Cover Art!

It is now, at last, time for the cover art for The Core War and Other Stories to be revealed (click through to see full-size version):

The Core War and Other Stories

Beautiful, isn’t it? Now, click through here for more on the artist’s site.

Art credits:

Drake-class frigate illustrated by William Black more of whose brilliant work can be seen here: .

Drake-class crest by Zeynep Dilli.

Background image of the Carina Nebula:

Credit for Hubble Image: NASA, ESA, N. Smith (University of California, Berkeley), and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA).
Credit for CTIO Image: N. Smith (University of California, Berkeley) and NOAO/AURA/NSF.

Drake-class Frigate: Post-Hoc Modifications

Because despite this and this, there are always a few modifications once you actually start beating brass and doing detail work:

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.

Drake Stories: And Then You Have To Repaint That Section

“I once asked a Drake captain if he was worried about hostile boardings when on the ground. You know, because none of the main guns can range on the area in front of the landing bay doors, and it doesn’t have a security turret? So he handed me some binoculars, pointed me at his ship – this was at a goodwill airshow – and said that at least two of the point-defense grid emitters had each bay door covered, look? I didn’t think that was very practical, and I told him so.

“He just laughed and said that even with the smallest trickle-current the accumulators could push through a starship laser, anything made of flesh trying to board without asking couldn’t help but be set on fire… and exploded.”

– Ven Tar Villis, shipspotter

Drake-class Frigate: Spec Sheet

Here, have a spec sheet… (certain items omitted pending further detail work).


Operated by: Empire of the Star & client-states (export model only).
Type: Frigate, General Operations
Construction: Cilmínar Spaceworks

Length: 370m (primary hull 170m, engineering bus 200m)
Beam: [xxxxx]
Loaded mass: [xxxxx]

Gravity-well capable: Yes.
Yes, with limits.

Personnel: 39, as follows:

Flight Commander
Flight Executive
Flight Administrator
3 x Sailing Master, most senior serving as Flight Director
3 x Tactical / Payload Officer
3 x Astrogator / Relativistics / Sensory Operations Officer
Flight Engineer
Propulsion / Power Engineer
Thermal Systems Engineer
3 x Data Operations / Data Systems Engineer
3 x Life Support / Auxiliary Systems Engineer
12 x general techs
6 x espatiers (cross-trained in starship operations)

Thinker-class AI

Drive: Nucleodyne Thrust Applications 4×1 “Sunheart V” fusion torch, with antiproton afterburner option
Propellant: Deuterium/helium-3 blend
Cruising (sustainable) thrust: 9.4 standard gravities (8.8 Earth G)
Peak (unsustainable) thrust: 11.8 standard gravities (11.1 Earth G)
Delta-v reserve: [xxxxx]
Maximum velocity: 0.3 c (based on particle shielding)


8 x “Targe VI” point-defense supplementary drones, Artifice Armaments
4 x “Corax” tactical observation platforms, Sy Astronautic Engineering Collective


1 x standard navigational sensor suite, Cilmínar Spaceworks
6 x [classified] enhanced passive tactical sensory suite, Sy Astronautic Engineering Collective


2400/1200 mm custom axial mass driver, Artifice Armaments
4 x “Slammer III” dual turreted light mass driver, Artifice Armaments
“Eyewall” point-defense laser grid, Artifice Armaments

Other Systems:

Artifice Armaments cyclic kinetic barrier system
Biogenesis Technologies Mark VII regenerative life support
5 x Bright Shadow EC-1140 information furnace data systems
Islien Yards 3-DD vector-control core and associated technologies
Systemic Integrated Technologies high-capacity thermal sinks and dual-mode radiator system
4 x modular swapout bays

Small craft:

1 x Nelyn-class modular cutter (with optional additional fuel skimmer module)
2 x Adhaïc-class workpod

Ships in class (partial list):

CS Bloodclaw
CS Drake
CS Flamefang
CS Razorwing
CS Shadowstrike

Drake-class Questions

James Sterrett asks:

I gather that storage of consumables for the crew is in the external tankage, on the theory that a penetrating strike is a kill and thus there’s no point protecting stuff for survivors to use to survive/repair the ship?

Well, all the tankage is under the armor (except in the case of up-the-kilt shots), but most of the non-fuel non-heatsink tankage is between the crewed area and the hull, yes. On the other hand, it’s designed in much the same way as I gather some Russian submarines (the Typhoon-class, for one, IIRC) handle it; lots of smaller tanks, heavily subdivided. The theory being that a single penetrating strike may take out some of them, but it’s extremely unlikely to take out all of them, and indeed not much is short of battering the entire ship into a hulk and leaving no hull intact.

What are the limits on the ability of the frigate to recycle stuff? What’s the general cruise duration & actual maximum limit?

The recycling is very efficient for life-support purposes. I haven’t run detailed numbers, but a safe assumption is that you’ll run out of less depletable non-recyclables (ammunition, spare parts/specialized fabber feedstock, crew endurance, etc.) long before running into a problem with life-support consumables. Especially since most things you’re likely to deplete life-support-wise, even through leaks, can be renewed by pulling up alongside the nearest convenient iceteroid, hauling it in, chopping it up, and having your crew shovel the resulting slush into the gray-water system.

In terms of non-recyclable parts, a Drake follows the IN policy of being nominally stocked for a year’s cruising before needing replenishment. In practice, policy is to keep cruise duration between three and six months in space, depending on mission requirements, mostly for crew efficiency reasons, although that’s something that can be extended during time of war or other emergency. (That, though, is likely to require refueling from fuel stations or oilers along the way; and with oilers available to provide logistical support, theoretically, one could stay on station in space continuously – at least until suffering structural damage serious enough to need yard repair. The effects on crew morale would probably not be pretty, though.)

How much time does one of these spent in maintenance – is it a 3-for-1 rotation, where one is in dock refitting, one is working up for deployment with its crew, and one is deployed; or are matters such as refitting and crew training accelerated by high tech capabilities?

.The high-tech capabilities help: with good AI and lots of robotics, including nanotech self-repair capabilities, they have been able to cut down a lot on maintenance and time spent in the yards for that. On the other hand, while high tech does speed up crew training in some respects (tachydidactics, mnemonesis, etc., making it easy to absorb lots of raw data), there’s both a lot more of it to absorb than there has been before, and there’s a distinct limit to how much you can speed up simulations.

My subject-to-some-possible-revision current view is that they try to keep up a 2-for-1 rotation, one deployed and one in dock refitting and training, made possible mostly by the reduced maintenance burden; and that while deployed, the crew spend a lot of off-time in additional training and keeping current with simulations. But this may change once I find time to spend more time on the IN’s inner workings.

Please Stand Clear And Gape In Awe

“They’re not aerodynamic, you know. Landing a Drake on a respectably-sized planet is not what you might call an elegant operation. It involves aerobraking hard to shed most of her velocity, flipping her around once you’ve lost enough of it and balancing her down on her tail with the main drives, then finishing off with a rather graceless belly-flop once you’ve achieved zero velocity at zero altitude.”

“The next item on the checklist customarily involves a sigh of relief, a shot of whiskey, and a change of pants.”

– Sailing Master Lt. Galenyi “Scorcher” Janaris-ith-Janaris,
Imperial Navy