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91 votes
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Why didn't the Normandy crew experience time dilation?

Let's figure out how much time dilation they might have experienced. To begin with, we need the mass of the black hole. Generously assuming it's Sagittarius A* and not some other (most likely ...
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69 votes
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Huge trees in an "air belt" in space

This is Niven's The Integral Trees (1984), or possibly its sequel The Smoke Ring (1987). The stories are set in orbit around a neutron star that has a zone of atmosphere in orbit around it at the ...
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68 votes

Why aren't there any nebulae in Star Wars?

Star Trek does not represent nebulae at all accurately. Real nebulae are nowhere near that dense - they'd constitute a hard vacuum by our standards. They're also big, typically hundreds of light-...
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66 votes
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Why didn't Jupiter becoming a star kill everyone on earth and cause all kinds of problems for the solar system?

This is explained in the novel 2010: Odyssey Two. Jupiter's mass hasn't changed. It follows that there's no need to reconfigure the solar system to accommodate it: Do you have any idea what ...
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60 votes
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Story about a world where darkness drives people mad

That would be "Nightfall" by Isaac Asimov (publication history). Their planet has multiple suns, and because of the complex interactions between them, they've only recently discovered the &...
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60 votes
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Short satire about a comically upscaled spaceship

That sounds like a meme from Star Wars about the continually increasing size of the Star Destroyers. It's called the 'SDSD Freudian Nightmare' and ticks all of the boxes.
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51 votes
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Do they really watch Firefly on the International Space Station

They can. Firefly and Serenity DVDs are on the ISS I don't know if they have actually been watched by people living on the ISS, but those photos are legit. The pictured astronaut, Steve Swanson, ...
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49 votes
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What was the first instance of a fighter spacecraft

1930: The Black Star Passes, a novella by John W. Campbell, Jr. in his Arcot, Morey and Wade series, first published in Amazing Stories Quarterly, Fall 1930, available at the Internet Archive. (The ...
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49 votes
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Novel about incompetent space pirates

It sounds like you're think of Consider Phlebas (1987), Iain M. Banks' first novel of the Culture. The protagonist is Horza, who is actually fighting for the Idirans against the Culture; he is a ...
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40 votes
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A novel (or maybe a whole series) where a weird disease infects men and machines

This could be the novel, Revelation Space, by Alastair Reynolds, published in 2000. It features a disease called the "Melding Plague" which causes nano-machines to go haywire. Many humans use nano-...
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39 votes
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Identify a (French?) comic series about a female adventurer

This is almost certainly Yoko Tsuno, a franco-belgian comic series that features a young female electronics engineer from Japan. A Google image search shows many comic covers that I think match your ...
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38 votes
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Book about a boy whose tribe is separated from another tribe by a swamp and taboos. It turns out they're all living aboard a spaceship

Captive Universe (1969) by Harry Harrison...? The synopsis on the Wikipedia page indicates that the main character is Chimal, a member of one of two tribes living within an isolated valley, and ...
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36 votes
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Young boy saves research expedition to another planet by being "fact connector"

This sounds a lot like Sucker Bait, a short story by Isaac Asimov. It deals with a scientific expedition to colonize a world called "Junior" - a previous attempt to colonize the planet had ...
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36 votes
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Why don't we see the Milky Way out the windows in Star Trek?

You may note technically the view of the milky way looking out of a window would be not so great assuming the room lights are on. This is distantly related to why stars aren't in NASA photos because ...
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36 votes
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TV series episode about using oxygen in space suit helmet to fire gun

This is the Firefly episode "Our Mrs. Reynolds" as per this entry about Jayne's gun Vera: In the TV series' episode "Our Mrs. Reynolds", "Vera", Jayne's powerful ...
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  • 191k
36 votes

Time distorted space exploration

This is Charles Sheffield's Between the Strokes of Night (1985). Time is not distorted, it's just people's perceptions that are changed by being greatly slowed in a metabolic state derived from the ...
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35 votes
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What is the meaning of the ending of "A Darkling Sea" by James Cambias?

I meant to suggest that Ilmatar has been visited before, presumably by some spacefaring civilization unknown to either humans or Sholen. But if the story you make up in your head is better than mine, ...
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  • 366
35 votes

Story: space colonization with sentient/telepathic spaceships, also genocide and reincarnation

"The Reality Dysfunction" by Peter F. Hamilton. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Reality_Dysfunction The alive spaceships match the Edenists and their living starships "voidhawks". Most of your ...
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  • 8,218
35 votes
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A short story about a shipwreck in space

"Marooned off Vesta", a short story by Isaac Asimov (his first published story); first published in Amazing Stories, March 1939, available at the Internet Archive; the reprint in Amazing ...
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  • 145k
34 votes
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Short story about two guys on a spaceship, but one of them doesn't believe he's on a spaceship

The Yellow Pill by Rog Philips. it starts in a psychiatrist's office where the psychiatrist is about to see a patient called Jerry Bocek who shot and killed several people claiming they were aliens. ...
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33 votes
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1980s paperback about a man who traveled on a spaceship made of ice

Gallagher's Glacier by Leigh Richmond and Walt Richmond. Gallagher is a revolutionary trying to break the monopoly the corporations have over starships and the company planets where the colonists are ...
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31 votes
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Why is explosive decompression a guideline?

OK, enough with the comments, let's forge an answer. ;-) Quill's nature and equipment left aside, the vacuum of space is not as immediately lethal as you might expect. You will not "explode". ...
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  • 2,395
31 votes
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Story about aliens nicknamed 'Eechees' who have created a network of tunnels on Mars

This corresponds to both Gateway (La Grande Porte in French), by Frederik Pohl (1977, winner of the Hugo and Nebula awards, as well as its first sequel, Beyond the Blue Event Horizon (1980). These ...
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30 votes
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Sole survivor of attack on mining vessel, abandoned by his employer, has ability to teleport

That sounds like The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester (1956): "man lives in space for months/years, ignored by the company he worked for and never rescued." [Foyle] is marooned in space when ...
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30 votes

Why aren't there any nebulae in Star Wars?

Most of the shots within Star Wars are taken next to planets. Whereas far more action within Star Trek happens in deep space. Nebulas do not tend to appear next to planets, or within planetary ...
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30 votes

Sci-Fi book about female pilot in the distant future who is a linguist and has to decipher an alien language/code

This is probably Samuel Delany's Babel-17 (1966). The hero is a linguist and captain named Rydra Wong, recruited by the military to decode an enemy language called Babel-17. During an interstellar ...
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  • 88.1k
29 votes

Why don't we see the Milky Way out the windows in Star Trek?

Out of universe answer only, it's a continuity nightmare. Scene #1 we see the milky way out of Janeways ready room window, She walks out to the bridge. Scene #2 Janeway on the bridge, the view screen ...
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29 votes

Identify a science-fiction novel… key points: space travel, immortality drug, main characters stranded on distant planet, they eventually escape

I'm pretty sure this is World Without Stars (1966) by Poul Anderson. It's set in a future where an "antithanatic" drug has made people effectively immortal, though people can still be killed ...
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29 votes
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30 or more years old short story about a creature that kills at distance

Could this be The Callistan Menace by Isaac Asimov; published in 1940, but republished in 1972? In this story a young stowaway hides on a spaceship, which he doesn't know is headed for the as yet ...
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  • 2,425
27 votes

Why didn't Jupiter becoming a star kill everyone on earth and cause all kinds of problems for the solar system?

I meant catastrophic in the sense that the orbits would be thrown into chaos. Everything would want to orbit both the sun and the new star No, they wouldn't. Planets orbit a star because the star is ...
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