Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Battles In Space

 In Star Wars or Star Trek, we see space battles but, in Poul Anderson's History of Technic Civilization, we read about them in detail:

the superdreadnaught leading the defence of Avalon is named after the site of an ancient battle on Ythri;

First Marchwarden Ferune of Mistwood has had the Anglic translation of the name painted on the sides, Hell Rock;

the command bridge is broad because Ythrians need room to stretch their wings;

the air is scented with blood odors when the ship is in combat;

Ythrians, unlike Terrans, would go insane if confined in spacesuits so do not wear them and a large hole in a compartment will kill them;

Hell Rock, orbiting Avalon, built in space and unable to land, is a planetoid too massive for dodging manoeuvres but able endlessly to blast attacking ships;

when a section of screen is turned off to launch missiles, energy weapons intercept whatever is then launched against the temporarily vulnerable part of the hull;

rays strike the hull but never for long enough to penetrate the heavy plates; 

layers of internal shielding resist lethal radiation from explosions at the limits of Hell Rock's defences so that ordinary medication suffices for the little that does penetrate;

when, finally, concerted attack by five battleships and their attendants bursts Hell Rock open, bulkheads seal to protect those still alive and the artificial planetoid fights on automatically to cover her crew's escape.

The Terran Supernova class superdreadnaught, Valenderay, is even stronger but must not be risked because its armament and armor are there to protect fleet command. A Meteor-class boat, launched from a ship, has a captain, an engineer-computerman and a  fire control officer whose energy weapons counteract enemy torpedoes.

Anderson writes as if he had had combat experience in the Terran Empire.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Paul!

    I agree, Anderson handles space warfare very convincingly, almost as tho he too had served in His Majesty's navy. I'm reminded of the space battles seen in THE PEOPLE OF THE WIND, ENSIGN FLANDRY, A KNIGHT OF GHOSTS AND SHADOWS, and THE GAME OF EMPIRE. I thought the combat between Terrans and Merseians at Starkadh esp. well done.

    Sean

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