Too many ships on the dance floor

Everything else

Too many ships on the dance floor

Postby Lazar » Sun Oct 10, 2010 8:44 pm

I've had this question in the back of my mind for some time, but I really want to figure it out for my current writing project: doesn't the typical space opera give way too much destructive power to way too many people? In both Star Trek and Star Wars, anybody with means can have a spacecraft capable of traveling at relativistic or FTL velocities, with reactor power that goes beyond any current capability. Couldn't any of these ships be turned into a projectile with relative ease (whether accidentally or on purpose), capable of destroying a city or more? In Star Trek, for example, planetary shields are not widespread, so it seems like the only defense would be to try to destroy such a ship before it hit the planet - but I can't imagine that this method would have anything approaching a 100% success rate. So what do y'all think about this problem?
"There was also a large horse in the room, taking up most of it."
User avatar
Lazar
Captain
Captain
 
Posts: 2232
Joined: Sun Oct 12, 2008 7:29 pm
Location: Massachusetts

Re: Too many ships on the dance floor

Postby Captain Seafort » Sun Oct 10, 2010 8:53 pm

Why would they consider giving every idiot access to a lethal weapon capable of killing large numbers of people to be a problem? We don't.
Only two things are infinite - the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the universe: Albert Einstein.

Across the Universe - Chapter 2 now up
User avatar
Captain Seafort
3 Star Admiral
3 Star Admiral
 
Posts: 14941
Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2007 12:44 pm
Location: Blighty

Re: Too many ships on the dance floor

Postby Tyyr » Sun Oct 10, 2010 9:17 pm

To answer the question, yes. Any one with a shuttle craft could potentially wipe out a city. It gets worse from there.
User avatar
Tyyr
3 Star Admiral
3 Star Admiral
 
Posts: 10654
Joined: Tue Mar 31, 2009 9:49 pm
Location: Jeri Ryan's Dressing Room, Shhhhh

Re: Too many ships on the dance floor

Postby Graham Kennedy » Sun Oct 10, 2010 11:01 pm

Oh hell yes. Sci fi constantly depicts scenarios in which a ship capable of relativistic speeds is well within the means of a good fraction of the population, if not everybody - blissfully unaware that they've created a society in which everybody has easy access to what amounts to a multi-gigaton level weapon.

They also often make obscenely powerful weapons incredibly openly available. Think of all the times we're told that your space opera battleship is equipped with megaton pers second cannon, planetbusting torpedoes and all that stuff. Yet the rebels or terrorists or whoever also have no trouble in getting hold of comparable ships and weapons, maybe not up to government spec but at least in the ballpark. The implication is that basically anybody can go out and just buy nukes and worse on the open market like they're nothing.

In such a society there should be regular reports of cities, continents, or whole planets being trashed by the equivalent of some lone gunman or columbine deal. And really this is kinda to be expected... back in prehistory when you had nothing bigger than a tribe of a few hundred, the loss of ten people at once would be a major disaster; losing a hundred at once would be unimaginable. Nowdays we take the loss of dozens or hundreds at a time more or less in step

Project it into the future... and the massive million-planet empire common in space opera should regard the loss of a city or even a whole planet in about the way we look at the guy in a tower taking out a dozen bystanders, or a airline crash killing a few hundred.

But the writers rarely follow through on the implications.
Give a man a fire, and you keep him warm for a day. SET a man on fire, and you will keep him warm for the rest of his life...
User avatar
Graham Kennedy
Site Admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 8008
Joined: Mon Jul 09, 2007 1:28 pm
Location: Banbury, UK

Re: Too many ships on the dance floor

Postby kostmayer » Sun Oct 10, 2010 11:15 pm

Was an episode of Blake's 7 when the galactic Traffic control computer when tits up, resulting in 2 ships colliding (caused by everyone's trust in the flight computers despite what their eyes were telling them). Both ships are wiped out, but one of the ships fusion reactors survives its fall into the planets atmosphere and detonates in the middle of a city, wiping out half the population. 'Shit happens' is the general response.
"You ain't gonna get off down the trail a mile or two, and go missing your wife or something, like our last cook done, are you?"
"My wife is in hell, where I sent her. She could make good biscuits, but her behavior was terrible."
User avatar
kostmayer
Captain
Captain
 
Posts: 2779
Joined: Sun Jul 15, 2007 10:08 am

Re: Too many ships on the dance floor

Postby Coalition » Mon Oct 11, 2010 6:46 am

The other fun part is where you have the massive energy cannons, fire them at a target, and miss.

Hopefully your guided weapons have multiple fail-destruct systems on them, so you don't have to worry about a missile hitting someone after the war is over, and killing them. Kinetics will always be a problem, while energy weapons might dissipate.

Let alone the ship's exhaust being a potential navigation hazard.


Star Trek is where a person could buy an old Klingon Bird of Prey, pick up a few photon torpedoes, and use them as WMDs against colonies. Cloak, approach a colony, and fire off a shot at the main city. Repeat as you desire, then dump the BoP into some other sucker's hands.

Star Wars has small craft that have their obscenely high FTL speeds. A slight miscalculation, and you can slam into a planet anywhere in the galaxy. This means planets have to keep shields up to avoid splats, or Interdictors 24/7 so anyone who doesn't drop out in time, is forced out in time. Backups to both become necessary.

Babylon 5 has the independant transports, but anyone approaching the station has to surrender control to the station's computer.

Hard scifi would have specific rules about when and what vectors you can use to drop garbage. Descending orbits are preferred, so they land in the sun and burn up. Dumping cat litter on an opposing course to another ship is frowned upon, especially if the cat added a few extra 'projectiles'.
Relativity Calculator
My Nomination for "MVAM Critic Award" (But can it be broken into 3 separate pieces?)
Coalition
Lieutenant
Lieutenant
 
Posts: 762
Joined: Tue Dec 02, 2008 3:34 am
Location: Georgia, United States

Re: Too many ships on the dance floor

Postby Mikey » Mon Oct 11, 2010 12:37 pm

Of the two franchises mentioned in the OP, I look at things this way:

In 'Trek, "means" to acquire anything is a nebulous term at best. We've seen private concerns with FTL ships all the time, from Cyrano Jones and Cassidy Yates on up to Mayweather's family (although that was admittedly pre-UFP.) On the other hand, illegitimate organizations like the Maquis were only able to field what amounted to a handful of Hueys compared to the B-2's and F-22's of Starfleet; and the Hansens - on a sanctioned research mission - got the equivalent of the SS Minnow. So we don't know how one acquires a starship, nor how the costs are defrayed for a privately-"purchased" starship; but apparently, some mechanism prevents bad guys from getting the latest and greatest. Possibly there is a Starfleet commission which reviews applications for private ownership of FTL spacecraft, like modern handgun licenses. I know this doesn't help the issue completely, when one considers the destructive potential of even a STL shuttlepod, but it does mitigate things somewhat.

In 'Wars... well there is a hamhanded subtext of major production centers like Corellia being independent, sympathetic to the Rebels, or whatever. In the prequels, certainly, the rebellious side included major industrial players. In general, though, the whole idea of Star Wars is - as you said - "space opera," which by nature is going to sacrifice absolute common sense in exchange for dramatic effect. The point is not drama, but melodrama. More troublesome in SW is, I think, not the fact that the Rebel Alliance had so many fighters available but rather the fact that their workhorse was a far superior fighter to the Imperial standard fighter.
"We've been over this. We don't shoot first and ask questions later."
"Of course! We never ask questions."
User avatar
Mikey
Fleet Admiral
Fleet Admiral
 
Posts: 33015
Joined: Fri Jul 27, 2007 2:04 am
Location: down the shore, New Jersey, USA

Re: Too many ships on the dance floor

Postby SolkaTruesilver » Mon Oct 11, 2010 7:31 pm

And as far as Star Wars go, if I remember well, the FTL technology used can't go too close to a planet without speeding down to sublight, and their sublight capabilities are pretty low.

So no hyperspace kamekazee for you :twisted:
SolkaTruesilver
Commander
Commander
 
Posts: 1406
Joined: Mon Jul 23, 2007 1:49 am

Re: Too many ships on the dance floor

Postby Captain Seafort » Mon Oct 11, 2010 7:37 pm

SolkaTruesilver wrote:And as far as Star Wars go, if I remember well, the FTL technology used can't go too close to a planet without speeding down to sublight


What? They drop out of hyperspace right into orbit as standard practice - that's what Han Solo was planning to do at Alderaan (and would have done had it still been there). It's flying into planets that causes problems.

their sublight capabilities are pretty low.


3000g is pretty low is it?

So no hyperspace kamekazee for you :twisted:


Image

Oh yeah?
Only two things are infinite - the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the universe: Albert Einstein.

Across the Universe - Chapter 2 now up
User avatar
Captain Seafort
3 Star Admiral
3 Star Admiral
 
Posts: 14941
Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2007 12:44 pm
Location: Blighty

Re: Too many ships on the dance floor

Postby Mark » Mon Oct 11, 2010 7:44 pm

What the hell is that from?
They say that in the Army,
the women are mighty fine.
They look like Phyllis Diller,
and walk like Frankenstein.
User avatar
Mark
4 Star Admiral
4 Star Admiral
 
Posts: 17671
Joined: Thu Jul 17, 2008 11:49 pm
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii

Re: Too many ships on the dance floor

Postby Captain Seafort » Mon Oct 11, 2010 7:57 pm

One of the comics set during the siege of Yavin, immediately after ANH. The short version is that Admiral Griff tried to jump his battlegroup ahead of the Executor to grab the glory of intercepting the rebel evacuation first. He missed, rammed the Ex and temporarily disabled her. Vader was not impressed.
Only two things are infinite - the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the universe: Albert Einstein.

Across the Universe - Chapter 2 now up
User avatar
Captain Seafort
3 Star Admiral
3 Star Admiral
 
Posts: 14941
Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2007 12:44 pm
Location: Blighty

Re: Too many ships on the dance floor

Postby Deepcrush » Mon Oct 11, 2010 8:42 pm

I think that 'Wars' solved the issue with planet based shields being as common as ships. Granted its a handwave, but its one that works.

In 'Trek' I think they just missed the whole issue.

'B5' did well in making most ships rather slow at sublight speed. Jumpgates for civilian ships are placed at distance from targets.
Jinsei wa cho no yume, shi no tsubasa no bitodesu
User avatar
Deepcrush
4 Star Admiral
4 Star Admiral
 
Posts: 18917
Joined: Thu Sep 06, 2007 7:15 pm
Location: Arnold, Maryland, USA

Re: Too many ships on the dance floor

Postby Captain Seafort » Mon Oct 11, 2010 8:46 pm

Deepcrush wrote:In 'Trek' I think they just missed the whole issue.


It helps that privately-owned ships are pretty rare in Trek. With a few exceptions they're all government-owned and very sparsely spread.
Only two things are infinite - the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the universe: Albert Einstein.

Across the Universe - Chapter 2 now up
User avatar
Captain Seafort
3 Star Admiral
3 Star Admiral
 
Posts: 14941
Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2007 12:44 pm
Location: Blighty

Re: Too many ships on the dance floor

Postby Deepcrush » Mon Oct 11, 2010 8:55 pm

That seems the case with the major powers. But there are still an awful lot of unmonitored ships in trek, made worse by the smaller numbers we see in trek.
Jinsei wa cho no yume, shi no tsubasa no bitodesu
User avatar
Deepcrush
4 Star Admiral
4 Star Admiral
 
Posts: 18917
Joined: Thu Sep 06, 2007 7:15 pm
Location: Arnold, Maryland, USA

Re: Too many ships on the dance floor

Postby SolkaTruesilver » Tue Oct 12, 2010 1:42 am

Captain Seafort wrote:
Deepcrush wrote:In 'Trek' I think they just missed the whole issue.


It helps that privately-owned ships are pretty rare in Trek. With a few exceptions they're all government-owned and very sparsely spread.


Come on. Quark owned one.

But we have seen a very, very little sample of people with ship. I'd suppose it's like owning a small business: you have to make it run.
SolkaTruesilver
Commander
Commander
 
Posts: 1406
Joined: Mon Jul 23, 2007 1:49 am

Next

Return to Other / General

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 1 guest