The Science of Scifi: Big Gun Go Boom – Part 1


There are a lot of guns, bombs, grenades and improvised explosives in Control: Bleak Pass.  You would think that with so much bang you wouldn’t have to worry about the buck.  Just chuck it all in and wait for the noise, no need to sweat the details, right? Right?

Of course not.  Where would be the fun in that.

Playing with explosives in a novel is much like blowing shit up in real life, but without the risk factor of losing your fingers or worse.

Ballistics and ordinance is, as I’ve learned during my research, an exacting field and I’m sure my speculative work will still have a good few (bullet) holes in it despite my best efforts, but as usual it was a blast finding out how everything fits together (until it gets blown up).

Biggest surprise for me was detonating chemical and nuclear explosives in a vacuum.  The absence of atmosphere hypothetically transforms the explosion into a very brief, hot, blue-white flash, much bigger than a conventional atmospheric detonation and much, much quicker.  The effect would be something like a flashbulb going off.

Also, no atmosphere means no shock wave.  Both things could spell disaster for the story, but I wasn’t going to be deterred and in one specific sequence I tweaked the math slightly, but left a lot of it intact, creating an explosive situation (you see what I did there) that actually works in the plot’s favor.  Don’t know what I’m talking about? Go read the book.

As I’ve said before in similar blogs, sticking to hard science isn’t always necessary to maintain credibility, but it does actually make things fun.  I’ll be exploring that aspect in part two when I look at blowing stuff up and shooting at things in an atmosphere.

Now that really is fun.


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