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Realism, Grittiness & Future-Tech Projection

Realism, Grittiness & Future-Tech Projection

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Blackwinter-witch

Sep-09-2017 11:31 AM

 One of the toughest parts of writing science-fictions, especially within a pre-existing universe, is dealing with the technology and the question of:
"How advanced is TOO advanced?"

Then you have to deal with tha fact that in movies like ALIEN, the tech of the day when the sets were made and the tech the production people presumed of the future...are both considerably lower than what exists in the Real World, today.

Smartphones...an omnipresent piece of tech that is in everyone's daily lives, even if you don't own one, you're aware of them. More and more, Smartphones are becoming more and more entrenched in daily life, every bit as much (or more) than wallet and keys.
However, even in ALIEN: Covenant, we don't see a trace of them.
In my works you do, the crew uses them a LOT, same as folks today.
Drones, never seen in the ALIENverse...but look around today, and they WILL be there in the future. Factor in that antigrav system the mapper-balls had in PROMETHEUS and you end up with an enormous wealth of possible drones, then factor in Synthetic AI, and Drones become incredibly useful.

However, we do see primitive cartridge-fed guns. I won't mention the 'Pulse Rifles' from ALIENS as there's Zero Canon info on how they work.

Now, there's a problem with guns as they are...they're fast becoming obsolete. There's bodyarmor now that uses carbon nanotubes, and is built into Armani suits.
How good is it?
It'll stop repeated close-spaced 9mm High-Velocity rounds with NO problems. We're not talking 1 or 2 bullets, we're talking about stopping a magazine's worth.
SO, how do you deal with that?
1: Make the cartridges more powerful?
NOPE, there's a hard-limit on how much recoil a Human can handle.
Fire a .500 AE revolver sometime, you'll see what I mean. ;)

2: Go with a laser. It can dump a LOT more energy into a target, on a smaller area, and much faster than any bullet. However, you have no real Munition Options. But for most situations, that's not really a problem. Also, Sci-Fi always gets laser-based weapons WRONG.
Frankly, I'd rather have a chestburster happen to me than be shot with a weapons-grade laser as I'd have a slim chance with massive medical help in surviving the chestburster's damage.
Laser wounds? A hit to the chest? Yeah, bye-bye.

3: Advanced munitions. Say, the bullet ignites a gyrojet-like rocket motor just as it leaves the muzzle, which keeps recoil the same as what would be normal for the cartridge, but the round continues it's acceleration to, say, 5X what it would be normally.
EG: .44 Mag = 1400 FpS on average. Multiplied by 5, that's 7000 Fps.
This ammunition can be made today, and doesn't require any changes to any given firearm.
Historical Note: Forget the 'Gyrojet' - Brand weapons from the past, they weren't made right to start with.

So, in the end of it all, you end up with something somewhere between (I hate to say it) 'Star Trek' and 'ALIEN'.
Yes, laser weapons will exist, so will extremely-personalizable smartphones, instead of some 'one size fits all' communicator.
Drones will be ubiquitous, despite what ST would have us believe, and while Synthetics will be Top-Shelf, even the average Drone will be smart enough to rarely need any Human assistance.

Genetic Engineering. The Pandora's Box, and Humanity's already opened it.
My 'Chimerans' aren't merely 'Plausible' they're Probable. Then there's things like what Weyland wanted, a cure for aging.
Well, if you have the tech (And Humanity almost does here in reality) to repair the Telomerase of the DNA in the body's cells, THAT cures aging, and a variety of other problems as well.
Realistically, Weyland would have benefitted from that tech and would not have been a wizened old man when they went to LV-223. Physiologically, he'd have been in his Prime.

And in the end, no matter what we write, time and tech move on, and even the most Advanced tech in a story from any writer will eventually come off like stone knives, digging-sticks and untanned animal hides. :D

*Man's giant leap was just a stumble in the dark.*

22 Responses to Realism, Grittiness & Future-Tech Projection

Woolson

Sep-09-2017 1:49 PM

Interesting read, Although in Prometheus while Vickers was scolding Janek for his christmas tree, In the corner we could see a guy with a smartphone/slate mp3 player type device, but the only difference is that it's holographic.

Cleaner than Earth Actually

hox

Sep-09-2017 3:05 PM

In Covenant the expedition crew were in constant contact so they didn't need phones. Walter had a really snazzy wrist computer that showed them their local terrain. It doubtless could do a lot of other things too.

Blackwinter-witch

Sep-09-2017 3:17 PM

Woolson

Gonna have to rewatch it (not complaining) cuz I totally MISSED seeing that device. TY for pointing it out!!

Still, that's just one instance of such tech.

*Man's giant leap was just a stumble in the dark.*

Blackwinter-witch

Sep-09-2017 3:28 PM

hox

True, they were, but consider what other functions a smartphone offers via built-in functions and apps besides just contact, right?

In ALIEN: Manticore, there's at least one scene where the crew's in the galley, and someone uses their phone to call up information to be displayed on the holoprojector.
As well, another scene where someone sends an alert to the Captain via phone instead of blasting it across the PA system, as via phone, the Captain then has access to a real-time datafeed on the situation instead of having to wait to get it upon his arrival on the bridge.
The main reason I made them so frequently-involved in the story is to reflect what we see in today's world around us regarding them. People won't change, smartphones will continue to evolve, and for a starship crew, they will be very valuable tools.
EG: Why have someone telling you where the ALIEN is when you can link into a real-time feed as the ship's sensors track it? One person with phone and gun, the other with just a gun, and a smartphone's a LOT less bulky than a Motion Tracker.

...and there's probably an app + Module for smartphones to let it do Motion Tracking in the ALIENverse. :D

*Man's giant leap was just a stumble in the dark.*

Ati

Sep-09-2017 4:29 PM

Blackwinter-witch - 'It is impossible to see the future.' :)

I Raptus

Sep-09-2017 4:47 PM

Interesting read!! Its definitely a fine line coming up with future tech that is both plausible and likely.

What are your thoughts on electromag/guass weaponry? That's the direction Im heading. In Omega Terminus I also have one ship with a proto-laser weapon that uses a targeting AI to maintain beam contact that can slowly overheat and shut-down engines and sensors pods etc.. Space has the benefit of allowing long-distance LOS lasers with very few obstacles to overcome. There are currently lasers being research/developed to overheat and destroy missiles and drones in the same way. This is my extension of that. Its seems like a perfectly primitive "low-tech" technology for shitbags out in the Outer Rims in the Alienverse 

All the naval personal on my ships carry Fletchette-based weapons. Although they are "expanding projections" and currently go against the geneva convention, the Alienverse is a harsh new world. There's also one particularly good reason for them. Explosive/combustive weapons can put holes in the hull...So I argue one traditionally no-no ammunition type verse explosive decompression of a ship that can kill 1000s might be a reason to bring them back. Good against unarmoured soft targets, but will shatter against any hull instead of penetrating it. They are mainly for enforcement & self-defence on my ships, and all are revolver types, not semi-automatics. Not much need for high ROF or high calibre weapons on a ship...

or is there muhahahaha

 

 

Blackwinter-witch

Sep-09-2017 10:32 PM

Ati

NO kidding! :D It's 'best-guess' at best. But, fun speculation :)

*Man's giant leap was just a stumble in the dark.*

Blackwinter-witch

Sep-09-2017 10:56 PM

IRaptus

TY! :) Glad you enjoyed my thoughts about future tech and how it all relates to writing,and how hard it can be to pin down :)

GAUSS & RAIL type Electromagnetic Accelerator Weapons:
I love them, however, on a Human level, same problems as with cartridge fed guns: Recoil.
BUT, mount them on a starship and look out. :D
The MAccelerator cannons Manticore is equipped with are a Hybrid Rail-Gauss type system. They avoid 'rail wear' and arcing problems with the projectile being suspended magnetically as it travels down the barrel. No friction points.
The round is initially started off by chemical propellant like a giant gun round, after that, the magnetic acceleration systems kick in, while induction coils feed power to the electromagnets INSIDE the round itself, so the actual cannon round is also accelerating itself.
At the muzzle of just before, the built-in booster lights off, and accelerates it at a very high level for a few seconds.
So, Imagine the damage done by a round like a 16 inch Naval Cannon round, travelling at a velocity of 1000 Kilometers/second. ;)

I LIKE your laser idea, it's directly related to what's being Platformed today in reality!!
Manticore has an array of Utility lasers, which are extremely powerful continuous-beam models, but meant for working, not fighting. However, they are still useful in combat and are directly based off the weapons the US Navy is testing, so they're a cousin to yours. :)

Flechette weapons, I approve, those are damned nasty. I've seen the effects of shotgun flechette rounds, and I'd rather deal with Chestburster-itis. :)
However, in my works, putting a bullet through a ship hull is about as likely as that happening with a real-world ocean vessel today. BUT, vastly less as even if the ship will never approach or enter atmo, it STILL has to afford protection from space hazards like micrometeorites, radiation, and assorted other hazards. So, it'll easily stop even a .50 Cal BMG round with NP.
Now, if we're taking something like, the Nostromo say...you won't penetrat that hull from the inside with anything less than a 40 mm Hypervelocity HEAT round.

BUT...

While a bullet, say, from a assault rifle won't penetrate the hull..they will ricochet. :D NOW, heh, then it's a party!
With blown out gas-carrying lines, electrical wiring, consoles, displays, randomly injured crewmembers and all sorts of other fun high-velocity ricochets bring to the table.

SO... Flechettes, DEFINITELY a smart choice, especially how you went with them!!!

*Man's giant leap was just a stumble in the dark.*

I Raptus

Sep-10-2017 2:35 AM

thank you for your informative response :) 

I'll admit I borrowed the idea from the Battletech/Mechwarrior universe. That universe has fletchette machine pistols that fire shards from a "special polymer-composite formula". Mine fire soft-metal sabot's rounds from either shotgun or revolver. 

The other good thing is that fletchettes is how utterly useless they are against a Xeno, unless you stick the barrel down its throat...if you want to get that close. Might be helpful against a Facehugger, if you're quick enough lol.

Also not much good against Engineers. Judging by how damn solid and durable their juggernauts are, you would have to imagine a similar construction to their body armour. The Juggernaut in Prometheus fell from the sky, crashed and rolled, and still maintained its hull integrity!!

Im cruel to my characters, no easy rides lol.

On the topic of Engineers I have a weapon system for them too. Very rarely used, and somewhat organic in nature like their "grown" ships....I won't give too much away, but think cnidarians.... 

 

Blackwinter-witch

Sep-10-2017 3:09 AM

IRaptus

YW, sorry if I drowned you in Tech, but I live with a man who's deeply involved in tech across multiple disciplines in his career, so it's rubbed off on me. :D

RE: Engineers;
In Prometheus we saw how effective (useless) a close range shotgun blast was, clipped him pretty solidly in the right shoulder, which annoyed him but didn't even faze him.
So, yeah, GOOD point!!
Ditto Juggernauts, if you consider the mechanical stresses involved, that ship is amazingly strong!! And the impact/explosion of Prometheus didn't do much either, maybe a slight scorch mark at best.

Heh, so am I, but as I give them pretty nasty weapons to play with, I crank the heat up accordingly.
Doesn't matter how powerful the gun is, if you can't see something to shoot it. ;)
OR, have NO idea where it's vital spots are...
AND you might be outnumbered.
AND, well, spraying acid...

Cnidarians?? I Applaud your Nastily-Creative mind!! :D

I've been giving some thought to what kind of 'conventional' weapons they would have, and looked up the original Spaihts script, which has some intriguing ideas on Engineer hand weapons...
VERY Uber-Tech and VERY nasty. :D

*Man's giant leap was just a stumble in the dark.*

I Raptus

Sep-10-2017 3:48 AM

Talking tech is good i enjoy it.

I figure the Engineers like the whole organic-based (artificial evolution) grown technology. So i look for organic precedents already in nuture as weapons ;-) 

Cnidarians (jelly-fish etc) fire nematocyst barbules often with Neuro-toxins.

Also check out Pistol Shrimp. Not much use as a space weapon, but kind of awesome little beasties nonetheless.

Engineers are tricky, not much canonised tech to work with, especially weapons. The expanded universe comic "Prometheus: Fire and Stone" has an Engineer "gun" but i don't know it seems a bit too fanboy OP laser canon...  

Blackwinter-witch

Sep-10-2017 4:24 AM

IRaptus

Ok, we're good on tech-talk then. :)

The pistol-shrimp, or a critter like it...the muscle power that drives it's strikers, that mechanism, built-up, could be a driving-force for a weapon, of some type...dunno, just a mental-feeling, y'know?
Heh, based off electric eels and such, with hybrydized Luciferase/Bioluminescent elements, you could work up an Organic laser-based weapon.

Yeah I know about Jellyfish. *Evil Laugh*
I've been studying them as raw material for some truly UNpleasant critters that make facehuggers look like cuddly housepets. :D
The worst thing?
You don't need to leave Earth to encounter them...

Engineers are a Problem, I agree, due to lack of development and such, almost zero info about them.
Fire-and-Stone...skimmed it, pretty formulaic, and the Engineer 'gun' acts almost like a magic-wand crossed to an OP laser-shotgun.

*Man's giant leap was just a stumble in the dark.*

joylitt

Sep-11-2017 5:42 PM

Blackwinter-witch Aren't Feifield's geo-mapping "pups" in Prometheus drones? And also the ship that Bishop operates remotely in Aliens can probably be considered a drone too.

joylitt

Sep-11-2017 5:43 PM

Blackwinter-witch I like the fact that you have your own way to populate the technological aspects of your stories. One of my biggest problems with Alien Covenant is that I did not like the technology. The design of the ship, the bridge etc, it was to me too present looking.

Blackwinter-witch

Sep-11-2017 6:22 PM

joylitt

Yeppers, the 'pups' are definitely a class of Autonomous Drone, where the Dropship could be classed as a Remotely Piloted Vehicle type of Drone.

 

*Man's giant leap was just a stumble in the dark.*

joylitt

Sep-11-2017 6:31 PM

I think if movies go too high tech a lot of gadgetry would be eliminated and I don't think the audience is ready for that. Probably there would be people saying that a movie like that would have a lot of the same traits as the superhero movies, because technology would be indistinguishable from superpowers.

Blackwinter-witch

Sep-11-2017 6:36 PM

joylitt

Thank-you for noticing that and commenting on it!! :D Populating the technological aspects is something I enjoy, and while it is a challenge, it's also satisfyingly fun, especially when someone Notices. :)

I know exactly what you mean regarding the 'Tech Aesthetic' of things looking too much like modern-day.

As an example, in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, they had NOTHING like flatscreen tech of today, but the way they got around that gave things a crisp, cool Future-Tech aesthetic that's eyecatching and 'hyper-clean'.

For me too, Covenant was just a bit too close to present-day, and a huge step backwards from the tech-aesthetic of Prometheus, where we had at least an interesting articulation assembly for the engines, better-looking corridors and overall things looked more 'Tomorrow-esque'.
The thing I truly dislike the most about the Covenant is the corridors, they're about as interesting as a cold bowl of overcooked oatmeal. The bridge had some elements I liked, like the holotable, but that was about it. I liked the front end, and the engines...I really disliked the entire middle section as it was boring, clunky and seemed 'flimsy'.

They COULD have borrowed some elements from the Prometheus corridors and some from the Nostromo's, just little touches that would show the ship is between the Prometheus and Nostromo eras of starship design.

*Man's giant leap was just a stumble in the dark.*

Blackwinter-witch

Sep-11-2017 6:45 PM

joylitt

Good point on tech 'overwhelming' a story. The trick is to also show the Limitations of technology as well as the benefits. ;)

Technology is a tool, a force/effort/ability amplifier. But, while tech offers amazing benefits (Consider a smartphone from the perspective of the 1800's) it still has Limits...like short battery life, reliant on connectivity/network access, etc, etc..

In ALIEN: Manticore, there's a sitution where the crew (even with the wealth of tech at their fingertips) is powerless to do more than fight a slowly-losing battle.

I LOVE sci-fi tech, but in the end, the story is and always should be about the PEOPLE involved, right? Tech is merely there to help the story, allow new avenues of actions, or present interesting complications and devil's-choice options.

 

 

*Man's giant leap was just a stumble in the dark.*

Ingeniero

Sep-12-2017 8:34 AM

"I LOVE sci-fi tech, but in the end, the story is and always should be about the PEOPLE involved, right? Tech is merely there to help the story, allow new avenues of actions, or present interesting complications and devil's-choice options."

I agree Blackwinter-witch. In Alien: Covenant, it does appear that the tech does blend into the background listening and aware of the crew as a whole. 

If Weyland was making investments in weapons' tech this early, then the situational awareness of their weapons in relation to friendly (Covenant crew) and target (neomorph) would almost wipe out friendly fire.

In short, they may not shoot each other (because of smart weapons tech) when all firing weapons toward a fast-moving target they are standing in a circle around.

Blackwinter-witch

Sep-12-2017 8:45 PM

Ingeniero

I just popped in while taking a break from ALIEN: Manticore, and where the story is at right now, tech plays a major role, yet doesn't overshadow the Human aspect, actually right now it's used in ways that complement and demonstrate the Human aspect.
I love tech as it lends a nice 'zing' to things, allows possibilities for stories to occur, and can also very nicely present a snapshot-overview of the character of a given story universe...in a manner akin to a 'fingerprint'.
Double-edged blade though as if you let tech get out of hand, it can overwhelm a story and make itself the centerpoint.

When it comes to tech in my works, I'm pretty knowledgeable, and always look things up. But if/when I get stuck, I have hubby to turn to and as he makes his career in technology across multiple branches of it, he's a wealth of information, and able to help me work out hypotheses/theories regarding purely fictional tech toys and stuff. :D

Smart weapons/ammo is in development today, and while it's still early-stage, it's performance is very impressive.
Cost remains an issue, so for now it's likely to remain special-application ammunition (Sniper).
IFF Personal Safe-Beacons and combat-weapon modifications relating to such is something that the US and Canadian Militaries are working on developing. The idea is good, but it requires a lot of refinement as yet, and also exhaustive testing to ensure it doesn't negatively impact weapon reliability.

The problem with the rifling article, is physics, as that bit was written by someone who plainly has never fired a gun in their life.
If you triple the bullet velocity, you triple the recoil effects on the user, and the operating mechanisms of the weapon. It also reduces barrel-life and generates MUCH more heat per round fired, due to friction between projectile and barrel.
That's just plain Physics, and there's NO way around it short of post-firing boosting as I mentioned regarding gyrojet-type self-accelerating ammunition.
Most people think recoil is due to the exploding propellant (gunpowder) and the emission of gasses from the muzzle. That is a small part of the recoil, the majority is from the bullet's velocity and travel down the barrel.
Equal and Opposite reaction, right?
Some folks point to electromagnetic acceleration weapons as a 'cure' for recoil. (Gauss and Railgun technologies) and again, they are just as bad for recoil as their gunpowder counterparts, even with the projectile magnetically-suspended to keep it from contacting the sides of the barrel.

The Scope information I think the writer might have lifted from some Scope manufacturers, as there are rifle scopes nowadays (actually five years ago) that will do the same things as described above. ;)
So, I give that writer points for ferretting out that tech-tidbit. :D

*Man's giant leap was just a stumble in the dark.*

Ingeniero

Sep-14-2017 11:24 AM

Oh, I agree, Blackwinter-witch on the 2017 understanding of physics that refutes future claims in the Weyland Industries corporate timeline.

I could just as easily explain how they perform faster-than-light (FTL) in any atmosphere as I could explain future ballistics breakthroughs. Impossible to explain in today's physics.

In regards to technology's place in the story, I do like how Mother is always waiting and listening for instruction. Daniels does not have to move when cooking breakfast to let Tennessee in the door nor reach for anything when funneling the xenomorph down locked corridors and locking doors behind her.

Her character was free to move because of technology and in those instances it was meshed together well in the story.

Blackwinter-witch

Sep-14-2017 3:39 PM

Ingeniero

I agree with you and your points, you made some really good ones, and have a further observation about tech:

One of the the things I've noticed is so much tech has become so Integrated into our lives, I find I have to stops and really LOOK deliberately to spot it, to find it, to be able to include mention of advances on such regarding a fictional future.
I have a feeling that will simply become more of a challenge as years go on and tech progresses.
And it's a fun little challenge, kinda like 'where's waldo?' but more like 'where's Siri?' :D

 

 

*Man's giant leap was just a stumble in the dark.*

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