31 May 2013

Need Some Input

The 3rd Anniversary of Future War Stories is in July, and I was dwelling on what I wanted to talk about...but, then I realized that I should just ask the readers of FWS!
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

FWS Topics: The Background Information of AFTER EARTH (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
It seems that the fate of humanity was helped by the Viktor Radoslav and the 1908 Tunguska Event and that led to the Light-Stream FTL drive system. Yep, After Earth and the exodus of humanity were helped by an crash alien spacecraft in 1908, and Will Smith's Polish ancestors(!) helped further the technology from 1908 through the mid-21st century. It seems that this alien craft, called 'Ventraya'. In 1938, the Radoslav family leaves Poland to the USA, and changes their name to Raige. This alien technology would help fuel the United States military-industrial complex, and even the Moon Landings. By the time, the Light-Stream interplanetary FTL drive was being fully developed, Earth was on a downward slide, and while the environment and society collapses, the massive Light-Stream-equipped Ark starships were under construction in secret.News breaks about the limited number of people that can join the colonial effort, and only six Arks are able to leave orbit.

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.
They were hunters of humans, using the fear pheromones of their prey to stalk them and kill them. All seemed lost until Ranger Cypher Raige (Will Smith) develops the mental discipline tactic of 'Ghosting', where Rangers control their fear and appear invisible to the Ursa. This tactic possessed by only seven 'Ghost 'Rangers allowed for humans to tip the balance back in their favor, but these Rangers are nearly alien themselves. It seems that for the time being, the Skrel are unable to use their bio-weapon. It was not only the aliens we had to worry about, but also division within the new human society, where various groups, including the Rangers battled for control. The answer was a three-branch government composed of the Rangers, the Savant, and the Primus.

The United Ranger Corps
Original 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
Unlike the incoming Oblivion, Will Smith and son do not seem use any type of KE or DE weapon system, but favor an oddball bladed weapon, called a 'cutlass'. This C-40 Cutless combat model appears to be the favored weapon of the Ranger Corps, and appears to have been used against the Ursa, the bio-weapon of the Skrel aliens.This weapon is composed of hundreds of metal fibers that transform based on the need of the user, and blends with the Life-Suit user. It seems that the Skrel must use bladed or close-quarters weaponry, or that the combat Cutlass is highly effectiveness against the Ursa...I'd still want a gun, though, or a Phase Plasma Rifle in a 40 Mega-Watt range. and this weapon reminds me of the Force-Lance from Andromeda

The Life-Suit
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?
Ahead of the movie release in June, the studio has released a series of short stories detailing the history of the war with the aliens, the development of the Nova Prime society, and the Ghosts. These are available for download on Amazon for  a good price. Plus, there is a one-shot comic called After Earth: Innocence by Del Rey Books/Dynamite Comics. This tells the story of the divided human colony and the first assaults by the aliens. I might read the short stories

21 May 2013

FWS News Flash: HALO TV SERIES Just Announced For XBOX ONE!

The new Xbox next-gen system, called ONE, has just been announced and at 10:46am, Bonnie Ross, head of 343 Industries, broke the news that an live-action HALO television series is coming to the new console. No shit. An actually HALO live-action fucking TV show. It seems that HALO: Spartan Ops and the recent HALO: Forward onto Dawn have all been test-beds for this project. Steven Spielberg will be executive producer on the project, which could be called World of HALO...dumb name, but a very cool event that could give us a much-needed MSF TV series that is done right. This will be an Xbox ONE console exclusive TV series...and could signal the a brave new world for the future of TV. It is a good day for Military Sci-Fi and HALO fans alike.     

17 May 2013

FWS News Feed: Trailers for EUROPA REPORT and GRAVITY!

A private space venture sends a team of six space explorers on a three-year journey to the Jupiter icy moon of Europa in search of life and ticket sales, and weirdness ensues. According to the press on this film, they consulted SpaceX, NASA, JPL on making an accurate space adventure, and the trailer looks good...but that could mean anything though. All I have to say, is better not be like that fucking canned dog food Apollo 18!

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

FWS Topics: Science Fiction Space Travel Myths

Sometimes, the realities of science and physics make life difficult for a sci-fi writers and/or creator. It doesn't help us that the vast majority of science fiction is soft-serve that telling massive fictional space traveling myths. Another title for this blogpost should be: 'how sci-fi lied to us about space travel!' Once again, here is an improved FWS blogpost taken from an original io9.com article about the top ten space travel myths that populate science fiction like the common cold or an STD at a college dorm. FWS reworked the original post, adding new pictures, and original FWS patented research and text. There was some sci-fi space travel myths that I omitted from the original io9.com list, and added a few of mine own. Here is the original io9.com post:

1. Faster-Than-Light Space Travel
There is no greater lie in the realm of science fiction space travel than faster-than-light propulsion devices. FTL 'warp drives' are like sci-fi peer pressure, we all do it, and we expect others to do it, too. Mainly, FTL travel has to exist for most sci-fi tales to work according to the author's vision of visiting strangle new world and seeking out green-skinned slave women.Of course, propelling a starship faster than 186,000 miles-per-second is considered unrealistic in physics due to an infinite amount of energy needed to accelerated an particle with rest mass. Even more impossible is faster-than-light space battles where torpedoes and phaser beams bounce between the warships...does this mean that phasers operate above the speed of light, and that torpedoes have micro-warp drives? There could the possible of some particle that do move at FTL speeds, tachyons, or there could be something like B5 hyperspace dimension that allows for FTL travel or even once a civilization creates FTL starships, an alternate reality is forged where everyone is the same, save for the goatees. This has been hammered away by this blog and another sites...so, we don't need to bet a dead horse. There are few science fiction works that feature the complications of space travel without FTL, Firefly being the most popular. But for the most part, science fiction fucking loves FTL travel, and it is hard not too.

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.
The ABC show Defying Gravity used magnetic particles in the blood, hair, on the bottom of their shoes coupled with rotating sections to mimic Terran conditions. You could achieve artificial gravity via linear acceleration that created gee-force. The issue is that fuel would be expelled during this process, and could not be kept up for long-term space missions. Low-gravity environments have been proposed for a trip to Mars via low-impulse acceleration...it wouldn't be Terran-normal, but it would be something. Or, lastly, build a 1300 billion ton starship (!), to create natural gravity. It would be easier to strap rockets to the Earth!  

3. No Inertia in Space Travel 
Inertia is the resistance of an object to change its state of motion...or objects keeping doing what they're doing until they are forced to change...also called marriage. I used to love, when I had my manual transmission Honda Civic, to roll down this steep hill near TCU without any gas, and this is one of the great saving graces of real-world space travel...inertia. Inertia would allow our starships to accelerate to a certain velocity, then cut the propellant, and ride the inertia nearly all the way to the objective. However, this does not exist in a great deal of space-based sci-fi stories, especially sci-fi TV shows. Often when the ship runs out of gas, they stop, or if the captain orders 'all-stop' the massive starship nearly instantly stops without a massive de-acceleration method. Any real-world space mission would have have phases of acceleration, cruising, then de-acceleration. If you are accelerating  for an year, then you are de-accelerating for year...as Bender said: "the laws of science be a harsh mistress." Science fiction also likes to dismiss the 'for every action, there is an equal reaction' law with massive accelerations and de-accelerations with the aid of handwavium inertial damping devices that prevent the crew from being turned into chunky salsa.

4. Superluminal Interstellar Communications
How could there be an Terran Empire, or Federation without the possibility of interstellar real-time communications? Well, according to Einstein, interstellar faster-than-light phone calls would be on the same level as time travel. What does this mean of the off-world colonies? They are on their own. Even now, Voyager 1 space probe's radio signals take 16 hours to reach Terra, and the probe is in our solar system...can you imagine being separated by light-years? One way that science had suggested for interstellar communication is sending the signals or dronesl through a wormhole...if they work like an galactic subway. Now, things get even more complex and beyond my limited science education when we take into account FTL communications between two starships moving at near lightspeed! The possibility of interstellar real-time communications could make for an interesting spacefaring future...

5. Crowned Space
Everyone always says how big space is, but somehow, that is never communicated effectively when it comes to massive space fleets. Nearly every space fleet seems to pack themselves in a nicely cropped shot, presenting a nice juicy target for incoming Cylons...but why? There doesn't seem to be any logical reason, save for media presentation of the classic space fleet that is based on seagoing navies. Not only does this apply to space fleets, but to asteroid belts, planets in a star system, and moons relative to their parent planet.

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!
Anyone that watches enough Trek knows that once the shit hits the fan, the shields go up, and if these shields collapse during space engagements, the good ship Enterprise is fucked (cough* Generations* cough). Traveling through space at a great rate of speed and engaging in space pew-pew laser battles would be much easier with force shields, and not the massive whipple shields of hard science. In reality, warships would use defensive automated laser emitters and kinetic interceptors to prevent incoming hostile fire, like current naval warships. The stable electromagnetic barrier that are used in Star Trek could be used on a small scale to possibly replace iron bars on prison cells. A wall of electrons, synced up with the same quantum state has our own body's electrons, that using the Pauli Exclusion Principle to prevent that body from passing through this wall of electrons.

8. Starship Appearance
One of the greatest sins committed by science fiction is the appearance of the starship in science fiction. For much of the early years of science fiction, especially during the Space Race, atomic rocketships dominated the space lanes. That was until about mid-1960's, when spaceborne ships like the Enterprise showed us all there was other schools of starship design, but still unrealistic. It was assumed by some that space is like the ocean, and spaceship design should follow, much like the Galactica and the Yamato. What become a rarity in science fiction was the hard-science deep space vehicle, like the Antares, the Phaeton, and the ISV Venture Star. These are brittle-appearing long ship with drive sections far away from the habitual sections, spinning artificial gravity arms, glowing heat radiators and massive protective whipple shields. These are beautiful in their own ways, but are unpopular with sci-fi fans that grew up with visions of Star Destroyers and Birds of Prey dancing in their heads.

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
For years, science fiction has pumped visions of submarine warfare in the soundless dark void beyond Terra, invisible green alien warships waiting to destroy our science ships, and sneaking into enemy territory on a covert commando mission. It makes sense on one level of thought, especially to those of us indoctrination with a lifetime of soft-serve sci-fi...but not when closely examined under the hard science killjoy lens. Space is dark and vast, but the waste-heat from our starships would blaze like a bonfire in the dark realm, coupled with the realities of space-based propulsion blazing its own "we're here" billboard. Sci-fi has developed all manner of inventive handwavium sheath shields, and material that absorb detection waves and beam and that's fine if your sci-fi universe is well composed and interesting.

11 May 2013

FWS Armory: The Future of Bullets

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
According to science fiction, the 21st century should have ushered in an era where directed energy were the weapon of choice for soldiers. However, the rifle that they were using at the time those stories were written, is still in-service with the US military. Lasers are on the modern battlefield, soldiers today can and do mount the laser PEQ aiming system to their weaver-rail carbines. Not long ago, compact laser devices like the PEQ were  thought not to be rugged enough for combat duty. When it comes to lethal laser directed energy weapon system, the US Navy and the US Army are working on large-scale DEW systems for defensive roles, but there is no handheld laser rifle on the horizon. The simple answer are that current technology is unable to delivery a DEW rifle that is lethal enough without needing a massive power and cooling source that is superior to the traditional firearm..even if the soldier worn a power-pack on their back.
Then we must also consider that a laser DE beam achieves the kill via the duration of time-on-target (dwelling time), and the more powerful the beam that hits the target, the less dwelling time, but the greater the power pack. Bullets and the weapons that fired them require no electricity, and while penetration is a factor for all firearms, there is no dwelling time...just aiming. Weather is not much of a factor as it would be for a laser DEW. At the end of the day, traditional firearms are doing their jobs just fine in the reality of modern warfare  

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.
This would be one of those weapon systems assigned to a specific purpose and could be kept near the soldier for deployment  like in an HUMMV. They are expensive to use, not tactically flexible, train, and they place stress on the frame of the weapon. with. And besides, what would some of these cartridges be used for anyways? Developers of the .50 Beowulf were interested in bring firepower to an M4 user for stopping cars at checkpoints and putting firepower in the hands of operators in a smaller package. Some other rounds, like the .458 SOCOM, could be an sniper rifle-only round over the 7.62x51mm. These could be useful if we develop time travel and hunt dinosaurs like in Ray Bradbury's A Sound of Thunder. Would this be a good element for a sci-fi work? That depends on how you place this massive rounds into the fictional world. I have a super-soldier book that has this armored soldiers using rifles chambering the .50 Beowulf round. But, only because their bodies and armor allow for this caliber's usage and there was a specific reason why the round was fielded.

The 6.8mm SPC
Back when I was a kid in the mid-80's, it seemed that every gun magazine was toting the 10mm Auto pistol cartridge as the next big thing. Of course, the 10mm round fizzled out with only a few guns were manufactured, and no military adoption, but some law enforcement acceptance. The round continued in production for the civilian market. Why am I talking about the 10mm Auto? Because the story of the 6.8x43mm Special Purpose Cartridge (SPC) round is very similar, a round that goes from stardom to obscurity in a few short years. In 2002, Remington worked along side the USSOCOM to develop a more lethal round than the 5.56mm for use in the M4 carbine. It was thought that a bullet that fell in-between the 5.56mm and the 7.62mm, could be very useful in the realities of modern warfare.
The tests proved positive, and Remington believed that they had  hit on their hands for a new milspec round. Around 2004-2006, it is rumored that members of the Special Operations were using the new round in the combat zones of Iraq and Afghanistan with specially fitted M4 carbines that could chamber the 6.8mm SPC. Adding fuel to the fire was video games like Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon II which projected wide-scale adoption by the US Military in the near future. This was the intention of Remington, for the 6.8mm SPC to be cartridge of the Special Forces, while the rest of the armed services utilized the 5.56mm. However, by 2010, the 6.8mm SPC military round was dead, despite the good performance on the firing range. Part of it was the way Remington went about getting the round military approval, some of it had to do with the massive wars we were involved in at the time, and some in USSOCOM didn't believe that their operators needed a special cartridge that would add to the supply chain. Today, the 6.8mm round is primarily used by Hog hunters here in Texas, where it has gained respect as a good round, but is it not likely to be the future path of the bullet. Would this make a good element in a sci-fi work? Yes, this is a solid, respected round that would be solid in a fictional military.

The 6.5mm Grendel 
The 6.5mm (.264) round is nothing new in firearms. No less than ten cartridges are similar size, and been used by military organization over the course of a century. However, most of these were full sized rifle rounds, and issues begin to pop up when the 6.5mm was cut down to be an assault rifle cartridge. The 'Grendel' was a custom designed caliber designed by Alexander Arms in 2004 to be, yet another, improvement on the 5.56mm round. Unlike the 6.8 SPC, the 6.5 Grendel was never formally tested by the US Military  nor was it in the running for a replacement cartridge for the 5.56mm. Rumors around the internet say different, and that the Russians will be releasing AKs in 6.5 Grendel, but the truth is that the round wasn't up to the challenge of being a milspec round due to low long-range ballistics  the round's dimensions cause weakness in the bolt of AR15 weapons. Is the 6.5 Grendel a good element for a sci-fi work? I'm not sure...it would not be the worst cartridge for an futuristic fictional assault rifle, but there are better.

Are We Going Back to the 7.62x51mm?
The NATO 7.62x51mm cartridge is one most widely used military rounds in Western military organizations, and despite the widespread usage of the 5.56mm, the 7.62mm still maintains its role as a heavy-hitting bullet. From machine guns, DMRs, battle-rifles, and sniper rifles, the 7.62mm is a flexible round that seems to be making a comeback since the conflicts in Iraq and A-Stan. When developed in the 1950's, the 7.62x51mm NATO round was the universal cartridge for NATO. Weapons like the M60 machine gun, FN FAL, and the M14 all chambered this round. However, by the 1960's, the Americans had gone to the 5.56mm, and the Soviets were exploring their own smaller cartridge. By the 1990's, the 5.56mm was spread throughout the NATO nations, and the 7.62mm seemed doomed to limited service in machine guns and sniper rifles.
The weakness of the 5.56mm were starting to be seen by military units during the Battle of Mogadishu, and by the time of operations in Afghanistan, there was a push to bring back the heavy-hitter. Soon, more DMR type weapons were being deployed in the 7.62mm, including the new British L129A1. In March of this year, it was leaked to the British Press that the famed SAS Special Operations Unit is exploring the possibility of switching from the 5.56mm to the 7.62mm round. It seems that the 7.62mm NATO is enjoying a reinsurance, and given the history of round, this could be a likely prospect for the future of the bullet....I guess it is like fashion, where everything that is old is new again. Is the 7.62x51mm a good element for a sci-fi work? Science fiction is already predicting that the 7.62mm will be with us when we reach out to the stars. The MA5B and DMR from the HALO universe, along with the Marine M590 from Space: Above and Beyond all chamber the 7.62mm round, and it seems logical with the power of the round.

Smaller High Velocity Cartridges
Back in the 1980's, a new type of bullet and weapon systems was developed, the Personal Defense Weapon (PDW). Their custom compact high-velocity cartridges designed specifically for taking down targets wearing body armor. The first of these new weapon was the FN P90 and its 5.7x28mm round, and it spelled the end of the traditional SMG. Other firearms companies soon caught on, developing their own PDW with HV cartridge, like the H&K MP7. Today, the PDW is widely adopted firearm in military and law enforcement circles.President Obama is guarded with Secret Service guards wearing P90s, the Navy SEALS use the MP7s, and the Chinese have their QCW-05 (the source of the Chicom CQB in Black Ops: II).
Certainly, with the spread of body armor, these little guns with their custom HV rounds will continue to one arm of the future of bullet. Are these HV rounds a good element for a sci-fi work? Very much so. HV ammunition is only going to be more important with the developed of next-gen body armor, and the continued urbanization of our planet. Masamune Shirow has been a pioneer in showing us the future uses of the PDW, and most of his weapon act as a bridge between the current arms to the possible future. One of these 'bridge future weapons' could be the 'Peacekeeper' PDW/Commando Carbine hybrid weapon from Black Ops: II
Caseless Ammunition
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
During the US Army's 1986-1990 Advanced Combat Rifle Program that was seeking a replacement for the aging M16 rifle, Colt fielded the ACR concept to the test that fired a unique ammunition type: the Duplex cartridge. Packed within the 5.56mm cartridge was two similar sized bullets. The round submitted for trials by the Army's ACRP had an exposed bullet that was 35 grains and hidden round was 33 grains.  The idea was for each 5.56x45mm NATO round fired by the shooter, two bullets would be speeding down-range to the target, created double impact on the hostile. It was believed that this duplex round would result in greater fatalities with less rounds expended, even if the target was wearing body armor.
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)
Sandwiched between the completely caseless ammunition and the traditional meta jacketed cartridge is the cased telescoped ammunition or CTA. Instead of a metallic casing or a propellant casing, CTA uses lightweight metallic or polymer, or plastic. The bullet rests deeper in the new type of casing due to the use of consolidated propellant. It is best to think of CTA has in the middle of the traditional cased and the fully caseless, and as properties of both. CTA is not as weak in structure as the fully caseless ammunition and safer for combat operations in all types of environments, but saves weight over the traditional metallic casing. This is one of the current pathways of the future for the bullet. Already the US Military is exploring using cased telescoped ammunition in their LSAT next-gen SAW LMG...which is seen in Black Ops: II, and could be a nice element in a sci-fi work.

Polymer-Cased Ammunition (PCA)
In another weight-saving measure being currently explored is the polymer-cased ammunition or PCA. This saves up to 35% of weight over conventional ammunition, easing the burden of modern warfighters, and allowing for more ammunition to be carried. PCA operators very smiliar to traditional ammo, and has the same all-weather survivable as brass-encased ammunition. This is mostly likely the short-term future of bullets, especially when combined that the new lead-less 'green' bullets. PCA would make a nice addition to a sci-fi work, but it is a small thing.


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 advantage of these darts is their compact size, uber-high velocity, flat trajectory  psychological effect, and high fire-rate. However, the flechette has equal disadvantages. It was shown that the high rate-of-fire coupled with the dart sabot damaged the barrel. Then there was the danger of ricochet, and that the dart would just pass through the target, causing an in-and-out entry and exit wound pattern that had little knockdown power. However, the AAI prototype fired their dart at 4500 FPS, and could cause the  'hooking' effect, and massive damage to the target when the bend dart entered the body. When the Army was done with the ACRP, they noted that flechettes were lethal, but not suitable for a rifle system, and more effective when spread out over a large area, via artillery. Could flechettes be the future of bullets? Maybe, and that depends on how next-gen flechettes were about to pierce future bodyarmor. Could you use flechettes in a sci-fi work? I think so...I have in my flash ficiton serial Custom, and found these darts to be a fun story element, and they do have a great realistic and violent nature.

The 'Smart' Guided Bullet
Self-guiding bullets are a fusion of the traditional bullet and the guided missile that allows for a bullet to leave the gun and be able to change direction and/or speed via an onboard flight control system. Sounds great, doesn't it? Well, it could be the future of some types of bullets, especially sniper rounds, and the US government is already hard at work on this. One of the issues for these smart guided bullets was computer systems that could handle the shock of being launched out of the barrel, and in January of 2012, the concept was proven in a live-fire test in the deserts of New Mexico. During this test, the smart bullet hit a target one mile away.  While similar in appearance to traditional ammo, smart bullets are not technology packed in a 7.62mm or .50 round, but are four-inch dart-like projects. These could be used in .50 sniper rounds, allowing for great (and more badass) long-distance shots. There is even talk of fitting these smart bullets with sensors to allow for micro-UAV capabilities. These could be an exciting element in a science fiction story, and these represents one avenue of the future of bullets.

Gryojet rounds
Back in the 1960's, rockery was hot, and application of technology was hot as well. It was during this phase, that Dr. Robert Mainhardt and Dr. Art Biehl joined forces to developed products based around rockets via the company MBA. Their first venture was a micro solid-rocket flare-launcher system, that attached the attention of the US government, who suggested that they develop an handgun based around rocket propulsion. That give birth to the gryojet, a gyroscopically stabilized rocket-propelled .51 caliber projectile. MBA was original eyed the gryojet for military usage (including in conflicts in outer space!) by developed a family of firearms. MBA envisioned gryojet rifles, carbines, LMGs, pistosl, and underwater weapon. However, before US GIs began taking out Charlie in the jungles of 'Nam with rocket-bullets, the gryojet was discovered to have critical issues that prevented adaptation.
There was a 1% failure rate of ammunition not launching, they were expensive, the pistol was not magazine-fed, and there was a very low muzzle velocity when the 13mm round was first fired. It was comically so slow, that you could actually stop the gryojet round from leaving the barrel with your finger! Then it would take 25 yards before the gyrojet projectile to reached enough velocity to be lethal. Since the gryojet was not rifled, that projectile could go off course, and they did. From 1960 to 1969, MBA manufactured about 1,000 gryojet 'rocketeer' pistols for the civilian market, and several were carried by American soldiers in Vietnam as personal arms. Neither of the two known gryojet that went to the 'Nam were fired in combat. By 1969, the party was over, and the gun and MBA passed into history. The uniqueness of gryojet has not been lost to science fiction creators. Both the Battletech and Warhammer 40k universe use rocket propelled bullets...but could it be the future of the bullet? No, not it's current form. Due to the projectiles the low-muzzle velocity at short ranges, and its basic lack of improvement over current firearms. There could a possibility of gryojet weaponry in a sci-fi work, if it was done correctly, like Warhammer 40k.  

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
Another possible future for the bullet is to liberate it entirely from its metal casing and chemical propellant via electromagnetism. Either by coils or rails of magnets, these futuristic kinetic energy weapons can propel the sabot at alarmingly fast velocities. These are not science fiction, railguns are in the working prototype phase for the US Navy, and will be deployed onboard combat ship around 2015. What about handheld KEW systems? That is where is becomes complicated. Given the basic design of the railgun, it would not be a good candidate for a rifle-like KE infantry weapon.
It is possible that railguns could be anti-material weapon, but it likely that coilguns (AKA Gauss guns) could be the candidate for a future KE infantry weapon system. For years, mad scientists have been creating powerful homebrew Gauss pistols and rifles that can knock down cans and even damage wood, and filming them for all of us to enjoy on youtube. What is holding back Gauss weaponry is the power requirements, switching between the coils, saturation of the FE projectile, and being rugged enough for field work. I personally love to include Gauss guns in my MSF works, and it is possible these types of weapons will become the future of the bullet... eventually.


The vintage US Army's ACRP footage