Category Archives: Science Fiction

Blue Glow: A Rocketpunk Adventure

I’m currently running an RPG set in a world based on the classic Golden-Age science fiction of R.A. Heinlein, H. Beam Piper and others. It takes place in the year 2103, but the 2103 imagined in 1960 rather than the 2103 we expect. Men with slide-rules navigate atomic rockets on expeditions to scout strange new worlds for colonization under the aegis of the Solar Guard. I’ve taken pains to make the science and engineering as realistic as possible, with the exception of the frantic handwaving necessary for FTL, not to mention primitive computers in the 22nd century.

The Flag of the Solar Guard

The Flag of the Solar Guard

I’m maintaining a website that covers the basics of the game here. My in-person players are cast as officers of the Solar Guard exploration cruiser Avalon, while I have two remote players who respectively take the role of the Solar Guard’s secretly self-aware mainframe computer, Astrovac, and the leadership of a genocidal alien race called the “Chlor.” The first arc of the plot ended with a surprise orbital bombardment attack by the Chlor upon several peripheral human colony worlds. The current arc focuses on the crew’s assignments during the resultant war.

In keeping with my nature, I’ve worked up a topical analysis of Avalon’s engineering aspects, as well as a CAD model to illustrate the players’ home-away-from-home to them. The site also has some fun filk pieces very much in the space-opera spirit.

The system is pretty loose, with a very general basis in the mechanics of Sufficiently Advanced but with the scale brought down to a more human level and less dice rolling.

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Inquisitorial Blackship “Anatolia”

My fiancée and I have been working for some time on a novel set in the Warhammer 40K universe, specifically about an Imperial inquisitor named Alexandra North. Last night I had a sketchbook handy and decided to freehand a drawing of her ship, a Firestorm-class frigate named Anatolia after the birthplace of the Emperor.

Anatolia

Click for full size

The Anatolia is broadly similar to the standard Firestorm frigates serving in the navy: loaded mass of 64.4 megatons, maximum acceleration of 0.2 g, mass ratio of 1.55, delta-V of ~130 km/s. She differs in having a larger reactor and a much larger bow lance (soft X-ray laser), on par with those carried by battleships. The lance has a very low rate of fire, around one shot every 10 minutes, due to Anatolia’s limited capacity to eliminate the waste heat of the titanic weapon. It does, however, allow her to open an engagement with a shot capable of punching through the shields of opponents double her mass.

Despite some slight perspective distortions due to being a freehand drawing with minimal construction lines, I’m pretty happy. I haven’t sketched more than a quick landscape (usually for RPGs) in years. I’m also pleased with the fact that there is not a single piece of “greeble” on the entire ship. Everything from the big hexagonal phased-array radar panels to the anti-ordnance turrets to the statues of the Primarchs and Emperor has a purpose, functional or symbolic.

Pacific Rim: Why Giant Robots Are (Usually) Silly

I’ll start this off by saying I really like Guillermo del Toro’s body of work, and that his characteristic blend of physical effects and CGI really shows in the quality visuals I’ve come to expect from his films. These two trailers for the upcoming Pacific Rim indicate that it will not be an exception to this rule.


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Warfare and Cliodynamics in Frank Herbert’s “Dune”

Cliodynamics is a field of study that attempts to understand history through mathematical modeling. Peter Turchin, who coined the term, thinks that Frank Herbert could have done a better job with the cliodynamics of his science fiction classic, Dune…

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Dear Independent Science Fiction Filmmakers,

Every year the films put out by the big studios seem to get a little worse. In their attempt to blandly appeal to everyone, they appeal to no one; in their desire to offend no one, their vapidity offends everyone. We are increasingly treated to the same plots, characters, and cinematography repeated ad nauseam in what claim to be different films. Even the idea that every “new” production is a remake, sequel, or prequel has become cliché.

Maybe they'll make a game... nah.

The nadir of Hollywood?

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