In the tale there is a limitation for travel with the human being onboard: top speed is lightspeed.

And in the very end Rocannon has to wait for his comrades for 8 years (why they are flying to recover him and he actually died waiting for them). But I think they could just sent for him an empty space ship flying at infinite speed, and then fly back "slowly" (at lightspeed).

Was there any explanation – why this couldn't be done ?


Any FTL ship they sent wouldn't be able to pick him up; they are built to only fly FTL:

Since it did not proceed through space-time it had no forward or back end, no logic

Rocannon's World, Chapter IX

Indeed they can't even move an FTL ship through normal space at all:

But to fly them was to commit suicide; no life survived a faster-than-light "trip."

So they would have to build a special FTL ship to carry a lightspeed ship, if that would even be possible, and they would need to know there was some urgency to do so. Which, even if Rocannon knew he wouldn't last 8 years, he couldn't tell them because any ansible on the planet was blown up when the League destroyed the Faraday base.

  • But they could just have created a small fleet of such cargo ships for rescue purposes, in case light speed ship is broken for some reason. Why waste so much time for waiting? Send them a new ship in a FTL cargo bay ) Mar 13 '20 at 20:17
  • @YaroslavKornachevskyi It's not clear that it's possible to build an FTL ship large enough, and even if it were, the League is fighting a war and probably doesn't have the resources to build a set of massive ships just to have sitting around. And most of the time they probably won't know someone is missing until they don't show up anyway...
    – DavidW
    Mar 13 '20 at 21:49
  • What I meant is that they could build such cargo ship before Rocannon's case, just for the rescue purposes. Mar 15 '20 at 8:20
  • And 100% they could send him a new ansible, for communication. May be also some supplies, to help him to survive in this world. Mar 15 '20 at 8:23

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