter should definitely read the title story of Haldeman’s A Separate War and Other Stories (2006); it’s Marygay’s first-person account of her time apart from Mandella towards the end of the war.

That wasn’t “wrong” – Heinlein was claiming that telepathy was some new, unknown science – one of the Conceptual Breakthroughs that are scattered through his work, and not, for instance, an electro-magnetic phenomenon limited by the speed of light. The whole point of using telepaths rather than radio or light signals was that they weren’t limited by c – it was a conscious choice my Heinlein, not an error.

The same holds true for Anderson’s Kyrie – the story doesn’t work if the telepathy is limited by the constraints of relativity.

In the original Superman comic, Terra-Man was a villain who used alien technology but designed it so that they looked like they came from the Old West. It was revealed that he had been taken by aliens as a child and when he grew up and returned to Earth, over a century had passed due to time dilation.

Of course, Mr. Tomkins in Wonderland gets time dilation 100% right, most notably in the scene where a young man meets an old woman who calls him “grandfather.”