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.
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