31 August 2012

FWS News Feed: Luke Scott's LOOM Short Film

For those of us who love BLADE RUNNER, than this 20 minute film from Ridley Scott's son, Luke, is one of the best visions into the dark world of 2019 and beyond. The LOOM short film was used to promote new technology by RED Digital Cinema, but is a masterpiece of the short film and the dystopia genre. While not big happens until the end of the film, there is a slow boil, and the set pieces are amazing with being dense at the same time. Also, watch this one with headphones, the sound is incredible.
Be warned though, this film is dark, stark, bold, and  has some nudity. This will make you wanted to go outside to see if the world is still green (I did). I personally was amazed by this, and the talent of Luke Scott. ENJOY!

28 August 2012

FWS Topics: Ten Future Technologies that Will Not Exist (from io9.com)

Io9.com has a top ten list of technological items common in science fiction will not exist. Here is the list:

1. Lightsabers

The hard truth is that the only lightsabers that will exist are at ILM or in the local toy store, these uber geek-weapon are impossible, according to science. Light does not self-terminate to a nice sword-like lenght, nor would it be able to deflect incoming blaster bolts or other laser swords. Some fans then say the lightsabers are actually plasma-touch saber. Well, that wouldn't word either. Plasma burns too hot for a human to hold it that close to their hand, with or without the Force, they're going to get burned, especially with those nice robes and beards. Then the issue of a power source being compact enough to fit into a flashlight sized device, and have the juice to slice through Sith Lords. Simply that is a complete work of space fantasy. Of course, as a friend of mine once said about Star Wars: "It's space fantasy, and how can you have fantasy without a sword?"

2. Teleportation Devices

My wife is looking forward to the day when Star Trek teleportation is commonplace and she can beam to work and to New Mexico. However, during an video interview Dr. Kaku explained that modern science can teleport a single photon about 100 miles, and within my lifetime, we could teleport something as complex as a virus. The issue is transporting some thing as complex as Lt. Worf from ship to shore, who is composed of 50 trillion cells and would require something on the order of millions of trillions of current technology computers to store that level of data. Try that with your HA-9000! Then we comes to the troubling issue of dematerialization of your body, then reassembly at some distance away, and how that transporter version of you is a copy, and the original has been destroyed. This would be near impossible to break you down on a subatomic level, then rebuild you atom-by-atom until you are you, that's not even taking in account the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle! I guess in the future we wouldn't be thinking in portals...pity.    

3. Time Travel

As a general rule, human beings have been compelled with tales of traveling forwards and backwards in time, able to see where we have been, and where we are going. Are Terrans going to evolve into Gallifreyans, constructing legions of Type-40 TARDIS? It seems that the answer is no, however, a form of time travel is possible with the reality of moving at the speed of light, where time would pass at two different rates. Dr. Michio Kaku has stated that it could be possible to use a wormhole and the power collected from a black hole to navigate spacetime for times backwards, but not forwards. Even if that was possible, than would the universe allow humans to possess the ability to go backwards through time? Would the universe just generate another reality, preversing the original 'alpha' timeline? After all, as FWS covered with the post on temporal warfare, one faction of humans having time travel would be bad, real bad. They could reshape our reality to their liking, temporal engineering, if you will. This faction could alter religion to fit their desires, change the outcome in wars, and kill certain people (Sarah Conner) to prevent events from unfolding. It boggles the mind.
I don't buy the argument that if time travel was possible than we would encounter time travelers in our own time. If there are time travelers they would be better at hiding their identity than Dr.Who is, they would be highly trained in blending into modern (ancient) society, or they would use light-bending cloaking technology to walk among us without being noticed.
Also, time has to unfold the first time for there to be a future time period populated with time travelers, like the original wagon trails that later became railroad lines, there had to be the original settlers to go forth to establish the path, and we could in the original timeline that is slowly (too slowy) moving to the future. I would like to think that one day, time travel will be possible so I can save Stevie Ray Vaughn or prevent Lucas from making the prequel films...and maybe look up Raquel Welch while she was filming Hannie Caulder. That would be legendary.

4. Faster-than-Light Travel

We Terrans use the position of our planet and its relationship to the Sun, other planets, and stars to gauge time, however, the universe uses light-speed has it's Omega watch, and therefore, according to mainstream science, that it cannot be excessed without the presents of special relativity, namely Wormholes. Ligthspeed would be difficult enough for a starship, if you impact a beer can at 186,282 miles per second, you can kiss the USS Excelsior goodbye. Then there is getting the Excelsior up to lightspeed, requiring massive amounts of energy, and just as much to slow down the vessel. As a believer in alien visitation to this planet, and the lack of life discovered in the Sol System, than we are to assume that Gort and Klaatu possess some advanced mathematics or knowledge to allow them to travel between the stars. That is if you believe in UFOs that is.

5. Generation Starships

According to the original article on io9, humans will not construct generational starships that move at some faction of lightspeed towards nearby stars. Their reasoning is that Terrans will not raise their offspring in a metal tube, and constructing some on the order of the Babylon 5 station with engines would be too expensive, and that these generational space colonists would always have to live under material constraints to prevent disaster. There is also the matter of time mentioned. Io9 believes that Terrans will not sacrifice themselves for the trip, nor will other generations that are now committed to this eternal star trek. This realization could collapse the spaceborne civilization sense of reality, thus plunging them into anarchy. I think that generational starships are possible if the right conditions are in place. If the Earth is completely fucked, and the fate of entire human race rests on colonizing some distance point of light that has a confirmed M-Class planet, than I think humans can pull themselves together and live in an O'Neil space cylinder with engines.     

6. Anti-Gravity

The io9 article that I based this blogpost off of, it ended the debate on anti-gravity or gravity-nullification fields very quickly, stating it a violation of Einsteinian physics. While io9 may completely write-off anti-gravity, it seems that it could exist, after all there are a number of military and professional research efforts that have explored the possibility of a technological invention that overcomes gravity. My only question, if Nike finally created the BTTF:II Power-Laces, when the hell am I going to get my Mattel Hover-Board? Just not in pink!

7. Personal Force Fields

According to science fiction, we should not worry about gun control, because one day, we will have personal force fields, just don't shot a laser beam at it! The very nature of sci-fi energy shielding is the issue, first with the vast power requirements need to generate a shielding capable of repelling incoming bullets and beams (just not slow blades) would require a nuclear fusion generator in your pants (insert joke here).   Then, according to physics, the shield generator would have to put out has much force as the incoming fire to prevent it from reaching you. EM shielding works on charged objects to repel them, but humans are charge-neutral, and the shielding would not be a nice sphere. The best hope for shielding is interception nanobots, like what was seen in Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda  

8. Reanimation from Cryo-Suspension

In the one of the great episodes of Star Trek: TNG, the 'D' finds an old 21st century cryogentics space station, where the goal was 'freeze-you-now-heal-you-later', but would that possible? There are modern American doing this today...are they wasting their money? According to science, the preserving the brain could be possible with nanotechnology, allowing the possible of your brain being mounted to a Cylon body. The issue, is getting that brain perfectly preserved to avoid degradation of the brain tissue leading to brain injury. Current cryo-tech has led to brain tissue injury. Some believe that this will cause the thawed brain to be more mush than man. It is amazing the levels that human being will go to preserve themselves to cheat death...at least we moved away from hooks in the nose!

9. Downloading your Mind

The human brain is element that allowed human being to rule over this world, and all of its lifeforms, exempt for C.H.U.D.s, but it is not an operating system that runs on either Mac or Windows. However, there is a vast array of science fiction tales were the human brain is downloaded into a computerized network, allowing for immortality. It sounds great, you live as a flesh-and-blood for about 100 years, (less if you eat chicken wings), then download you memories and personality into a computerized Elysium and live out the rest of eternity playing on the game grid with your lightcycle (a red one, please). There is a good possibility that future computer technology will allow for some of our memories and experiences to jacked into a matrix, but io9 asked the question if our unique consciousness will?
At present, neuroscience cannot tell us why we possess a consciousness, let alone the ability to download it like the most recent Brandy Taylor movie. There is the issue of why do you download your mind, and if a person can exist inside a computer, can they exist in the real-world? Then we come to possibility of my future family members accessing my memories (scary as that is especially the NSFW ones), could allow for us to truly know who our ancestors are, and not just in old photographic and scrapbooks. This could also finally prevent the loss of a time periods uniqueness, allowing future generations to understand how people of their time witness the unfolding of history and society. But, if we can do that, then why not dump the copy of our computerized consciousness profile into a new hotter body?Works like Battlestar Galactica and Ghost in the Shell demonstrate technology were memories and consciousnesses are uploaded to a new body...why download your mind into a computer, when you can have a number six body? Somehow, I think is will be impossible, either from a technologically point-of-view, or banned by society or even religion to prevent all of us to become god-like and eternal.

10. Preventing the End of the Universe As We Know It

As it was created, it will die. At some point, the universe will enter the Big Rip, Big Crunch, Big Freeze/Heat, or even the Big Bounce phase, and reality as we know will end. Of course, this will happen many billions of years in the future, when Terra is nothing after our sun goes nova, and humans beings are either long death (I blame Ryan Seacrest for that one), or we will be gods that have spread throughout the universe.
Either way, it is unlikely, that even if we board the good ship Leonora Christina, the human race will not be able to outlive eternity, one day it will end, all of it, and we are just going to have to get use to it, because no technology or weapon system will prevent it. Some believe that by this point, if human civilization is still around, we could escape into an alternate reality.     

23 August 2012

FWS Book Review: All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka

 All You Need is Kill is a 2004 Japanese light novel (text and some pictures) written by Hiroshi Sakurazaka that was later translated into English by Alexander O. Smith for Viz Media in 2009. The book is available in two formats here in America, one is the original light novel, and the other (the one I own) is void of any illustrations.
The book centers around Japanese united defense force APS (called Jackets) virgin pilot Keiji Kiriya and American Special Forces Jacket pilot Rita 'Full Metal Bitch' Vrataski during the defense of the Japanese mainland against waterborne alien invaders called 'Mimics'. Keiji is killed in his first battle with the Mimics, but wakes up each day in his bed back at their base, on the eve of battle, destined to repeat each day over and over. Over the 158 times, Keiji, much like Bill Murray from Groundhog Day, attempts to escape the time loop web, only to bounced back to the same day. Then it finally ends, when he and Rita team up. I originally came across this book in 2009 when Viz Media published it in English during research on armored power suits. I recently spied the novel at the Barnes and Noble bookstore on University drive in Fort Worth, and snapped it up quick a few months ago.


As I've bitched before on FWS, about how good APS war novels are hard to find, that is one of the reason I wrote my own. I was very impressed with the skill of Sakurazaka to communicate all of the elements in this book in less than 200 pages, along with brutal battle-scenes that reveal anything in Armor or Old Man's War. The mecha design of the more Class-One APS are solid, with cool, possible weapons that had me worried with similarities to my own novel, and the author uses them well, drawing out every bit of energy in those battles scenes.
Adding to the praise of the author is the orginality of the Mimic aliens and the Jacket APS units. I was also sold on the whole time loop idea, and the way that Kiji responses, balancing madness and boredom. Much like me, Sakaurazaka fills his characters with the real world, where characters think of food, sex, their hobbies, even during times of war, creating a real-world atmosphere. This all translated into All You Need Is Kill being an enjoyable, easy, MSF read, and one of the more successful APS themed novels ever written.  


As much as I believed in the original concept for the time loop that trapped Keiji and Rita, the last fifteen pages begin to take on the smell of bad sushi when Hiroshi begins to extend the concept, and I then knew a bad ending was coming my way...and then it happened. Frankly, I hated the end of the novel with  it's odd dreamy, loose end that is coming place in modern films and novels, more over, it resolves nothing with the Earth-Mimic War, or the fate of Keiji.


Several of the images on this blogpost are taken from the light novel version, and are one of the rare missteps in All You Need Is Kill. They are nothing more than typical anime/manga super-deformed styled characters that possess little in common with the source text. When I googled these images, I was grateful that I owned the text-only copy. Given the seriousness of the text there should have been art closer to reality, similar what was done for Jin-Roh: Wolf Brigade.

Should Read All You Need Is Kill?

If you are searching for a good, quick reading MSF novel with good combat scenes, and some original concepts, than All You Need Is Kill is for you. This is one of better MSF novels out there, it was both light, easy to slip into, and complex at the same, like a good piece of sushi or pint of beer (yeah, I doing both while reading this!). I would also recommend reading the novel before Hollywood alters the novel and piasters Tom Cruise's face over the original art work...or worse, prints a book based on the movie and not the original source material.

The All You Need Is Kill Movie

I may object to Tom Cruise's paltry religious beliefs, but he does have a nose for good projects and attaching talent to those projects (just not Knight and Day). He also has a proven sci-fi track record, Minority Report and War of the Worlds are some of the best science fiction films made recently, which makes senses...his religion was created by a failed science fiction author. Anyway, All You Need Is Kill will be directed by Doug Liman, and co-starring the beautiful Emily Blunt as Rita, and undergo a name change to We Mortals All. If this does get made, along with the Jackets, than between this and Ridley Scott's The Forever War, military science fiction could have a banner couple of years. 

18 August 2012

FWS News Feed: Watch The First 10 minutes of Starship Troopers: Invasion!

Io9.com has the first ten minutes of the latest installment of the SST universe, the CGI movie Invasion! So click the link and see what you think...not too bad overall, and it drops the day before my birthday...August 28th.

FWS Armory: The Light Machine Gun

When your troops are moving up, the soldier behind them is tasked with forcing the enemy to keep their heads down with covering fire, from the portable machine gun. This is the basic infantry tactic since the First World War, and today, the light machine gun (LMG) is a critical tool of modern warfare used the world over. However, it seems that science fiction has not gotten the memo, and LMGs remain one of the most forgotten elements of basic infantry combat in military science fiction stories. FWS will be exploring the LMG through its history, usage, its future, and sci-fi's take on the LMG. Also, FWS would like to thank William S. Frisbee Jr.'s Tips on Writing Military Sci-Fi website for the general information on machine guns.

What are Light Machine Guns and their combat role?

Since World War One, the Light machine guns have allowed small infantry units to have a portable primary weapon for providing support-by-fire for the squad, pinning down the enemy, and allowing the infantry to close in on the enemy. These weapons are belted or magazine fed and normally use the same cartridge as the assault rifle. In combat, the machine gun forms the defensive or offensive backbone of any operation, by providing covering fire via large volume of outgoing fire.

The History of the Light Machine Guns

Since the 3rd century, mankind has been attempting to develop a portable rapid-fire weapon that could crush multiple enemies on the battlefield. At first, there were industrial arrow launchers from the Roman Empire, then became the so-called 'organ-gun' or the Ribauldequin of the 13rd century, where a row of barrels were mounted to a cart to act as a volley artillery gun, and even Da Vinci had his fan-gun. However, this were not truly portable or even effective, due to accuracy and reloading times. A number of different designs were based on this basic principle of volley-fire and used for several hundred years.
The next evolution of the machine gun came with the development of the Puckle Gun in 1718 by James Puckle, that was a hand-cracked, tripod-mounted, single barreled flintlock rifle that featured a cylinder-feeding system, limited the Puckle Gun to 11 rounds. However, if there were ample cylinders pre-loaded, it could act as an support or heavy-fire weapon. The more unique feature of the Puckle Gun was that the cylinder could fire round or square bullets depending on the religion of the attackers. More 'humane' round bullets for the Christians and the savage square bullets for the heretics and Muslims (especially Turks). It was reasoned that more Turks would convert to Christian rather than suffer from square-bullet wounds. Conversation through gun-shot wounds, an interesting approach to religious conversion.
During the 19th century, guns like the Agar Gun also known as the coffee mill gun of the American Civil War, and the Mitrailleuse gun of the 1850's that mounted a 25-barreled, hand-crack operated 13mm rifle to a cart, making the Mitrailleuse gun a portable rapid-fire weapon system were little more than variants of the grape-shot artillery round. The Mitratilleuse gun was improved over its 40 year lifespan to include 37 barrels, and saw limited use in the Frano-Prussian War. Despite lack of service life, the Mitrailleuse gun may have been the first rapid-fire gun to carry the name "machine-gun. What killed the Mitrailleuse gun from became a world-standard, was the American Gatling gun.
Oddly, Dr. Gatling envisioned his repeater to so effective, it could end future wars...yeah, that didn't happen. Oddly, even after the Union Army got a demonstration, they were unimpressed despite the current situation with the Civil War, and that nothing existed like the Gatling Gun at that time. One of the issues was the vast amount of calibers used in the Union Army, the Gatling Gun was just another weapon to feed, and it was a large, heavy weapon (around 1,000lbs) that did not have the range of an artillery piece, and it was too new. The few that were used during the Civil War were mostly defensive, and most historians do not think it made much of a difference. However, it was a hit on the international market, and used by the US Army during the Indian Wars, but not at the Little Big Horn. During the British imperial expansion, the naval and land based Gatling Guns were used to suppress native tribes, especially in the Zulu Wars.
But all of these rapid-fire guns were man-operated, it was not until the 1884, that the first true machine gun was developed by Hiram Maxim after a shooting trip, when he wondered if the recoil energy could be used to power the gun's reloading mechanism. This rapid fire weapon that fed from a belted system and featured the distinctive water jacket to cool the barrel became a global success, and soon was fielded in imperial suppression of native tribes operations by European nations. Most believe that the machine gun was first used in the muddy fields of World War One, however, it is believed to be first used in combat during the 1st Matable War in 1893-1894, with the British in Rhodesia. The first large-scale conflict that witnessed the use of the machine gun was the British version of the Maxim, the Vickers (in the .303), was used in the Second Boer War (1899-1902).  Not only were the Maxim Gun devastating against the old style of infantry warfare were soldiers lined up and exchanged fire, but it had a crushing effect on the will of the soldier. However, it was not all roses, sunshine, and spent brass, the Maxim gun jammed during combat, and made great amounts of smoke from being fired.
When the accuracy failed to kill the enemy, the mere slight and sound of machine gun fire, drove the enemy from the battlefield. The greatest American arms marker, John Browning, developed his own lighter, air-cooled, machine gun in the .30-06 caliber, the M1895 Colt-Browning, also known as the 'potato-digger', due to its underslung swinging leveler action. While it was used by the US military for a limited time during the Spanish-American War, it was later replaced by a Maxim machine gun made by Colt. But, one critical element was missing of these early MGs: portability. Machine guns of this era were only portable by a team or even an animal, and required a several soldiers to operate them. The machinery also suffered from the use of rifle-sized calibers that increasing the recoil and wore on the machinery. The first military light machine gun was the 1902 Danish Madsen LMG that fed from a box-magazine on the top of the weapon, similar to the British Bren LMG, but was mostly limited to its home nation. For widespread adoption of the LMG into most military organization to take hold, would take the brutal combat of World War One.
Machine guns of the First World War were mostly emplaced and difficult to move, often used in defensive and support roles, but reaped heavy tolls on attacking soldiers, often bleeding the ground red. When soldiers on the western front were able to capture an enemy's trench line, they were left to defend it with only what they could carry across no-man's land. That gave rise to weapons like the CSRG M1915 automatic rifle, or the Chauchat. This odd looking weapon fired both the French 8x15mm and American .30-06 round via an exposed crescent shaped magazine, and featured vertical hand grips and a built-in bipod. Given the lightweight, the Chauchat was easily carried into battle, supporting the assault from trench to trench, and was one the only LMGs on the battlefields of Europe.
This caused the American Expedition Force of 1917 to hastily adopt the French made gun due to lack of arms available at the beginning of the American involvement, but was replaced by the excellent BAR in 1918 at the closing months of the war.  Many historians considered the Chauchat the worst weapon forced on the US serviceman, given its design and open magazine, the weapon was prone to jamming, poor build quality meant that parts from one Chauchat were not interchangeable to another.
Unlike the unlucky that were  forced to use the substandard Chauchat, the British had their own LMG for the western front, the .303 Lewis Gun. This weapon was air-cooled, fed from a disc-like magazine on the top of the weapon, and was easily portable on the uneven conditions. This weapon would see action in the skies as well as World War II battlefields, while the Chauchat was rusting in a landfill.
Portable infantry-based machine guns would become a staple of ground combat in the Second World War with weapons like the BAR, the M1919 Browning Machine gun, and the German's MG42. World War II was the test of how the machine gun would incorporate itself into modern warfare, weapons like the BAR proved the concept of the LMG, but were limited by weight and small magazine capacity (the BAR only held 20 .30-06 rounds), then we had more traditional machine guns, the M1919 and MG42 for example, that offered more firepower to suppress the target(s), but required a team to set them up and hump them across the battlefield. What was needed was a weapon with the portable of the BAR, but the effectiveness of the MG42.
By the time of the Vietnam War, the light machine gun was an fully integrated element  into infantry combat. Weapons like the American M60 and the Russian PK were pitted against each other in the dense hot jungles of Vietnam, one was a child of AK designer Mikhail Kalahnikov, and the other was based off of the MG42. While both survived the war, problems were noticed, namely the weight of the gun itself and the ammunition. Recently, I was at gun store in Fort Worth that is a Class-III firearms dealer, and they happened to have to an M60 in their safe. For kicks, I asked them to get it out, and it was unbelievably heavy, and that was unloaded, with me wearing tons of tactical gear. This reason led firearms markers to design LMGs around smaller rounds, like 5.56mm, and the standard assault rifles, with weapons like the H&K H21,and the RPK.
By the 1970's, countries were starting to field these new lighter LMGs, but now where calling them 'squad automatic weapon' or SAW, which were often belt-feed lighter weight machine guns that fired the same cartridge as their standard assault rifle. In addition to these LMG, came the ones based around assault rifles, the family concept, like the Steyr AUG LMG, and the Stoner 63 used by the SEALs in Vietnam (there is a Knight Armament upgrade version). During the twin wars in Iraq and A-Stan, the standard US LMG, the SAW, has been cut down to compact variants like the para, which is now lose in size to an assault rifle, finally becoming a truly portable all-conditions soldier's machine gun.

Light MG vs. Heavy MG vs. General Purpose MG

Machine gun is a blanket term that can mean (especially in the media) any kind of fully automatic weapon. However, for most military and gamer use, a machine gun is a weapon designed to put maximum rounds down range with heavier volumes of fire, and encompasses three different types of MGs, the light, general purpose, and the heavy. Light machine guns are generally magazine or belt fed portable machine guns used in infantry combat, firing a general assault rifle cartridge. In the middle of the light and heavy machine guns, is the general purpose machine gun (GPMG), which general is a belt-fed machine gun is used in a number of roles, from traditional infantry, to a door gun, vehicle mounted, or gun emplacement, an American M60, German MG42, or the Russian PK are good examples of the general purpose MG.
While the light machine guns and the general purpose are more similar, the heavy machine gun is completely different animal that fires larger round that is above 12mm and below 20mm. These are often used in anti-aircraft roles along with mounted heavy fire support. Good examples are the 12mm  Browning M2 and the Russian DShk. When machine guns reach the 20mm and above category, they are considered auto-cannons, like the US XM307 25mm crew-served weapon.

The Machine Gun Team

During World War I and II, machine guns were treated more like mobile artillery, often emplaced and non-mobile,  the infantry, often sucked up as many as four to six soldiers to service one machine gun (especially WWI). There were soldiers to load the weapon, to replace the barrels or fill the water-cool sleeve, one to command, and several to provide security. Today, while not as common as it used to be, machine gun teams still exist, though mostly called weapons teams, now, and normally use the heavier weapons available to the unit. Today's light machine guns are assigned several to a squad of soldiers, with several soldier being designated to either be a backup gunner or carry extra ammunition.
During Vietnam, it was common for every member of the squad humping about 100-to-200 rounds of belted ammo to support the heavy amounts of fire. No more are LMGs static devices on the battlefield, but are in the middle of the action. with the LMG being lighter and more compact, gunners are able to be in the middle of the action, able to support the team.
The machine gun operator will be armed with a sidearm or a PDW for their own protection, however, there should be several soldiers armed with assault rifles, assigned to the gunner as security. It should be noted that the critical role of the MG Team makes them a target for any attacking force, and one of the worst times to use a LMG is at night due to the muzzle flash, night blinding the operators, and exposing the MGs position. Machine gun teams were featured in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, when the stormtroopers stormed Hoth, set up E-Web repeaters which require a exterior cooling cryo-unit and a generator.

Machine Gun Terminology
  • Grazing Fire- LMG is placed on an area one-to-four feet off of the ground
  • Final Protection Fires- When the enemy is about overrun the position, and the MG teams are used for preventing the position being overrun as long as possible 
  • Final Protection Line- Interlocking MG fire from weapons on the front-lines. Wall of Lead. 
  • Beaten Zone- Where the rounds from a MG fall
  • Cone of Fire- The path of the outgoing rounds impacted by the recoil of the gun
  • Plunging Fire- when MGs are fired from uneven territory 
  • Traverse & Elevation (T&E)-
  • Frontal Fire- The MG team is faced directly at the enemy, which opens up the MG Team open to incoming fire from the enemy.  
  • Flanking Fire- The MG team is directing fire at the sides of the enemy, one of the better positions to be in during combat.
  • Oblique Fire- When the MG Team is putting fire down on the enemy at an angle
  • Enfilade Fire-When the enemy is one prefect follow-the-leader-line, and one bullet could pass through them end-to-end. According to one website, the is a machine gunner's wet dream. 

The Future of LMGs

For those of us that have even held an LMG, can only imagine humping one over miles and hours, with the weight of the gun, attachments, and ammo-box. When the shit hits, the LMG, while extremely useful, can be a handful in maneuverability and weight, especially in close quarters conditions. Being aware of this, the US military is attempting to develop an light machine gun similar in size and weight to a normal assault rifle, oddly going back more to the original US military LMG, the BAR in some ways. The weapon that is being tested is the lightweight small arms technology light machine gun, the LSAT LMG. In 2004, the US military proposed that arms makers field a lightweight machine gun and ammunition. AAI  Corporation, a division of Textron (who my uncle-in-law works for), turned a prototype in 2004 that had been designed with computer simulations, lowering the weight of the LMG down by 43% of the standard SAW.
Adding to the weight-reduction, while still maintaining the same operating systems as the SAW, was lower-weight ammunition. AAI tested two versions of the LSAT LMG, one firing a caseless bullet, the first tested by the US Military since the 1980's, and the other using a polymer-cased ammunition. The results were promised when the prototypes were tested by 20 US servicemen against the Mk.46 SAW in 2011, As of this blogpost, the LSAT LMG fate is unsettled, some believed that the project will being viewed as a testbed of advancing firearms technology, and new types of ammunition, like the telescoped and caseless. For the time being, the role LMGs will likely be same, servicing as the defensive and offensive power in a small infantry unit, and it is unlikely that there will be an great changes unless the USMC approved caseless ammo for their LMG project. In the last few years, there has been improvement with recoil damping technology, allowing for greater accuracy, and lower the weight, and continue to feed from either belts or magazines.
Much like assault rifles, LMGs will feature attachment rails for all manner of goodies, and sport bipods, however, some article point to experimental technology of computerized aiming systems, like the ALIENS Smart Gun. With the family-style weapon systems being popular, trend of LMGs being based on an assault rifle base, and even some will be a bullpup design. It is possible that in the near future, LMGs will use caseless ammunition in cassettes or even helical drums for faster reloads and greater ammunition capacity than typical magazine-fed LMGs, and likely grow lighter in weight and more compact. This exploration of caseless ammo for an LMG makes sense, the prototype of the G11 light machine gun would have 300 rounds of 4.73x33 in a single cassette, making for lightning reloads. I can imagine caseless LMGs being a possible over the traditional assault rifle.

Future Military Applications of LMGs

I developed this section of certain blogpost to help writers of MSF with incorporating certain concepts into the future world of combat, and this one is easy. Even when we reach the stars, and fight among them, there will still be a support weapon, and no serious military science fiction work that depicts infantry combat should not be lacking in a LMG type weapon. The fact is that infantry units, like today, will operate in remote off-world conditions, where the only heavy fire support available immediately could be the light machine gun or something equal. For your future squad of badass marines to be believable, than they need to have some machine gunners, even if it fires plasma, laser death rays, or high velocity hockey pucks, there needs to be a support weapon. And please for the love of the Lords of Kobol, don't follow the Killzone example and mount a frakking rocket launcher underslung to your machine gun!  

Feeding Systems

-Belt Fed

The majority of LMGs used to today, are akin to their heavier cousins by use of linked or belted ammunition. Belt-fed LMGs are the preferred method due to larger capacity of ammunition, longer rates-of-fire, and less jamming over magazine-fed LMGs. Originally, these belt-fed systems were made of canvas, allowing these belts to be reloaded. Unlike, those early versions of linked ammo, today's links break apart once the round is ejected, but the ammunition has to be manufactured has linked, causing most members of a squad to carry extra linked ammo, adding to their loads. Currently, the US is experimenting with backpack-fed systems...Predator anyone?

-Magazine Fed

Less popular, is the method of feeding ammunition from drum or the beta-c magazines., in either traditional layout, or bullpup configuration. These are mostly used on the LMG variants of the 'family-style' assault rifle systems, like the SCAR, XM8, and the G36. Some believe that these are the most portable form of the LMG, and the easiest for soldiers to use, due to the similar to the base assault rifle. However, jamming is a disadvantage of magazine-fed LMGs along with added weight, and less-capacity, where most mag-fed are 100 rounds, and belt-fed are 200 rounds.

-Cassette Fed

During the development of the G11 caseless rifle for the West German Army, Heckler and Koch created two variants of the main weapon, the G11 PDW pistol and the LMG. H&K envisioned an LMG weighting in at less than 7kgs with a box of 300 4.73x33mm caseless rounds. In the few pieces of information we have on the LMG variant of the G11, it would have loaded via a cassette box at the rear, making it a semi-bull pup rifle, then snapping it close, becoming the stock of the weapon. This loading operation was very quick, making the LMG11 one of the fastest reloads on an LMG in the business. In addition to fast reloads, the cassette was lighter than a box of 5.56mm, and easily to haul around as well. Cassette fed LMGs could be a better system that the more tradition systems mentioned above, and could led governments to adopt caseless weapons in LMGs only.

Unfortunately there is little information on the LMG11, including if there was a firing prototype. David, one of the consults to FWS, recalled that there was a string running through the caseless ammo, to act as a belt, feeding the rounds, and this string came out the forward section of the weapon.  

Directed-Energy Portable Multi-Pulse Support Weapon

In the future, science fiction informs us that we will all being ray-guns that create death via killer light on future battlefields. Is it possible for there to be a directed energy version of the light machine gun, or as David, one of the consults to FWS, called it: 'directed-energy portable multi-pulse support weapon'? It is likely that normal infantry DEW rifles would be a slower rate-of-fire, requiring an heavy infantry support weapon akin to the LMG role, but they would not be similar in performance.Unlike those lead throwers, lasers would be unable to pepper an area with out-going fire, lasers by nature are a beam of light, causing the laser support gunner to operate the DEW differently than the classic machine-gun, bouncing the beam from target-to-target. Another consideration, is that bullets are a self-contained kinetic energy delivery system, lasers and particle beams, to a lesser extent, relay on dwelling time for damage to the target. That is, unless you pump up the energy output to a level were you're burning 6cm hole that is about 30cm deep each time the pulse-beam strikes the tango.
Then you have to worry about power consumption and heat. This could mean that DEW support weapons would similar to the E-Web from Star Wars, where the gun is hooked into a cryo-plant and power generator, needing a crew to haul the thing around and serve it.
One of the best features of a laser support system is instant impact, and immediate psychological results on the rest of the squad not hit by the beam. The two major issues facing deployment of a support laser is cooling and power source. Much like with LMGs today, everyone in the squad would carry power packs for the support laser, and it is possible of development of 'thermal clips' similar to the ones in Mass Effect. 
Sadly, lasers or charged particle beam portable DEW systems are beyond our science, while we have vehicle mounted defensive laser emitters, we have nothing that Flash could strip on to his back.
Here is the short list of the needed upgrades to a base laser DEW rifle to be an DEPMPSW:
  • larger power/fuel cell source
  • improved cooling system
  • longer beam firing time
  • increased Pulse-Per-Minute 

Light Machine Guns and Science Fiction

If you ask any modern soldier going into battle, if s/he would kindly leave their light machine gun behind, you'll get a 'fuck you' in response. But that is what most science fiction creators are doing when they send their fictional soldiers out into future battlefields without an LMG to support them. But why? Why would a weapon as critical as the LMG get overlooked by science fiction? I would guess that sci-fi creators do not dwell hard enough on the reality of war and infantry tactics, and believe that an assault rifle is good enough. Or they somehow believe that futuristic laser-blasters will overcome the basic need for an LMG.
Anyway, Light Machine Guns in are extremely rare in all types of sci-fi works, however, they are more common in shooter sci-fi video games. This is likely because of the need from world of multiplayer, and after all, if Call of Duty has it, shouldn't that game have it as well. They become even rarer when we further discuss LMGs that fire directed energy beams or bolts, making the Light Machine Gun one of the most forgotten elements of small unit combat infantry in  science fiction or. Hell, even the best examples of MSF, like  HALO, Space: Above and Beyond, the Forever War, and Old Man's War, all lack this basic weapon of infantry combat that has been in use since World War One. 


The M56 10mm caseless 'Smart Gun' from ALIENS

One of the few great examples of a future LMG is the Colonial Marines M56 'Smart-Gun'  that fires a higher power caseless 10x28mm round than the M309 in the M41 pulse rifle. According to the 1996 ALIENS: Colonial Marines Technical Manual, the smart label is in reference to the M56's computerized IR tracking system, that allows for some quirky behavior by the gun's computer system, sometimes it nails each round into a tight group and other times, it is throw way off, causing the marines to switch off the IR tracking system. In order to allow maximum effectiveness, the M56 was fitted with twin firing triggers. One is at the rear of the weapon, while the second on the horizontal grip, along with the fire sector and fuse timer switch. Powering the electronic pulse ignitor for the caseless propellant  is a DV9 battery, which is seen in ALIENS when Sgt.Apone asks for magazines, Drake and Vasquez hand him the batteries and not the ammo drum. This confused a great deal of us fans prior to the release of the ALIENS: Colonial Marine Technical Manual, some believed that the Smart Gun was a DEW or that it fired some sort of exotic ammunition.  
The prop for the Smart Gun was developed from the MG42 (of course), fitted with a few motorcycle parts, and a drum magazine, and attached to the actors via a steady cam harness to prevent them from falling over, due to the weight. The original concept for the Smart Gun was to have the actors wear a flux power-glove concept instead of the harness.  

The M247H from HALO: Reach

Throughout most of the HALO games, it appears that UNSC does not use an LMG to support their troops, nor does the aliens. Most of the UNSC heavy weapons support comes from the Warthog's tru-barreled 12.7mm rotary cannon. There are a few times, when a emplaced M247H is used to defend an area, especially during the Earth portions of HALO 2. According the HALO wiki page, the M274H machine gun is listed has a 'heavy' machine gun for some strangle reason, despite firing the same 7.62x51mm round as most of the UNSC small arms.  However, it used by Jorge-052, detached as an LMG for the Noble Team.

The M739 SAW from HALO 4

It seems that the Lords of Kobol have blessed us, in November we're getting more HALO and that the UNSC is finally fielding a proper LMG: the M739 SAW. When it was original featured in the HALO Waypoint UNSC weapons trailer, I believe that it was some sort of auto-shotgun due to the drum magazine, and that would be sweet running down Grunts with an auto-shotgun, but I'll take this SAW. No word if it fires the same 7.62x51mm round has the MA5B assault fire.

The Repeater Blaster from Star Wars

I am always impressed with the variety of DEW systems in the Star Wars universe, and that includes some rare examples of DEW LMGs, but they are repeater blasters in a galaxy far, far away. According to a few sources, there are two kinds of portable repeater blasters that fit the LMG/GP category, the mounted version seen during the Battle of Holt used by the Rebel Alliance infantry (believed based on the American WWII-era .30 machine gun), and the handheld T-21 light repeating blaster rifle seen in SW:ANH in the hands of Stormtroopers at Mos Eisley. Normally, the T-21 has only enough powerpack capacity for thirty shots, however, most troopers carry an powerpack backpack that weights in at 60lbs. Ouch! The base gun for the T-21 LRBR prop was based on the British .303 Lewis Machine Gun  

Heavy Bolter from Warhammer: 40K

It seems everything in the Warhammer 40k universe is bigger, and that applies to their version of the LMG. In the ranks of the Space Marine, only these genetically engineered armor power suit wear soldiers are able to wield the  heavy bolter that unleashes .72 caliber rounds at fully automatic fire crushing the enemy. From my older codexs (1998), only Space Marines can use the heavy bolter due to its massive recoil and weight. I've seen modelers use the heavy bolter as a heavy machine gun for the Imperial Guard troopers, similar to Browning M2 .50 caliber,

The Helghast StA-3 LMG Killzone

In the first two Killzone games, the Helghast troops use a futuristic take on the old 3rd Reich MG42, the StA-3 LMG. Much like the assault rifle, the StA-3 feeds from a translucent drum magazine prepackaged with bullets. From the wiki, it lists the StA-3 firing the 7.62x51mm round, and in the game, you can see spent brass flying off, but I think the Helghast weapons fire a smaller round than 7.62mm NATO...maybe the Russian 5.45x39mm round?Anyway, this is one of the best all round guns in the original PS2 Killzone, and damn fun online, allowing the player to really hose that thing! Some have charged Guerrilla Games with lifting the basic idea for the Helghast soldiers from the Jin-Roh: the Wolf Bridge OVA, based the Panzer Corps uses handheld MG42s and similar armor design to the the Helghast soldiers.

The GD RSB-80 Heavy Plasma Gun from the Terminator

In the original Terminator, an infiltration unit sneaks in with some refugees to the bunker complex of the 132nd, "and the bunker was seared with light." The gun that devastated the bunker was the General Dynamics RSB-80 that fires a 15x1000mm plasma bolt with a capacity of 300 pulses at 60 pulses-per-minute from the slush hydrogen tank. In the hands of the  Terminator, the RSB-80 becomes an awesome tool of destruction, and unitized as an LMG. However, the weapon is too heavy for an average Resistance fighter to hand-carry, instead, it becomes a general purpose DEW LMG, mostly mounted to technicals and as an emplaced weapons for area defense. IMFDB.org has been unable to identify the base gun of the prop, but it is mostly likely a WWII-era Lewis MG. One the best fan-site for the dark world of 2029 AD, there is information on a heavy phased plasma gun: the General Dynamics RSB-80. The RSB-80 HPG was only seen on-screen twice, once for a few seconds during the Sarah Conner's dream sequence, and when Kyle blows up the H&K tank, and attempts an E&E with a junker armed with a RSB-80.
Article on the RSB-80:

The MG42 From Jin-Roh: the Wolf Bridge

In the alternate future of this iconic Japanese OVA, the Panzer Corps, members of an elite anti-terrorist squad of the Japanese police department use the 3rd Reich MG-42 (and STG-44) to hunt down and destroy the Sect terrorists. These armored soldiers are able to do this via the protection gear and a specially designed belt-ammo feeding system.

Starship Troopers (Uchu No Senshi) Anime OVA (1988)

Unlike a great deal of stories with armored power suit donning infantry, the 1988 anime OVA adaptions of Starship Troopers, features a mix-weapon squad, complete with an machine gun based around the MG42 7.62mm machine gun.

The AVR-30 from AVATAR

Much like other sci-fi weapons, the AVR-30 is a plastic-fanatic redress of the old M60 general purpose machine gun, and it seems that the AVR-30 is used in a similar role. The weapon is seen being used by Jake and Norm in their avatar bodies, and appears more like an assault rifle. Interestingly, the AVR-30 uses belted traditional ammunition, while most of the small arms in AVATAR are caseless. Most of the RDA contractors on the ground use a LMG variant of the CARB caseless rifle.

The Steyr-Phoenix Arms AHL-1 Heavy Laser from Empty Places

In my last flash-fiction serial for this blog, Empty Places, conscripted soldiers from a post-nuclear Apocalypse are send into battle to defend Earth colonies that abandoned Earth after the nuclear exchange. These armored encased soldiers use laser DEW from Steyr-Phoenix Arms, including the AHL-1 heavy laser.This, like all DEW weapons seen in Empty Places, where developed by FWS reader Christoper Phoenix, and could be the most  scientifically explained DEW LMG in sci-fi. Firing 10jJ antipersonnel bluish laser beam in the frequency of 500nm-0.5 microns from a 20 MJ super-conducting coil battery, enough for about 2,000 rounds. Due to the size and weight of the SRA AHL-1, it was used by Colonial soldiers in standard issue powered body armor.


This is the digital complete US Army field-guide to machine guns and their operation:


Here is the Tales of the Gun on the History Channel episode on Early MGs