This thing starts tomorrow.
Never the Selves Shall Meet: Averted. While it’s difficult and expensive – to understate the case radically – to meet yourself (albeit less difficult, although no less expensive, to send yourself a message) in the past, and it comes with a host of annoying limitations concerning boundary conditions and suchlike, there are essentially no consequences for doing so. The universe is block – various chronology protection theorems point out that the probability of any event-chain that will create a global causality violation is zero – but it only cares about global causality violations, which is to say, as long as there are no uncaused effects or effect-free causes out there, it doesn’t care about the order they come in. You can create predestination paradoxes (with certain difficult-to-manage limitations; for example, looped objects cannot age, otherwise the loop loses end-to-end consistency and becomes impossible) all you want. It does, which is rather more annoying to the naïve user, mean that you can’t change the past – whatever present you are in incorporates the consequences of whatever changes you made in the past even before you reach the future in which you travel to the past, so nothing can be changed since you already changed it, if you did.
More sophisticated users, which mostly means those weakly godlike superintelligences again, make great use of the ability to whisper instructions in their present self’s ear from the future via acausal logic processing, but it’s still imperfect and of limited bandwidth, so it’s not actually the quick ticket to omniscience it might seem like.
…besides the remainder of the muckings-about necessary to get a book out of the door, that is.
Well, apart from the usual fic returning, I’m planning for doing something else longer soon, and one of the candidates for that involves some free trading adventures out on the frontiers of the Worlds. But, of course, free traders can’t hardly free trade without a ship to do so in, so I’m taking the time to put a little meat on the bones of the Kalantha-class frontier trader, as ubiquitous in the Expansion Regions as the Firefly-class is in its ‘verse.
(This is an interesting ship to design precisely because it is a frontier trader; it has to be able to service worlds that don’t have much by way of formal starport infrastructure, and certainly don’t have orbital highports, lighter fleets, mass drivers, and suchlike – and carrying a shuttle large enough to ferry the cargo down itself is a lot of extra mass – so it has to be able to land. But that, too, poses all manner of issues and imposes all manner of design constraints on a starship…
The Kalantha-class squares this particular circle by separating neatly into two halves, such that the streamlined, landing-capable, “crescent flying wing” for’ard section can land and take off again using trimodal NTRs with relatively little onboard fuel, etc., required, while leaving the main, unstreamlined, propulsion section with the fusion torch and the majority of the fuel parked in orbit in the meantime.)
Also, thinking about doing this in April to get back into the daily-fic habit…
Never Recycle a Building: Rather subverted – inasmuch as while the Imperials don’t tend to go around demolishing perfectly good buildings they don’t have a current use for –
(Leading to the related phenomena in which some buildings have been in continuous use and upgrading for something like seven thousand years along with all their different schools of architecture.)
Since that would be all wasteful and entropic, it would be every bit as bad to just abandon them and let them decay untouched. So you’re very unlikely to find an actual accessible abandoned building, even very shortly after it’s notional abandonment: what you’ll find is one that has been carefully stripped down, wrapped up, secure-sealed, and prepared for long-term “storage” by a professional mothballing crew.
So, sure, that decades-old abandoned building will be perfectly intact and everything in it will probably work, if you want to go to the trouble of unsealing and de-mothballing it…
…but if you left stuff behind there, it’s likely to have been cleaned up, sorted, sealed into crates, filled with inert gas, and shipped off to last-known-address postage-due, or failing that, the Bureau of Unattached Chattels and Uncertain Titles.
1. Flight deck, right for’ard, and not on either of the decks strictly speaking, since it’s in the nose of the craft in what amounts to a transparent dome. The pilot’s command seat is, essentially, centered exactly on the fore-to-aft drive axis. Openings above and below provide access to both decks.
2. The common area, on the upper deck, ending in the for’ard upper level module access. Includes two stacked crew pods (a) to port, for the crew to sleep; a smart-table (b) for miscellaneous work, administration, and recreation purposes, and (c) a galley and fab unit to starboard…
3. …for’ard of the ‘fresher.
4. Most of the lower deck is a single compartment, which includes avionics equipment and canned life support (to starboard) and racked stowage space (to port), although most of the port side is taken up by…
5. …the airlock, an unusual three-door design that doubles as the for’ard lower level module access as well as the boarding airlock and an airlock providing convenient access to the module volume when no module is installed.
6. The airlock/aft lower level module access provides access to the engineering hull when no module is installed. It leads into…
7. The engineering section, which is primarily a single large chamber. The upper deck only exists as a catwalk running around the perimeter of the chamber, and the aft upper level module access is a simple spacetight door that cannot be opened when no module is installed. Primarily notable in the engineering section are (a) the vector control core and reaction wheels, (b) the port and starboard auxiliary power reactors, and (c) the robot hotel, with scuttle access to the propulsion bus for external maintenance mechs.
(Note: The Nelyn uses canned life support because it’s basically a local ship; the vast majority of them in use are not in roles that require them to ever venture very far from a source of resupply. Those who’d like to use their Nelyn for a long interplanetary or even interstellar voyage, on the other hand, aren’t left out; they can simply plug in the “accommodation” or “luxury suite” module, say, that by design comes with its own regenerative life support and possibly even hydroponics…)
The diagram to the right is my quick size sketch of the aforementioned Nelyn-class modular cutter (in blue) and the Élyn-class modular microcutter (in green).
As you can see, the Nelyn is the big one, inspired by/a harder version of the Traveller RPG’s modular cutter; an interplanetary craft that’s the workhorse of the Empire; 8 m in diameter, and 48 m long in total; an 8 m main hull at for’ard for the flight crew, the 16 m module space; a 4 m engineering hull for sensitive machinery; and the 16 m propulsion bus at the back. The module space is bridged by three trusses 120 degrees apart, the dorsal one of which is split in the middle and folds back to allow module swapout. And there are lots of different modules for pretty much any purpose you can think of.
The Élyn is the smaller one, only 4 m in diameter and with a 6 m hull (including engines), optionally taking a 6 m cylindrical module in a rear-mount. It’s strictly a local-orbit craft without interplanetary capability (although it is capable of take-off and landing on many planets) – but the reason it’s drawn where it is is that there is a Nelyn module specifically designed as a cradle for the Élyn, letting an entrepreneur with the former make pretty decent money providing a taxi service for the latter on long trips…
The 4 x “Slammer III” dual turreted mass drivers have become 2 x “Slammer III” duals and 8 x “Slammer III” singles, four up front, two in radiator-tip (wingtip) leading-edge mounts, and two rearward-mounted to protect the ship’s kilt;
The aft landing bay door is now dropped and replaced with two side-opening landing bay doors for’ard of the radiators, since the former would have required flying directly through the high-radiation zone of the torch drive and said thermal radiators to use; much easier to fly parallel and dock sideways. This, in turn, has enabled the transformation of the back of the landing bay into dedicated cargo/storage space, with said side doors being in an excellent place for loading when the ship is landed or docked.
And after consideration of the practical height of the landing bay vis-a-vis the size of the Nelyn-class modular cutter, I’m swapping it out for a pair of Élyn-class modular microcutters (a gig-sized craft); if you want a really pretty good visual reference for that, think of it as looking like a rebranded SpaceX Dragon V2, with the cylindrical module in place of the trunk.