Monday, May 8, 2017

Dieselpunk Manifesto Episode 2

So which helmet do the bad guys wear?

That's just to remind you I'm still laying out stuff (and selling said stuff). Anyhoo ...

When last we left Buck Rogers (strip #10) Wilma was missing on patrol. Buck was placed in command of a small squadron (three biplanes!) and sent to look for her. Considering the Americans were still under constant raids by the Airlords, who also controlled the skies, this was a helluva a case for no one left behind.

While searching Buck receives a transmission from Wilma saying the Airlords are at Akron and heading towards Cleveland or Buffalo (she apparently had a poor sense of geography outside Pennsylvania.) In a flashback in strip 11 the Airlords use a sensor device that can scan through the trees of the forest to spot Wilma and (being a squad of flesh peddlers) they pronounce her beautiful. I guess the sensor was very short range. Otherwise they'd mount them on their ships and wipe out the Americans once and for all or American installations were really well hidden.

You wonder what these guys are thinking, abducting a girl who is basically a trained killer to present to their emperor as his next main squeeze. I'll also note the soldier in the back has what looks like an old style rifle and bayonet.

After abducting Wilma and playing with her jump belt she manages to break away from the pimps of the Airlords (am I veering into Alpha Blue territory here?) and send her distress call. The Emperor video conferences his squad, is smitten and sends a squadron of airships to pick up the group. as Buck and his three biplanes rush to the rescue!

Spotting the group Buck and his cohorts bail out using their jumping belts and leaving their planes on remote control (by Buck's pilot who never really gets a mention or any time on panel). They beat the stuffing out of the flesh peddlers just as the Airlord squadron shows up.  They use their jumping belts to get back to their planes, Buck needs to climb a rope to his as the goons who abducted Wilma apparently lost her inertron jumping belt ("I don't understand, I put it down right over ... oh oh ...") In the course of the escape Buck and Wilma fall from the line and land in the Ohio River where they are rescued and robbed by scruffy wasteland types characterized by a racist term who grab their gear.

Stuck in a cave, Wilma finds a disintegrator ray in a pile of trash and managed to get it working. Turns out she's an 'electronist'. The disintegrator looks like an old fashioned two handed power drill and we're told picks up power from the Airlords' broadcast power system.

In this scene we see how beamed power is a good way to enable to enable your enemies to kill you. For that matter since Wilma knows the workings of a disintegrator so intimately, you wonder why the Americans don't have their own disintegrators to tap into the Airlord power broadcast and hand them a nasty surprise now and then. Rocket shells cost money man,

 They use it to tunnel out of the cave after which it quits on them because disintegrating their robbers would just be too easy. Under Wilma's direction they strike out for the Youngstown Org. Along the way Buck teaches Wilma the finer points of camping out like building a fire and crafting a bow and arrow to hunt game. Even I have to call bullshit here. Wilma grew up in the forests, patrolled the forest and you would think her training would include survival techniques in case, I dunno, she lost her equipment to robbers or something similar. After putting an arrow through a bear they make it back to civilization and are immediately ordered to convey a dispatch to the Columbus Org.

One wonders what is in this dispatch that requires physical transportation. Everybody had radio phones. Then again Columbus seems to get a harder time from the Han than the Pennsylvania Org.

To cross the Ohio River Buck comes up with an ingenious use of their jumping belts. Wilma, it seems can't swim a stroke. So ...

This is a good way to keep your gear dry! I will pont out that Wilma's lack of swimming ability doesn't mean a hoot. She couldn't sink wearing her belt!! Her effective weight is too little. We also see one of the jumping belt flaws, there's no way to release part of the inertron in case you find yourself too light to deal with a situation.

While we're at it ... the average density of air at sea level is 1.27 kilograms. An average human takes up about a cubic meter of volume (though not in cube form (that'd be uncomfortable, messy and possibly fatal.) In strip 2 Wilma shows Buck how to wear a belt and remarks he only weighs about 2 kilograms. The belts reduce the danger of falling to almost nothing because their wearers are little denser than air. A little more inertron would give them neutral buoyancy and they'd behave like small airships! This buoyancy and air resistance keeps them from falling too fast! A few times the book mentions that people seem to fall more slowly than normal due to this resistance. It can't just be because of their lessened weight. Galileo had a lot to say on that subject

This is a good thing because when you hit ground it will be with all the kinetic energy of your mass (which inertron doesn't affect). You want to be going slow. Even experienced users make mistakes as we'll see. You're sort of playing parkour with gravity.

This wouldn't help you at all if you were falling in a vacuum like on the Moon. Two kilograms humans fall as fast as 70 kilogram humans without air resistance. Then again vacuum worlds usually have low gravity anyway.

It also doesn't help against spin gravity or acceleration forces unless you're close to a planet and boosting away. But I'm getting ahead of myself. That's next story arc.