Seeing as how we are all about instruction here at the Feens. I figured that I would give some insight as to my thought process and scientific background of A Galaxy Gone Mad.
First of all I would like to say that in spite of the fantastic imagery I have tried to stay as close to what is technically possible and what might have happened in history had it gone down the radically diverging paths that have happened in this story so far. That said I think that as disastrous as the Martian Invasion and the German/Anglo-American war and the following destabilizing of Earths governments by space libertarians would have been a preferable outcome to most readers of this blog than World War One and the Great Depression leading into World War Two, the Cold War and so on and so on.
I started this sequel before I had even finished Worlds Set Free. I felt that I had created such a rich fictional world that I simply had to spend some more time there. And I ended that story with the revelation that the mysterious Yonth might be coming back and the arrival of the Singers. Those seemed like teases that were too big to simply leave them as is. If only for myself.
When I started writing this story my first attempt quickly became a Kudzu plot. By the time I had trimmed it back to a manageable size I had a discombobulated mess of bad grammar, plot lines that went nowhere and more uses of the word “but” than you could shake a stick at. I seriously considered abandoning the project. Then two things happened. One, I read a book by one Stephen Baxter. Manifold Space, a book that had been recommended to me as a piece of well written hard sci fi. Manifold Space is awfully hard, well written it is not. Essentially it is a collection of kinda cool ideas strung together with the thinnest plot line you can imagine. While technical details come across as accurate, the motivations and actions of the characters make absolutely no sense and the ending came across as the biggest ass pull I had ever seen. Clearly showing that the author has no knowledge of even basic military operations.
The truly bizarre thing about Manifold Space is that it seems like an attempt to write an overly long piece of sci fi where the only motivation of the author was the rule of cool. Yet doing so by strictly adhering to what is physically possible according to science as it was commonly known at the time the book was written. Which is a complete inversion of what the rule of cool is usually about. I can’t even begin to describe the level of nonsense in that book. So I will try to limit my critique to one thing. While it may sound cool and with advances in cloning, technically feasible. To go for a walk with Neanderthals who are working for alien robots, maintaining technology on one of Jupiter’s moons. I can literally give you a dozen reasons, right now why that would never happen.
So I pressed on, knowing that whatever I came up with. At least I would consider it to be better written than some science fiction stories out there. But I still had a spreading kudzu plot. What got that under control was a supplement. A nootropic called Noopept. As soon as I started taking this stuff the screw ups I had made in writing became immediately clear. I continued on with a clear head knowing what I had to cut, keep or refine.
So with that, let’s get into the technical stuff.
Ships and ship types. In the course of events in Worlds Set Free warships got bigger and more complicated. The original Electrical Ships and other ships of that size become known as corvettes due to their similarity in size to small naval warships. The name corvette is also used in this story because the general term for a relatively small warship, destroyer, is an incredibly stupid name to me. Why not call it Floaty Mckillface? The destroyer was a type of ship that was created to destroy fast torpedo boats developed around the turn of the last century. In this universe neither ship existed in any kind of numbers because of the abandoning of naval ship development following the Martian Invasion. So an alternate name is needed. I settled on corvette. It seems appropriate and sounds cool.
Different nations use different size ships for different jobs. So the rule of thumb is, if it seats one person and is very small. It is a fighter, two, three or four seats, and a bit bigger it is a fighter, fighter bomber or reconnaissance craft. Bigger than a fighter then it is either a heavy bomber. Rare in this universe, the Japanese have a few. Or more likely a Corvette, which is usually shaped more like a ship as opposed to a winged fighter. Corvette is a general term, naturally.
Bigger than a corvette is a light cruiser. A rather serious piece of hardware. A heavily armed, versatile, large gunboat. The Japanese have the largest light cruiser fleet on this version of Earth. Bigger than that is a heavy cruiser. Such as the Eutopian Orion class. Heavy cruisers are big enough to launch their own manned fighters.
Bigger than heavy cruisers are battleships and carriers. There are no space or seagoing battlecruisers in this universe. For two reasons, one Jacky Fischer, the inventor of the concept was unable to complete any before the German fleet snuffed out London. After London the idea of a flying battlecruiser was shelved for a large number of reasons. The two biggest ones being that there is no way that an English space battlecruiser could ever be faster than a Eutopian Valor class space battleship.
Space aircraft carriers launching manned fighters are impractical for a variety of reasons already covered in previous chapters. I don’t doubt that someone somewhere will, or perhaps already has built one. But the space battleship is a much more logical concept if you put some thought into it. Both are Capital ships. But the pride of the nations that commissioned these fleets lies with the space battleships. With their abundance of phallic rail guns and plethora of secondary weapons.
I decided to go with (mostly) existing designs of ships, fighters and other spacecraft in this story for a couple of reasons. One, I wanted to play with various designs that for whatever reason never saw mass production. Two, I want to show you the reader, the world I have put together. I am not that good an artist. So working with existing designs allows me to show, at least one small part of what I am writing about. I kind of like detailed technical descriptions. But I know that they can get a bit dry and boring. Moreover, it’s an old rule of writing. “Don’t tell me, show me.”
The Interplanetary Expedition Company Space Battle Ship Montana. Its equivalent in our timeline is the proposed, but unbuilt battleship BB67 Montana. Which were the last class of battleships proposed for construction for the United States Navy. That said, there is obviously nothing on Earth like the SBS Montana. Any self respecting story about space travel requires a cool ship and Big Blue is my attempt at creating the best “cool ship” that my mind can put together. That said I believe that Big Blue is far from a technical impossibility. We already have integrated missile systems as advanced as what is used on the fictional Montana. Lasers are almost as advanced now as what I have described. Railgun technology is getting better every day and it is only a matter of time before they are seen in combat somewhere. But what about the two things that Big Blue has that aren’t all that commonly encountered nowadays? A reactionless drive and her armor.
Energy sources. The primary power source for Earth ships is a zero point energy reactor. This is based off of a variety of scientific, and yes pseudoscientific works. I believe that this was the power source of the Electrical Ships in Garret Putnam Sevris’s original, Edison’s Conquest of Mars. From a literal and technical perspective it eliminates a great deal of technical issues. Like carrying around tons and tons of fuel which would drag down the narrative with lots of boring technobabble and diverting the main thrust of the story for breaks for logistical reasons.
Also featured, particularly on Eutopian ships are Thorium fission reactors and fusion reactors. Fusion reactors have been tantalizingly out of the reach of practicality for decades. However thorium salt reactors are based off of proven technologies. I believe that these, and a few energy sources are a practical solution to our civilizations energy needs. I believe that if we had industrialized thorium reactors after they were developed in the 70s then we would be colonizing other planets now.
Reactionless drives are the subject of a great deal of attention and scientific controversy nowadays. Particularly the Alcubierre drive. I believe that in time these or a similar engine will provide us with the ability to travel within the solar system and beyond, relatively easily. Or at least much easier than we do now by burning chemicals rather inefficiently. As for the armor, well that could be even more controversial. There is a substance that was developed by a chemist in the 1970s. The Montana’s armor is essentially Starlite. If you have a problem with this technical explanation remember. This is a work of fiction, you can do things in fiction that you can’t do in real life. And it’s a damn good thing you can. Because today’s science fiction often becomes tomorrow’s science fact. I can’t count how many cases I have heard of where technology described in science fiction inspired scientists to create new technologies. Heck, many times science fiction has been so completely overtaken by science fact that it becomes downright quaint compared to reality.
The basic Russian warship design. Scaled up to battleship size and down to cruiser size is derived from the design of the X30 scramjet powered craft. Originally thought up in the 1980s, the design failed due to funding and technical limitations. In my story the Russian government has access to virtually limitless technical knowledge via the extraterrestrial Singers and all the resources that would have otherwise gone into making the communist machine of corruption, death and tyranny that was the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. I think the hull design of the X30 would make for an excellent compromise design for both atmospheric and space travel.
The Lavotchkin fighters that fly from these ships are based loosely on the 100% Russian Sukoi SU27. Which I consider the best looking frontline fighter aircraft deployed today. Although mine are obviously equipped with reactionless drives and laser weapons. I wanted this story to have the Russians and the Germans as not only the good guys. But allies in a positive sense. As opposed to the one time that they did team up in recent history to beat down Poland.
English and Japanese equipment. These countries have very similar due to both government’s being cut off from most sources of advanced technology in this world. Crude but effective. Their ships are essentially Dreadnoughts with rail-guns and some other weapons.
Their fighters real world equivalents are the Lockheed Starfighter as the Nakajima Eiko. The F104 was used by the Japanese self defense force.
The Gladiators counterpart is the English Electric Lightning. And the Wyvern light bomber. Is essentially a BAC TSR2. A fine aircraft that failed to reach production after government meddling far too complicated and esoteric to cover here. Essentially I wanted to give the design a bit more publicity in this story. I think that it would be very likely that engineers of the 30s would have come with craft similar to what they came up with in the 50s and 60s if they were working with similar technologies as opposed to the wood, canvas and piston engines that the engineers of that time were saddled with.
The French-Italian Bugatti-Deperdussin 110P fighter. The finest fighter aircraft that Earthlings alone could think up before the start of the war. The original Bugatti 100P never got to fly because of WW2 and various other reasons. In this universe the reactionless drive and Eutopian 3D printing technology allows designers. The same designers who designed and built its real world counterpart much greater technical freedom. Allowing them to complete the design much faster than in real life and affording a degree of versatility that the original race plane simply would not have had. Originally designed by the Bugatti design house the conversion to a fighter aircraft is handled by the Deperdussin company. It is the best of its breed simply because it is the latest fighter aircraft design that Earthling engineers have come up with. As you can see in the photo above this is based off of a real aircraft, a really really fucking cool aircraft.
The Australia New Zealand South Africa Commonwealth emerged out of the wreckage of the English Empire. This new commonwealth turned to the inventor Richard Pearse to create a new fleet of spacecraft to defend themselves from terrestrial and extraterrestrial threats. They started with the Wellington Class Corvette which was soon scaled down in size to become the Scimitar fighter. Mass produced by a company formed by the merger of Pearse’s company, IEC South and the Lysaght company. The Pearse-Lysaght Works. Both the Scimitar and Wellington class Corvette are aerodynamic copies of the real life Himat drone. Pictured above.
In the real world Richard Pearse was a pioneer of flight, who may have flown an aircraft shortly before the Wright brothers. However evidence of this is a bit spotty. Having studied Pearse’s work I can tell you that the man was seriously technically overambitious. In this story, because he has access to Martian, and later Yonth technology he was able to indulge in mad technological flights of fancy and become the leader of one of Earth’s preeminent aerospace and weapons companies. Pearse-Lysaght.
The ANZSAC flagship Aotearoa. Of all the things that could have inspired me on the design of this thing. One is the ISO standard human spaceship. Big blocky standard science fiction warships that are featured in more movies and tv shows than I can count. Along with the Jäger Striker Eureka, from the movie Pacific Rim. It was something that rather irritated me in that movie. That they had this big fighting robot that cost an absolute fortune. Aaaaand it is rendered completely useless in its second fight by an EMP burst. Later on in the movie it is little more than an extremely big, slow and awkward way to carry a single nuclear bomb. Aotearoa is also a statement on the capabilities of extremely large and complex weapons systems. Which when you are in a fight with an enemy with their own large and complex weapons systems, can be very effective. When one is going up against cave dwellers with an AK and a machete though they are often either ineffective. Or a case of using a $1,000 hammer to drive a 2 cent nail. I don’t say this as a critique of government and/or military spending. Just that you need to use the right tool for the job.
The SMS Schleswig-Holstein, the ultimate Lightning bruiser. Holstein and its captain are such a big force in this story because I am sick and tired of Germans being the bad guys in fiction. Heck in this universe they were the bad guys in the last story where they very nearly took over the world. As someone with some German blood I think it is well past time that this trope is consigned to the dustbin of history.
Drawing from the same technological sources as the enemy. Why did the Holstein administer such a beat down to the enemy in its first battle? For that matter why does any human ship have a chance against the abomination ships of the Drankmastarian empire? The primary difference between the ships of the Drankmastarian Empire and the Holstein is that the Holstein was designed from the start as a warship. It’s power systems are identical to the enemy. Though somewhat cruder. Both ships run off of fusion reactors. It’s controls, targeting systems and maintenance are much better. That said Holstein was designed from the word go as a killing machine. It was not an ark, a colony ship that was converted to military use like Drankmastarian battleships. In a practical sense this is the difference between going to war in a state of the art main battle tank and a Mac Truck that someone welded a bunch of armor plate and guns to. Though an up armored Mac is nothing to sneeze at. Just ask the Kurds fighting Isis. Given the choice which one would you pick?
This awesome battle truck?
Or this thing?
Real life equivalent of the Holstien. SMS Schleswig-Holstein a remarkable ship. One of the last predreadnought battleships that fired some of the first shots of WW2.
Eutopian Orion class cruisers. The Eutopian’s tried to have a civilization in deep space based on mutual respect and prosperity, they failed. The reforming of their “military” from the Eutopian Guard to the Eutopian Combat Fleet is their reluctant acceptance of their status as the space cops of the solar system. There is no greater example of this than their production en mass of Orion Class Cruisers. Their predecessor, the Demeter class light cruiser was intended mainly for rescue work. Orion Class ships are intended for about 70% asskicking, 20% rescue work and 10%…. Other tasks.
While most cruisers from Earth are simply ships that have been fitted with antigravity drives and made airtight the Orion class cruiser is something quite different. It is designed to spend lots of time in deep space. Living off the land by harvesting as many resources from local sources as possible. Drawing gases from gas giant planets. Collecting minerals from asteroids. The concept is something of a blend of a US Coast Guard cutter. US Navy Arliegh Burke class destroyer and a Klingon bird of prey. Though the wings are significantly shorter than a bird of prey and the hull architecture is loosely based off of the X15. Note the extremely thick, wedge like tail. On an Orion class boat I imagine it being so thick that it flares out into a massive cruciform fantail.
The ESB-9 Intrepid. Second and last ship of the Valor class. The first ship of this class was seen, briefly at the end of Worlds Set Free. Based loosely on the USS Enterprise. No not that one, this one. It has the exact same length as the CVN-63 and the same number of reactors. An opportunity in reality and fiction to turn warship design Up To Eleven.
Eutopian Black Widow fighters. Single or two seat fighter aircraft. Typically deployed in an unmanned configuration thanks to the Eutopian mastery of artificial intelligence and consciousness transfer. Developed with input from Martian engineers following the inadequate performance of the first generation of Eutopian fighter aircraft during the Martian Civil War and The Great Kidnapping. The Black Widow fighter and Orion Class cruisers are the patrol car and Bearcat armored vehicle of the Eutopian space cops. A job they accepted after the deep space rebellion even if they are repulsed by the idea as a race.
I imagine the first generation of Eutopian fighter craft as being something similar to the Martin Marietta X24B. Essentially a flying triangle, a compromise design whacked together on relatively short notice for space combat against Martians with atmospheric flight being something of an afterthought.
Black Widow however was designed by Martian minds that had, not only experience in aerial combat unlike the peaceful Eutopian’s. But a killer instinct expressed in hardware. I think the scene in the last Star Trek movie where Kahn explains why he was tasked with designing new federation warships is the best example of this I have seen in a movie off the top of my head. Perhaps the only example in film. Having advanced technology is fine. But using said technology in combat requires a certain kind of mind.
“Anyone can kill a dumb enemy, killing the smart ones requires…artistry.”
Incorporating the best stealth, sensor and aerodynamic technology available in this fictional universe, I thought, briefly, given the Eutopian’s willingness to share and sell weapons technology. Of making the Black Widow the standard fighter for the allied fleet. But I decided against this because there would be lingering mistrust. On both Earth and Eutopos. The issue of national pride, legacy technologies. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” After all it’s not like Earth governments are flush with cash on this universe. And the fact that the Black Widow. Even in a “derated” or “downgraded” form. Would be too advanced for most Earth militaries to maintain, and too big to fly from all but a handful of Earth ships.
Put into mass production as an anti pirate weapon. Black Widow is the largest fighter aircraft in the Allied Fleet with capabilities beyond what any Earth built fighter is capable of. Real life equivalent, Northrop McDonnell-Douglas YF-23. Both birds are called Black Widow because the radar profile of the fuselage looks like a spider. Both are no compromise designs. Designed to go fast, be stealthy, maneuverable and have total awareness in battle. The F23 lost to the F22 to be the next mainline fighter aircraft of the United States.
The Smith and Wesson model 57 is a real gun. However I do know that it was not around in the early 1930s. I wanted this in the story because I am a fan of 41-40 caliber cartridges. Personally I think that it could have been around in this timeline because of the pressure of competition in this reality from disintegrator manufacturers and advanced weapons being imported from Eutopian sources. Heck S&W would probably be manufacturing their own unlicensed knockoffs of disintegrators and Eutopian small arms a la the S&W Sigma which was basically just a shitty knockoff of the Glock. Who knows what the development of handguns would look like today of Glock hadn’t come in and knocked everyone out of their post World War Two decay and ennui. Many police departments would probably still issue revolvers to this day.
The IEC M3 PDW is a fictional weapon of my own design. Basically a Sites Spectre, similar to what is shown above in 10MM with an integral suppressor, disintegrator and flashlight. The reason why I have included so many integrally suppressed weapons in this story is because much of the action takes place on spacecraft. I don’t think anyone has fired a gun on a spaceship yet. But I do know from experience that firing an unsuppressed weapon in an enclosed environment is quite unpleasant.
Finally we come to the primary source of Phlebotinum in this story. The Singers, originally thought up by one Reginald Steiner as a silicon based life form that would be radically different from anything that existed at that time in fiction and to the best of my knowledge still is. This is the closest thing to an image of one of their ships that I have found. Photo taken by screenshot of a lecture given by Mark Mcandlish.
The Singers have become, in my work, the crystallization of what I consider to be the ultimate life form. At least the ultimate life form that I can currently imagine. Most of what I describe them as comes from mr Steiner. But other elements of what they are come from the work of one Martin Ball Ph.D. Martin and Reggie are simply the two smartest people I know. They are at polar opposites of the political spectrum. And I hope that they never meet because if they ever get in an argument then whatever chunk of the planet they happen to be standing on would probably spontaneously detonate in a matter/antimatter reaction. That said, it freaks me out that when the subject of the nature of the universe comes up Reggie and Martin sound almost like the same person.
The age, perception, mastery of light and the other forces of the universe have placed the Singers at an overwhelming advantage over every other species in this fictional universe. But they are not gods in any human sense. They don’t look like us, they certainly don’t act like us, and they don’t care about most of the things that drive humans or other carbon based life. The Singers exist in a state where because they are able to perceive the true nature of the universe and their lack of hormones, neurons, glands, thirst, hunger, madness or anything that drives human biology they are a part of the human world. Yet they are separate from humanity in the most profound sense imaginable. As odd as all this may sound Dr Ball explains the issue of perception far better than I can. In his latest novel, The Solandarian Game there is an intelligence called Maitreya that bears a passing resemblance to the Singers, though that might just be my opinion. It is also my opinion that there are more parallels between The Solandarian Game and A Galaxy Gone Mad than I am really comfortable with. Not so much because I feel that I plagiarized dr Ball. That would have been impossible, I never read his book until mine was almost finished. But because the two books have a very different subject matter. I won’t go on about his book, other than to say that you should absolutely read it. Let’s just say that The Solandarian Game has nowhere near the level of militaristic seasoning that mine does.
In conclusion I would like to thank both Reggie Steiner and Martin Ball. I simply would not have written this story without your input, and I don’t even want to consider where I would be right now if I hadn’t met you both.
I would also like to thank Greg Ross for his service proofreading. You will hear more about him later.