The Science of Scifi: Big Gun Go Boom – Part 2


Explosions in space are all very well, but most of the action in Control takes place on the ground amongst the grunts and the specialists that fight for their lives and the safety of the people they are sworn to protect.

When I set out to write Control I wanted to remove the narrative slightly from current preconceptions of ‘advanced warfare’ and focus on professional soldiers having to ‘make-do’ on the frontline with busted up gear, inefficient comms and data blackouts. As our governments persist today, much as they always have, in wilfully underfunding services I found it easy to imagine that very little will have changed in five hundred years time.

One obvious mechanic that I saw making this all the more palpable was the persistence of ballistic weapons. When I was building the action sequences – and Control has a lot of them – I was acutely aware of how much more frightening and overwhelming I could make things with a cacophony of old fashioned bullets and grenades. As I wrote the combat scenes on Orca I decided to reference a lot of current technology, partly to make a solid and rapid connection with the reader in these visceral scenes, but also to create a powerful sense of the overwhelming force bearing down on them.

Put simply, bullets hammering into duracrete and 40mm grenades shattering the landscape made a bigger impact than lasers or sonic weapons (for me, at least).  That said, what’s a good bit of scifi action without some kind of eye watering innovation?

Major Tesla’s team of specialists, the Black Bears, are one of the most capable units in the CAP and they get to play with all the best toys.  I was, again, focussed on engaging the reader with the familiar, so I chose technology currently in development – magnetic ballistics.

I didn’t want this to be emerging technology in five hundred years time as that would have been too far fetched, given that we are already reportedly developing rail gun technology.  To keep it relevant I decided to introduce miniaturized rail gun technology. Silent, powerful and extremely accurate rifles that would suit the Bears’ exclusive status and deadly reputation.

These guns appear at various points throughout the book, but I was careful not to overuse them as I liked the contrast of dirty, noisy tech with the scifi setting.  Also, I was keen to reinforce a familiar image of the military and felt that the struggle of working with limited technology and resources would make their plight all the more believable.  That said, you can’t, simply cannot have a scifi action novel without some space age guns – you know, lasers and shit.

So, in the next installment I’ll be looking at the alien technology offered by the Tekja Masar and the rather mysterious weaponry defending the Bleak Pass.

You can read the first chapter here for FREE!

Or you can go and buy it here:*Version*=1&*entries*=0 if you’re in the UK.

If you’re anywhere else – go here


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