Steampunk Star Fleet

Chat about anything you like - within reason!
User avatar
Vanessa
Posts: 386
Joined: Mon Sep 27, 2010 12:43 pm
Location: UK

Steampunk Star Fleet

Postby Vanessa » Mon Feb 28, 2011 12:17 am

Hello All,I've been musing about the genre of Steampunk with Star Fleet for a while now. Shane mentions it every now and then as well. It would suit the world that the Great Skull comes from in TROM, and also the sailing ship technology quite well.As a Mechanical Engineer with a keen interest in Victorian technology, Steam has always fascinated me, and the Steampunk genre of Fiction has always been an interest.I have a workshop at home with a couple of ancient lathes (1930's) and other tooling for making things with, plus a few steam engines of my own, including one (from the 1950's) in bits on my dining room table, awaiting me to restore it. I also drive passenger hauling steam locos in the summer so I'm well versed in victorian technology.It looks a bit like a mad steampunk scientists lair in my house, with a laptop next to boilers and pistons et al.Steampunk hasn't endeared itself to Hollywood very well, and the critics seem to despise it most of the time. Looking at films like Wild Wild West, or The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, they didn't garner much praise at the time of their releases. I didn't mind watching them though, and I enjoyed the steampunk tech that the films were full of.I would love to re-write Star Fleet in the Steampunk style, or maybe do a spin-off of it at least. So here are my thoughts for some of the tech that might be used. Feel free to use/abuse/develop this for your own stuff too   If Star Fleet were to be based on earth, in Victorian times, then travel into the stars would be quite difficult to create. After all, I'm trying to write Science Fiction, not Fantasy. Short of big firework type rockets, there's not much else to use.So assuming it's to be played out on earth, then we do have some very interesting tech that actually existed that we can use. Reading through a book called "Steam in the Air" by Maurice Kelly, one can find hard evidence of a Hyrogen-filled Dirigible, that is propelled by a Steam powerplant. One Henry Giffard took off in such a craft on 24th September 1852, and flew for 14 miles over Paris before successfully landing.So there's a good basis for a possible Alliance Battlecruiser Not only this, it gets better, because one of the biggest exponents of Steam-powered flight was one Hiram Maxim, inventor of the Maxim "machine gun", as seen in many western films. Imagine a Dirigible bristling with Maxim guns! So plenty of material to use one's artistic licence with However, I long to write of Steam powered space-ships, so assuming that another world has already perfected this idea, how can we explain it's technology away convincingly?Well, surprisingly NASA has looked into this very idea, and there exist (I'm looking at them now) detailed designs by Vickers in the 1960's, of a steam powerplant to be fitted into satellites and spacecraft. It's a three cylinder radial engine that is powered by the combustion of oxygen and hydrogen (steam) and used to generate electrical power onboard spacecraft.It could be proposed that such a powerplant might be fitted into space sailing ships like "The Skull" to generate power.I am not entirely convinced by these ships abilities to use their sails to catch solar winds as a sole means of propulsion. Other means must surely be needed, for battle maybe?I hypothesise that maybe the huge sails could be filled with capillaries that could carry water pumped through them, which when turned towards a nearby sun, could provide heat power to a heat exchanger that could generate steam and provide electricity for the ship, and maybe energy weapons?A further means of propulsion could be devised that is similar to the ion-propulsion systems that are today's technolgies space-darlings. These engines accelerate ions away from the spaceship towards and through a graticule charged with opposite polarity, and hence out into space. By Newton's 1st law, as they are expelled they exert a very tiny push on the craft, no more than the force of a piece of paper dropping onto it. But in the vacuum of space, this is enough to gain momentum, and as each ion is expelled, the momentum increases until very high speeds can be reached. I alluded to this tech in my TRA story with the layered impulse drive of Lamia's escape capsule, which allowed her to outrun Makara's Kathaar Cruiser.This tech could be subtly changed for a steampunk ship, by simply having the ship take on board rock matter (asteroids) and crushing it up to a fine powder, and then using a steam powered ejection system, where the steam is not allowed to leave the system and is hence condensed back into water for re-use, but the dust particles are expelled one after the other, to push the ship along. Only a small trail of dust would ensue, and as the particles are small, the ship's "fuel" of rocks would last a long time.On the subject of a ship's orientation in space, where we can't use modern rocket motors, we can turn to the trusty gyroscope. There were huge steam-powered gyroscopes fitted to luxury ocean liners in Victorian times, to enable these ships to negotiate storm sized waves without too much heave. There could be such a huge gyroscope fitted to our space sailing ship, allowing it to turn effortlessly, or holdfast when releasing a barrage of fire at an opponent.With such a device, the maouevring possibilities are endless.Feel free to comment or shoot me down, but I think it's fun to ponder such tech.I hope this is of some use, or at least amusement.



Evasive Manoeuvres!

Shane
Posts: 937
Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2001 9:10 pm

Steampunk Star Fleet

Postby Shane » Mon Feb 28, 2011 12:55 am

Wow! That's an impressive post. Science and Maths aren't my strong points, but those are some incredible concepts that my artistic mind can just about wrap my head around.I'm no engineer, but I did watch a documentary once on the construction of a nuclear powered submarine. One of the engineers described it in terms of a giant steam powered engine, where the radioactive rods are effectively generating heat and steam to drive a large turbine. I'm paraphrasing, but it did make me think of steam punk and how, in principle, some aspects of high technology aren't that far removed from the industrial revolution even to this day.It sound's like you've found your calling there, doing a job you have a real interest in. The train rides sound fun and I can just imagine all that old steam-powered gear mixing it up with computers. That's hardcore steam punk! Like you say the Steam Punk genre hasn't been that well served in the world of movies. I think the best things I've seen in this genre have been anime. I've mentioned Laputa already, but Steamboy is pretty great too.A Steampunk Star Fleet spin-off would be fantastic! Have you seen some of the artwork for the Star Wars steampunk project. It's really great! All the droids have valves, dials and pistons, while the human characters all wear 19th century garb with monocles and suchlike.If I ever manage to get around to doing TROM's sequel you definitely need to write the chapters involving The Great Skull's steam punk world!
I like parties, I like fun, I want to live in a hamburger bun!

User avatar
Crash
Posts: 1709
Joined: Mon Sep 09, 2002 8:16 pm

Steampunk Star Fleet

Postby Crash » Mon Feb 28, 2011 1:29 am

The Maxim Machinegun, well there's a new one on me. It looks like an upscaled, artsy MAC-10.Some guy even made an awesome set of custom steampunk starwars action figures.
Dream big and bold and daring.

User avatar
Vanessa
Posts: 386
Joined: Mon Sep 27, 2010 12:43 pm
Location: UK

Steampunk Star Fleet

Postby Vanessa » Mon Feb 28, 2011 10:02 pm

Thanks guys Been thinking a lot about all that...Hiram Maxim's gun is often confused with the Gatling Gun, which I think came later.The Star Wars Steampunk stuff is really impressive, and the people creating it are very talented. Methinks there's quite a market for it as well.Still, we're proudly flying the flag for Star Fleet here Sadly the Steamtrain driving job is just a hobby, alas I don't get paid for it, I do it for the love of it Ironically, you've mentiond submarines, at work I'm testing submarine parts at the moment As regards TROM II, and the Great Skull's steampunk world, you are definitely ON there!To collaborate on that would be absolutely awesome!
Evasive Manoeuvres!

FZeroOne
Posts: 419
Joined: Tue Aug 20, 2002 1:42 pm

Steampunk Star Fleet

Postby FZeroOne » Thu Mar 10, 2011 3:10 pm

Just to clear up the guns, guns, guns! - the Gatling gun predates the Maxim gun, and differs by using a human operated crank to feed bullets from the magazine (as well as multiple barrels). The Maxim gun was one of the first, if not the first "machine" guns to use some of the energy that would normally be wasted by recoil forces to feed the next bullet from the ammunition belt into the gun. It came later than the Gatling, which dates from around the American Civil War era.(one of the best fictional descriptions of Maxim type gun in operation, incidentally, can be found in Neal Stephensons Cryptonomicon. It describes the use of a Vickers machine gun in loving detail and goes on for three pages!).Later in the 20th Century, new types of Gatling gun, using motorised ammunition feeds, were developed. These include the "awesome Minigun like the one Blaine had in Predator" [1] and the legendary GAU-8/A Avenger cannon mounted on the A-10 Thunderbolt II tank-busting aircraft.For those interested in steampunk stuff, its always worth a look around the maritime section of the Science Museum... and, oh, as far as flight goes, various German engineers working during World War II proposed a variety of designs which included a jet fighter running on coal! (strictly speaking, a sort of coal/petrol "foam"... ) Some of Go Nagais designs for Mazinger have also been given the steampunk treatment in a spin-off toy line, I think by McFarlane toys.[1] And which you really can't fire without it being mounted on something. Apparently the US Marines, being Marines, have tried. Presumably with a lot of resulting broken limbs...



"The power of bakers, the power of artists; even the power of witches! It must be a power given by God... sometimes we suffer for it."- Ursula, Kikis Delivery Service.

User avatar
Vanessa
Posts: 386
Joined: Mon Sep 27, 2010 12:43 pm
Location: UK

Steampunk Star Fleet

Postby Vanessa » Sun Mar 13, 2011 1:01 am

Thank you for correcting me about the dates of the Maxim and Gatling guns. I wasn't really sure, but now I know   I only mentioned Hiram Maxim as he was a great early exponent of steam powered flight.Those photos on your Flickr site of the old encoders from the Bletchley Park museum are really great. I must visit that museum.I have a book entitled "German Jet Genesis" which is full of the ideas and designs and in some cases actual prototypes of the German engineers from WWII. It's quite incredible, with designs for space ships, flying saucers and wings, and also rocket jet packs for troops that remind me of the rocket-pack from the film "The Rocketeer".I'd like to see the Mazinger-Steampunk toys!



Evasive Manoeuvres!

FZeroOne
Posts: 419
Joined: Tue Aug 20, 2002 1:42 pm

Steampunk Star Fleet

Postby FZeroOne » Sun Mar 13, 2011 6:57 pm

Thanks, I'm a little bit into military history...! I didn't know that Maxim was interested in flight at all, though. Bletchley Park is a great site, but I would recommend visiting in summer or when the weathers good. Also check beforehand if the computer museums open, due to funding issues its not always currently. The Germans were quite into what I guess would now be called "blue sky" thinking - look up the Gotha Go229 sometime, or the Sanger atmospheric skip-bomber! Some of these ideas have influenced quite a lot of popular culture - I saw some design sketches for "Raiders of the Lost Ark" once which included various unused concepts like cyborg Nazis and many more weird and wonderful aircraft like the one that actually made it into the film.Wikipedia image of a Mazinger "1901" toy:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:FM-K7.jpg
"The power of bakers, the power of artists; even the power of witches! It must be a power given by God... sometimes we suffer for it."- Ursula, Kikis Delivery Service.

User avatar
Vanessa
Posts: 386
Joined: Mon Sep 27, 2010 12:43 pm
Location: UK

Steampunk Star Fleet

Postby Vanessa » Sun Mar 13, 2011 11:27 pm

If you can, get hold of a copy of the book: "Steam in the Air" by Maurice Kelly, I'm sure you'd find it very interesting. There's some military stuff in there too. Maxim saw a future in flight, and backed Steam-powered flight as the internal combustion engine either wasn't about, or wasn't up to the job.Thanks for the info about checking for opening of the computer museum Both the Gotha Go229 and the Sanger atmospheric skip-bomber are in the book "German jet Genesis" by David Masters. It's almost compulsory reading IMHO   That Raiders of the Lost Ark A/C is also in the book.The Wiki Mazinger image is quite cool if a little scary!



Evasive Manoeuvres!

User avatar
Crash
Posts: 1709
Joined: Mon Sep 09, 2002 8:16 pm

Steampunk Star Fleet

Postby Crash » Mon Mar 14, 2011 1:07 pm

Ahh so it was the first gas-powered, fully automatic machinegun. I said it was like a MAC-10.Have you seen those guns in Russian planes that carry 6 gas charges that force the minigun up to rotating speed instantly without waiting for the electric motor to "wind up".That Mazinger thing was so weird, looked too much like a cyberdemon from Doom or whatever.Those Nazi planes look amazingly 1970s/80s for WW2 designs. All too good that they misused the Me 262 and lost the war before it could make a difference. The Me 264 recon plane is another other-worldly looking aircraft.Having said that, the Bell and Lockheed aircraft from the late-war era are beautiful planes. The only difference is that their design is more recognisable and comfortable to our mentality than 'alien'-seeming enemy planes.The backforce from live ammo fired from a minigun would topple any soldier backwards and probably wrench their arms clean off.
Dream big and bold and daring.

FZeroOne
Posts: 419
Joined: Tue Aug 20, 2002 1:42 pm

Steampunk Star Fleet

Postby FZeroOne » Mon Mar 14, 2011 8:48 pm

Thanks for the reading suggestions! As it happens, I live fairly near the town of Chard, which has something of a surprise claim to be being the original home of powered flight...!I hadn't seen that particular Russian gun, no, though I recall reading about one (possibly the same one) which was so powerful that bits started falling off the aircraft when it was fired!The Raiders plane was originally  meant to be a bigger, four engined design. Apparently Raiders was having a bit of a budget crunch which George Lucas solved by taking the model of the four-engine plane and snapping part of the wings off, making it a smaller and cheaper twin!Theres a story that during the 80s a team from Northrop visited the only remaining Go229 in museum storage and took some very careful notes. Northrop would have been working on the B2 Spirit stealth bomber at the time...



"The power of bakers, the power of artists; even the power of witches! It must be a power given by God... sometimes we suffer for it."- Ursula, Kikis Delivery Service.


Return to “Everything Else”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron