Starship Dry-dock

So, getting away from politics a bit (I am trying to be a writer, right? Rite) I wanted to start a discussion about something every sci-fi nerd, geek, trekkie, reader and writer think about.

How real are the starships?

The best example is Star Trek V: The final Frontier where a scene depicts the Enterprise as having 78 decks. It only had 21 plus the bridge, that’s based on the show and all the other movies.

So the director wanted to convey the message of “big ship” and for cinematic reasons you get 78 decks. I still like the movie, its one of the more comical ones. Uhm, excuse me. Why does God need a starship?

How many times do you see the cover of a novel and the ships drawn looks nothing like what’s described int he book. The lattest edition Starship Troopers by the great Robert A. Heinlein has dropships that look like russian helicopters, reminiscent of the ambulance in Firefly.

I’m an OCD perfectionist. (You dont do a PhD in math after a long military career, after driving a bus in NYC after…and after, you get the drift). So when I started to imagine what a starship would look like based on some of my real research, I made sure it was something that could be built, and could fly…err…swim…err…space along?

You need entire decks for crew quarters. How many people, right? Let’s start with 10 people. They need food too, so add a cook. You need space to cook the food, and store the food. Now you need a stock person to take charge of inventory. Long trip in space, you need to grow your food, so you need hydroponic farmers (or some kind of ponics)

You need an engine, and crew to operate it, and then fix it. They need quarters too, so you make the ship bigger. That means bigger engines, more stuff to break, more engineers for maintenance.

You gotta have weapons. Just to blow up an asteroid or carve your initials into a small moon. More people there, which means more crew quarters, which means bigger engineering.

Are you starting to see my point?

Small ships can be small with no problem. If it’s a ship that is self sufficient, a miniature city that travels the stars, it HAS to be big.Don’t get too out of hand.

Sci-fi is plagued with massive ships, hundred mile long Death Star-esque ships. A ship that big doesnt need ray beams to destroy planets. It’s so massive that it will fling a planet off it’s orbit in a jiffy. So around a mile is ok for a long haul ship. Could be an exploration, deep space type, or a long deployment battleship.

valkyrie wireframe 03.jpg

Back to my ships. I had to design them, and I mean design them. Every conduit, room, door, window. Add metallurgy, structural beam thickness, thermal energy dissipation. Everything is there. And we’re talking 3D. But that’s not all!

I needed spreadsheets to keep track and find rooms, based on fucntion, locations, size, etc. You have a command structure so big rooms go to the stars of your novel, (unless its a book called Midshipmen) and small rooms for the rest. You can’t have everyone living with fancy suites. Size is still an issue.

So in my universe, you dont have just one ship. You have many. Battleships, Fast Engagement vessels, Destroyers, Research vessels, Cargo vessels of several types, depending on their cargo.

Did I design a geographical map of cities with ports or the orbiting starports/starbases?

Do you really need to ask?

So clearly I’m awesome at dividing my time between this, designing my own car down to every nut and bolt in 3D, math, restoring a few classic cars and writing novels. Let’s not go into doctor’s appointments. The human body can only take so much abuse, right? (I can curse the VA here but…that’s for another post)

So this is how my novel started. From all that above. As I was working on the first ship, a story popped in my head. Actually more like characters, the captain, XO, Chief Engineer, the Doctor. Each one started to develop a personality and short stories played out in my head.

So it’s no wonder I did my own cover. My starship will be on the cover, for purg’s sake.

So I may be the only person that created the cart before the horse. The cart is a warp capable starship that I could build if I had about 10^15 bucks give or take a few trillion.

And the horse is going to be one hell of a ride. So stay tuned, because the title and more hint about this horse will be coming out…(Ok, let’s face it, do you really not know the title yet?)

Signed, Chief starship design engineer


8 thoughts on “Starship Dry-dock

  1. Fellow Busdriver props, yo. Represent! XD

    Have you read any of David Weber’s “Honorverse”? If not, do so. He is a more hard sci fi author, particularly when it comes to spacecraft and he loves his drydocks to some extent. Honor Harrington’s ships spend a lot of time in them at the beginning and/or end of his books. He also likes hard math for travel in space. Oh yeah… he can get deep.

    So there’s a good example of successful OCDHARDSCIENCE Sci Fi Space Opera.

    I have had to consider a lot of that as well in my fantasy novel with a ship’s crew. But how do I organize a ship’s crew for something set in a pre-industrial, yet fantasteam, Viking based Medieval world around 1500ad??

    In that, I feel your pain.


    1. Wasnt driving a great job? I loved it. I did that before the military and I tell people that while serving made me who I am today, the beginning of that path was behind the wheel of a bus. It was then I realized that the lives of those onboard were in my hands.
      Back to starships, I will look up David Weber. One of the things that we tend to forget (fans of sci fi) is that things can be different and still work. Sure it’s fun to wonder what would win, a Galaxy class ship or a Star Destroyer but both could work. Look at cars, some gasoline, some diesel, some even CNG, front drive, rear wheel, all wheel, thee wheeled, and even electric.
      As long as the tech follows a path then it’s cool.
      And even if not, it’s not that much of a problem. Only in hard scifi, or military thrillers does that realism add.
      I actually find your idea very interesting, mainly because of my respect and lingering childhood fantasy of wanting to grow up and be a viking.
      One thing…I saw this cartoon or game (I don’t know) about starships made from submarines and aircraft carriers. Interesting visually but the explanation was worse than just letting it just be…cool.
      The world had a shortage of labor or ships so old sea ships were retrofit for space. Like saying old horse drawn wagons were used as cars after auto union’s strikes. This coming from a writer who has a starship that’s also a space ship.
      The reason is for loading on Earth, with ports all over the world, with infrastructure still there. So you load up a ship the old fashioned way, then take off, warp, then land on the colony (or even stay in space). So that led to some interesting loading methods, from RoRo to gravity-inertial unloading to old fashioned cranes.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yup. Loved driving bus. Even the “Loser Cruisers” and “Ghetto Specials” (drove some very rough neighborhoods) were fun in the mornings. All you had to do was treat people good and you had no problems. But preferred running the commuter expresses out to the park and ride lots because they were less stop and go. School bus was better in many ways. I was the “mean bus driver” that by the end of the year always had his bus under control when others couldn’t do it. All it took was treating them fairly, and maintain my “Siddown, Shaddap and don’t bite your neighbor” policy.

        But I hated Minneapolis/Saint Paul or I’d still be doing it. Moved back to where I wanted to live, got my class A and drove semi till I shattered my elbow in a freak accident. Now I work logistics.

        You’re gonna like David Weber I think. It is a Sci Fi retelling of the Napoleonic Wars in space with a female Horatio Hornblower in the form of Honor Harrington. Well, if you’re going to “research” your ideas, do it from the best, I always say. Just be warned towards book 10 he jumps the shark.

        As for my burgeoning series, I will be looking for reviewers when it’s ready to go up. So keep it in mind if you kinda want a Jack London/Mark Twain colored fantasy world with heavy overtones of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien.

        I think the cartoon you’re remembering is “Star Blazers”. A 70 something anime where they put the battleship Yamato into space. If it’s more recent, it might be “Arpeggio of Blue Steel.” Which BTW, has a mod for you to play in the free online game “World of Warships” if you’re into online PvP gaming. I like to sink me some tonnage every once in a while.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That brings back memories. I actually said that many times to big shot suit snots (the commuters) “Shit down, shut up and enjoy the rid.”
        I liked those runs because of the long non stop end trip along the GSP or NJ Turnpike up to NYC. I drove a county bus too, and that was great because of tickets. Some lines didnt take cash so no making change.
        Yes, I recall the name Yamato (it’s memorable for anyone that’s a WWII history buff). I didnt know it was a cartoon, then I’d be more lenient lol. I saw something online. I never had the time for the rpg games. I wish, I played the StarTrek game and a few others but turn back to designing my own ship or something like that.
        I do look forward to your book. I may even be done editing and should have time, oh precious time. I utterly despise editing…did I mention that? lol

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Your membership card for the “Brotherhood of Curmudgeonly Bus Drivers” is in the mail. 😉

        As for RPG games, that’s why Online gaming is a good way to go if you don’t have time. I miss running RPGs. I did it for almost 30 years, but had to quit. Too much energy was going into them instead of my writing.

        BTW, yes, Editing sucks. But good writing is re-writing. I didn’t believe it till I was doing it. So now I look forward to plotting and then doing the first draft. (Which I’m about to start doing again for a NEW book 2 of my series and bump my original book 2 to book 3.) If God smiles on me, I might get 3 books out this year.


      4. I can write em, but editing…I write a novel in 3 months, but the rest is killer. And then the money to publish, copyright, isbn etc etc…
        You shouldnt have, I’m not on a membe rof the BCBD, I’m the treasurer of that club lol!


      5. So that’s where my monthly BCBD dues go!

        Well, you don’t *need* to pay money on an ISBN or copyright listing. Online publishing around the world is free to publish now. So many services for that. Even print books can be done “print on demand” for a fraction of what a real publisher wants. My biggest expense is going to be a professional editor followed by the cover artist… both of which are going to be done very very soon.

        The online revolution is your friend.


      6. If I had time, Id offer to do the cover. I’ve my own and it came out better than anything Ive seen on a book in along time.
        As far as online, Ive had my identity stolen so having copyright just means people will think twice about theft. It may happen, it probably will happen, but this leaves the door open to go after them. Plus, lib. of congress just gives me the feeling that I left something behind before I kick it.

        Liked by 1 person

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