Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Hard SF Space Opera?

I fully realize that it has been quite sometime since my last post.

You may think by the title of this post that all the work I've done lately on star fighters and pulp aliens have made me finally cross over to the Soft Side of the Fiction and abandon my Hard SF pretensions once and for all. I admit, the upcoming premier of a new Star Wars movie does have me pretty exited, but I assure you, I'm not going totally off the shallow end of the Mohs Scale anytime soon. I've actually tried, as in writing for D6 Star Wars, to do something more science fantasy than SF, and I just can't do it. I mean, the entire reason I got into Hard SF in the first place is because I notice the inconsistencies of mainstream sci-fi and couldn't stop from formulating my own theories. So why, if I'm going to challenge the basic assumptions of a universe, don't I just make up I own? You may have noticed my doing just that once or twice, but until now, I've been reluctant to make up my own Space Opera universe.

The reasons for this are many. First of all, I wanna make the tech as real as possible, but also preserve a few of the more sentimentally persistent tropes of Space Opera. You may remember my opinion on the relationship of technology and story, also known (to me, anyway) as Ray's Rule of Hard Science Fiction:

Soft Science Fiction tries to make technology fit the imagination, and Hard Science Fiction tries to imagine what fits the technology.”
The Conjuction setting, my most successful foray into world building to date (in my opinion, anyway) is built around this principle. Every part of the universe, beyond a couple of arbitrary assumptions, is purely an extrapolation of the available technology and its implication. I have big things planned for Conjunction, big enough that I want to get some more writing under my belt before I attempt them.

The problem with most Space Opera, is that it is all story, with the technology kind of pasted around the edges to make for VFX eye-candy/cool descriptions. I can't work like that. Even when doing fancy starships for White Star and D6, I have at the very least the rules of those respective games available to guide me. That is one of the reasons that I haven't done any more work with the Diaspora RPG; The FATE rules system is too open-ended and free form for me. You may remember that I was trying to work within the Diaspora framework to make a Star Wars homage – that's why I haven't gone further.

Well, one of the reasons. Despite the fantastic work the Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven did with A Mote in God's Eye, it just doesn't feel like Space Opera to me without Anti/Paragravity. Fortunately, Winchell Chung's Atomic Rockets website as come to my rescue again, giving me the missing piece of the puzzle I needed to make a Space Opera setting of my own that didn't rely on pure magic.

So that's what I'm gonna do. I am going to sketch out my version of a classic Space Opera setting that does not violate my own rules for Hard SF too terribly badly. We'll start out with my basic goals for my setting, and then tackle the problems with making them happen in a plausible fashion one by one. Naturally, I've been doing some of the preliminary work, and even started developing (surprise!) some spacecraft. So stay tuned, RocketFans! 

1 comment:

  1. "I'm not going totally off the shallow end of the Mohs Scale anytime soon. I've actually tried, as in writing for D6 Star Wars, to do something more science fantasy than SF, and I just can't do it"

    I'm sure many of us can relate! Some times ago, as the Starcraft franchise fell prey to the Star Wars Prequel syndrome, I had idly tried to cobble together a better follow-up to Broodwar. Next things I knew, ISRM interception, starship waste heat management and light-second range laser problems started to crop up... Who knows, I may come back to it some day if I manage to unlearn Atomic Rocket for a while.

    In the Cities in Flight quote in the new Antigravity page of Atomic rockets, it is discussed how gravity is a field, similar to magnetism - but one that we can't similarly shape, for the lack of suitable material like a "di-gravitic" (equivalent of a diamagnetic material).
    But what we had those? What if we had gravitic conductor or insulator materials?


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