Richard P Grant and his BioLOG (biolog); the wee blog, weblog, or web blog; things not necessarily biology related. The anti-blogger.


22 September 2008

Who ex machina

I get ‘camp’. I get post-modern ironic self-effacement.

But I don’t get crocs, I don’t get taking the piss out of your loyal fans, and I, sadly, no longer get Dr Who.

Filed under: science fiction — rpg @ 12:10

15 November 2007

Set the controls for the heart of the sun

Via CK, from the I want one of those for Christmas department:

In my formative years I used to read a lot of science fiction. This ranged from the classic (Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke) through the outrageous (E. E. ‘Doc’ Smith) to the execrable (Heinlein). Somewhere in the midst of all that I came across a single book by a forgotten author, number two in a four part series I think, that actually attempted to be a little more realistic.

Yes, I know; ‘realistic’ and ‘science fiction’ in the same paragraph. Bear with me.

The thing that I remember most about the book was the description of space warfare. In a thinly-veiled dig at Star Wars one of the characters talked about the impossibility of aeronautical manoeuvering in the airless void and the equally unlikely practicalities of light and ‘plasma’ weapons with which entire generations are familiar. Opposing fleets would, instead, use atomic-tipped missiles fired at each other across vast distances, making space combat a somewhat — ha ha — hit and miss affair.

But this cove had equipped his spaceships with railguns that fired pound-sized lumps of metal at some prodigious rate into the path of the enemy fleet. Which, on encountering thousands of these small but very fast projectiles, was colandered (not having the advantage of something so dubious as shielding technology.)

And of course, the Aurorans in Escape Velocity have rail guns too. The Auroran’s weapon is a slow, clumsy affair, not as cool as my mind’s eye version of them: Massed banks of the things firing scatter shot across a vast volume of space.

So a little bit of me is pleased to see that the US Navy is taking delivery of a 32 megajoule experimental railgun.Apparently it draws 3 million amps per shot, which to me seems a small price to pay for delivering a payload two hundred miles. . . at Mach 8.

My plan, therefore, is to lobby the NSW government to build that bloody nuclear station, in my garden, and construct a hundred railguns. That would result in withering fire of six hundred rounds per minute, which might not be in the same class as a Gatling gun, but boy, it would make the bastards who speed down our road at 3 in the morning think twice.


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