YHWH blessed me with a craving for damn correct internal logic!


So I'm having a problem with some parts of Splintered again and in trying to find plausible science to explain somethings I had this realization that deep down inside, one of my biggest bet peeves with Bayformers was a minor science quibble.

Now sure, the majority of science fiction quite often requires the audience to accept a few completely illogical "facts" for the sake of moving the story forward. Hell... for even telling the story to begin with!

I'd say the #1 thing we buy into usually is the whole faster-than-light space travel thing. Without it, there could be no Star Trek or a hundred other series.

But in trying to find even remotely plausible anthropological reasons for much of Cybertronian culture and "biology" to have evolved, I keep coming back to one of the things that annoyed the hell out of me as a kid... and even more so in Bayformers.

Yes. That thing is inherent space travel capabilities!

Back in G1, there were several Cybertronians that for sake of story simplicity could just "travel through interstellar space" like it was walking down the street.

I hated the fact that Skyfire and Starscream just happened to be flying around and then Skyfire crashed on Earth.

Hell... Starscream was shown flying in a vacuum on many other occasions. My worst favorite one has to be with Shockwave riding on his topside in the 2nd part of the Bruticus' revenge story.

There is absolutely no plausible way that I can see for Starscream, or any standard-sized Cybertronian to possess a biological adaptation for unaided movement in a vaccuum.

I'll give Omega Supreme, in rocket mode, the benefit of the doubt and say he can at least travel a few million miles in space at most and even that's pushing it. Fortress Maximus and many later bots, as portrayed in Headmasters and beyond, require a whole separate discussion.

As jets, the Seekers, Skyfire, the Aerialbots, and a host of others can theoretically only fly in an atmosphere because their transforming biological adaptations mimic jet turbine engines. Jet engines require an atmosphere to work. That is an engineering and physical fact.

A Cybertronian's reformatting to mimic another species or species' technology goes beyond mere mimicry. We have to assume that it also duplicates functionality as well or else the disguise is limited.

Now in Bayformers, the writers chose to go the route of having space travel apparently be an inherent property of Cybertronian life.

It is shown, at least with the Autobots, that they have their primary robot form, their mimic form, and then their spermy rock space protoform.

No. I didn't read any of those movie comics so I have no idea if IDW tried to explain the spermy mode at all.

I cannot for the life of me figure out the biological adaption that would have come into play allowing for the spermy spacefaring form much the same way I cannot see how G1 Starscream can remotely achieve any form of interstellar spaceflight.

Why do I bring this up?

Goddamn it! It is bugging the shit out of me not being able to even find a remotely scientific answer that can address the possibility of this adaptation!

I will not go the route of magic here! I just can't do it!

Grrrrr.... why does a silly poorly written 1980s children's toy commercial cause me so much pain!


Well, I'd say you've got a route out if you choose not to except the Bay-esque idea that TFs only mimic in a superficial way.

Put another way... Bay and co. talked about how important it was that there was no mass-shifting, that if you looked under the hood of Bumblebee then you'd see an engine, as expected.

The problem with this line of thinking is that really all we're doing is shrinking the scale at which one can distinguish a Cybertronian's hidden heritage.

For instance - if you look really, really - are the radiator fan blades hinged? Do the faux-leather seats really contain soft, comfy springs if you cut them open?

It simply isn't possible to create a creature that can accurately mimic a vehicle and then change into a wholly different form without leaving some evidence of that transforming ability. At least not without going into T1000 territory.

Consequently, if one can accept that at some level the mimicry is just that - a superficial representation only - then basically you can also accept that Starscream may look, and sound, and fly like an Earth-based aircraft; but he may well have secret adaptations that allow him to move into the atmosphere. Certainly, he isn't bound by any of the g-force rules that human pilots are; what other restrictions fail to bind him?

But like I said; it really all hinges on whether or not you are prepared to accept the more Marvel-G1-ish idea that these guys are robots in disguise, versus robots as their disguise. :)

i usually just go with the whole 'suspension of disbelief' thing.... otherwise headaches ensue.

Putting aside the fact that Transformers was designed for 10 year old boys, and specifically to sell a toy, as opposed to being an attempt at speculative science fiction of any sort, I agree with JOP that it is this sentence that provides the necessary escape:

"A Cybertronian's reformatting to mimic another species or species' technology goes beyond mere mimicry. We have to assume that it also duplicates functionality as well or else the disguise is limited."

First off, who said they had jet engines? Sure, they look like jets, but the back of a jet engine looks quite similar in most cases to the back of a rocket engine, which is already capable of space flight. The main difference is the lack of oxygen as a fuel mixing element, which doesn't really fundamentally require a physical change to the look and structure of the plane mode engines.

That being said, let's not forget that ANY techno-culture that could cross galaxies would be so far beyond our comprehension that it would all be unbelievable in the sense that it would seem like magic. If they can travel faster than the speed of light (a requirement of any long term space travel if you want to be alive when you get somewhere), than mass shedding isn't actually that big a deal, since they both hinge on the theory of relatively which has clearly been surmounted if you are waging intergalactic space wars.

Let the science be science, and the play be play....just don't release 10 redecos of every mold ;)



Let me provide some "Paul Harvey" background on JOP's excellent summary.

He, I, and Canthros (I think t'were he), armed with pocket protectors, jumped into an Allspark thread that had drifted into such territory, in connection with the movie robots.

We proceeded to, with malice toward none, kill the conversation to utter death with page after page of geekout speculation on internals, operations, plausibility, power ratings, and realism. It was horrifying, like some demented cabal of Roots Rock Weirdos.

At length (PLENTY of that) we realized that with every explanation, we were just kicking the plausibility football somewhere else, as JOP notes above.

That's how it always is with fantasy SF, and not so infrequently with hard SF. Gundam all makes sense...if you take the Minovsky particles as given.

What is important is that it look right, and that there is enough apparent realism so you don't notice anything glaring...just how does the Millenium Falcon generate gravity? Why do lasers make noise in space? We don't ask this, because the effect looks plausible.

With that said, I guess there are ways around it in even the TF cartoon. Why do the Seekers need to have standard turbojets? The X-wing engines seemed to have turbines, but obviously didn't need air to breathe. Jetfire is given liquid hydrogen tanks in his techspec. Maybe he has fusion propulsion?

(Even though the techspec says "Supersonic Combustion Ramjet (scramjet)")

Cordially yours:
Autobus Prime
w/minicon Farebox.

As always, I find myself in awe of Autobus' comments; although I'm not sure if it is because of his excellent insight, or just the fact that he remembered that thread. :)

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This page contains a single entry by Nala published on September 26, 2008 7:47 AM.

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