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I believe the setting is an Earth that desperately needs transportation to the stars (overpopulation?)

A scientist discovers hyperspace (I believe he solves a theory that explains how to reach it, but I am not certain). However, he can't get any government agency to believe him and fund his research. Furthermore, government agencies are funding wacky other FTL drives with little chance of success.

Finally, one government representative agrees to see the scientist. The government representative explains that hyperspace was already solved, but that speeds in hyperspace were slower, not faster than those in normal space.

I read this more than 10 years ago and probably more like 20. It was a short story, probably in an anthology book.

  • @jimb - Glad you liked the answer! – Valorum Mar 26 '15 at 8:59
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+50

This is "FTA" by George RR Martin, originally published Analog Science Fiction in 1974.

As per the description here, the twist ending is that hyperspatial travel is basically useless.

  • Scientist is upset that they're funding other FTL avenues;

Schechter sighed again. “You’re working under several misapprehensions. To begin with, the FTL Foundation was created to research a method of faster-than-light travel. A star drive, let us say. Hyperspace is only one avenue toward that end. Right now, we’re pursuing other avenues that look more promising. We …” “I know all about those other avenues,” Kinery interrupted. “Dead ends, all of them. You’re wasting the taxpayers’ money. And my God, some of the things you’re funding! Allison and his teleportation experiments. Claudia Daniels with her nonsense about an esper-engine. And Chung’s time-stasis hypothesis!

  • Twist ending is that hyperspace is useless:

Schechter cut him off. “Never mind,” he said. “It isn’t important. We fund the crackpot theories that we fund because they’re better than nothing. Hyperspace is the dead end, Kinery. We keep the myth alive for the public, but we know better.” Kinery grimaced. “Oh, come now, Schechter. Take a look at my papers. You give me the funding and I’ll give you a hyperspace engine within two years.” Schechter turned to face him. “I’m sure you would,” he said, in a voice infinitely weary. “You know, Canferelli once said there was no reason why the limiting velocity of light should apply in hyperspace. He was right. It doesn’t. “I’m sorry, Kinery. Really I am. But Lopez gave us a hyperdrive thirty years ago. That’s when we discovered that the limiting velocity in hyperspace is not the speed of light. “It’s slower, Kinery. It’s slower.”

  • 4
    A similar theme is seen in Redshift Rendezvous, a space opera where hyperspace travel is measured in mph. – Valorum Mar 21 '15 at 22:29
  • Excellent response - very thoroughly answered! – Jim2B Mar 22 '15 at 3:32
  • 2
    @Jim2B - We exist but to serve. – Valorum Mar 22 '15 at 9:54

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