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Dieselpunk Manifesto Part 13: River Dragons

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This review deals with strips Buck Rogers strips 120-29 found   here . Flying over the Mississippi near the ruins of Davenport, Buck is surprised by a ... well he says it better than I can: Presented as written. Seriously Buck? I think Buck and Wilma need some more couple time. Be that as it may he descends into the Dragons' underwater base. You have to admire the Han's civil engineering. A couple of scientists build an underwater base and two super weapons and support apparatus, all on the low down. Despite the danger descends ready for a scrap. Wilma even says it's terribly dangerous -I think she's screwing with Buck at this point and giving the Dragons a little payback for gassing her (this is the second time after all.) Buck soon discovers that Morke Ka-Lono and Om Ka-Zoril were contrite about their little misunderstanding. A kind word can get you far, a kind world and a brace of rocket pistols will get you even farther! They quickly turn things o

We Has Met the Enemy Part Three

The Martians had small attack saucers. These were force multipliers. A ship was limited in the number of turrets it could use effectively. Power was only one consideration, and not as big as some thought. The firing arcs were a major consideration. The bulk of a ship would allow only some turrets to fire at a fixed point, Getting all the turrets to fire at the same fixed point involved rolling the ship. This meant ships were accelerating, dodging and spinning during a fight. The more turrets the more spinning was involved. Plus turrets took up a nontrivial amount of mass for machinery to rotate the turret quickly and then stabilize it for a shot. The upshot was you mounted one turret per 1000-1500 cubic meters of hull. The Triumph class would have 12 triple speed launchers. A fighter would carry a single turret due to considerations of hull strength but you could carry a bunch of fighters in 1000-1500 as opposed to mounting a single turret. Then there was the matter of ground support

Viva the Shuttles

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Metal armored pontoons just sounds wrong. It did to the admirals and the Earth Defense Council. The Earth's new Space Fleet needed shuttles though and Admiral Buckner's one time protege and now ally, Captain Destry of the Special Forces, was lobbying for this unlikely design. The Viva (working name) was small, fast and easy enough to build. Four solium powered rocket engines would get her to orbit and fast. Breakthroughs in metalizing and crystalizing hydrogen led to newer safer methods of storing the solium. Larger ships refined and manufactured the stuff as it was needed. The shuttle didn't have the energy reserves for that. The lack of a reactor meant the Viva had a more energetic re-entry than ships with anti-gravs (though not as terrible as the old chem engines the used re-entry to shed all  their velocity). Instead of landing gear, the shuttles had pontoons for water landings and take offs. That was the crux of the brass' misgivings. Would pontoons survive

New Speeder

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So I started with an image: I couldn't find the original image. There was a series of abandoned Soviet installations and vehicles. It was the dead of winter in that photo and somewhat indistinct. So I filled in the holes (figuratively and literally). A lot of Soviet stuff looks sort of dieselpunk. Their mad science is legendary.  I gave the poor bird wings and several engines. I was tired of antigravity. This bad boy was going to burn metallic hydrogen and be fast .  I went with two versions to start. The one with the mirror canopy (left on top, right on bottom) has extended wings. These are racers. Given the power of the engines and the energy density of sodium (my unobtainium version of fuel) there are two main circuits, Trans Atlantic and Trans Pacific. As in you fly across one or the other. Spacecraft use special antigravity fields to keep their rocket engines from melting. These speeders don't have that luxury. Instead as they race, they have to const

Halfway

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We knew there were extrasolar planets out there. Mars, Earth, Luna, everyone wanted them without knowing why. Slower than light was no good. An expedition had to go to another star and return while the administration that launched it was still in office. Preferably right before elections. Space had to be removed, folded, persuaded to GTFO of the way. Many people worked on it. Then research announced a breakthrough, a drive that would could insure a landslide election victory and coincidentally cut down travel ties to the stars from centuries to weeks. Several ships were lost testing the Drive. That was bad enough. But then the Artemis returned. Some people thought that might be even worse. The Luna was in range to make an intercept. We hung on for dear life as she shed velocity dumping it on Sol, Mars and Vesta, as her radiators glowed red under field drive. Her tactical rocket engines shed the last few kilometers per second of velocity difference and we came to rest a kilometer

We Has Met the Enemy Part Two

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The work on the Triumph continued with some major hiccups. The structural engineers were not happy but they were never happy because a) they knew everyone should build spherical ships for the greatest hull strength, volume to surface ratio and b) after turning out a perfectly nice hull, the avionics, weapons, propulsion and operations monkeys just swarmed putting holes in it for avionics, weapons, propulsion, and operations (well airlocks mainly). The propulsion group had a new greeble that carefully and forcefully adjusted the anti-gray for fine maneuvering. This could save many tons and dollars for a cold gas style reaction control system. This also led to a brief flare up of the old civil war between the reactionless and reaction drives departments. The new greeble was a long probe mounted atop each outer pod with various vanes and panels extending. It seemed fine until the weapons team said the optimum placement of the missile turrets would be right under them. From her new HQ

Dieselpunk Manifesto Part 12: One Morke for the Road

This review deals with strips Buck Rogers strips 110-19 found   here . Om Ka-Zoril is about to renege on his surrender and sweetheart deal to the Americans, Back and Wilma. The two Orgzone scouts are amazed by one of those magic television systems that treats them to various views of Golden Dragon operations (theft of disintegrators, blackmail evidence on a viceroy etc.) Om stands behind them a monkey wrench in hand and is about to bash their heads in. I doubt it would work. Number one, Om Ka-Zoril is not used to physical combat (he surrenders to Buck pretty quick.) I could probably take him. Number two, there are two of them and once he conked one the other would beat the hell out of him. Number three, they are wearing helmets so he might not even land a solid shot. As it happens Om decides they would be more useful to him left alive and that the deal he offered is pretty good for him. He quickly hides the wrench in his robes. Buck says that running the Goden Dragons could be vi

We Has Met the Enemy ...

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The time leading up to the Solar War was tense. Earthmen had modified their research ships (Luna class) to do practically everything. Customs, trading, intercepts, and showing the flag. The special forces teams they transported to enact skullduggery go without saying (literally, the official secrets act could see you shipped off to mine ice on the Moon.) As war drew closer Earth knew they needed larger ships and soon. The Martians had the technology, Earth had the edge in production and population. A study was commissioned to figure out how to get a larger battleship built, quickly. Engineers knew the ship should use as much existing equipment as possible. That meant that it would have comparable decks and layout to the Luna wherever possible.  The first attempt  was a modest effort, double the tonnage (displacing 1200 tons of liquid hydrogen or about 16,500 tons in the old naval system). The thrusters were increased in size but the ship would only make 2 gees. This was deemed

Dieselpunk Manifesto Part 11: The Resistance of Om (Ka-Zoril)!

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This review deals with strips Buck Rogers strips 100-109 found   here . Buck's prisoner tells a weird tale of two Han spies, Morke-Ka-Lono and Om Ka-Zoril who devised a way to destroy Niagara. They would build two ray generators a thousand miles apart. When they crossed the rays over Niagara it would result in a tremendous explosion destroying the city! The scientists were the leaders of the Golden Dragons, a society of revolutionaries out to discredit the Emperor, depose him and bring in a democracy (backed up with disintegrator ray projectors no doubt). They figure the quickest way to do that is to succeed where the Emperor failed by destroying Niagara. Their captive spy was placed in the city to calibrate the beams to make sure they were properly focussed. I don't know. I'd have risked a shot at full power. Worse that happens is you have your spy calibrate the beam. If it works the first time you have obliterated Niagara at the cost of a single spy (dirty trick to

Waiting for Your Reaction(less Drive)

Ken Burnside said it best, "Friends don't let friends use reaction less drives in their universes." With all due respect that is good advice but a little too specific and at the same time absolute. It is too specific in that there are many, many technologies that can ruin a story or adventure. Star Trek's transporter is one of the best known. It can just pul your characters out as soon as they're in over their heads, while faux Roman soldiers empty their submachine guns through the sparkles. The problem with a reactionless drive (from a story point, not a physics point) is that with it any vessel becomes an engine of planetary destruction. Just get far enough away from your target aim it, turn on the drive and get off. In a few months (or less) you have a missile heading at your Evil Overlord at nearly speed of light. Can't even detect that darn former trash hauling scow until the ka-boom. In the case of the transporter they came up with reasons it could

Ship Dossier: Launches

Ship Dossier: Launches
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