Hyper Drives Part 1

 Imagine if we took a drill and (somehow) bored a tunnel from the North to South Pole. The tunnel is kept in a vacuum, the walls frictionless. We take a sealed car and drop it on the hole. After 38-42 minutes the car arrives at the South Pole. Gravity draws the car to the center of the Earth and afterwards slows it down. We soon realize there are few people who want to go from the North to South Pole and dig a new tunnel from Antarctica to Australia allowing researchers and easy commute. We drop a car into the tunnel and discover it also takes about 40 minutes to drive. In fact any tunnel connecting any two points on the Earth's surface will allow a gravity assisted transit in about 40 minutes.  The transit time is a function of the density of the planet and the gravitational constant. Assume our universe is a skin over 'hyper-space'. Stars and planets are laid out on the skin. If you break this skin then hyper-space does its best to drag you in. It could be a very elaborat

Needlers and the Port Authority

Needlers have been mentioned in many science fiction stories going way back. They may be second only to blasters in space opera settings. Despite this there's only a vague (or several) notions what they are. They range from energy weapons to slugthrowers and the only consensus is that they have a very small bore size. So I consider myself to have a free run here. Boarding actions are much rarer than entertainment media would have you believe. There are good reasons for this. People boarding a ship are either extremely well prepared, armed, and skilled -or incompetent (lunatics, morons, fanatical take yer pick). If your ship is boarded by the former the best maneuver is to lay your weapons on the deck and make no sudden movements. Boarding actions by the latter are usually met with resistance because the defenders have nothing to lose. They are likewise met with booby traps, explosive decompression and many other tricks when they least expect it.  The thing most media fails to

Unobtainium: It's Not Just for Breakfast!

When does Unobtainium become Handwavium? Is one the depleted form of the other? Are they related like Inertron and Ultron? Are they like different colors of kryptonite? Most people consider FTL flight to be Handwavium (or Unobtainium YMMV). It runs through most SF stories. In truth there's a lot more handwaving going on than you'd expect. Here's a number of hand waves that are accepted and don't even strain disbelief for most people. This is because (and politicians know this) people will believe anything for a good story. 1) Reactionless Drives -I'm including Trek and SW drives in this. Your ships turn off the warp/hyper/shunt drive, go STL, and  decide to peel and ... they go fast. No blast, no exhaust, no trail. Option: you have artistically glowing drive ports. Also there is no evidence 'impulse' or 'ion' drives have to do the flip over maneuver to decelerate. Ships also have invisible reaction control systems. 2) Superdense Fuel - Where th

Love for the Launch

 Ladies and gentlemen please turn your attention to that unsung little hero of space commerce: the launch! Weighing in at 20 dTons with an acceleration of one gee, launches are often dismissed entirely in any discussion of shipping. Consider though that a launch comes in at a piddling 5.75 Mega credits. A Miner or Courier nearly seven times that. A Frontier Trader runs sixteen times as much! The Frontier Trader also moves at 2 gees, not much faster. For all these ships, assuming a mortgage, what makes more business sense? Have your ship docked in an orbital element being seen to while you negotiate your next round of speculation cargo and secure freight and passengers, or having it spend several hours or days landing cargo at various destinations and picking up shipments? Besides free traders, many frontier systems eagerly seek to exploit their asteroids and worlds. The launch can easily supply outposts and stations up to five A.U.s away (a week's travel at one gee). While they are

Dieselpunk Manifesto Part 14: A Nest of Spies and Villains!

130-144 Buck is pursuing a Mongol assassin through Niagara when he encounters Lanlu -'the Emperor's favorite!' Quick aside, Lanlu is a scheming social climber who'd really put Cinderella to shame. When we last left her Wilma had beaten the shit out of her in the course of Buck and Wilma's escape and left her seeing stars in the service tunnels under the Mongol city. Lanlu had wanted to get rid of Wilma to become the Emperor's favorite and from Rogers' exclamation it appeared to have worked. Then again what does Rogers know? Then again he is tied in with the Golden Dragons and could have made inquiries about Lanlu. One wonders what Wilma would make of these inquiries. Lanlu spins a tale about being on her honeymoon and distracts Buck long enough for the spy he was chasing to bend a blackjack around Buck's skull. They quickly dodge a a small crowd, explaining Buck is drunk and they are helping him home. They bring him to the leader of the spy ring -K

Dolls and Devils

 French Resistance sent a bizarre tale to Allied Intelligence. A French doctor, a Vichy traitor, was collaborating with the Third Reich. Doctor Le F. had spent some years out of the. country after several scandals. On returning law enforcement was about to take him in for questioning in several disappearances when Germany began their invasion. Dr. Le F. had conducted amazing experiments in the reduction of living things. Under the occupation he was sent to a secure facility near Vichy and set up with a well equipped and guarded lab. Spies in the Resistance reported he had a two stage process. The first stage would reduce a human being to 1-2 feet in height. The second stage could reduce them to six to 12 inches. At great risk one of Le F's assistants escaped with lab notes, serum samples, and amazingly, a foot tall female subject designated Mini-Marie. In the course of their experiments the Nazis determined that the first stage of reduction often resulted in emotional issues and ps

We Has Met the Enemy Part Five

The Earth Defense force’s first attempt to build a battleship was classic Dunning-Kruiger effect. They had never built a battleship before. They had built a fine series of cruisers, typified by the Luna. The Terrans though building a battle ship was simply a matter of scaling it up. Of course several bureaus submitted designs. The design the Terrans chose initially was a monster, over four times the size of the Luna series. Engines delivered double the thrust. Four outrigger style secondary hulls to hold huge stores of ordinance for long duration battles.  Megan Detwiler had registered strong doubts about the feasibility of the battleship design, the Electorates decision making powers, and the future of the human species. Soon after a succession of disasters involving gun turrets, field emitters, airlocks and the self esteem of a number of engineers, the Electorate ordered the designers to start from scratch.  In a quandry, they turned to Admiral Buckner for advice. In the

Ship Dossier: Launches

Ship Dossier: Launches
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