Worlds & Time

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Fictional Weapons

Weapons are a problem for my science fiction universe.

Most of the science fiction that I can think of, especially on television, use energy weapons primarily. It’s easy enough to draw a red line into a shot, much more so than a spray of bullets.

The problem involves spaceship battles. To make my drive systems fit into the story I have to postulate that they can shield themselves from energy and radiation by redirecting it away. If lasers and impellers just bounce off of the ship you’re shooting at, then they’re not much use.

So, do I have energy weapons in my universe? Yes. Do they bounce off other ships? No, they cause some damage. How do I explain the discrepancy?

I don’t.

I could always just say that they’ve made some spectacular technical advancement, or that the shields work in some unexplainable way, but I haven’t. Instead, I just point to it as a point where convenience of the story outweighs my universe’s physical laws. I need the ease and familiarity of energy weapons, even if I shouldn’t have access to them. So, I’ll include them in my books, and consciously avoid explaining how they work.

There are three other categories of ship to ship weapons in my universe. Kinetic weapons (i.e. bullets) would have a similar problem as energy weapons when passing through shields. They’re also excessively destructive. I know that sounds odd when talking about weapons, but I don’t want every hit to destroy a ship, and even small tears in the skin of a spaceship can cause very severe problems.

They’re also very, very difficult to aim over large distances. Space is vast, and projectiles are relatively slow and can’t change course. If you’re far enough away when someone attacks you, the easiest way to avoid the bullet is to move out of the way and let it pass you.

The most realistic weapons are missiles. With independent propulsion they’re faster than projectiles and can compensate for minor course corrections. If they’re energy missiles, like photon torpedoes from Star Trek, then they can also be shaken off. Battlestar Galactica uses a lot of missiles, so people are more used to them, but I still like the visual of either a burst or lance of fire searching through the void. So I’ll work with both.

I also have some new unrealistic weapons in my universe. The most interesting ones are the “claws.” If you’ll remember, my version of an FTL drive involves the manipulation of space. Gravity claws focus the spatial distortion of the drives into another ship, and then create an imbalance. The ship is literally ripped apart at the seams.

The claws are absolutely vicious, but they’re relatively short range. After all, the drives are supposed to create a small bubble around a ship, and extending that into a weapon requires a lot of energy.

Despite my problems with them, all of these kinds of weapons exist in my universe. At the moment, I doubt you’ll see them very often.

When I do discuss them, I’ll have to use better terms than “energy weapon” or “missiles.” Matt taught me how much specifics mean to professional fighters. So, I’ll have to know a set of brand names, especially with the slew of energy weapons that will exist. The DI Tech SX with a full range rotating mount. The Kobayin MP Ionizing Heavy Blaster. A set of 4 XR Brightline nukes with independent K guidance and Brightpoint™ maneuvering.

And this doesn’t even include the hand weapons.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home