The Solar System as It Used to Be

Martian Canal,
by C Bonestell

One of my favorite subgenres in science fiction is old-school interplanetary adventures, in which Mars has canals, Venus jungles, and Mercury two faces (hot and cold). Lo! and behold, yesterday I discovered a blog devoted to that subject: The Old Solar System. Its creator is the British pseudonym Zendexor, who introduces himself as an SF critic. Well, he certainly masters the subject, discussing the oldschool settings created by veterans writers like Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein, Brackett, SM Stirling, and Edmond Hamilton.

If Zendexor knew Swedish, he would probably have written a lengthy post about Sture Lönnerstrand’s solar-system odyssey Rymdhunden (“Space Dog”) from 1954.

Check the Old Solar System blog here — link >>>

Space 1889: Martian Gun Towers

These drawings by Jeffrey Chew of 19th-century colonial fortifications, so called Martellos, are easily adapted to the peculiarities of Martian warfare, primarily by the addition of machine guns or pompoms that are supposed to engage airborne foes. After all, raids by High Martians are uncomfortably common at outlying garrisons that guard mountain passes or caravan routes.

On Venus, one would find these towers next to trading posts and ports.

Venus Exploration: Thinking Outside the Box

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, one of NASA’s top research facilities, is currently investigating whether it is feasible to design a wind-powered clock-work rover for Venus, tentatively named Automaton Rover for Extreme Environments (AREE). The basic concept was conceived by Jonathan Sauder, a mechatronics engineer at JPL.

AREE is designed to function on Venus’s surface without electronics, because the searing (470°C) and crushing (92 bar) atmosphere destroys such components quickly. Fortunately, the planet’s forceful winds can power Savonius wind turbines that provide the required mechanical energy for ground propulsion and on-board devices, for example a mechanical computer. Ergo, AREE is a clock-tech design made of hi-tech materials able to survive in that hellish environment for months.

AREE communicates with a Venus orbiter by a contraption of radar-reflective panels that can be set at various angles. The orbiter broadcasts a radar signal that is reflected back from those panels; the received “image” is then decoded by the orbiter. This simple device is comparable to Morse code or 18th-century semaphore telegraphs. (Also, check the movie The Martian where a stranded astronaut devises a similar method to communicate with Earth.)

Click on the AREE picture for a larger version.

Read more about the AREE studies here — link >>>

XKCD: Rocky Bodies in 2 Dimensions

The eminent site XKCD has published this picture that compares the surface areas of notable rocky celestial bodies in our solar system. The four giant planets are excluded because they lack mappable surfaces. The arrangement would be laid out nicely on the type of Ringworld that Larry Niven proposed in some of his stories — link >>>

“Sci-Fi!”: Skeppsvarv på Kythera

En scen från min kampanjsetting Kythera till det svenska rollspelet Sci-Fi!. Kythera beskrevs i Fenix förra året; tänk dig rollspelskonceptet Partisan placerat på ett vietnamkrigsliknande retro-Venus.

Här visas en av kolonialmakten Nya Världsordningens civila bärplansbåtar (läs mer om dem här — länk >>> ), vilken havererade på Lake Agnes’ strand, varpå hon vandaliserades av regimfientliga lokalinvånare. Nu ligger hon i New Bristols skeppsvarv för renovering.

Konstnär: Egor Kudashkin. Klicka på bilden för att se en större version.

Venus-safe Technology Is Hard to Get

NASA is currently investigating what materials and devices could be used for future Venus landers. The planet’s hellish environment degrades even stainless steel quickly, so research probes have so far ceased to function within two hours after touchdown. The Glenn Extreme Environments Rig is a 14-ton testing chamber that recreates Venus’s toxic, corrosive, and hot surface conditions.

Read more here — link >>>

Alternate Earths

The World Dream Bank is a great resource for people wanting develop alien worlds or alternate Earths. It provides several well-reasoned planets with maps and texts, including terraformed Mars and Venus. Link — >>>

The example below is a future Earth where the polar icecaps have melted with an accompanying rise of the oceans — useful for postapocalyptic campaigns. Click on the map for a larger version.

“Sci-Fi!”: Partisankriget på Kythera

Summary in English: a counter-insurgency airstrike in a Kythera campaign for the Swedish science fiction RPG Sci-Fi!

En scen från gerillakriget på Kythera. Ett av kolonialregimens lätta Corvo-attackplan* angriper ett partisangömställe i ett träsk. (Klicka på bilden för en större version.)

Det rombformade vingmärket används på Kythera av Legionen, ett fruktat elitförband. Bokstäverna CMIC är planets identifikationskod, med ett bokstavspar för flygflottiljen (CM) och ett för det enskilda flygplanet (IC)**.

Kythera är en värld där rollspelen Partisan och Sci-Fi! möts i ett alternativhistoriskt 1988. Kampanjmiljön kommer snart som en lång artikel i speltidningen Fenix’ särskilda kickstarternummer. Läs mer här — länk >>>

Läs mer om Kythera här — länk >>>

Illustratör: James Flaxman på DeviantArt.

* Corvo — “kråka” på neolatin, kolonialmaktens språk.
** CM betecknar Legionens femte flygflottilj (le Quinte Stormo del Legion)