Wormholes and Swords is a blog dedicated to Science Fiction and Fantasy, with a bit of real world technical stuff thrown in from time to time. It is managed by T.D. Wilson, author of the Science Fiction book series, The Epherium Chronicles.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Science Fiction Trivia Time!

Yes, it's trivia time again for all us fans of science fiction.  This time were hitting the books.  I'm going back to an old favorite of mine, Larry Niven's Ringworld novel.  Better break it out if you haven't read it...

Ok.  Today's question is:  In Niven's Ringworld, as well some of his other Known Space books, he incorporated an idea that a certain genetic trait could be favored by selective breeding.  What is the trait?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Science Fiction Trivia Time

This week's Science Fiction Trivia Question is Star Wars related.

In the first Star Wars film (Episode IV: A New Hope), Luke, Han, Chewie and Leia are sneaking around the Death Star after their escape from the trash compactor.  The group encounters a patrol of Stormtroopers.  Han and Chewie tell Luke and Leia to "Get back to the ship!" and take off after the retreating troopers.  Their advance stops when Han comes to a room filled with more Stormtroopers, who immediately open fire and force Han and Chewie to run.  That scene in the "Special Edition" version of A New Hope was changed and had several squads of troopers in the room.  What was the count of Stormtroopers in the room in the original unmodified release?

Here is a link to a video clip showing the Special Edition version:


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Epherium Chronicles Update!

As promised, I want to keep you appraised of the latest developments with the The Epherium Chronicles.

Ok, first round of edits are in for Book #1, Embrace.  It's time for me to get to work.  A few adjustments, but nothing really unexpected.  My editor from Carina Press is Bryon Quertermous.  I can tell that we are both on the same page.  It's a good thing.  Pub date for Embrace is still slated for March 3, 2014.  A new cover is in the works and I can't wait to see what it's going to look like.

Echoes update.  Book 3 is coming along.  I have two solid chapters and lots of notes and pieces for several more.  It's a great stew at the moment that is coming to a simmer and just needs some seasoning.  I've had a few people read the first chapter and I think the opening will definitely keep readers psyched for more.

On last thing, November is National Novel Writing Month time.  Be sure to visit www.nanowrimo.org.  I have several things happening in November.  I might try put in a new project, but it's not set in stone.  I have a few great ideas, but family, work, and my current series have to take priority.  For the rest of you who want to try and create your first story, check it out.  There are local writing groups all over and some good material available to help.  Just bring your imagination.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Dragonlance COSplay

I am a huge fan of the Dragonlance novels and fantasy world that Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman created.  Margaret will get mad at me for saying this, but I was still in high school when it first came out.  LOL.  Anyway, many conventions today have some talented Costume Players (COSplay).  One COSplayer hails from England and her name is Tabitha Lyons.  She and her friends at Artyfakes have created a complete set of armor for the Kitiara Uth Matar character from the Dragonlance series and are close to completing a mockup of her dragon, Khellendros, who is better known as Skie.

Here are some of the links to her COSplay site and the Artyfakes website on how to build a dragon.  Pretty impressive.

Tabitha's Facebook Page:  https://www.facebook.com/TabithaArtyfakes
Fantasy Trivia Time

It's time for this week's Fantasy Trivia Question.

This weeks question comes from one of the great fantasy story settings of all time, J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth.  This setting has spanned not just the 200 or so years of the Hobbit to the Lord of the Rings, but for thousands of years across three separate ages.

Sauron, the perennial villain for the third age of Middle Earth, is often remembered as the dark warrior in armor whose fingers were severed by Isildur with the remnant of his father's sword, Narsil.  More vividly, we envision him as the great eye, ever searching for the Ring of Power and sowing evil and fear into the hearts of the people of Middle Earth.  But Sauron was not always the most feared foe in Middle Earth.  He was originally a servant of Morgoth, the fallen member of the Valar.  Sauron was still powerful, but he had a different form when he first arrived in Middle Earth.  What was Sauron's original form?

Friday, October 11, 2013

New TV Shows Picked UP

Even in this new fall season of television, two new shows already have some good news.

The first show is already becoming a favorite of mine.  Sleepy Hollow has been renewed for season 2.  I love Tom Mison as Ichabod Crane.  Nichole Beharie brings some real life to the Abbie Mills character and both actors complement each other well.  The entire setting, backstory, and Crane's 18th century knowledge, to me, is what makes this show a hit.

The second show I want to mention is Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D has been picked up for the full 22 episode season.  I really want to see it succeed.  The series has picked up some momentum in the last few episodes, but we need to see more overarching stories and recurring villains (even some big ones) to make it viable.  That will help it tremendously.  I also think this show can be a real launching pad for the new members of the Avengers set to make appearances in the next movie.  

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Science Fiction Trivia Time

Every week I plan to post a new science fiction or fantasy trivia question.  If you don't see one from me, please just poke me because I may have gotten distracted.

Anyway, this week's question is:

The Klingon language, since its inception, has spawned its own dictionary, has been used widely in Star Trek movies and TV, and is now actively spoken at Star Trek (and even Klingon conventions or gatherings).  Who came up with the Klingon language concept and when?

Friday, October 4, 2013

RAILGUNS "The Series" Part 3

Use in Science Fiction

In my two previous posts on this topic, we looked at the concept and then the history of the railgun.  As you might have guessed, if these weapons were to fully fielded, their firepower could have a dramatic effect on the battlefields we know today.  However, we still struggle to overcome many of the limitations for power, physics, materials, and feasibility.  Given time, I believe we can find a way to bring these weapons out of concept phases and make them truly combat ready.

In this segment, I wanted to focus on where railguns have been used or discussed in science fiction books, TV, movies, and especially in role-playing and video games.  Now before I begin, I do want to note that not all the references listed here are true railgun implementations.  Many are based on the coilgun.  I plan to talk more about the coilgun features in another post, but for brevity, the coilgun uses magnetic fields from electrical wire coils to accelerate a projectile.  A projectile would be accelerated by the magnetic fields in the center of the coils.  An example of the coilgun would be a Gauss Rifle or a mass driver.

Now, where have we seen references to railguns or electric guns in literature?  One of the prominent novel series to showcase railguns was old favorite of mine, Buck Rogers.  Another example hails from 1955, when Arthur C. Clark used a weapon in his novel Earthlight that propelled a piece of molten metal for projectile.  In a railgun, this implementation wouldn't work, but it was one of the earliest references.  Perhaps the earliest example was in 1897, but it was for a coilgun.  John Munro's A Trip to Venus used a large electric gun to launch vehicles into space and later could be modified to send reinforced projectiles as a weapon.

I have found several references to mass drivers and Gauss Rifles in different books.  The Mechwarrior and Battletech books had Gauss Rifles on mechs, tanks, and spaceships (lots of these books were really good, but the ones written by Michael A. Stackpole were superb).  Henry Harrison's book The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge was another that used Gauss Rifles.  For true railguns, Redemption Ark, by Alastair Reynolds and Old Man's War by John Scalzi were good examples of railguns deployed on spaceships.  There are several others, some of which had hand-held versions of railguns, but these are the ones I am most familiar.

So, what about TV series?  Well, the first one that came to mind for me was Stargate: Atlantis.  The use of the railguns was an excellent ideas and they could easily be powered by Asgardian power cores, but the implementation here to me was not realistic. The rate of fire was way to high.  The show seemed to treat the railgun more as point defense weapons and had no real damaging effect against other large ships, even those that didn't have shields.

In Babylon 5 (one of my all time favorite sci-fi series), the Centauri used mass drivers to pummel the Narn homeworld.  I tried to dig up some more Earth based uses for railguns or mass drivers for the show or the role-playing game, but I haven't found any.

Space Above and Beyond had mention that cannons were railguns, but the design use doesn't fit either.  There were some big cannons on the carriers, but we never got to see if these were railguns or some sort of particle weapon.

There is still some debate about the type of weapons used by the Battlestars in the latest rendition of Battlestar Galactica.  Some believe the main weapons, particularly on the newer Pegasus were railguns.  The design of the weapons for the Galactica still look to be a conventional weapon design.  They could work in space, but the round or firing chamber would have to have some oxygen available.

Now there are some really cool anime series that used railguns; specifically, Macross (Robotech).  The SDF-1 was equipped with four huge railguns, as were the Mach II Destroids (my friend Jeff is a huge fan of those).  The Justice League cartoon series had a reference to mass drivers via the perennial villain Vandal Savage.

There may be some more TV references that I am not aware, so please post comments for those you know.

Now on to the big screen.  There are a few big films that showcased some type of electromagnetic projectile weapon.  The Last Starfighter (a movie that I really wanted a sequel made) contained the meteor gun, which was a large mass driver used by the Kodan to attack the Starfighter base.  The movie, Eraser, which starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, used a  hand-held railgun weapon that was complete with x-ray optics.  Demolition Man was another to depict the railgun as a hand-held weapon.

In Aliens, the Marine warship, Sulaco, had several large gun emplacements.  In many discussions and data provided about the ship, it was stated that some of the guns were railguns, but we never got to see them in action.  Hmm, nuke it from orbit or lob a few sorties down to the planet and let the aliens suck on those.  Tough call.

More recently, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen used a navy ship based railgun to destroy Devastator when he was tearing apart a pyramid.  This was probably the most realistic example of a railgun in the field of any of the movies or TV shows I have seen, but it was only used once.  In this case, once was enough and you could see the amount of damage it inflicted even at long range.

The Zeus System in G.I. Joe: Retaliation was an example of a mass driver.  However, the system relied more on gravity to accelerate its projectiles.  Speed kills and this implementation used it to devastating effect.

I believe the newest railgun implementation in a movie was in Elysium with its ChemRail gun.

Finally, lets look at games.  Remarkably, I have found the most references to the use of railguns and coilguns in different fashions in role-playing or video games.  Lets start with role-playing/table-top games.  I was always a big BattleTech fan and Gauss Rifles were a great weapon for damage and range.  I played Traveler a few times, but I never realized there were Gauss style weapons.  Another iconic game, WarHammer 40000 has its Tau railguns.  The game used railguns for tanks, aircraft and powered armor.  Another game I loved playing was Palladium's Rifts.   There was so much source material to use.  Lots of powered armor and big weapons, especially the GlitterBoy armor.  The armor had good protection and one big railgun.

As you can imagine, video games have so many implementations for railguns.  Command and Conquer, Armored Core, Metal Gear solid, some of the Ace Combat series games, Descent 3, Total Annihilation (I loved that game), Star Craft, Tachyon: The Fringe (ok game, but it had Bruce Campbell in it so it had to be good, right?), several Quake games, and the Master of Orion game series.  You can find them all over the Halo game universe, they are in Half-life, and most importantly, they were used in the Mass Effect games.  Commander John Shepard for the win!  Who's with me?

This list is only a fraction of the games I found references for railguns, but these are the ones I have played.  Kinda wonder how much free time I really had over the years, huh?  I must say that I budgeted it well.

That's it for this installment.  In my next post, I will explain my vision for the use of railguns in the future and how I have employed them in my sci-fi book series, The Epherium Chronicles.  As always, if you have more information on railguns and their use in sci-fi for books, TV, movies, or games, please post it and share.