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Space Is Slow Motion
"Walk slow and stupid — we're on the Moon!"

Stuff happening in zero gravity requires a whole new outlook on the laws of physics as we're aware of them, but most writers ignore that and just make things move slower and floatier.

Never mind that in many circumstances, objects move faster in zero gravity since, obviously, there's no gravity to slow them down. If you kick off from a wall, you'll travel as fast your legs propel you. This trope presumably originates from footage of astronauts deliberately moving very slowly, because they know it's easy to let momentum get the better of you and hurt yourself bashing into something. It may also be a weird side-effect of Space Friction, or of writers' only personal experience of "weightlessness" being a dip in the swimming pool.

Examples

  • This trope gets its origins in popular media from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Sure, everything was beautiful, but everything also moved at a crawl.
    • Averted and subverted actually. The workpods Frank and Dave use move very slowly, but you don't want to hurry when slinging a multi-ton pod around delicate exterior equipment. But when Frank is murdered by HAL he flails around wildly as he suffocates, and Dave bounces all over the airlock when he makes his famous Spacewalk Sans Helmet.
  • Played straight during the spacewalk sequence in Star Trek: First Contact.
  • Played so straight in the series Space1999 that they filmed moonwalking scenes in slow motion.
  • Subverted at length (and with obvious relish from author Anthony Horowitz) in the space-set sequence that concludes the Alex Rider novel Ark Angel. The first thing Alex does in space is bang his head after getting up too quickly. At one point he gets stranded in the middle of a room and has to throw his shoes to propel himself in the other direction (equal opposite reaction etc). Later he throws a hammer at an enemy, expecting it to drift slowly - instead it zooms across the room and hits the guy very painfully on the shoulder.
  • Quite definitely disproved in MythBusters: flailing around and then slowing down the clip looks a lot different than actual zero-gravity movement.
  • Massively averted in an episode of Planetes where the crew barely manage to move a piece of debris out of the way of an oncoming spacecraft in time - said spacecraft flashes by very fast.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures: Jackie and Hak Foo end up fighting in space during the Moon Demon episode, and Hak Foo is forced to rethink his attack names. "Tiger prowls...through pudding? Turtle...fist! Sloth...kick!"
  • Partial Truth in Television: Anyone who watches live feeds of space shuttles in orbit gets the impression that everything moves slower because when they rotate the position of the shuttle, they do it at a snail's pace to make sure they don't overshoot. Never mind that just to be in orbit, said shuttle is travelling around the earth at tremendous velocity...
    • It is often necessary to move carefully in space, thus slower. Explained in many Science Fiction novels as 'You may be weightless, but you still have mass'. While it may feel and even look like you're floating serenely through space like a feather, in reality you just launched yourself at an aluminum bulkhead, head first, at several miles per hour.
    • This is enforced by the fact that the maneuvering thrusters on the shuttle are really weak — emphasizing precision over speed. From a standing start, it would take the shuttle over five minutes to do a complete roll.
  • Alien averts this trope during the space burial.
  • In the Firefly pilot episode Serenity there is a scene where Serenity is passing a Reaver ship in open space. They are both in transit between planets or moons, moving in opposite directions, but pass each other at roughly jogging speed. At that rate it would take them (hold on, let me do the math, let's see, nuthin, and nuthin, carry the nuthin) roughly FOREVER to get there.
  • This trope is the reason Samus moves so slowly in the air the Smash Bros. games.

The Slow WalkVelocity IndexSpeed Blitz
Space Is NoisySpeculative Fiction TropesSpace Madness
Space Is NoisyTropes in SpaceSpace Jews

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