03 January 2012

The Barracks: Space Marines

During the times of the Greeks and Romans, there have been seaborne soldiers separated from their counterparts on the land. This tradition of sea-based soldiers continues today with the marines that serve in the vast majority of militaries as elite flexible rapid-response naval warriors.This fact is not lost on the writers and/or creators of military sci-fi, who first began using the term "marine" to represent their futuristic fleet-based soldier in 1932, with Captain Brink of the Space Marines published by Amazing Stories. It was not until 1986's ALIENS that the theory of a space-based marine corps received wide spread exposure. After this, the trend of naming futuristic off-world soldiers 'marines' exploded to the point of cliche in seemingly every book, RPG, and video game.
The trend as only picked up with the invention of e-books, even a simple Amazon search revels that majority of these self-published novels are using the term "marine" to cover their own deep-space light infantry.

 The Role of Contemporary Marine Forces
The Marines of today primary mission is a nation's force-in-readiness, that is able to response to a crisis situation much faster than it's big army brothen. This rapid deployment angle is increased when these marines are stationed within a naval expeditionary taskforce. Marine forces, number much smaller than the big army, for example the USMC is about 203,000 with 40,000 in reserve, while the US Army numbers about a million. The same is true of the British Royal Marine Commandos, who number under 7,000, however, unlike the USMC, the British marines also specialize in Arctic warfare.What sets the marines from the big army are their ability to stage waterborne invasions, their unique culture, especially in the USMC, which prides itself on having every marine being able to engage in combat if needed. Another element that sets the marine corps from the big army is a fw unique vehicles, like the V-22 Osprey, the LAV-25 light armor vehicle, the AAVP-7 amphibious armored vehicle, Harrier jump-jet, and the Air-cushioned landing craft (technically, part of the US Navy). despite their status and hardcore training, the USMC has suffered from limited budgets, older equipment, and being overshadowed by the Army in ongoing combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan
The near future of the current USMC, is being explored by the US Military via the USMC, USAF, and DARPA, have explored the possibility of deploying a small team of marines under the SUSTAIN and/or Hot-Eagle Project. These special marine teams would be like first responders, using military Scramjet spaceplanes to get from the USA to any global point within 120 minutes. The idea as been around since the 1950's, and the current Hot-Eagle Project as been around since 2002, with little or no further development.  

The Role of Space Marines
What would a realistic space marine look like if and when we colonize other star systems, and project military power out there? In keeping with their maritime heritage, space marine units would serve in space fleet expeditionary forces, being ready for operations on colonies, mining operations, and shipping routes. This would also play into their rapid-response aspect, the space marines would be able to project power onto regions of space, faster than a space army (forgive the term). However, given the realistic nature of FTL/Time Dilation, its possible space marines would be kept during cryo conditions until needed (like that pound of hamburger meat in the back of the freezer), causing space marines to be far removed from their own time period, and possibly distance the marines from the ones they protect and isolated from normal society after their service (see The Forever War).
Given their role as rapid deployment forces, it is possible that these ship-based space marines would unitize power armor suits instead of traditional armored vehicles, much like what was seen in the Starship Troopers book and Starcaft's Terran Marine Corps, a limited elite force of enforcers of the government's planetary holdings, borders, and laws. During major engagements, these space marines would be limited by their government's starlift capacity and FTL. Literary, how much war material they could move to the planetary battlefield, and how fast they could get there. These factors would transform the job of space marine, in planetside battles, to a holding force, that waited on the speed of the navy to delivery the goods and reinforcements. Not a good position to be in. As with all matters involving exoplanet colonization, it all comes down to FTL, I very much doubt that many people would sign up with a space marine corps that would be under for decades or even hundreds of relative years, fight a few times for people that weren't even born when you signed up, then go home to a place that you can't recognize.         

Why does Sci-fi use the term "Marine"?
The primary reason for the wide usage of the term "marine" when describing a spaceborne ground troops, is that is a loaded term in the minds of most people. It is easier for an author or filmmarker to use the term marine, and have all that accompany the term marine, allowing for the creator to not spend fifteen pages formulating his/her futuristic troopers. If we look at James Cameron's masterpiece ALIENS, we can see that his Colonial Marine Corps played directly into the common cultural prospective on the US Marines Corps, and allowed for Cameron to use it  then move on with the film.
Then there is the other side of the coin, laziness on the part of an author/creator. People like Cameron worked to develop a certain public imagine for the space marine concept, like the the real USMC PR department, and a lazy author/creator that doesn't want to spend the mental energy developing a unique planetside infantry fighting force, will dial up the term 'marine' and move on, this can been seen the recent Turok game, DOOM, and Quake.
Of course, imitation is the highest form of flattery, and some creators, like Bungie tap into James Cameron's Colonial Marines to construct their UNSC Marine Corps, while other wish to mimic the imagine and history of the real-life USMC, bridging the two together as a continuation of the corps, like the USMC in Space: Above and Beyond and the book  Sempes Mars. Another theory on why the term 'marine' is used is due to the common brotherhood that the USMC as within its ranks, and authors/creators maybe tapping into this for the "us vs. them" ascept, especially when our foe is an alien species.   

Would there still be a 'Big Army'?
If and when mankind pushes out and colonizes other worlds, there will be wars, especially over habitable planets, and given the cold vast gulfs of space between star systems, its seems that marine approach a rapid response, flexible, force-in-readiness would make complete sense. But would there still be an big army? Would there be a need for a large, heavy force that would require more star-lift capability, and supply chain than a space marine force? If you examine the evidence from most sci-fi works that contain a space marine force, the answer is no, but this is a loaded answer. Since the vast majority of sci-fi creators play little attention to the naming of the futuristic spaceborne force, the difference between army and marines matters little or why there is one and not the other. Some creators that have thought about, must conclude that once humanity pushes out, that the "big army" concept would be outdated due to its slow deployment, supply chain requirements, and the vastness of space. According to these creators, the space marines, especially ones with armored power suits or mecha could deploy to hot-zones rapidly and solve the problem before the big army logistics can catch up to the crisis. 
 Then some works, like ALIENS, HALO, Space: Above and Beyond, Star Wars, and the Starfist books, incorporate both the marine corps and a big army to a force that projects across deep space. From these works, we see the big army being on the major colonial sites or even hub worlds, like Reach from HALO or regions of frictionlike a Neutral Zone, where it would make logistic and tactical sense to have a big expensive heavy army presences. While the space marine forces of these works are unitized in a tradition manner to their maritime roots, being based onboard starships, expeditionary deep space flotilla, or distant outposts. This would allow marine units, like the Colonial Marines rapid colonial response unit seen in ALIENS, to arrive at a problem despite being many lightyears from Terra. The big army would be used during wars, major police actions, and long-term engagements, while the lighter marine force is designed for bush wars, uprising, and gunboat diplomacy.  My personal view is that if the marines and the big army have existed this long, and continue to receive funding, than it is likely that marines and the army will exist off-world, but much more separated, one based on colonial worlds, the other on starships.  

Depictions of Space Marines in Sci-fi
Science fiction creators seem to relay heavily on the term 'space marine', and attempt to link the aggressive nature of the United States Marine Corps to their fictional creation, seasoning their characters with rough language, head-on tactics, and fighting unit comprised of infantry units that drop in from space to fight on-planet. When I examine the bulk of depictions within sci-fi, it seems that most creators are mixing World War II Airborne tactics and historical units with cultural elements of the modern US Marine Corps. Another huge completely unrealistic portrayal of futuristic marines is space attack jet pilots doubting as groundpounders. The only idea I have behind its genesis, using the example from SAAB, was the expense of special effects for space dogfights. The show saved money by having deployed dirtside, plus allowed for the main characters to be put into different situations, expanding the storlines. Honestly, I cannot see a Navy fighter jock stepping out of his F-18/A, boarding a V-22, and rescuing an embassy.  The flip side are the expectations to the rule, like the Colonial Marine Corps from ALIENS and the UNSC Marines from the HALO universe, that attempt to show the other side of the space marine concept: aggressive, rapid-deployment, light combined arms force launching assaults from starships.

Depictions of Space Marines my own Sci-fi
For the record, I tended not to use the term "space marine" in the majority of my own writings, due to its over use in fictional works. However, due to the deep impact  of ALIENS on my own sci-fi psyche after my first viewing in 1988 and with STARCOM: The US Space Force along with the buying of the Dark Horse Comics ALIENS series, my sci-fi writings at the time had some sort of space marine units. They were mostly seen as infantry units that were divided into three groups: planetary, spaceborne, and planetary marine reserves. The planetary marines were mostly served in mechanized armored platoons of anti-gravity tanks, which was inspirited from novels like Team Yankee. The spaceborne marines were similar to the marines seen Battlestar Galactica, while the planetary marine reserve units (PMR) were colonists that went through training to be a sort of colonial guard force and had access to military-grade equipment and weapons. The PMRs concept was placed into my book Endangered Species, along with a Union of the Americans Marine Corps, which was patterned off of the current USMC.

Examples of Space Marines

The United States Marine Corps from Space: Above and Beyond
The 1995-1996 FOX TV show Space: Above and Beyond, followed one USMC space aviator squadron, the 58th, the "Wildcards", through their service during the first war between Earth and an alien species known as "the Chigs". This marines of 2063 are directly linked by slang, tradition, tactics, mission, culture to the USMC of today. These future marines were involved in similar roles to the 20th centuries ancestors, serving on naval vessels, being the rapid deployment force, and often, fighting in the worst places. In addition, much like today, the US Army and USMC, shared weapons, tactical gear, and vehicles. During the one season series, the 58th used a 7.62 NATO multi-environment battle rifle, the M590, that seemed to mount several sensor/aiming systems, and their sidearm was a modified Glock 17L 9mm, nothing in the way of machine guns, grenade launchers where seen on-screen.
Added to these was an RPG system (SRM), and a rather kewl Smart-Grenade. These soup-can sized devices, pop-out fins that worked with a micro-propulsion, and AI software to hunt down targets. When it came to vehicles, the USMC of 2063 used He3 fueled SA-43 "Hammerhead" dual-atmospheric attack jet fighters, and Inter Solar System Armored Personnel Carriers (ISSAPC or ISSCV) for ship-to-shore work, both were brilliantly designed. However, SAAB made one huge mistakes when it came to projecting what the USMC would be like in 2063: pilots be used as ground troops. That is a trick of sci-fi products and not real-world militaries, no one is going to risk a full-trained attack jet pilot on a ground operation that these pilot have not been trained for. However, one role that is barely mentioned a few times during the series, was Colonial Sentry. It seems that since the nations of Earth are not at work, but the rebellious A.I. are out there, the USMC deploys garrisons onto USA colonial sites, but the concept was never fully explored. On a personal note, I count myself fortunate that I was able to see this groundbreaking excellent MSF TV series during its run, because it changed my outlook on sci-fi and introducted me military sci-fi. If it had not come at that the right moment, I might still be going to Star Trek cons (the horror!)!

The Adeptus Astartes from the Warhammer 40,000 Universe
When you type the term 'space marine' into Google the majority of entries that pop up are related to British Game Workshop dark vision of the future: Warhammer 40,000. In 41st millennium, the Imperium of Man exists in a violent besieged future were aliens and dark gods plot against mankind. Their guardians against the night are  these giant violent ubermensch genetic-altered warriors that are loyal to a fault to their God-Emperor, these are the Space Marines. Honestly, Warhammer 40K is one of the more unique sci-fi creations, but GWS should renamed their elite supersoldiers to another more grander name, somehow 'space marine' just doesn't cut it, and the how the game project these Titans of war is nothing like the typical space marine concept. It is not even like these Warhammer 40K Space Marines are being deployed only in their armor, making rapid assaults and be based on fleet combat vessels. No, these Space Marines not only used very encased infantry, but mechs, massive battle tanks, aerial units, and regular non-supersoldier infantry.Truly odd.   

The United States Marines RECON from AVATAR
Once again, James Cameron turns to the US Marine Corps to forge a relationship two central characters in his military sci-fi epic Avatar, Jake Sully and Colonel Miles Quaritch. Unlike ALIENS, where Cameron used active service marines to bond the characters to each other, despite some hating each other, in Avatar, he uses Sully and Quaritch's mutual past of being in the USMC 1st RECON and combat veterans to bond them together, and allow the audience to gauge the two men without saying it.  

The "Space Marine" from the DOOM Universe

Despite the DOOM series being around since the mid-90's (I remember when it came out...many lost days), ID softare never really advanced the concept of the main character or the organization that he fought for, it was just kill,kill, kill. Then came the DOOM 3 in 2004, and the story was more fleshed out. The United Aerospace Corporation, with help from either the United States or other nations had constructed a underground Martian complex to carry out cutting edge scientific research, and pulling security on the UAC labs, was regular space marines, being used by the corporation for their own security purposes. This may have been a nod to the CMC of ALIENS and the War in Iraq, but the game is clear, UAC had the power to dictate terms to the Earth-side governments. From DOOM 3, we can make some assumptions about the space marines, they are trained for the hostile conditions of Mars, they workout...alot, don't really believe in helmets, but wear heavy body armor, and watch too many movies starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dolph Lundgren. Oh, and just one last thing, That's one doomed space marine. Sorry. Couldn't resist.

The Alliance Navy Marine Corps from the Mass Effect Universe
One of the most groundbreaking games of recent times as been the Mass Effect saga, and within the game, your character, Commander Shepard (I use the female character), is a member of the Systems Alliance Marines, who moved through the ranks, and passed the special training for N7 Earth Special Forces. from the limited information in the game, the Systems Alliance Marines seem to have a cozy relationship with the Systems Alliance Fleet.  Given  the high-level of nano-technology used in the game, it can be assumed that these Alliance Marines use armor and weapons technology as a force multiplier, and deconstruct the nature of combined arms. It's just a thought, but FWS will devoted more blogspace over nanotechnology in a few months.

The Confederated Marines from the Starfist series
In the 25th century, mankind has colonized two hundred words under the Human Worlds Confederation, and protecting these worlds is the Confederated Navy. When the fight goes dirtside, the first armed responders is the Confederated Marines Fleet Initial Strike Team (FIST). According to internet searches, the marines of the Starfist universe are used in a similar manner to the tradition seaborne marines, being a quick-reaction force and creating beachheads for the big army, which still exists in the Starfist universe. The standard confederation marine weapons are described as "miniaturized oxy-hydrogen plasma shooters (AKA blasters in the books)." Once again, I've not read the series, only flipped through a few pages at Barnes & Noble and Google Books, but I plan on given the series a try.    

The US Marines from Semper Mars
In the world of 2040, the UN is trying to become a one-world government, with only a few nations stand against them, while on Mars, several nations have setup science outposts to study the alien ruins on Mars (Hoagland was right!). As the UN grows more powerful on Earth, the independent nations sent expeditionary units to Mars to safeguard their outpost, The United States sent a small team of 20 marines to the red planet. In Semper Mars, author William H. Keith Jr, explores Martian ruins, Earth politics, and a Marine Corps on the edge of being discontinued. For what little I can research the book approaches the gear of the marines in a realistic manner, they use a "Mars Cat" rover, and the M-29 ATAR (advanced-technology assault rifle) that, from the text of the book, uses a caseless "4.5mm ablative sabot round" and makes it related to the H&K G11. I have not, and mostly likely will not read the novel in its entirety, quite simple I don't buy the basic plot of the novel, nor do I care for its paranoid UN viewpoint, along with cliches about the French, my roots are French...├ža me fait chier!

The Earthforce Marines from the Babylon 5 Universe
The EarthForce Marine Corps was known primary as GROPOS and were seen several times in the TV series, one storming an alien planetside fortress and the other was an failed boarding of the massive Babylon 5 station when they withdrew from the Earth Alliance. During these few episodes, it seems GROPOS were loosely based on the USMC and fulfill the role as a light, highly-Mobile, fleet-based strike force. The GROPOS that were seen on-screen seemed to be patterned after the marines from Space: Above and Beyond, and used PPG rifles, thruster VTOL gunships,. breaching pods.This made the GROPOS similar to a light strike force and seemed in line with more traditional marine duties. Later on, the EarthForce Marines were more fleshed out via the GROPOS tabletop RPG system. 

The EDF Space Marines from Starblazers/Space Cruiser Yamato
One of my earliest memories of a space marine corps came from the second series of  Starblazers, The Comet Empire. These space marines were stationed on the 11th planet, Brumus station, and the Argo aided them during a comet empire sneak attack. The twenty marine force tags along during their rouge mission to answer an distress call from planet Telezart. Throughout The Comet Empire storyline, Sgt. Knox and his intrepid band of hard-drinking, hard-fighting marines battled the Argo crew, mechanized comet imperial forces on Telezart, and storm the comet empire flagship-city, resulting their deaths. What is interesting about the Earth Defense Force's Space Marines is they are a nearly pure infantry force that uses a gunship/APC/attack shuttle like craft, portable artillery, and laser weaponry. The heavier planetary combat force of the EDF, according to the EDF technical manual, is an army. I believe that Starblazers maybe one of the earliest visual depictions of the space marine concept.    

The Imperial Fleet Marines from the Star Wars Universe
In the pages of the West End Games Star Wars RPG, the Imperial armed forces unitizes a marine force onboard their warships, outposts, and space stations (like the Death Star), along with the Stormtroopers. This non-clone human naval soldiers lack much of anything in the way of vehicles, heavier weapons, and pride. It seemed that according to the RPG Imperial manual and several websites, the imperial troopers were concerned weak and the bottom run of the Imperial armed forces, even laughed at by stormtroopers that had to come to their aide frequently.

The Marines from the Turok Universe
In the 2008 attempted relaunch of the old Turok games, the story follows Joe Turok, a Kiowa Native America that had a troubled military service, but his unique skills land him an offer to join the secretive "Wolf Pack", a black-ops unit within the marines. During flashbacks, the player witness a assassination mission where newbie Wolf Pack member Turok uses an bow-and-arrow to take out guards, then use it to kill three in cloe-quarters combat! However, the Wolf Pack was engaged in illegal activity, and Turok reported them, forcing the gov't to break up the Wolf Pack, making Turok unpopular. When the leader of Wolf Pack disappeared, a detachment of marines, called "whiskey company" along with advisor Turok were sent to bring him back. All and All, these space marines of Turok were seemingly dropped out of the Quake/ALIENS Colonial Marine model , and come off as cliche and tired. Which is a real pity, I played the hell out of the original N64 game, and was looking forward to its relaunch.

The Astro Marines from STARCOM: The US Space Force
The 1987 American cartoon and toy line, United States' Space Force, STARCOM had a planetary combat infantry force, called the Astro Marines, and it projected a light assault force that worked with divisions of STARCOM to protect Mars and Luna from hostiles. The Astro Marines were designed as an planetary based force, that was forced to work with Star command, Star artillery, and Star Wing to achieve a combined arms strategy, in addition, the Star Wing vehicles can transport the light armored vehicles of Astro Marines.
The Rumored Starfleet Marine Corps from the Star Trek Universe
One of the interesting questions that Trekkies ask themselves, as I did when I was one: does Starfleet possess a planetary fighting force? This noncanon so-called Starfleet Marine Corps was never seen on-screen in any canon Star Trek series or movie, however, this did not stop Trekkies from forming Starfleet Marine Corps clubs and designing their own uniforms and rank structure. Most of the ideas surrounding the Starfleet Marine Corps descents from the old FASA RPG system, where Marines were a part of the overall Starfleet thought the original series up until The Next Generation era. To be clear, Starfleet soldier of some kind were seen in Star Trek V, and during a few Dominion War episodes. Even taking in account the FASA Marines and the generalized troopers from the canonized events, Starfleet as little in the way of support, heavy weapons, or even armored vehicles. 

The Terran Marine Corps from the Starcraft
Starcraft used the attitude and culture of the modern USMC to form the 25th century Terran Marines of the Terran Empire, and these spaceborne troops are encased in powered armor and weild Gauss rifles. The interest element of the Terran Marine corps is that imperium "resocializes" criminals and nutjobs to service against the horrors of the Zerg Swarm. This makes these space marines something interesting and more colorfully than the standard space marines of sci-fi.

The UNSC Marine Coprs The HALO Universe

When Bungie designed the United Nations Space Command Marine Corps, they liberally borrowed from the space mariens of SAAB and ALIENS, to forge a spacefaring fighting force that was one of the better examples of the space marine concept. From the depiction in books and video games, Bungie, it seems, was connecting today's USMC to the 26th century UNSCMC. Like the current USMC, the 25th century UNSCMC is tied to the UNSC Navy, creating a close working relationship, and the UNSC Navy warship serve as the base-of-operation for much of the Marines seen in the HALO games, along with the books. These marines use easily deplorable armored vehicles via the Pelican dropships, and from what was seen in HALO Wars, they use speed and violence to wedge out a larger/heavier force.

The Colonial Marines from Battlestar Galactica (2003)
 Information on the Colonial Marine Corps featured in the new Galactica series is very limited, despite being an important assesst to the ragtag fleet. These marines wore all black kit onboard ship, and the current MARPAT Woodland digital pattern on-planet, and numbered about a hundred after the arrival of the Pegasus. During the run of the series, the marines used a variety of real-steel weapons, changing their primary weapon from the P90 to the Beretta CX4 Storm 9mm carbine, along with the sidearm being a FN Five-Seven, while the Pegasus marines seemed to favor the H&K MP7 PDW. During other missions we saw the use of heavier firepower, like light machine guns, and missile launchers. It is hard to make any profile of the CMC of the 12 Colonies due to the extreme conditions that the Galactica found themselves under, and what these Colonial Marines may or may not have used or even if the Colonial military had an army.  


  1. Very well thought out and hats of on your top notch research here! As a reformed Trekkie myself I got more than a few giggles from your writing here. I share your conclusions in there will be in all likelihood an Army and Marine Corps in the space age future due to the very
    distinct natures of their missions and generals, politicians will just fund them that way regaurdless of the need! I'm retired Army myself and I see us as we pretty much are now,
    i.e. some special forces with the vast bulk being used for planitary garrison duty, and as
    a main force in occupation and combat behind
    the marines and sf guys. As history shows us both in WWII and in Iraq you can win the battle with blitzgrieg but you can't win the peace without a larger occuping force...that fact will never change.

  2. Enjoyable read. I disagree a bit with the assumption that there will be a major "space army" in combination with space marines, however.

    If there is a need to fight a large planetary surface war, it's much more effective (nevermind cheaper) to just task the space navy to conduct a massive orbital bombardment (Base Delta Zero anyone?) - he who controls the ultimate high ground has the advantage, and all that.
    Only send in the space marines into the rubble for a specific mission. Or as the saying goes "marines win battles, the army wins wars".

    Re: Star Trek marines, the general consensus is/was that the Federation starfleet wasn't a fighting force (but a 'humanitarian Peacekeeping armada'), so only the intrepid security personnel was there to deal with threats. Individual UFP members were to provide marine/army ground forces if needed, so the 'canoninity' of pure Starfleet marines is somewhat dubious.

    And controlling an unruly population, well, I always liked the solution offered in the Blakes7 and Farscape tv-series; just drug them!

    Again, an enjoyable read!

  3. I was surprised to see that you haven't read the Starfist series yet. If you listen to audio books I recommend that you try them that way. They are editted to about two hours long and are pretty reasonably priced on Audible.

  4. Thank you everyone for making the first blogpost of the new year a good one with your reading and commenting!
    Yeah, it is seems odd that I've not read the Starfist series...to be honest, the covers and the fact their marines put me off until I did some more research. I just bought the first book of the series at halfprice books. The blog, the serials, and my own books keep me very busy, and I have a bad habit of playing video games more than reading lately....need to change that.
    I agree that planetary bombardment is much more effecitve than spending the lives, time, and money to conquer an entire planet, especially on that is heavily populated. Just look at what the Cylons did to the 12 Colonies! The only thing preventing a alien power from "nuking it from orbit" would be the value of the atmospheric standard world, or at least I hope!
    I used to be a Trekkie, dated Trekkies, and I fell from the pure faith after seeing Blackhawk Down, and the new Battlestar Galactica, I just couldn't go back. However, I did enjoy Enterprise.

  5. Speaking of futuristic firearms, I own a 9mm Beretta Cx4 Storm carbine. The Cx4 Storm is a futuristic little carbine. I could imagine pulling one out of a weapons locker when aliens board my starship...

    The problem with "space marines" is that starships will probably take decades or centuries to reach their destinations. No Terra-bound power could project their might if it will take decades for their marines to even arrive. I could imagine sublight colony ship taking individuals with military experience along with them to help protect the colonists from any unknown hazards. Instead of the USMC, you get gun-toting colonists who really don't like space bugs...

    As for orbital bombardment- it might not be as easy as all that. Planet-bound weapons platforms have more resources, armor, and endurance than spacecraft. Kinetic weapons can be thrown hard enough to escape the Earth's gravitational pull, and lasers don't suffer from any bullet drop. A planetary laser battery is more easily powered, cooled, and serviced than one mounted on a spaceship. Planetary laser cannons will zap longer and harder than the invading fleet can. Not to mention that orbiting spacecraft can be bombarded with missiles, lasers, or propaganda from an entire hemisphere of the planet.

    In the Star Wars 'verse, planetary turbolaser batteries and ion cannons can duel with a fleet of Star Destroyers on equal terms. Planetary shields protected entire worlds. Remember "The Empire Strikes Back"? The Rebel's shield was strong enough to withstand any bombardment, so the Empire had to deploy a ground force to slip under the shield and destroy the generators.

    Trekkies actually date other Trekkies, like Christian dating services? Is Star Trek a religion now? (Sorry, William, but some people's devotion to the Star Trek fandom goes a little too far...) I guess I'm not applicable, since I only watched all of Star Trek TOS and all the Star Trek movies, not TNG, Voyager, DS9, or Enterprise...

    Why is Turok killing a T-rex? Did he crash-land on the Planet of Dinosaurs? By the way, Otto Matic could wipe the floor with any space marine. Otto Matic has defeated giant radioactive vegetables, flying saucer aliens, giant blobs, killer crystals, living slime, killer robots, Killer Klowns from Outer Space, giant praying mantises, fire-breathing blue dinosaurs, giant intelligent carnivorous plants, ice creatures, flame creatures, laser turrets, and the giant brain from Plant X itself. I don't even think there is anything left to kill in the known universe. (obscure Mac gaming reference there...)


    (Watching Planet of Dinosaurs is not recommended due to bad acting and unconvincing stop-motion dinosaurs!!)

    Christopher Phoenix

  6. I've held a CX4 Storm at a few gun stores, and fired the FN Five-Seven, and man, BSG picked some good ones. Now, Mr. Phoenix, time to replace the Glock with some 5.7 Cylon-killing love.
    Wow, Planet of Dinosaurs is only best when high and drunk! I did enjoy being reminded of Otto Matic! Been a long time...
    Yep, Turok, pulling his best Soap impression, is on a planet where corporate suits have been breeding dinos. Wasn't sure if it was the Tyrell or not.
    I am so glad that traded Star Trek for some BSG and Firefly! I've been to a few ST cons, and it scared me, liking pissing in the bed with a bible and a super soaker filled with holy water. Never. Again. Ever.

  7. But I love my Glock 17!! Though I must admit that FN Five-Seven looks pretty sweet. The SCAR semi-auto carbine is pretty interesting as well- if the U.S. Special Operations command are switching over to it, the SCAR 16 must have something going for it. There is a 7.62x51mm version too- the Scar 17s. And you can get the SCAR 16s in black!!

    Speaking of 7.62x51mm semi-autos, I've always desired to get my hands on a Socom 16- basically a sawed-off M1A. The power of a full-fledged 7.62x51mm rifle round fired from a variant the battle-proven M1A rifle with a 16in barrel- what's not to like? I spotted this rifle out of a rack of other "black rifles", and it was love at first sight. Alas, I have not had the chance to pick one of these rifles up yet. Someday...

    Here, check out the Socom 16 in the hands of Hickok45.

    Wasn't Otto Matic a great game? Otto Matic came preinstalled on classic Macs along with the badass Deimos Rising. Nothing quite like defeating giant killer vegetables or blasting drones out of the dusty Martian skies.

    Why is some corporation breeding dinosaurs in Turok? Do they actually think they will turn a profit from selling dinsaurs? Seriously. It sounds like a SF comedy skit.

    Step 1: Breed Dinosaurs. Step 2: ???? Step 3. Profit!!!!

    I really like Star Trek TOS, but those Star Trek fans are really scary. Just seeing pictures of ST cons makes me afraid. It's like being at a bible-thumper sermon, only the bible is Star Trek and the congregation is dressed up as Star Trek characters. They do that with Star Wars too. As William Shatner said, get a life.

    Another disturbing fact is that many Trekkies is that they don't like any science fiction that is not Star Trek. Obviously you broke from this norm, but it seems to be that most devote Trekkies feel the need to criticize and dislike any series for the unspeakable crime of not being Star Trek.

    If you want to see something really scary, just watch Michio Kaku's TV series "Sci-Fi Science". He goes and talks to the SF fans, defined here as nerds who dress up in all sorts of outfits and have less scientific literacy than a used train ticket. Then he panders to their fantasies by presenting cutting-edge physics as "You could wield a light-saber!!" "You too can destroy the Death Star and defeat the bad guys in your starfighter!!"

    The Star Wars fans are just as bad as the Star Trek fans. Just watch the "Lightsaber" episode. Can you say, "Jedi fan-wanking"??. RETCH.

  8. NAVSPECWAR is trying to make up their minds on what the repalcement for the flawed, but cool M4 carbine. ST6 AKA DEVGRU uses the H&K 416, which was rumored to have double-tapped UBL to hell, and it seems likely that the regular teams will be picking it up, while FN SCAR is having issues with getting wide approval.
    It is amazing me to me that the old M14 is finally getting its due! My father trained with one in basic before getting shipped to Nam, where he used the Mattel rifle, the M16. The M14 is a great solid weapon with some real punch.
    Me? I'm a solid AK man. My history research paper on its effect on the 20th century won me an award, and it was published.
    I think it was Space:Above and Beyond and how frakking bad ST: Voyager that got me off of madness of Star Trek.
    Michio Kaku is a badass, love his work!

  9. One of these days, I am getting my hands on a Socom 16. The M1A is a pretty neat rifle system. I like AR-15's for their precision, light-weight construction, accuracy, and modularity. One rifle I have always wanted, though, was as Steyr AUG. Those were hard to get when I first saw one. Recently, Steyr has begun manufacturing the Steyr AUG SA USA for sale in US markets.

    You don't happen to have a link to your paper online? I'd like to read it. The AK had a big effect on countries around the globe. A lot of bad guys use it, but it has also allowed some smaller countries to protect themselves. Firearms are only tools, after all, and carry out the will of the wielder...

    I like Michio Kaku a lot. He has a very appealing manner and is helping to spread enthusiasm for science. However, his show pandered to extreme Trekkies and rabid Jedi-wankers in a few episodes of SF Science. I don't mind Michio- but couldn't those "fans" just put down the toy lightsaber and get a life?

    Never once did Michio do an episode on ray-guns. Sure, he designed one in the "Alien Invasion" episode, but there should be a whole episode devoted to ray-guns. Ray-guns are a much older feature of SF than light-sabers- just read War of the Worlds or Lensman. It must be because of the fans again- all of them want lightsabers.

    I find Michio's serious discussions of the future to be better. SF fans just want to hear that their favorite show- Star Wars, Star Trek, etc. is the way the future will be. It can be this way- it can be that way- you too can wield a light-saber (until someone comes in with an Uzi!!)- you too can wear yellow pajamas and fly in a starship- etc.

    I found it rather odd that Michio spoke of a starship needing a forcefield to survive the "deadly asteroid belt". The asteroids in the asteroid belt are many thousands of miles apart or more- you need to aim your ship correctly to even come close to one. I'm sure Michio knows better, but I guess the producers thought the fans wouldn't like it if the show didn't pander to Star Wars deadly asteroid belts and Star Trek's forcefields at the same time.

    It is refreshing the Michio Kaku doesn't dismiss ideas like starships or phasers as being "impossible" just because we can't build one today. I once saw an article where scientists were "debunking" a phaser-like electroshock weapon as being "impossible" because prototypes are too large to fit through a door. Have these "experts" ever heard of "miniaturization"? Computers were once the size of a bus and had less power than a modern day hand calculator. Granted, electronics has progressed faster than battery tech or lasers, but you get my point.

  10. Didn't Pioneer 10, Voyager I and II, along with other probes survive the belt?
    I think Dr. Kaku sees the progression that we have made in the last forty years, especially with some of the computer technology we all saw on ST:TNG becoming reality. It is hard to guess what will never be and what will be, face-to-face phone calls seemed to something that would never happen, then Skype and Smart Phones happened.
    But who could have guess in the late 1960's that we would abandon the moon, and our military would still use the bullet-firing M16? I couldn't imagine the changes in mobile phones when I got one in 1994, but we still use CDs, and records have made a come back. Odd.

  11. Yep- all of the probes survived the "deadly asteroid belt". There was some concern that space debris might damage the Pioneer 10 probe, but nine probes have traversed the asteroid belt without any harm. In the novelization of "2001, A Space Odyssey", the Discovery 1 flies by an asteroid in order to study its composition. This is one of the only objects the spaceship encounters on its long journey to Saturn, and it stands as one of the most realistic asteroid encounters in SF. I'm sure Michio Kaku knew better, but I guess that the producers were worried that ratings on the show would go down if he debunked all the fan's favorite movies.

    It is very hard to predict the future. Personal electronics progressed very quickly, but battery tech went very slowly. So we ended up with smartphones that need to be recharged frequently. We still use the M16 instead of zapping people with lasers because battery and laser tech is progressing much more slowly than electronics has.

    Space exploration has been largely held back by the powers-that-be. We might have build a fleet of nuclear pulse spaceships to explore Mars and Saturn, but that technology was suppressed for political reasons (the nuclear test ban treaty). In fact, officials said (when shown plans for nuclear powered ships that could lift thousands of tons in one launch), "What reason do we have to put thousands of tons of cargo in space?" With that attitude, its no wonder the U.S. abandoned the Moon.

    Right now, a number of incumbent technologies promise to change the world. Quantum computing and quantum teleportation promise to make the microchip as quaint as a glowing vacuum tube. Genetic engineering promises to create new organisms that can do everything from grow more food to detect salmonella. New energy production technologies promise to deliver clean energy to an ever more energy-hungry world. I think the question nowadays is whether we will make it to becoming a Type-1 planetary civilization or collapse sometime in the next century. If we make it, I don't think we can imagine what the world will look like. Maybe we will live in undersea colonies like Seaquest DSV or settle the Moon.

    I'm still holding out for vast cities in space, Mars colony 5, laser rifles, and starships heading out to all those exoplanets we are finding out there.

    I will make one prediction- if we have ships in space and we fight someone out in space somewhere, I'll bet we'll use kinetic mines. Spaceships move so fast, a simple lump of meteoric iron tossed out the back of ship can wreck an enemy spaceship. If we have engines that propel us at a significant fraction of light-speed, our kinetic mines will be even deadlier.

    Christopher Phoenix (by the way, those were my comments up there- I just forgot to sign my name. Sorry!!)

  12. It's highly likely that *Space:Above and Beyond* gets the Marine Pilots doing ground actions from *Black Sheep Squadron*. In BSS, several episodes show the main cast volunteering for locally initiated ground missions in unusual circumstances. BSS is based pretty closely upon LtCol Greg A. Boyington's memoirs.

    Col Boyington, when I asked him in 1986, confirmed that the pilots really did volunteer - but that the pilots were almost always outnumbered by the mechanics. The ground missions were locally generated under Col Boyington's authority, due in part to the squadron being at a remote airfield. The TV show used almost exclusively main cast; almost all the main cast were portraying pilots. This probably boils down to "we already have to pay them, so we may as well use them."

    Likewise, SAAB's combined basic/flight-school is a WW II era phenomenon - during WW II, anyone who volunteered to fly and passed the physicals could go to a combined basic & flight school for the Army Air Corps. Some were commissioned as 2nd lieutenants, others as Flight Officers (similar to modern Warrant Officers) and later promoted to 2nd Lieutenants. The Navy and Marine Corps had a similar program, but I know less about it. The same program is shown in the movie, *An Officer and a Gentleman*; that program was discontinued well before the movie.

  13. I'm writing a series of parody sci-fi and one of the characters (the hero's chief rival) decided that 'Space Marine' was an incorrect term, as 'Marine' technically means 'sea soldier'. He decided that the correct term should be 'Astroline', which his marines hated because they thought it made them sound like a sort of window cleaning fluid.

    Just thought you'd like to know.

  14. I personally thought the best version of a space bound force was from the Starship Troopers book. The MI could do what the Army and the Marines can.

  15. Well ive noticed Imperial Guardsmen from Warhammer 40k are similar to Colonial Marines but not same.

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