Personally, I prefer when the author lays down basic rules about what
is fictional and what is based on reality. Larry Niven's The Integral
Trees and The Smoke Ring provide good examples. The fiction of the
books is a ring of breathable air orbiting a neutron star in a binary
system. The science is when Niven then sets about creating a world
that follows the laws of nature, but fit in with the fictional element
(giant double ended trees, people who have grown extremely tall,
transportation between settlements using kites and strong tidal
winds). The novel comes when he builds a story IN this world, rather
than ABOUT it. Of course, it doesn't have to go that far. In the
Battletech universe, mechs are powered by fusion reactors. The heat
these reactors generate is often an important part of battle.
I've never been particularly interested in any of the Warhammer games.
My only opinion of them is that the miniatures look cool. However,
modern day computer games tend to look much better, are usually faster
and easier to play (the computer does all book keeping for you), and
provide more accurate simulation of small scale military actions. Of
course, I prefer RC models over computers, because that's based in the
new warship combat video:
--- In Sci-Fi_Armor@yahoogroups.com
, "surprisemove" <meieimatai@...>
> Hi Dan,
> I will quote Wikipedia that "Science fantasy is a mixed genre of
> story which contains some science fiction and some fantasy elements.
> Both genres, especially fantasy, are themselves poorly defined;
> science fantasy is therefore even more elusive of definition."
> continuing with...
> "Correspondence to scientific knowledge
> One definition offered by Rod Serling is that "science fiction makes
> the implausible possible, while science fantasy makes the impossible
> plausible." The meaning is that science fiction describes unlikely
> things that might take place in the real world under certain
> conditions, while science fantasy gives a veneer of realism to things
> that simply couldn't happen in the real world under any circumstances.
> One problem with this definition is that it depends, not so much upon
> what the real world actually is like (human knowledge of what is
> possible being at best an approximation) but upon local and temporary
> conceptions of what the real world is like.
> According to this definition, H.G. Wells's The World Set Free
> was "science fantasy" in 1913, because it described a technology not
> known to be possible at the time, but by the 1930s, when atomic
> fission could be contemplated, it had become science fiction. On the
> other side of the coin, under this definition, much early "science
> fiction" like Jules Verne's, intended to be plausible extrapolations
> of existing technologies when written, might now be
> considered "science fantasy" on the basis of its impossibility: the
> cannon that launched the Columbiad in Verne's From the Earth to the
> Moon is now known to be certainly unfeasible in theory as well as
> fact. However, it is presented with the utmost (pseudo-)scientific
> seriousness: there is nothing fantastic about the cannon at all.
> Another problem is that using this definition, a good deal more than
> half of all stories published as "science fiction" would ultimately
> be classifiable as science fantasy, for employing little more than
> handwaving for scientifically implausible features such as faster-
> than-light travel, time travel, and paranormal powers like telepathy."
> As I find out more about the orcs/orks, I realise how badly thought
> through the concepts in WH40K are. Where WHF is pure fantasy loosely
> attempting to capitalize on Tolkien, WH40K attempted to capitalize on
> the WHF! What is they say about "Son of..." movies?
> Before asking a few questions about orks, I give you (in case you are
> unaware of them) the three definitions of "technical" terms, from Ken
> Reasonable scientific accuracy, that is, a minimum of Handwavium,
> Technobabble, and low Unobtanium (however, go to The Tough Guide to
> the Known Galaxy and read the entry "HARD SF".) is dependent on:
> It flat out violates laws of physics. We're waving our hands and
> saying pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. FTL is
> handwavium in its many forms. I tend to hold that all these designs
> that ignore thermodynamics are handwavium, as are force fields and
> gravitic whosimawatchises.
> We can't build a physical example of it, but insofar as we can
> postulate that it can be built at all, the laws of physics say it
> would behave like thus and so. Calculating the range and damage drop
> offs of a laser of a given wavelength, aperture size, input energy
> and conversion efficiency to make a weapon is pretty much unobtainium
> right now. While Handwavium and Technobabble tell you what you CAN
> do, Unobtainium usually tells you what is NOT possible.
> "We've reversed the polarity of the tetryon flow through the main
> deflector dish, and the Borg's shields have dropped, sir." Or, "His
> midichlorians are more powerful than Yoda's!" or "Our spaceship is
> pulled through the aether by the outrage of honest politicians." are
> all examples of technobabble. Technobabble need not be bad, though in
> general it's only noticed when it is done poorly.
> In view of the above, consider creators of orks in the WH40K
> canon...who became uberintelligent on 'magic' mushrooms, but had the
> sentient orks eat all the mushrooms which their sapient creators were
> unable to prevent by either reproducing the mushrooms elsewhere,
> manufacturing the synthetic substance created by the mushrooms, or
> killing off the orks!
> Now consider creation of the orks as "fighters". Wouldn't you create
> the ultimate soldier to be a match for the actual/potential enemy?
> Wouldn't you want to be able to control armies composed of such
> troops? According to the canon no only were the ork creators not
> successful in these simple prerequisites, but they were unable to
> give orks sufficient intelligence to use their own advanced weaponry!
> Of course the obvious questions is why the orks had developed such a
> taste for the 'magic' mushrooms (if it was me I would have made the
> orks genetically incapable of even being close to the mushrooms) and
> why the mushrooms had no effect on the orks?
> Here is another 'gem' of creativity by the WH40K canon creators -
> orks reproduce through spores! If this is true, why not make them
> MUCH larger and longer lived and faster growing? Are they created to
> give the enemy a bit of a break?
> How many spores can a single ork produce, and how often? I couldn't
> find the answer, but fungus reproduction is seasonal, and on large
> scale. Assuming a mushroom-like propagation mechanism, each ork would
> produce (given the much larger size) hundreds of millions of spores.
> The method by which spores are distributed is not by just dropping to
> the ground, but "analogous to someone slowly stretching an elastic
> band and then, the elastic is released so that it returns to its
> original size almost instantaneously. The momentum generated by the
> collapsing water drop (onto the mushroom) is enough to give the spore
> an acceleration of 25,000 times the force of gravity. By comparison
> the NASA Space Shuttle has a maximum acceleration of just a few times
> the force of gravity. The spore loses about 1% of its mass in the
> secretion of the sugars on the apiculus. To continue the rocket
> comparison, the Space Shuttle uses about 50% of its own weight in
> fuel during the first two minutes after launch." Given this rate of
> reproduction, the orks would not only rapidly overpopulate ANY world,
> but would need to engage in cannibalism to sustain themselves. The
> destruction of the planetary ecosystems would change the weather
> patterns (because there would be no Al Gore to stop them and win the
> Golden Ork?), and probably create cyclical cataclysms that would
> destroy the population and any means of survival for the remaining
> populations since the spores would have no viable environment to grow
> in. This means that the orks would not outnumber human population,
> but in fact would experience relatively rapid population growth on
> any given world, followed by a much more rapid decline and
> And there is more - orks can feed on fungi AND meat! The rather large
> stomachs of orks I have seen illustrated suggest that they feed
> almost exclusively on meat, which is how one gets a swollen stomach
> due to the digestive process required to process meat fibres. How
> many fungi would an ork need to satisfy its hunger? I would say a
> very considerable amount given the stomach volume, so where do they
> get so many fungi?
> Then there is the "Orks grow all through their lives" beauty!
> Considering orks live only about 40 years, this means that they will
> continue to build bone and muscle mass for 40 years. Given they are
> already somewhat larger then humans on maturity (which they reach
> much sooner at about 5 years as I understand), by their 40th year an
> ork would (given an average annual growth of 5cm based on human
> adolescent average) reach nearly 4m in height (144 inches). With a
> height like that the group would not need a Waaagh! to spot a strong
> leader, but it (since orks are asexual) would be nearing it's end of
> life at the time! This also happens to be the height of the African
> Savanna Elephant. Now the reason elephants are quadrupeds and not
> bipeds is because they NEED all their limbs to support their 7 ton
> bulk. This is not a question of genetics, but engineering and weight
> distribution. If elephants were bipedal, they would have extreme
> difficulty in moving owing to high centre of gravity (why bipedal
> dinasaurs had large tails, and in fat being tripedal). In fact they
> would be 'pushovers' in the very literal sense of the word!
> However, lets consider a 4m tall 7ton ork warlord. For a start he
> would have to be constantly feeding (as do elephants), and would not
> be able to participate in fighting for very long because of the
> slower metabolism and therefore lower energy available to waste.
> Because of this relative immobility the ork would soon be buried
> under mountains of waste mixed with its own spores! NOW THERE IS A
> PICTURE I WOULD NOT WANT TO PAINT :-)
> What I describe above is simply what happens to fantasy when people
> ask simple scientific questions.
> The reason I stopped at ork language is because the canon is
> completely ridiculous. In order for orks to use runic language and
> speak in the way they are supposed to speak according to WH40K, they
> would need a vastly superior intelligence and an entirely different
> skull and neck structure (what neck?). The problem is that phonetics
> are derived from a physical construct of the species' bone and muscle
> structure, and in orks this is very close to guerrilla. This means
> that IF they could speak English for example, it would be a high
> sounding (almost squeaky) voice with a strongly Arabic pronunciation.
> However considering their temper, it would be spoken the way Japanese
> speak in samurai movies.
> Use of runic writing system would be even less likely because this is
> a system with no punctuation, and with symbols having meaning as well
> as values, and therefore closely resembling Hebrew. The ancient
> Greeks and Romans couldn't master Hebrew (Phoenician) and they
> couldn't master the runic alphabet used by the Celto-Germanian
> tribes, so how would species with ork intelligence do so?
> More related to warfare are the concepts of ork gods Gork and Mork
> which are the gods of Defense and Attack. This is EXTREMELY strange
> because the more often used ork tactics are the raid or ambush, so
> there would need to be at least one god of Surprise!
> Of course best I left to the last - ork currency. Orks apparently use
> their teeth which are regrown in the same manner as those of sharks.
> In my days at university the economics professor would remind us
> constantly that money does not grow on trees, however if it grows on
> orks, is there a difference?
> Now consider orks captured by other orks in battle and having all
> their teeth pulled. How would they eat? Either they would require
> enormous amounts of fungi, or liquefied protein, or even larger
> amounts of vegetable matter. They could swallow chunks of meat (on
> assumption they had access to some or just became temporarily
> cannibalistic), but this would be exhausting and make them vulnerable
> while they are defenceless (why well fed lions seldom attack).
> Now, I am not being critical here, but simply illustrate the sort of
> questions asked in science fiction about extraterrestrial species
> humanity may encounter, and what forms the basis of science fiction,
> as opposed to `science fantasy' while...
> ...having fun with orks :-)