31 May 2013
This there any question you have about FWS or even myself? Anything you've ever wanted to know? If there is, that comment below and let me know and I will address it in the Anniversary blogpost on the 11th of July.Oh, and there will be a big announcement on the Anniversary blogpost about a super-secret joint project that FWS has been working on for a few months.
24 May 2013
As a sci-fi writers, I've always been interested in the backstory and/or history of the fictional worlds that are created. Recently, I've become interested in the backstory to the Will Smith's big 2013 summer sci-fi epic After Earth, and I thought FWS would devoted a small blogpost to this interesting world that has already been expanded upon prior to the film's June 7 release data...and Will Smith didn't give me any cash for this. My only worry about the film is the director, M. Night Shayamalan. His track record is not good lately, and there better not be any mind-fuck ending that this is all some dream, or Will Smith playing Legos with his kid! I have to say, this world looks interesting, and the movie could work...could. Here some interesting elements of the world of After Earth.
Toxic Earth and the 750,000
In 2025, Earth is on a crash-course to environmental collapse, and it appears that off-world colonization is the only answer. The original plan was for ten 'Ark' FTL colony vessels would take 125,000 each to the new homeworld of humanity. However, conditions on Terra collapsed at a much faster rate than predicted and only six could be completed, cutting down the 1.25 million that would make the trip, to 750,000, which works out to 0.0000625% of the entire human population. I would have originally believed that the Ark FTL Colony ships were designed to freeze the 125,000 guests, but it seems from the art, that these were 'live-in' modules, complete with spinning sections, and Earth-like green zones. What information we have does not detail how Nova Prime was discovered, or if the ships were launched prior to discover.
The Light-Stream Drive
Nova Prime and the battle to keep our new home
In 2066, six Ark colonial vessels leave Terra bound for Nova Prime, that lays 100 years away at FTL speed. Around 2166, the ships find and begin colonizing Nova Prime. 143 years after the founding of the colony, the Nova Prime settlers met the Skrel. According to this alien race, Nova Prime was holy ground to them, and the humans were defacing it. War soon came, and the Skrel believed they could easily win against the remains of mankind, but they thought wrong. Attacks came and went, and the human colony on holy ground remained. In 576 AE, the Skrel released an genetic engineered species, called the Ursa.
The United Ranger CorpsOriginal developed by the UN during the days prior to the Ark ships leaving, these 1,000 handpicked best-of-the-best from each nation were used to control the violent natural outbreaks from the dying world. These were elite team of first responsers that helped save thousands and left with the Ark ships in 2066. Once the new colony was established on Nova Prime, the Rangers became the military of the new society, and over a thousand years of traditions and alien wars, the Rangers are the solution fro preserving humanity.
The C-40 'Cutlass' Combat Model
According to the After Earth entry on Facebook, the Life-Suit worn by the Ranger Corps is able to adapt to weather and environmental conditions, offers protections, and can change color and texture based on the local conditions. There is a few seconds of footage of the Life-Suit having 'Flying Squirrel' suit abilities. At the moment, I'm unsure if the Life-Suit is standard combat issue, or if it drawn out for hazard, off-world duty, or even if it is part of the life-pod equipment. No word if it recycles sweat and urine for drinking water.
Would You Like To Know More?
21 May 2013
17 May 2013
EUROPA REPORT (June 27)
GRAVITY (October 4)
Man, does George Clooney look bad anything?! In Gravity, Clooney and Sandra Bullock play American astronauts on an spacewalk outside of the Space Shuttle when the shuttle is destroyed, marooning both astronauts in orbit without communication with Houston, and Bullock drifting out into space. Could this be the Open Water of outer space movies?
16 May 2013
1. Faster-Than-Light Space Travel
2. Magical Artificial Gravity Generator
Gravity. It allows plastic surgeon to make their Porsche payments, apples to fall, and drinking glasses to smash, and it is one of the greatest roadblocks to deep space travel to the stars. Our bodies were developed for operation on this planet that has gravity, and the effect of years without gravity could cause massive medical issues for our space trekkers. It the world of sci-fi, nearly every starship has some sort of soft-serve magical artificial gravity generator that works even when main power is knocked. Artificial gravity could be created using rotating sections, creating centrifugal generated 'gravity', and these ships would have be designed around this concept...just look at the USS Discovery's habitation decks from 2001: Space Odyssey. Even with rotating sections, only portions of the ship would have a gravity environment, and it would not be the same has back on terra firma.
3. No Inertia in Space Travel
4. Superluminal Interstellar Communications
5. Crowned Space
6. Instant (just add water!) Communication with Alien Species
Every week on Star Trek or Stargate, our intrepid heroes teleport off to new worlds that look like back-lot or Canada and met bumpy fore-headed aliens that speak prefect English, or our heroes iphone universal translator app works perfectly. The sad truth is that communication with an intelligent alien species that evolved on a completely different world than us would be a long, painfully process, requiring experts in the field of linguistics to live with these aliens. After all, when we sent probes out into deep space, those golden discs used symbols, math, and sounds to communicate. I realize that sci-fi stories have to use the equivalent of the microwave dinner to accelerate the plot and make for the vision of populated galactic community, but sometimes it takes away from the 'alieness' of the creatures, because we can talk to them instantly. One of the my favorite sci-fi books about this subject is Mary Doria Russell's the Sparrow.
7. Rise the Shields!
8. Starship Appearance
9. No Time Dilation
Time dilation is one of those an inconvenient truths of physics that could make traveling to distance stars incredibly difficult for future generations. To deal with this problem, the vast majority of science fiction pretends it doesn't exist or that there is an magical hyperspace corridor that cancels out the effects of time dilation. For an author/creator to include time dilation means that critical points of the plot will focus on this factor, instead of zipping from star-to-star while getting synthohol at Ten-Forward. Because of the indoctrination that soft-serve sci-fi has programmed into the collective consciousnesses, it is very difficult to reconcile worlds like Trek and Wars with the time dilation in the real-world. Ugh. FWS has discussed this space phenomenon to death on many blogposts and will continue to discuss it...sorry in advance for that.
10. Sheath In Space
11 May 2013
Since the 12th century, humans have been using gunpowder to propel metal projectiles into the bodies of their enemies. Prior to this invention of gunpowder, around the 11th century, human used bows and slings to kill their enemy at a range. Now, that mankind is at the dawn of the 21st century, it seems that the traditional firearm is here to stay. However, there was an active attempt in the 1980's to bring new firearms technology to the battlefield over the traditional firearms of that day. One of these projects was the Hecker & Koch caseless G11 rifle, and the other was headed by the US Army. Between 1986 and 1990, the United States Army held the Advanced Combat Rifle Program (ACRP) to explore possible replacements for the M16A2 using next generation firearm technology. The requirement was for a 100% improvement over the (then) Colt M16A2 platform, because the Army's own infantry school felt the M16 had already at an apex. This blogpost originated way back in 2008, when I was working on my first military science fiction novel, and I was interested in keeping the book as real as possible. I quickly decided on using more conventional weapons, but wanted them with a next-gen twist. This sparked research, but I was unable to locate much in the way of a resource for the near future of the classic bullet and led to this blogpost which has been on the draft slush-pile for three years!
Why We Still Use Bullets and not Beams
Large Caliber Assault Rifles
For as long as I've read guns magazines, there have been the haters of the 5.56mm round, and since the late 1990's, there has a flood of custom produced large caliber cartridges for the AR15 platform. These are rounds like the .50 Beowulf, the .458 SOCOM, and the .450 Bushmaster, and all share were designed to increase the power of the AR-15 assault rifle. This is interesting twist of history, because it was the larger, more powerful rifle cartridges of the 20th century that hindered development of the assault rifle concept. It wasn't until the 3rd Reich developed the intermediate cartridge that the assault rifle was born, and it seems these smaller firearm companies are seemingly turning back the hands of time. Fueling the developing of these powerful cartridges for AR15 is an increase in lethality in a familiar weapons' platform for the shooter. Are these massive rounds the future of the bullet? No really...not a large scale anyways.
The 6.5mm Grendel
Are We Going Back to the 7.62x51mm?
Smaller High Velocity Cartridges
It was believed in the 1980's, that the future of the bullet could be liberating it from its metal casing, and wrapping the bullet in propellant. and causing the bullet to resemble a piece of chewing gum or a leftover clay. This would save weight, and allow the future soldier to hump more ammunition. The closest caseless weaponry ever came to wide-scale approval was in the late 1980's with the West German Army/ H&K G11 project that was nearly the standard rifle of their army.
However, the Wall coming down, unification of the Germany, economic issues caused the cancellation of the G11, and caseless weaponry has remained in the shadows ever since.What the G11 project demonstrated was the strengths and weakness of milspec caseless ammunition. While there is weight saving, higher RPM, and more rounds carried, the ammunition itself is fragile, and prone to cracking. During tests of the G11, the ammunition was the hardest to prefect, and even after years of trial-and-error, the 4.73mm ammo would still crumble like a dry cookie if handled to much. This is a major disadvantage of caseless rounds, today's soldiers do not have to worry about the elements breaking down their ammo, unlike soldiers of the past. If caseless ammunition was adopted on a wide-scale, this could be a concern again. Could there be a future for caseless weaponry? Some believe that caseless guns could enjoy a comeback when there is armed conflict on off-world colonies because caseless weapon can be sealed more than traditional firearms, so that no pesky Lunar or Martian dust gets into the action of the rifle. Is caseless ammunition a good element for a sci-fi work? Yes, if used properly. I included caseless ammunition in my MSF novel Endangered Species (that is at a few publishers at the moment) and I felt it was a good match for the environment.
The 'Duplex' Round
While this sounds great, and the Colt ACR was very similar to the (then) present day M16A2, there was issues. Inaccuracy was the most common issue, and for long-range engagements, beyond 325 meters, the shooter would have to switch to traditional M855 5.56mm NATO ammunition...which would be bitch under combat conditions like we've seen in Iraq. It is likely these issue would have been worse in today's M4 carbines. Given the lack of development of duplex ammunition since the end of the ACRP, it is unlikely that the duplex round is not the future of the bullet. Could the duplex ammunition be a good element for a sci-fi work? Not really, given the weakness of the range and abandonment of the concept, and the rarity of knowledge on the concept. BTW, that oddball rail-rib on the foregrip on the Colt ACR M16 was designed for point-and-shoot concept using iron sights that used the eye's natural abilities.
Cased Telescoped Ammunition (CTA)
Polymer-Cased Ammunition (PCA)
Flechettes are nothing new, shotgun shells have been packed with these nasty little fuckers for years, and from the 1960's onward, they were believed to be the next step in military firearms. During the US Army's ACRP, two separate weapons used carbon steel flechette ammunition: the Steyr ACR and AAI ACR. Similar in design to the AUG bullpup assault rifle, the Steyr ACR fired lightweight plastic telescoped synthetic 5.56mm case flechettes that traveled at 4,757 FPS, where the conventional 5.56mm travels at around 3100 FPS. Unlike the Steyr, AAI's ACR was a more traditional layout, but shared the idea of using the 5.56mm shell for their dart. Despite the similarities between the 5.56mm magazines, the AAI ACR could not accept the M16 mags, and firing traditional 5.56mm ammo would damage the barrel.
The 'Smart' Guided Bullet
Leadless "Green" Bullet
Given the toxic nature of lead-based ammunition and its abilities to containment soil at firing ranges, the US Army is exploring the use of leadless 'green' bullets. This also helps with lead vapor that floats about during indoor shooting. This has been one element to the Army's mission to be more environmental friendly that was undertaken in 1994. These so-called 'green' rounds are a composite of tungsten, tin, and/or zinc fitted within the traditional cooper-jacketed. The goal was to be lead-free by 2005...and they didn't met that. These lead-free ammunition is going to be the future of bullets in the short-term, and would be a good element for a science fiction work.
Magnetically Propelled Bullets
The vintage US Army's ACRP footage