I received some very interesting comments today from Hans. Thanks, Hans 🙂 So that I could share more easily with everyone, I’ve put them into this post. Let’s have some debate!
First up we have space dogfighting.
IMHO I think that banking in space only makes you an easy target. Turn 90 degrees and accelerate hard to change direction takes time, fuel and is too slow (while you’ll keep going forward ’cause you didn’t stop).
As I conceive a ship, it has thrusters all around its construction so you can roll, pitch, yaw but most important you can go up and down.
As I see a space battle, if you want to shake someone at your six, you turn 180 degrees, go up or down, pitch, fire at your pursuer, and brake hard (afterburner) so you can get at his tail. I agree that he can do the same.
Depending on the size of the ship you can have turrets (even in fighters) and fire at your pursuer while dodging him.
I think you make convincing points, Hans. Away from the gravity wells of planets and other large bodies, space is an unbounded three-dimensional battlefield. It’s difficult for us here on Earth to truly think that way because it isn’t how we personally experience the universe. Even if you’re a pilot of a fighter (airplane) then you are a lot more limited in what you can do with up and down compared with space (down is particularly limited in an airplane!).
One of the implications is that you can have thrusters pointing in several different directions. As Hans, says, if a hostile is on your six, you could swing around 180 degrees, apply main engines to brake rapidly, but, at the same time, move up (or indeed any direction you like perpendicular to the hostile’s heading).
One of the ships introduced in Marine Cadet (and we’ll see much more of them in later books) is the ‘Tactical Unit’. I don’t describe the propulsion system (maybe in a later book) but it takes some of Hans’s idea to its logical conclusion, because it is a spherical ship with a main propulsion unit at the centre of the ship that pivots around to line up with one of a score of exhaust ports. So, rather than turn the ship around to point the main engine mounted aft in a new direction, it’s just the engine in the centre that has to pivot, which it’s designed to do extremely rapidly. That makes turning quicker. Not much but maybe enough to give you an edge. Also, because you can’t see the central engine move from outside the ship, your course changes aren’t broadcast to the enemy (unlike the alternative: if your ship is pivoting around to point in a new direction, it’s clear you want to change vector).
I’m thinking a lot about space combat right now. There’s some ship-to-ship combat in Book2: Indigo Squad. There’s more in Book 3. And space fleet battles are the main background to Book 4 (and, yes, there will be space fighters). So this is a very useful discussion for me.
Back to Hans on gravity and direction inside the starship.
One comment about what is up and down in a ship in space: I agree that in open space there is no up or down but in a ship (or space station) it’s determined by its construction. I doubt that all equipment will turn 180 degrees to satisfy the concept. Can you imagine a bridge half in one side and the other half in the other?
Most of the second book is set on a ship called the Beowulf (in homage to the RPG I played in the 1970s called Traveller – Free Trader Beowulf is mentioned on the box.) The Beowulf’s design has a main engine mounted in the stern. When that’s running full blast, the crew experience down as being in the direction of the stern (aft). So all the compartments and connecting passageways and ladders etc. need to work when everything appears to be pulled down onto the aft bulkhead. For example, all the stations in CIC are fixed to that aft bulkhead. That orientation of CIC is permanent.
Most of the time, the Beowulf isn’t accelerating, so is in zero-g. So the design has to cope with both pseudo-gravity from acceleration and zero-g. I had to think hard about my bar, for example. How to stop all the drink containers spilling or shattering when under acceleration, but how to make full use of the zero-g potential for recreation.
Hans had a point about a scene in Marine Cadet.
IMHO, keeping yourself upside down at the moon’s battle is not realistic but permissible as it’s a SF book. Why’s that? Simple: Despite moon’s size it has some gravity. i.e. earth’s moon has 1/6 earth’s gravity. If there was no gravity in the moon (described in the book), no one would be able to stay at the floor, hence those that were in the ceiling would be gently fall due the moon’s gravity.
You’re very generous 🙂 The Marines start off the books with cast off technology. You get a glimpse of the technology developed by civilizations 100s of thousands of years ahead of us. Although the tech level appears patchy to our characters. Here’s a quote from the beginning of Book3: Renegade Legion.
In his Marine battlesuit, Arun could activate stealth mode, a technology so effective that sophisticated enemy targeting systems would be blind to him.
So why were the recon drones so noisy that he could hear them half a klick away?
Stealth-capable recon drones had to exist somewhere in the White Knight Equipment inventory. It was as if the Tactical Marine regiments on Tranquility had been equipped with unwanted leftovers discovered at the back of a dusty store cupboard.
If the Human Legion was to survive and prosper, Arun would put a priority on sourcing better equipment.
The battlesuit technology is one of the more mysterious technologies. No one Arun knows understands how it works in the first book. He meets someone who is beginning to in the second. The acceleration available to the suit propulsion is inversely proportional to the strength of the gravity field you’re in. On a planet like Earth you get an assisted hop. In deep space the suit has the potential to accelerate so fast that it could pulp anyone inside the suit. On a moon that is approximately 1/6 Earth gravity (as with Earth’s moon) then at full blast you can play tricks such as walking on the ceiling. In the second book the Marines board a ship where their suit motors fail because they’re in a gravity field. That confuses the hell out of their scientists J
Thanks again to Hans and everyone else for your comments. And thanks to everyone whose support has made the first book a bestseller. For those who have enquired about the second book, it is written and being prepared for launch. I can’t give a date but it will be published January 2015, probably mid-Jan.