Created By: dogwolfman on June 22, 2012 Last Edited By: zarpaulus on August 18, 2013
Troped

Space Age Stasis

Space based sci-fi universes technology doesn't advance or change over time

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Trope
This is in space based sci-fi universes when ever we see the distant past or future (relative to the first work) and technology never seems to be no more or less advanced no matter how far you go in either direction even if itís hundreds of years

This is presumably done either because the writer included the most advanced tech he/she could think of in the first installment and thus has no where else to go, or because significantly changing the tech level would mean changing the way the stories would have to work.

Compare with Medieval Stasis, where the technology stagnates at a lower level or the low level technology is the reason for the stagnation.

Examples

Comic Books
  • In the world of Buck Godot Zapgun For Hire, species who make it into space tend to slow down their development.
    "Some races never pull out of this period, and have remained quiet background players for millennia, unlike more dynamic races that burst upon the galactic scene, and attempt to found empires, evolve into higher forms, reveal shattering new religious, philosophical, cosmological or mathematical systems or sell something. Therefore, unlike most of these dynamic young races, they will probably be around for more than a few millennia before being wiped out or forgotten."

Film
  • The Alien franchise. The tech in Alien: Resurrection seems startlingly similar to the first movie when you consider that they are set 258 years apart .
  • Star Wars. The tech in prequel movies is exactly the same as the original trilogy.
  • The technology of the Predators is never seen to advance, even when their appearances are hundreds of years apart. The Expanded Universe justifies this by explaining that a long time ago the Predators' society became all about the hunt, and they lost all interest in intellectual pursuits.
    • There is a sometimes-canon and sometimes-not explanation that their tech is stolen from an older race that attempted to occupy their planet. They can replicate and adapt it, but lack the understanding of its base principles to improve on it.
    • An easier explanation is that the only Predators we see are hunters who explicitly show "sportsmanlike" behavior, including killing only armed opponents and sparing, for example, pregnant women. It follows that the crazy-superior tech they are using is what they consider fair. Their tech may be better, but what is "fair" to use on the humans hasn't changed in hundreds of years. Much the same way some humans often still use bows to hunt deer rather than carpet-bombing them from the stratosphere.
      • Hinted in the current comics to be this, as it's about a clan of Predators who don't follow the hunter's code of honor.
  • Averted in A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, where at the end after millenia, the robots have evolved into the dominant lifeform on the planet

Literature
  • In Dune human society has been suspicious of technology since the Butlerian Jihad over 10,000 years before the first book. However after Leto II's death and the breakup of the empire many scattered colonies advance rapidly.
  • Used as a central plot point in Vernor Vinge's Across Realtime trilogy. In the first novel, the protagonists set out to remove the current government of Earth due to technological progress being outlawed and society stagnating (ironically, that policy is enforced with a stasis bubble weapon). In the third novel, a group of survivors have missed The Singularity and are stuck with only a handful of very advanced robots and tools that they cannot rebuild, effectively making further advances impossible.
  • In Philip K. Dick's short story Pay for the Printer, humans have stopped building or researching anything and instead choose to rely on alien replicators to make copies of items they already possess.
  • It's not quite clear how much technology has advanced in the three thousand years between Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead since the latter largely takes place on a backwater colony world, but the most visible difference is that ship drives capable of instantaneous acceleration to relativistic speed (experimental when Ender left the Solar system) have become commonplace. Might be justified by the limitations of slower-than-light travel.
  • Isaac Asimov's Foundation series is a complex example.
    • At the height of the Galactic Empire, technology was FTL, a central planet was a multilevel city with diverse cultures and goals, defying Planet of Hats, despite the rest of the galaxy being recognized as having them. But because technology was so advanced, people were convinced The Singularity had been reached, and stopped studying the sciences. Which meant their culture was losing the ability to do maintanence (preventative or repairing). After a few centuries or millennia, the technology would be destroyed.
    • In-Universe legends tell future galactic citizens that Hari Seldon realized this, and created The Plan. A plan that would restore the civilization after a mere 10,000 years, instead of the predicted 30,000.
    • The plan involved sending a group of librarians/editors to a backwater planet at the edge of the milky way. An unwanted planet because of the scarcity of materials and distance from center. These flaws forced the colonists to adapt their technology to work better. Eventually, their technology created The Singularity in reference to a planet of psychic-powered elites, and a planet of communal intelligence. This three away tie of tech, psychic individuals, and a psychic planet was the climax of Foundation's Edge.
  • Downplayed in the Alex Benedict series. Firebird states that humanity has mastered higher physics and, though there are occasional advances (somebody develops a somewhat faster FTL drive, for example), for the most part there's not much in the way of new tech being developed anymore.
  • In Arthur C. Clarke's 3001, the final sequel to his 2001, a 3001-version-of-TV presenter opines that a person from the year 2000 would have a much easier time of adjusting were he to be suddently plopped into the year 3000 than a year 1000 man would adjusting to 2000, since the 3000 level of tech is relatively similar to the 2000 time, compared to the 1000-2000 difference. Not long after that Frank Poole, Dave Bowman's crewmember from the Odyssey, is discovered frozen floating in space and is brought back to life.
  • Definitely averted in the Noon Universe: in the Far Rainbow, an entire planet's population dies because there was only one starship that could evacuate people and they loaded the children on it; by the time of The Kid from Hell (still within the same century), anyone can pretty much grow their own semi-organic starships from eggs in their backyard.
  • Such a stasis is also arguably the main theme and plot point of another Yulia Latynina novel: Inhuman, which is set in the dystopian interstellar Empire of Humans where, according to one of the characters, no technological advances were made for the last several centuries. The, uh, antagonists (both sides involved are villains by most measures), effectively an alien conspiracy masquerading as a government conspiracy, want to remedy this.
  • The Lizards in Harry Turtledove's Worldwar novels have been technologically stagnant for nearly 50,000 years, as have been the other alien species they conquered and subjugated in that time. Their leaders are quite surprised when, in the mere 800 years between their first reconnaissance flights over Earth in the 12th century and the arrival of their invasion fleet in 1942, that the human race has gone from horseback to radar.
    • It's also stated in the books that their slow technological development is at least in part on purpose. When something new is invented or discovered, it is introduced into their society over the course of decades or centuries, so they can study it's impact on society.
    • In the final book, one hundred years later the Lizards are only just beginning to consider what the difference in advancement might mean to their future when the first earth FTL ship arrives in orbit of their Homeworld. The Lizards didn't think FTL was possible and haven't thought about it, or even considered it, in their 50,000 year history.
  • An important plot point in Dan Simmons Hyperion Cantos is the fact that the Hegemony of Man is culturally and technologically stagnant, albeit with AI-given toys, while the Ouster "barbarians" have continued to progress.
  • In Larry Niven's Kzinti histories. The Kzin aren't terribly intelligent to begin with, and gained the great majority of their technology by rising up against their Jotok masters and offing most of them, and in a universe without FTL technology, it takes a LONG time for things to propagate over several hundred light-years of empire. Imperial standardization as well as simple physics kept the Kzin at a very, very, painfully minuscule level of advancement. The Kzin even have a priestlike caste called the Conservers Of The Ancient Past, whose job is to prevent unneeded change.
    • Though after the first couple wars with humanity they become much more motivated to advance, even acquiring hyperdrive shortly after Earth does.
  • The faster-than-light engine does that to societies in Harry Turtledove's The Road Not Taken. One of those (stuck in Napoleonic times, technologically) attacks 20th century Earth. It was a short invasion.
  • Averted in the Lensman series, where the war and the weapons tech progresses from interstellar to intergalatic to interdimensional.
  • David Brin's Uplift series explicitly plants the Galactic civilization in the middle of this trope. After tens of millions of years, their opinion is that everything that can be discovered has already been discovered. What makes Humans Are Special is their drive to continue discovery.

Live Action TV
  • An interesting variant appears in Stargate SG-1, in which the Goa'uld are shown in ancient Egypt sequences as using the same technology as they do in the regular episodes. In the time that humans went from simple bows to nuclear missiles, the Goa'uld haven't added trigger guards to their guns. This is justified by Goa'uld culture being antithetical to good scientific practice (although Goa'uld scientists like Nirrti and Nerus do exist), and all their technology being stolen anyway, but to be this extreme, they need to be quite the Planet of Hats.
    • It's shown a few times that some isolated worlds, free from Goa'uld control, had actually advanced FURTHER technologically than humans on Earth.
    • Better yet, in the episode "Line in the Sand" a Power Crystal from an Ori weapon is used to power an Ancient cloaking device. They use an adapter, but Carter still says the reason it works is that "Ancient and Ori technology is similar," despite that the two civilizations were isolated from each other for fifty million years. This is somewhat justified, however, as the Ori were obviously not the intrepid scientists the Ancients were. The split occurred when the Ancients were near the height of their development anyway, and technological repression was in full effect. Considering that the Stargates were canonically invented by Ancients after the split yet they have a working network, it would be fair to say that the Ori simply used Ancient knowledge to build their stuff.
    • Justification is given in show that the Goa'uld don't want the primitive humans and Jaffa under their rule to have any understanding of how their tech works, as it's better for the ignorant masses to think that tech is "Magic," that only their god/goddess can activate.

Tabletop Games
  • In BattleTech, a series of violent civil wars have destroyed almost all the factories for Battlemechs, and the equipment that goes into them. Battlemechs from 500 years ago are more advanced than the ones being built at the time. ComStar is dedicated to retrieving LosTech and preserving/worshiping it.
    • This is eventually subverted as the timeline progresses. By the time of the Fed Com Civil War and Word of Blake Jihad, the Inner Sphere powers have rediscovered and even improved upon Star League technology, or invented entirely new equipment.
    • And averted by the Clans, who brought the Star League's technology with them when they left and have actually improved on it.
  • The Warhammer 40,000 game setting is another sci-fi example of this trope: thanks to the Imperium of Man's Cargo Cult approach to maintaining technology and its leaders' unshakable belief that the Status Quo Is God, or rather that God is Status Quo, human technology and culture have remained largely unchanged for the past ten thousand years.
    • This has bitten the Imperium in the ass on occasion. In one case a planetary purge and colonization was postponed indefinitely (due to a violent warp storm that enveloped the planet) abandoning the spear-wielding natives for over 6,000 years (technically 5,953 years, but who's counting?). They were more than a bit surprised when said spear-wielding natives showed up on some of their frontier colonies with railguns and plasma rifles.
    • The Eldar, as well as being quasi-immortal, have been trapped in a decadent, decaying culture since The Fall; expending their very limited resources on simply maintaining their existence in a universe where Everything Is Trying to Kill You.
    • Ork culture is far too chaotic and violent to ever manage to develop very far and their basic technology is innate knowledge coded in their genes. That said, they have managed to develop rough-and-ready tractor beams and mass teleporters that are much more effective (if more dangerous to the user) than any other race's equivalents quite recently in the current setting.
    • The Necrontyr turned themselves into mindless automatons serving Cosmic Horrors. On the other hand, they are so far ahead of everyone else already that it hardly matters. The armies used on the tabletop are scouts and raiding parties; their full-powered war machines aren't even reactivated yet.
  • Traveller did this twice. Once it was a deliberate act of social enginneering by the rulers of the First Imperium who thought it necessary for order. The second time, during the later Third had reasons unexplained.
  • In Fading Suns the Urth Orthodox church considers technology to be sinful and blames it for the fall of the Second Republic over a thousand years ago. In addition the only known extant alien race with more advanced technology, the Vau, haven't shown any technological advancement since they were contacted centuries ago.

Video Games
  • In Knights of the Old Republic, there are no noticeable technological differences (except the use of swords) with the society depicted in the Star Wars film franchise, despite the series being set thousands of years in the past.
  • In Halo the Covenant got all their advanced technology from reverse-engineering Forerunner tech, and are stated to have never actually learned higher mathematics. Also not helping is their near-40k level of religious refusal to improve on what they have. Cleanly averted by humanity, however, which continually innovates throughout the franchise to improve their odds of survival.
  • The Mass Effect universe has a zig-zagging example of the trope. On one hand, technology doesn't seem to have advanced too much since the Council started inhabiting the Citadel. On the other hand, we do know that it is advancing technologically, as more powerful "heat sink," based weapons are the norm by ME 2, as well as omni-gel proof systems, and by Mass Effect 3, Mech suits and omnitool lightsabers have come into practice. On the third hand, everything about the technology in the Mass Effect universe is a trap. Everything is reverse engineered from technology left behind by the Protheans, who reverse engineered the tech from another race that came before them, who did the same thing to the previous race, and so on and so forth. The entire tech base is a trap set by the Reapers, who use organic life to further their own technology before taking anything good, while having the benefit of millions of years of development to crush anything in their path.
    • On the FOURTH hand you have the Geth, the machine race that happen to not only have the most advanced technology (aside from the Reapers) and progress at the fastest rate, but since they believe in self determination, all of their tech is of their own design, and may be the only suitable counter against the Reapers.

Webcomics
  • In Schlock Mercenary five hundred year old Ob'enn military tech is nearly identical to their current technology, and on par with all but the most cutting edge UNS gear.


Community Feedback Replies: 67
  • June 22, 2012
    Shnakepup
    Aversion: Star Trek. The Next Generation has explicity more advanced technology than the original series, and Voyager more advanced still. Occasionally time-travelers from the future will show up with super-advanced tech as well.
  • June 22, 2012
    surgoshan
    • David Brin's Uplift series explicitly plants the Galactic civilization in the middle of this trope. After tens of millions of years, their opinion is that everything that can be discovered has already been discovered. What makes Humans Are Special is their drive to continue discovery.
  • June 22, 2012
    zarpaulus
    I take it this is a split off from Medieval Stasis?

    Examples where this is enforced in universe:
    • In Dune human society has been suspicious of technology since the Butlerian Jihad over 10,000 years before the first book. However after Leto II's death and the breakup of the empire many scattered colonies advance rapidly.
    • In Warhammer40000 the Adeptus Mechanicus forbid research as heresy and only try to rediscover old STC templates.
    • In Fading Suns the Urth Orthodox church considers technology to be sinful and blames it for the fall of the Second Republic over a thousand years ago. In addition the only known extant alien race with more advanced technology, the Vau, haven't shown any technological advancement since they were contacted centuries ago.
  • June 22, 2012
    Ghilz
    Heck, in Star Wars, as the Knights Of The Old Republic shows, technology has not changed in several millenia.

    As for the 40k Example, it's not strictly true, as new research and new ways to use the imperium decreasing technologies are constantly discovered. New Patterns of Weapons and even new designs are constantly made. The Rogue Trader book even points out the Battlecruiser type ships are an example since they are a fairly recent development (first ones were created in the 36th millenium) meant to replace the failing Grand Cruiser designs and fill the gap between cruisers and battleships. It's more a case that certain avenues of research are heretical, and that the Imperium's decay means that pretty much every time something new is (re)invented, several others things tend to be lost and forgotten. In that way, the trope is actually inverted.
  • June 22, 2012
    Jokubas
    Averted in A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, where at the end after millenia, the robots have evolved into the dominant lifeform on the planet
  • June 22, 2012
    Lumpenprole
    Averted in the Lensman series, where the war and the weapons tech progresses from interstellar to intergalatic to interdimensional.
  • June 22, 2012
    zarpaulus
    Mined from the Medieval Stasis page:

    Film
    • The technology of the Predators is never seen to advance, even when their appearances are hundreds of years apart. The Expanded Universe justifies this by explaining that a long time ago the Predators' society became all about the hunt, and they lost all interest in intellectual pursuits.
      • There is a sometimes-canon and sometimes-not explanation that their tech is stolen from an older race that attempted to occupy their planet. They can replicate and adapt it, but lack the understanding of its base principles to improve on it.
      • An easier explanation is that the only Predators we see are hunters who explicitly show "sportsmanlike" behavior, including killing only armed opponents and sparing, for example, pregnant women. It follows that the crazy-superior tech they are using is what they consider fair. Their tech may be better, but what is "fair" to use on the humans hasn't changed in hundreds of years. Much the same way some humans often still use bows to hunt deer rather than carpet-bombing them from the stratosphere.
        • Hinted in the current comics to be this, as it's about a clan of Predators who don't follow the hunter's code of honor.

    Literature
    • Such a stasis is also arguably the main theme and plot point of another Yulia Latynina novel: Inhuman, which is set in the dystopian interstellar Empire of Humans where, according to one of the characters, no technological advances were made for the last several centuries. The, uh, antagonists (both sides involved are villains by most measures), effectively an alien conspiracy masquerading as a government conspiracy, want to remedy this.
    • The Lizards in Harry Turtledove's Worldwar novels have been technologically stagnant for nearly 50,000 years, as have been the other alien species they conquered and subjugated in that time. Their leaders are quite surprised when, in the mere 800 years between their first reconnaissance flights over Earth in the 12th century and the arrival of their invasion fleet in 1942, that the human race has gone from horseback to radar.
      • It's also stated in the books that their slow technological development is at least in part on purpose. When something new is invented or discovered, it is introduced into their society over the course of decades or centuries, so they can study it's impact on society.
      • In the final book, one hundred years later the Lizards are only just beginning to consider what the difference in advancement might mean to their future when the first earth FTL ship arrives in orbit of their Homeworld. The Lizards didn't think FTL was possible and haven't thought about it, or even considered it, in their 50,000 year history.
    • An important plot point in Dan Simmons Hyperion Cantos is the fact that the Hegemony of Man is culturally and technologically stagnant, albeit with AI-given toys, while the Ouster "barbarians" have continued to progress.
    • In Larry Niven's Kzinti histories. The Kzin aren't terribly intelligent to begin with, and gained the great majority of their technology by rising up against their Jotok masters and offing most of them, and in a universe without FTL technology, it takes a LONG time for things to propagate over several hundred light-years of empire. Imperial standardization as well as simple physics kept the Kzin at a very, very, painfully minuscule level of advancement. The Kzin even have a priestlike caste called the Conservers Of The Ancient Past, whose job is to prevent unneeded change.
      • Though after the first couple wars with humanity they become much more motivated to advance, even acquiring hyperdrive shortly after Earth does.
    • Somewhat subtle in Orson Scott Card's Ender books. Enders Game is set Twenty Minutes into the Future, and the next book, which takes place 3,000 years later, is also Twenty Minutes into the Future, more or less. Not only have technology, politics and linguistics seen few apparent changes, but also social, cultural, and religious attitudes, which can seem rather incongruous, given the amount of change in all those fields during a comparable span of Earth history.
      • Most colonies were settled by ships moving at near-lightspeed, thus the passengers were effectively in Suspended Animation for centuries since leaving Earth.
    • The faster-than-light engine does that to societies in Harry Turtledove's The Road Not Taken. One of those (stuck in Napoleonic times, technologically) attacks 20th century Earth. It was a short invasion.

    More later
  • June 22, 2012
    jatay3
    Traveller did this twice. Once it was a deliberate act of social enginneering by the rulers of the First Imperium who thought it necessary for order. The second time, during the later Third had reasons unexplained.
  • June 22, 2012
    zarpaulus
    • The Mass Effect universe has a zig-zagging example of the trope. On one hand, technology doesn't seem to have advanced too much since the Council started inhabiting the Citadel. On the other hand, we do know that it is advancing technologically, as more powerful "heat sink," based weapons are the norm by ME 2, as well as omni-gel proof systems, and by Mass Effect 3, Mech suits and omnitool lightsabers have come into practice. On the third hand, everything about the technology in the Mass Effect universe is a trap. Everything is reverse engineered from technology left behind by the Protheans, who reverse engineered the tech from another race that came before them, who did the same thing to the previous race, and so on and so forth. The entire tech base is a trap set by the Reapers, who use organic life to further their own technology before taking anything good, while having the benefit of millions of years of development to crush anything in their path.
      • On the FOURTH hand you have the Geth, the machine race that happen to not only have the most advanced technology (aside from the Reapers) and progress at the fastest rate, but since they believe in self determination, all of their tech is of their own design, and may be the only suitable counter against the Reapers.
  • June 22, 2012
    zarpaulus
    • An interesting variant appears in Stargate SG-1, in which the Goa'uld are shown in ancient Egypt sequences as using the same technology as they do in the regular episodes. In the time that humans went from simple bows to nuclear missiles, the Goa'uld haven't added trigger guards to their guns. This is justified by Goa'uld culture being antithetical to good scientific practice (although Goa'uld scientists like Nirrti and Nerus do exist), and all their technology being stolen anyway, but to be this extreme, they need to be quite the Planet of Hats.
      • It's shown a few times that some isolated worlds, free from Goa'uld control, had actually advanced FURTHER technologically than humans on Earth.
      • Better yet, in the episode "Line in the Sand" a Power Crystal from an Ori weapon is used to power an Ancient cloaking device. They use an adapter, but Carter still says the reason it works is that "Ancient and Ori technology is similar," despite that the two civilizations were isolated from each other for fifty million years. This is somewhat justified, however, as the Ori were obviously not the intrepid scientists the Ancients were. The split occurred when the Ancients were near the height of their development anyway, and technological repression was in full effect. Considering that the Stargates were canonically invented by Ancients after the split yet they have a working network, it would be fair to say that the Ori simply used Ancient knowledge to build their stuff.
      • Justification is given in show that the Goa'uld don't want the primitive humans and Jaffa under their rule to have any understanding of how their tech works, as it's better for the ignorant masses to think that tech is "Magic," that only their god/goddess can activate.
  • June 22, 2012
    zarpaulus
    • In BattleTech, a series of violent civil wars have destroyed almost all the factories for Battlemechs, and the equipment that goes into them. Battlemechs from 500 years ago are more advanced than the ones being built at the time. ComStar is dedicated to retrieving LosTech and preserving/worshiping it.
      • This is eventually subverted as the timeline progresses. By the time of the Fed Com Civil War and Word of Blake Jihad, the Inner Sphere powers have rediscovered and even improved upon Star League technology, or invented entirely new equipment.
    • The Warhammer 40000 game setting is another sci-fi example of this trope: thanks to the Imperium of Man's Cargo Cult approach to maintaining technology and its leaders' unshakable belief that the Status Quo Is God, or rather that God is Status Quo, human technology and culture have remained largely unchanged for the past ten thousand years.
      • This has bitten the Imperium in the ass on occasion. In one case a planetary purge and colonization was postponed indefinitely (due to a violent warp storm that enveloped the planet) abandoning the spear-wielding natives for over 6,000 years (technically 5,953 years, but who's counting?). They were more than a bit surprised when said spear-wielding natives showed up on some of their frontier colonies with railguns and plasma rifles.
      • The Eldar, as well as being quasi-immortal, have been trapped in a decadent, decaying culture since The Fall; expending their very limited resources on simply maintaining their existence in a universe where Everything Is Trying To Kill You.
      • Ork culture is far too chaotic and violent to ever manage to develop very far and their basic technology is innate knowledge coded in their genes. That said, they have managed to develop rough-and-ready tractor beams and mass teleporters that are much more effective (if more dangerous to the user) than any other race's equivalents quite recently in the current setting.
      • The Necrontyr turned themselves into mindless automatons serving Cosmic Horrors. On the other hand, they are so far ahead of everyone else already that it hardly matters. The armies used on the tabletop are scouts and raiding parties; their full-powered war machines aren't even reactivated yet.
  • June 27, 2012
    BOFH
    Actually, Star Wars has some aversions: in the prequel trilogy, single seat fighter spacecraft need to attach an external rig for FTL travel, but they no longer need it in the original trilogy.
  • June 27, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In Isaac Asimov's original Foundation fairly quickly after the fall of The Empire nobody (outside the Foundation) knows how to maintain the various technology they use, which is all leftover from the time of the Empire, let alone develop new tech.
  • June 30, 2012
    Koveras
    Definitely averted in the Noon Universe: in the Far Rainbow, an entire planet's population dies because there was only one starship that could evacuate people and they loaded the children on it; by the time of The Kid From Hell (still within the same century), anyone can pretty much grow their own semi-organic starships from eggs in their backyard.
  • August 2, 2012
    zarpaulus
    • In Schlock Mercenary five hundred year old Ob'enn military tech is nearly identical to their current technology, and on par with all but the most cutting edge UNS gear.
  • August 2, 2012
    Cider
    I don't think the concepts are different enough to be different tropes. Medieval Stasis should be expanded, as most of the examples aren't heroic fantasy anyway. If I was around for the Modern Stasis proposal I would have said it then too, and it seems silly to have three pages which are all The Same But More Specific.
  • August 2, 2012
    dragonslip
    ^i'm inclined to agree but if thats not going to happen any time soon I think this needs to exist if the other two do
  • August 2, 2012
    Kellor
    On Deep Space Nine, the writers introduced a 3D holo-communicator to replace viewscreens specifically to avert this. It was dropped because it just added more technical problems.
  • August 2, 2012
    Doxiedame
    So probably just need to suggest a merge/expansion to clean up a few wicks. Unless the other two have a bunch of inbounds to consider?
  • August 2, 2012
    zarpaulus
    Well Medieval Stasis is a rather large page on its own, there are quite a few inbounds. The Modern Stasis page in comparison is about a tenth as long if that.
  • August 2, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Literature: In Arthur C Clarke's 3001, the final sequel to his 2001, a 3001-version-of-TV presenter opines that a person from the year 2000 would have a much easier time of adjusting were he to be suddently plopped into the year 3000 than a year 1000 man would adjusting to 2000, since the 3000 level of tech is relatively similar to the 2000 time, compared to the 1000-2000 difference. Not long after that Frank Poole, Dave Bowman's crewmember from the Odyssey, is discovered frozen floating in space and is brought back to life.
  • August 4, 2012
    fulltimeD
    For the record, I agree with Cider. Let's take Medieval Stasis to TRS.
  • August 4, 2012
    dragonslip
    "TRS"?
  • August 4, 2012
    Cider
    Uh, Trope Repair Shop(this is why I don't like acronyms very much)?
  • August 4, 2012
    fulltimeD
    sorry ;)
  • August 5, 2012
    Met
    I disagree with shnakepup about Star Trek The Next Generation. They still have tractor beams, shields, warp drive, transporters, phasers and tricorders. The only obviously more advanced technology I can think of is the holodeck.
  • August 5, 2012
    zarpaulus
    ^ And replicators, all they had in the original series was "protein resequencers".
  • August 5, 2012
    dragonslip
    "protein resequencers" was'nt that just ENT not TOS?
  • August 5, 2012
    dragonslip
    ^some acronyms I know lol :)
  • August 5, 2012
    fulltimeD
    ^^^^Their warp was faster; their phasers were more powerful, and they even eventually got quantum torpedoes.
  • August 5, 2012
    randomsurfer
    ^And the Federation developed their own Cloaking Device, although for various Hand Wavey plot-related reasons I don't recall off the top of my head they didn't use it. Also they developed flat touch-pads to use instead of having to flip switches.
  • August 6, 2012
    TBeholder
    @zarpaulus

    Warhammer40000 doesn't have all development stopped. There are e.g. different patterns of weapons and craft. Martian tech-priests' ideas of "machine spirits" sometimes stand in the way, but Ecclesiarchy doesn't bow to them all the time. However, the Imperium also insists on full technological compatibility, and it consists of over a million worlds, so outside Mars, strong self-contained organisations like branches of Inquisition are the only ones who conceivably can do anything new (like psi tech) "for internal use" and maybe later gradually give it to whoever works with them - but to these, R&D has secondary priority at best.
  • August 6, 2012
    fulltimeD
    ^^Mostly because of a treaty. Technically the Federation had cloaking but never used it for military applications in space; they did use it to hide anthropological researchers and their outposts on primitive planets.

    During the Dominion War the Romulans must have approved the use of cloaking devices on the minefield, like they agreed to loan a cloaking device to the Starship Defiant, since that was a cooperative effort by the Alliance against the Dominion.
  • August 6, 2012
    fulltimeD
    @dragonslip: TOS had "food slots." It's not clear what they actually were: primitive replications or protein sequencers, or just a sophisticated delivery system.
  • August 6, 2012
    JonnyB
    Needs A Better Name, I thought this was about things like hybernation and suspended animation, stasis fields, etc.
  • August 6, 2012
    JohnDiFool
    Real Life: A number of constraints can often come into play once a technology matures, making further advances too expensive from a cost-benefit perspective. 60 years after the first subsonic jet airliners, we are still flying around...in subsonic jet airliners, even though the technology to go significantly faster came into existence not long afterwards. To fly people at supersonic speeds simply involves too many constraints to make it profitable, at least for the moment. Factor in on top of that the inherent conservatism of most businesses and governments, who figure that, if it ain't broke, don't fix it, and statis of this sort can easily happen, be it in fiction or the real world.

    For another example, witness how slowly military tech progressed between WWI and WWII, a time when few thought there would be another conflict any time soon. Once hostilities commenced, the pace of innovation picked up very rapidly. Necessity is indeed often the mother of invention.
  • August 10, 2012
    TBeholder
    > For another example, witness how slowly military tech progressed between WWI and WWII, a time when few thought there would be another conflict any time soon.

    uh, lol?
  • July 7, 2013
    girlyboy
    The Honor Harrington 'verse: Once the "impeller drive" and Warshawski sails are perfected, basic ship design remains fundamentally the same for more than six hundred years. There are improvements to the efficiency and power of engines, weapons, and other systems, but the basic technology doesn't change. (It's like if 21st century warships were just bigger and faster versions of pre-Columbus era sailing ships). More generally, while most of the action of the novels takes place after the year 4000 by our calendar (and the timeline doesn't have any disasters that would have knocked tech progress back too far, either), many technologies seem remarkably unchanged -- computers, in particular, though they're widely used aboard starships, don't seem to have been improved much from what we have today, there doesn't seem to be any robotics technology, etc.
  • July 7, 2013
    girlyboy
    I'm not sure Star Trek is a solid aversion. It depends on how flexible this trope is. What if there is technological progress, but it seems pretty limited? The Next Generation's Enterprise-D was bigger, faster, and more powerful than the TOS-era Enterprise, but it was built by the same basic design principles. It was The Same But More -- the basic technology was essentially unchanged, just improved a bit here and there. Fundamentally, there was nothing the Enterprise-D could do that the original Enterprise could not.
  • July 7, 2013
    eowynjedi
    With Star Trek, there's also advancement between TNG, DS 9, and VOY. Some of it is for ideological reasons (DS 9 introduces a warship, but Starfleet's about exploring) but some of it is genuine tech advancement, such as VOY's biogel packs for the starship systems. There's also Data, who while not widespread is a big leap. Between TOS and TNG, although the basics of their stock technology remain the devices themselves become more advanced (communicators become a badge, tricorders are much smaller in size, computer displays become much better). Warp drives in TNG on also look significantly different than in TOS (giant glowing maggot in TNG and pretty light tube in VOY), so yeah, it is a question of flexibility. Technology has clearly improved, but if it only counts for brand new inventions rather than significant improvements to existing technology, it gets tricky.

    Also, ENT shows that things changed a lot between pre-Starfleet and Kirk-era, i.e. roughly 100 years: grapplers to tractor beams, transporters had only just been approved for use by people and are only used at absolute need, hull armor instead of energy shields, food prepared in a mess hall rather than resequenced from other matter, and Red Alert was invented on the show.

    And on a different note with the Knights of the Old Republic: is it worth noting that the comic book Tales of the Jedi (which the games use a lot of names and other plot features from, and took place just 4 decades previously) is a total aversion?
  • July 7, 2013
    girlyboy
    Voyager's gelpacks didn't really seem to change anything in practice, except for one episode where they got "sick," if I recall right... Data is, if anything, an example of stasis -- he was a unique prototype, basically, and Starfleet did not have the technology to replicate him successfully (which is why they wanted to take him apart in that episode where he first defended his legal rights). Data tried building an android himself, once, and could not achieve it either -- his daughter eventually died. And remember, Starfleet did encounter working androids in a couple of TOS episodes! I don't think there was anything stopping them from studying the androids on Mudd's planet, at least, and those seemed only somewhat less sophisticated than Data... And while there were visual differences between how the warp drives looked, in effect they all did the same thing and worked the same way, and ships always seemed to move at the speed of plot, anyway...

    And as for the Enterprise era... Again, if anything, it's even more stasis. Their transporters may have been limited, but they still existed, and in practice worked about as well as those from later eras. And Starfleet didn't have tractor beams, but the Vulcans did... Pretty much all tech improvement seemed to be The Same But More, and usually with only limited effects on the actual storylines...

    But yeah... I am not sure at which point this trope starts applying. Intuitively, I have the feeling that "realistically" things should have changed a lot more between the various Star Trek series in terms of technology, but of course there's no actual real-life basis for wondering about this. The fact that in practice the technology seemed to be essentially the same does seem significant, however -- intuitively, this trope surely applies when it seems like all the technology was already invented in one instalment of a work, and we never see anything genuinely new in other instalments set in different times... On the other hand, the fact that some limited changes did take place certainly seems worth noting as well.
  • July 7, 2013
    eowynjedi
    Point taken on Data, but I think it still counts as technological advancement if humans learn the technology from someone else, as with the tractor beams, and the food resequence/hull plating still applies. (Though I admit that SF Debris' criticism of the "old technology" is pretty spot-on when it comes to armor v. shields.) Warp drives go from a top speed of 5 to a top speed of whatever-Scotty-says-it-can't-go in a hundred years, though the "warp equation" the writers used was recalculated between TOS and TNG if I recall right. Warp 5 itself was a huge improvement over the previous top speed of 2, which took place within 80 years of the first warp flight and without much Vulcan help. And since moving at the speed of plot is so ubiquitous, I think it can still be taken as a visual indicator that the technology has improved. It's just not relevant in most situations to technobabble about the differences between the Enterprise-D warp core and the one on the Defiant; we can take the visual clues or the characters' word that biogel packs are better, even if we don't know the technical details. But that also brings up the question of whether or not an Informed Attribute can avert the trope.

    Holotechnology is also a notable improvement because it's not only used for entertainment or that one-off 3D projector thing; they also developed the EMH during DS 9 and it became a standard feature on starships. A quasi-sentient, computer-generated medical expert that has the potential (with a lot of juryrigging, admittedly) to become fully sentient is a fairly significant achievement.

    Another computer improvement is that I seem to remember Kirk's crew sticking floppy disks / memory card things into the computer for situations other than the proto-replicators sometimes, and subsequent series tended to use little glass chips or data rods instead, though again it depends if a floppy disk -> USB level of improvement is enough to not count for the trope.
  • July 7, 2013
    zarpaulus
    Yeah, I don't think Honor Harrington is an example, we have used sails for over 5,000 years, it doesn't seem too unreasonable for them to use the same propulsion for a mere six hundred. And several new technologies were developed in the book series itself, like FTL Radio. Not to mention how Manticore and its allies are apparently tearing through the League's centuries old fleets.
  • July 8, 2013
    keithtyler
    ST:Phoenix (live action fanfic) is guilty of this on a few levels... one, they still use phasers; two, they still use ST:TNG era control panels.
  • July 8, 2013
    MattStriker
    The Honorverse is an example of what happens when somebody suddenly breaks out of Space Age Stasis and launches into a Lensman Arms Race instead. The Solarian League plays the trope completely straight and is paying the price for it...aside from two ambush engagements (one of which still ended in manticoran victory) every single fight they've been in has been a complete Curb Stomp Battle.

    Another example from Comic Books:

    • In the world of Buck Godot Zapgun For Hire, species who make it into space tend to slow down their development.
      "Some races never pull out of this period, and have remained quiet background players for millennia, unlike more dynamic races that burst upon the galactic scene, and attempt to found empires, evolve into higher forms, reveal shattering new religious, philosophical, cosmological or mathematical systems or sell something. Therefore, unlike most of these dynamic young races, they will probably be around for more than a few millennia before being wiped out or forgotten."
  • July 8, 2013
    StarSword
    Was this approved as a split from Medieval Stasis? I'd be more inclined to broaden it rather than make a new trope.

    Still, the 40k example should probably mention how the tau fit into it, being the only faction that is actually improving their tech on a consistent basis (they have the resources and don't have religious concerns getting underfoot). 6,000 years ago they had barely discovered fire, but by sheer dumb luck of a Warp storm stopping the Imperium from exterminating them they're now a starfaring society.

    Literature:
    • Downplayed in the Alex Benedict series. Firebird states that humanity has mastered higher physics and, though there are occasional advances (somebody develops a somewhat faster FTL drive, for example), for the most part there's not much in the way of new tech being developed anymore.

    Video Games:
    • In Halo the Covenant got all their advanced technology from reverse-engineering Forerunner tech, and are stated to have never actually learned higher mathematics. Also not helping is their near-40k level of religious refusal to improve on what they have. Cleanly averted by humanity, however, which continually innovates throughout the franchise to improve their odds of survival.
  • July 8, 2013
    dragonquestz
    Use another word than "stasis", since that has another meaning in sci fi. It will likely get misused for putting people in stasis.
  • July 8, 2013
    StarSword
    Suggestion: Make this a Missing Supertrope and call it Technological Stasis.
  • July 8, 2013
    Generality
    This is pretty much standard in Space Opera, where each species might have its strengths, but the overall technological level is constant throughout the cosmos.
  • July 8, 2013
    MetaFour
    Further aversions in the Star Wars films: In the prequel trilogy, holograms are monochromatic, and prosthetic limbs (even for Jedi Knights, who ought to have access to top-of-the-line medical tech) have overtly robotic, shiny metal exteriors. In the original trilogy, holograms are full-color, and even the Rebellion has access to prosthetic limbs which are nearly indistinguishable from real ones.
  • July 10, 2013
    girlyboy
    Support Star Sword's Missing Supertrope suggestion. It seems like there's a single basic idea behind the various "stasis" tropes.
  • July 10, 2013
    StarSword
    Somebody's going to need to take this over and get it cleaned up. OP hasn't been here since last August.
  • July 10, 2013
    girlyboy
    Huh, I didn't realise how old this was. D:
  • July 11, 2013
    Arivne
    Namespaced and italicized work titles.
  • July 12, 2013
    aurora369
    An addition to the Traveller example: the stasis in the Third Imperium was explained in some but not all editions of Traveller as a lingering ideologem ingrained in the Vilani culture that was adopted by Solomani by means of cultural cross-pollination.
  • July 12, 2013
    crazysamaritan
    Literature
    • Isaac Asimov's Foundation series is a complex example.
      • At the height of the Galactic Empire, technology was FTL, a central planet was a multilevel city with diverse cultures and goals, defying Planet Of Hats, despite the rest of the galaxy being recognized as having them. But because technology was so advanced, people were convinced The Singularity had been reached, and stopped studying the sciences. Which meant their culture was losing the ability to do maintanence (preventative or repairing). After a few centuries or millennia, the technology would be destroyed.
      • In Universe legends tell future galactic citizens that Hari Seldon realized this, and created The Plan. A plan that would restore the civilization after a mere 10,000 years, instead of the predicted 30,000.
      • The plan involved sending a group of librarians/editors to a backwater planet at the edge of the milky way. An unwanted planet because of the scarcity of materials and distance from center. These flaws forced the colonists to adapt their technology to work better. Eventually, their technology created The Singularity in reference to a planet of psychic-powered elites, and a planet of communal intelligence. This three away tie of tech, psychic individuals, and a psychic planet was the climax of Foundation's Edge.
  • July 12, 2013
    zarpaulus
    • It's not quite clear how much technology has advanced in the three thousand years between Enders Game and Speaker for the Dead since the latter largely takes place on a backwater colony world, but the most visible difference is that ship drives capable of instantaneous acceleration to relativistic speed (experimental when Ender left the Solar system) have become commonplace. Might be justified by the limitations of slower-than-light travel.
  • July 12, 2013
    dspeyer
    Given the sheer number of examples, I suggest Technological Stasis be an page with index-like properties in which Medieval Stasis, Modern Stasis and Space Opera Stasis are listed tropes and the on-page examples would be those which don't fit one of the categories. Actually, the only thing I can think of that isn't one of those three is the Zones of Thought universe, in which varies stases co-exist at different distances from the galactic core. But there must be a hunter-gatherer stasis or a steampunk stasis somewhere.
  • July 12, 2013
    dspeyer
    I do think Star Trek is an example. When Scotty materialized 75 years late on the Enterprise D, he felt obsolete, but he didn't feel the kind of deep confusion that someone from 1938 would feel in 2013.
  • July 12, 2013
    StarSword
    ^Not to mention the silliness where Starfleet's still using regulations he wrote 75 years earlier.
  • July 12, 2013
    zarpaulus
    Does The Singularity really need to be referenced twice in the description?
  • August 16, 2013
    zarpaulus
    Started development on a supertrope
  • August 17, 2013
    zarpaulus
  • August 17, 2013
    StarSword
    Somebody needs to actually take this over and do some Rolling Updates first.
  • August 18, 2013
    zarpaulus
    ^ Got the updates covered.
  • August 18, 2013
    GKaiser
    Also worth adding that keeping humans in a technological lull was part of the Vulcan master plan on Enterprise. Can't have those pink-skins develop too fast!
  • August 18, 2013
    DAN004
    launch plz.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=c4u0rq2di0d9tkr0apt3m3zt&trope=SpaceAgeStasis