Trope-a-Day: Jet Pack

Jet Pack: They exist. Mostly used in conjunction with combat exoskeletons or their civilian industrial counterparts, to avoid the, uh, Toasted Buns problem, and also the need for a fairly elaborate harness to avoid a painful and undignified jet-wedgie. (While obviously avoidable with a larger framework that keeps the jets further outboard, that’s about as clunky to maneuver in as a whole exoskeleton anyway.)

The exception to the above rule are the ones commonly used to aid maneuvering in microgravity, which are rather smaller and even implantable into the body, for that matter – but that’s because they use simpler, less-high-thrust-because-no-gravity technologies like cold-gas nitrogen jets and ducted fans, and so will not hurt you.

And, of course, without any of this you can always Spider-Man it up with your vector-control effectors, tractor beams obeying Newton’s Third Law, and all.

Trope-a-Day: Sticks to the Back

Sticks to the Back: Both possible, and done, with tiny vector-control emitters sewn into the clothing that can grasp objects you place on top of them and hold them in place against the emitters, or even at a designated range from them.  And, obviously, anywhere, not just the back, including – if you care to be quite gratuitous about it – orbiting around you.  (It should be noted that these are generally double-ended – the emitter grips you at one end and the object at the other, such that it doesn’t strangle you with your own shirt.)

Of course, it’s still usually considered unnecessarily showy much of the time, and they do introduce a dependency on your clothing’s power supply continuing to work, something that holsters, pouches and pockets by and large do not.


Trope-a-Day: Mind Over Matter

Mind Over Matter: The eldrae, and various other transsophonts, play this absolutely straight, with the usual laundry list of clever applications for psychokinesis.  Of course, being a “firm SF” universe, it’s not any kind of Psychic Power – it’s implanted nanosome vector-control effectors.

On the one hand, this does let you take the psychokinesis up to eleven, uprooting buildings and throwing aircraft.  On the other hand, it makes it easy to spot and to deal with the person doing so, because of the city block-sized mass of much bigger effectors and generators they need to have following them, slaved to their personal systems, to pull those tricks off.

Trope-a-Day: Spider Tank

Spider Tank: The classic eight-legged war walker is mostly averted these days, thanks to vector control and modern power reactors letting you build hovering tanks, with rather lower maintenance requirements and fewer vulnerable joints, but it was quite the staple back in the day.  (Not to replace regular tanks, which had large maintenance and vulnerability advantages where the terrain suited them, I hasten to add, but to operate in places where regular tanks couldn’t go.)

And their smaller cousins are still around, as fighting drones, which usually come in swarms of little spidery drones, all fully equipped for wall-climbing, cable-spinning, and duct-navigating.

Trope-a-Day: Magical Gesture

Magical Gesture: Sometimes, especially when the mechanical psychokinesis is invoked; for one thing, it’s useful as a concentration-aid in training.  But, like we said back in Invocation, it’s entirely unnecessary for the thing to work (the neuron-implanted nanopicosomes are reading your mind directly, so you think things, and they happen).  It’s just done to look cool.

(And, okay, maybe to lure some dumb enemies who haven’t read the book to think that they’re necessary, and that binding them hand and foot is enough to prevent you from crushing their trachea with a thought.  Maybe.  But it’s still mostly about looking cool.)

Trope-a-Day: Made of Indestructium

Made of Indestructium: … alas, the universe is hard on indestructium.

About as close as nature gets is probably neutronium – and whatever even more degenerate forms of quark matter, etc., you can get beyond it. Sadly for engineers everywhere, neutronium is rather hard to work at the best of times, behaving essentially like a fluid, and having a really nasty habit of evaporating in a giant whuff of neutron radiation the moment you remove it from the deep, deep gravity well necessary to make the stuff. Metastable neutronium would be nice, and there are people working on that…

In somewhat more practical terms, muon metals, which is what you get when you strip all the electrons out of metal and replace them with muons, their leptonic cousins. Since muons have the same charge as the electron but greater mass, they have much smaller ground-state waveforms than electrons in the atoms thus formed, resulting in matter than has similar chemistry – albeit rather more endothermic – to the original, but whose density and physical properties in re energy-resistance are pushed way, way, way up as the atomic spacing shrinks way down. It would make good armor, if the mass penalty wasn’t, inevitably, quite so harsh. On the other hand, it’s one of the things that makes torch drives practical (being so incredibly refractory, and thus letting you push the drive output/waste heat/resulting radiation rather further than you otherwise could), and also is invaluable to coat lighthugger wake shields with, being able to easily shrug off the sort of dust-particle impacts you get when plowing through interstellar space at 0.9c.

But neither of these is actual indestructium, ’cause, well, antimatter. Neutronium and antineutronium will annihilate quite nicely, and while regular antimatter isn’t quite as corrosive to muon matter as it is to everything else – an antimuon is not a positron – the proton-antiproton annihilation will proceed as normal and will make the whole thing come apart just fine.

Alas, indestructium, we barely knew ye.

(There’s also singularity-locking, the handwavium I promised to explain last time. That’s actually a simple reuse of existing handwavium – vector control – in this case being used to grab and redirect, while conserving, the momentum of things that would otherwise impact the surface of the singularity-locked thing into a giant kinetic energy sink.

The reason it’s called singularity-locking is because the sort of giant kinetic energy sink you want for this is a modestly-sized black hole. This is why stargates use it, because they already have a modestly-sized entangled kernel sitting in there to make their primary function work, so you might as well get the extra use out of it. It’s also why nothing else does, because if you think muon metals have a harsh mass penalty, they’ve got nothing on dragging millions of tons of hole around with you to make your armor work. A mass ratio of what, again?

[Also, people – with fairly good reason – don’t exactly want one in their back yard anyway, on general principles.]

Sadly, this isn’t pure-quill indestructium either, technically – while it would require a ridiculous amount of energy, it is theoretically possible to overload either the singularity-locking systems or the K-sink itself, and boom. Fortunately, it would be so much boom that so far no-one’s seemed inclined to hit a stargate with a small moon and see what happens…)


Have a not-my-fiction recommendation:

…momentum transfer at a distance: nice trick if you can do it. Just ask any ontotechnologist who’s trying to expand the reach of vector control. Although, Eldraeverse-wise, (spoiler) rira vs lbh pbhyq svther bhg ubj gb qb gung gevpx jvgu irpgbe pbageby, vgf hanibvqnoyr pbafreingvba-ynj pbzcyvnapr jbhyq zrna lbh jerpxrq fbzr cresrpgyl tbbq genvaf va gur cebprff.