The Norman Transcript

Entertainment

October 2, 2012

Foreign Policy: Battlestar Galactica got space warfare right. Finally.

(Continued)

Q: How do these different space warfare models differ from their oceanic counterparts?

A: Science fiction authors and moviemakers tend to gravitate towards historical models they -- and their audience -- understand. So, sometimes you end up with "submarines in space" -- but a submarine is a vessel designed to hide under the water, which obscures your vision and forces you to use capricious sensors like sonar. Space, on the other hand, is wide open, and any ship putting out enough heat to keep its crew alive stands out from the background, if you have enough time to look. Other times we get "dreadnoughts in space," with gunnery duels like Jutland -- but again, hiding is hard, so this battle should take place at extreme range. Or you get "airplanes in space," which largely ignores that airplanes work in the real world because they take advantage of the fact that air and sea have different attributes.

All of these models are fun, and some work better than others, but they all present space combat in a way that doesn't really fit with the salient attributes of space. And lest I get a thousand emails from people who say I don't understand how combat in their favorite universe works -- yes, I do. My answers are necessarily approximations for this interview. Someday I should write a book.

Q: So how would actual space war differ from naval warfare?

A: That's hard to say, since we haven't seen space warfare of the type we see in science fiction, and the results are very dependent on technological assumptions. But let me turn that question sideways: what are the salient features of naval warfare, and do these match up?

You can sum up the difference with the "two media and three Hs." The two media are the air and the water. Submarines operate in the water. Ships operate on the water. And aircraft operate in the air, though the limitations of the air dictate that aircraft can't stay there very long, and must land either ashore or at sea to rest and replenish. This is self- evident, but naval combat is defined by these simple truths.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Entertainment
  • Steve Boaz.jpg Breathing Rhythm Studio a center for creativity

    Recording engineer Steve Boaz has brought his musical ambitions to fulfillment in a downtown Norman studio.

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • BSB4.jpg Backstreet Boys transforming into real band

    After the 21 years together, the Backstreet Boys still haven’t shaken the label of ‘boy band.’ Despite the fact they have kids, bills and a sorted past, most of America still sees them as the kids that burst onto the scene in 1995.

    June 8, 2014 2 Photos

  • Rihanna Rihanna heats up the stage in Oklahoma City

    When Rihanna and her Diamonds World tour came to Oklahoma City Tuesday, it was a cold and blustery evening. It was the first signs of winter this year in the state.

    November 15, 2013 1 Photo

  • Beyonce energy overtakes Oklahoma City fans

    Most performers know how to put on a show. The good ones even know how to put on a concert.
    Then there are the special few who know how to make their time in front of their fans an experience.

    July 6, 2013

  • New Kids on The Block delight Oklahoma fans

    It was billed as “The Package.” A concert that featured three separate tours of boy bands from the ‘80s and ‘90s was folded into one package deal.

    July 1, 2013

  • image_preview.cgi.jpg Roger Moore's Bond had serious fun

    "I never do this," David Horowitz, a public relations executive for ABC, said as he picked up British actor Roger Moore at Kennedy Airport. "Can I have your autograph for my son?" It was 1986, and Moore was in New York City to do some publicity for the network. A year earlier, he had starred, at age 58, in "A View to a Kill."

    October 8, 2012 1 Photo

  • Foreign Policy: Battlestar Galactica got space warfare right. Finally.

    Last month, Small Wars Journal managing editor Robert Haddick asked whether new technology has rendered aircraft carriers obsolete. Well, not everyone thinks so, especially in science-fiction, where "flat tops" still rule in TV shows like "Battlestar Galactica."

    October 2, 2012

  • Eighth-grade NPS musicians to perform

    Norman Public Schools will present its 8th Grade Orchestra Festival at 7:00 p.m. Thursday at Nancy O’Brian Center for the performing arts.

    September 25, 2012

  • summer jam Turn Down The Heat Tour closes out the Summer

    Ken Talton wants it to be a giant date night. One in which people will get dressed up for a night on the town and enjoy some good music from the past and today.
    That is the premise behind Summer Jam Music Fest III’s “Turn Down The Heat Tour.”

    September 21, 2012 1 Photo

  • A guide to the movies

    OPENING IN HOLLYWOOD THIS WEEK

    June 20, 2012