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I have a confession to make. My motives in creating this website were not totally altruistic. Surprise, surprise.
I suppose that as an SF novel reader, I was spoiled in my youth by reading Heinlein, and later Pournelle and Niven. For whatever reason, I have been quite disappointed in the SF novels that have come out in the last couple of decades. In particular, the scientific accuracy was abysmal.
So this website is part of my master plan, to give a resource to SF authors that will assist them in getting the science correct. The end result is that I will have more more SF novels to read that are to my liking.
Much to my surprise, my plan is actually working.
A couple of SF authors have contacted me and noted that this website was most helpful in providing technical information. I have read the manuscripts, and I can definitively state that I have gotten more enjoyment out of reading these than any other novels I have read in the last twenty years. With any luck, more novels will follow.
The best part is when I see a nice detail in the novel and I know exactly which part of this website supplied the information.
Hegemony is an exciting starship combat novel by Mark Kalina. He tells me that he made use of information and ideas from this website, but I could see that by just reading a few pages. Most of the science is gratifyingly hard, and the other parts (such as the obligatory FTL propulsion) have sensible limitations established. He even postulates a plausible solution to the mass-duplication problem inherent in "uploading" a person's mind into cyberspace. A most enjoyable read. It is currently only $0.99 which is a steal for such a good book.
Artist Francis Drake collaborated with Mark Kalina to create some artwork based on the novel. They show the lance ship Fire Blossom over Formalhauts protoplanetary disc, and a lance ship launching interceptors, powering them with its primary laser arrays.
Mr. Lineberger was born, as far as I can tell, in 1980. His blog has not been updated in quite some time. He can generally be found on the StarDestroyer forum, where he goes by the handle RedImperator. He can be contacted there by private messages.
Mr. Lineberger's novel is The Humanist Inheritance (now renamed The Last Great War). For a short while it was available online, but has been removed for copyright reasons. He said that the story started originally when he read the Atomic Rockets website and found himself intrigued with the idea of creating a "hard" (or at least, harder) sci-fi universe.
The novel's science is gratifyingly hard, there is plenty of action, and the characters are engaging. It also has an incredibly broad scope. The reader starts off thinking this will just be a novel about North American and Chinese military spacecraft shooting each other. Then the reader gets sucker-punched as the situation spirals out of control and they realize that Mr. Lineberger is just getting started.
And of course all of the space battle scenes would make intriguing scenarios for your favorite space combat simulation game that used vector movement.
Regrettably, Mr. Lineberger warns that "As for publication, no word yet on that, save that it's a very long process -- I expect to have another novel written between when I start looking for a publisher and when The Humanist Inheritance shows up in print. I haven't even begun the process of looking for an agent or publisher yet--actually writing and editing the book consumes enough energy as it is."
Mr. Lumpkin's novel is Through Struggle, the Stars. It does include FTL travel, but done in a thoughtful and responsible way. The science is of top quality hardness, the geopolitical situation is deep and well thought out, the military intelligence details are terrifyingly real. The writing style is clear and flowing, it reminds me of early Heinlein, and of the Niven/Pournelle collaborations. Mr. Lumpkin cites as influences Heinlein, Pournelle, Niven, Forester, O'Brien, early Clancy, and Daniel Keys Moran.
And yes, the novel has plenty of space battle scenes just begging to be made into game scenarios.
You can find a list of outlets at his website. The site also includes background information on the novel and sample passages.
Mr. Lumpkin is a Senior Fellow and contributor to GlobalSecurity.org since June 2006. He runs the site's Terrorism Profiles Project. Previously, he was a reporter with The Associated Press in Washington, D.C., where he covered military affairs, homeland security and intelligence matters, breaking several key stories during the Sept. 11 investigation. His professional travels include Iraq, Afghanistan and China. Prior to joining AP, he covered military affairs for the Albuquerque Journal.
This is why the counter-terrorism details in his novel are dead accurate. The geopolitical aspects of his novel are uncommonly realistic as well, for the same reason.
I haven't asked him, but it appears to me that Mr. Lumpkin has also done his homework at the Atomic Rocket sister website: Three Dimensional Star Maps. The stars used are real, the positioning is accurate, and he has gone to the trouble of putting the interstellar colonies around stars with a high probability of hosting planets with life.
If you find this interesting, and are a publisher, agent or established author, he asks that you get in contact with him.
Late breaking news:
- Through Struggle, the Stars is now available in paperback format in addition to eBook format
- The Desert of Stars, the sequel to Through Struggle, the Stars, is now available in eBook format
- Paperback version of The Desert of Stars is expected shortly
Further: Beyond the Threshold is the first novel in a new thinking-person's space opera series by award-winning author Chris Roberson. Yes, it is set in a post-Singularity universe, but Mr. Roberson has thought out the ramifications of the various techno-magic items he introduces. But it has some good old fashioned hard science as well. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
And I suspect he was helped in part by this website, which is OK by me. What clues do I have? Oh, subtle easy-to-miss ones like these:
From the ages of twenty-one to twenty-four, just a bit over three years, I served aboard Orbital Patrol Cutter 972, first as an ensign, then a lieutenant. An Aurora ZD-36 manufactured by Winchell-Chung Industries, Cutter 972 was thirty meters, tip to tail, a small Keeper-class vessel intended for nothing more glamorous than the maintenance of navigational buoys in cislunar space. My "quarters," which stretched the definition of the word, were a cube approximately 2.5 meters to a side. A bit over 15.5 cubic meters, that small space was home for thirty-eight months.
The crowd jostled around to greet me, but I only had eyes for the rocket. I've loved a few women in my time, but never more than I loved that ship.
A Pole Star XT-14, manufactured by Winchell-Chung Industries, Orbital Patrol Cutter 1519 had been one of the fastest of 22C spacecraft. With its inertial confinement fusion drive capable of maintaining accelerations of one standard gravity for weeks at a time, it could make the transit from Earth to Titan in just over twelve days in a straight-shot brachistochrone trajectory, full burn to the midpoint, and then flipping over and decelerating the rest of the way.
Forty-five meters from tip to tail, it had an interior volume of just over five hundred cubic meters, massing out fully loaded at only a few hundred metric tons.
I'm sure somewhere Mr. Roberson is smiling genially, with an impish twinkle in his eyes. I rather suspect he inserted these delicious clues to see if I was paying attention. "Winchell Chung" is of course my name, that's subtle enough. The "Pole Star" is of course Polaris, the name of the spacecraft in my worked example. Which you will be utterly unsurprised to find out is forty-three meters tall from tip to tail, has an interior volume of five hundred and four cubic meters, and masses out fully loaded at three hundred seventy eight metric tons.
To Mr. Roberson goes the tip of the hat, and an Atomic Rocket Seal of Approval.
I'd like to say that I discovered this myself, but in truth the novel was pointed out to me by Marc Thomas.
Mr. Steele does not belong on this web page, since he is a world-class two-time Hugo Award winner who was getting the science right in his novels long before this website even existed. His "Coyote" and "Rude Astronaut" series are delicious hard-science SF.
However, back in 2009 he approached me out of nowhere, since he was attempting to calculate the distance between 47 Ursae Majoris (Coyote) and a certain other star. A cursory Google search suggested that I was a likely resource person. Since I love his books I was honored to do the calculations for him, and give step-by-step instructions for future reference. He needed the distance information for his novel Hex, which was published June 7th, 2011. I won't reveal anything that was not already revealed in the cover blub, I'll only mention that it features a fascinating and innovative variant of a Dyson sphere.
So I'm using my peripheral involvement to justify including him on this web page.
Mr. Steel's novel Hex includes illustrations by Rob Caswell.
A. J. Stoner
Mr. Stoner's Iceni Queen is a rollicking tale of space pirates. But it does have a surprising amount of scientific accuracy. Mr. Stoner tells me that this website was a big help to get the science straight. I did thoroughly enjoy the novel.
Sample chapters of the novel can be found here.
The novel can be purchased in eBook format here.
"A society, like a forest, requires from time to time the purging catharsis of fire to endure. We are the burning, lashing tongues of that flame." - Julian The Bastard
Julian McAllister, son of an escaped slave, is a favorite son of the Riftward Marches; a loose confederation of colonies founded by pirates, smugglers and mercenaries pushed back over the centuries by the expanding Free Trade Federation. In contact with a dissident naval architect, he conceives the greatest theft in history: to steal the Navy's newest and most advanced warship, refitting her as a corsair. Leading his wing, The Lords of Entropy, into the remote Fringeward Expanse to terrorize Federation shipping, Captain McAllister sails into legend; failing to pause and consider the fate of "Legends."
Murder, rape, theft, vandalism, arson, impalement, immolation, mutilation, decapitation, rioting, genocide, mass extinction, dehumanization, degradation, decadence, duplicity, betrayal, revenge, exile, ignorance, intolerance, savage indifference, all seven deadly sins, blasphemy (lots of that) singing, dancing, gratuitous foul language, lesbian fighter pilots and genetically engineered ninja assassins: Iceni Queen has it all!
Mr. Willrich was born, as far as I can tell, in 1967. He is a longtime fantasy and science fiction (and RPG) fan. He has sold a handful of short stories; the ones that have gotten the most attention are a sword-and-sorcery series about the poet Persimmon Gaunt and the thief Imago Bone.
The June 2009 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction magazine has his "Sails The Morne" as their cover story. He tells me that he did obtain useful technical data from this website for this story, and it shows. Granted some of the highly advanced aliens possess magic-tech, but the human's technology is quite scientifically accurate.
The story is quite good, a sort of futuristic "locked-room" mystery.
There is available a sample chapter from the story. Do check it out.