The fate of Science Fiction Writers

This post is a bit of a return to something I previously mentioned: The at times surprisingly swift progress of technology. I recently came across this story on the BBC News website.

In case the link fails I’ve included the text below. Now readers of my second book will be aware that the concept of a laser based defence system is mentioned, in fact it’s quite important to the storyline. They’ll also be aware that my book is set about half a century into the future. But if this system does as promised, then fifty years from now – when we actually reach the dates I’ve given – then any future reader might laugh at my delightfully quaint laser defence grid. In the same way we laugh at SF of fifty years ago with it futuristic computers that are only the size of a house and can do ten thousand calculations a minute. (gosh! let me just use my mobile phone to tell people about that one on facebook [right after I finish looking at funny cat photos]).

Still it is interesting how fast technology can move and yet at the same time aspects of technology can fail to move forward at all.

In 1805  HMS Victory was pretty much at the pinnacle of naval technology. A little over a century later, HMS Dreadnought was so much more powerful she could have sailed straight through Nelson’s flagship. A yet in this time of huge technological development, in at least one area, Dreadnought enjoyed no significant advantage over her predecessor. Namely the means to detect other ships. Like Victory, Dreadnought’s crew relied on the Mk I eyeball and bits of curved glass.

So what am I saying. Two things I think.

1) The phrase ‘nothing dates faster than the future’ is a cliche for a good reason.

2) If as a writing you are still being read fifty years later you have nothing to complain about anyway.

Until next time.


Rheinmetall demos laser that can shoot down drones
Laser weapons system The laser weapons system can cut through a steel girder
A laser weapons system that can shoot down two drones at a distance of over a mile has been demonstrated by Rheinmetall Defence. The German defence firm used the high-energy laser equipment to shoot fast-moving drones at a distance. The system, which uses two laser weapons, was also used to cut through a steel girder a kilometre away.

The company plans to make the laser weapons system mobile and to integrate automatic cannon.

The 50kW laser weapons system used radar and optical systems to detect and track two incoming drones, the company said. The nose-diving drones were flying at 50 metres per second, and were shot down when they reached a programmed fire sector.
High energy laser system The weapons system was used to shoot drones out of the air

Weather trials

The weapons system locked onto the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) by using radar for a rough approximation of the location of the targets, then fine-tuned the tracking using an optical system.

The high-energy laser system was used to cut through a 15mm-thick steel girder, and to shoot out of the air a steel ball designed to mimic a mortar round.

The company has tested the laser system in a variety of weather conditions, including snow, sunlight, and rain.

Rheinmetall plans to test its laser weapons mounted on different vehicles and to integrate a 35mm revolver cannon into it.

A number of governments and defence firms are in the process of developing weapons that use or incorporate lasers. For example, Raytheon unveiled a 50kW anti-aircraft laser at the Farnborough Airshow in 2010, and in June 2012 the US Army released details of a weapon that can fire a laser-guided lightning-bolt at a target.

Copywrite acknowledge as belonging to the BBC Corporation


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January 14, 2013 · 3:25 pm

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