As often mentioned here, I am no fan of post-modernist hyper-relativism. This is the idea that scientific truth is impossible and that all our ideas about the world are “socially constructed”, that is, that people negotiate agreements about what the world is like and thus determine what is real. Being a realist, I am convinced that there is a single real world out there, and that though not infallible, science is finding out a lot of true information about it. (Just as I am able to find out in a non-socially-constructed way whether there is any milk in the fridge.)
On the other hand, I am a fan of Ursula K. LeGuin. So I was irked when I read the last few stories in her otherwise fine 1994 short story collection A Fisherman of the Inland Sea. Here she introduces (and, luckily, promptly drops) a post-modernist warp drive for space ships, the “churten drive”.
In “The Shobies’ Story” and “Dancing to Ganaan”, we learn that the churten drive will take your space ship instantaneously to another place regardless of distance. Trouble is, you won’t arrive until everybody aboard the ship has negotiated an agreement about what the destination is like. In fact, the destination apparently doesn’t exist until such an agreement has been reached. Gah.