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Old 04-30-2021, 10:32 AM   #1
Tiger
 
Join Date: Apr 2021
Default Hard Sources for Space Warfare

I'm always looking for science fiction resources with good science behind them, and not just physics - economics and military science are much harder to find and probably more important from a believability standpoint. Over the years I've accumulated some resources and figured I'd list them here and see if anyone else has resources to add.

The biggest is Atomic Rockets (which includes vital and often overlooked considerations such as 'does space war, being satellites and missiles, even make military sense?' and 'what do portable fusion generators say about your economy?'). This site and its manager (the brilliant Winchell Chung of OGRE fame) are probably familiar to most of you interested in GURPS and science fiction. Particularly useful to me are his collections of realistic designs for spacecraft and the page on 'Building a Space Navy' based on the world of Weuve and David Weber.

military-sf.com is a useful website, though its formatting is decaying and the author seems focused on the e-book sources he's written, elaborating on the contents of the site.

I also have a handful of books I've found useful.

An Illustrated Guide to Space Warfare is a bit Zeerust but this point but includes designs for plausible exoterran military weapons.

Deep Space Warfare by John C. Wright is o fairly recent and it's nice because most older (serious) analysis was based on 60s technology and NEO/Lunar space. This book instead covers deep space defense and military issues. I believe Wright is also a novelist, if I'm not confusing him with someone else.

Space Warfare and Defense: A Historical and Research Guide which covers nuts and bolts considerations of the USA in it's approach to militarizing space.

Space Warfare in the 21st Century: Arming the Heavens by Joan Johnson-Freese, which covers interesting issues like avoiding space war and government in space.

Space Warfare: Strategy, Principles and Policy by John J. Klein covers what it says, delving more into core strategic issues and political approaches to them.

The Strategy of Technology by Pournelle & some other guys I've never heard of, covers mainly technological approaches to warfare, space or elsewhere.

Also useful to me are The Science of War by Michael O'Hanlon, which covers theory of military budgeting and force composition, it pairs well with the Weuve method of designing a space Navy.

One weakness of almost all of these is that the political and military model they're working from are modern nation-states and cold war empires. According to some, like William S. Lind (Fourth Generation Warfare) and Martin Van Creveld (The Rise and a Decline of the State) cast serious doubts on whether this is even accurate to today, much less a society far into the future with radically different economic, demographic, astrographic and technological inputs. The USA is not Rome in America, and it's doubtful any space empires will be the USA or UN in spaaace. The Holy Roman Empire or Renaissance Italy are possibly more apt to widely dispersed, low population arcologies which all possess the equivalent of thermonuclear weapons on their vehicles. In fact, I find it highly unlikely that such widely separated communities would have any sort of overarching state unless they were tiny outposts of an Earth superpower. Tribalism is real and humans who have no social contacted and generations of separate development just don't give well with the centralized cultures and politics of an Arthur C. Clarke future.

The Military Strategy of Small States can give some insight into a space strategic scenario that departs from the United Earth situation. Likewise any number of books on mercenaries and non-state militias (such as Hezbollah) might be more informative on the considerations of isolated arcologies than most theory that's written for a government with dozes of nuclear aircraft carriers. The objectives, resources and so forth very so much among different societies and projecting current day (actually, more like Cold War) notionsbof security and strategy is likely to be misleading and somewhat incredible (Keegan often commits this error in reverse, ascribing Vitnam-era psychology to ancient melee warfare, a dubious proposition at best).
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Old 04-30-2021, 11:07 AM   #2
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Default Re: Hard Sources for Space Warfare

Take a look at The Hot Equations, which can be found at https://www.adastragames.com/products/the-hot-equations. I believe it won a Hugo Award some years ago for best work of nonfiction of its year.
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Old 04-30-2021, 11:13 AM   #3
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Default Re: Hard Sources for Space Warfare

Multiple of the people mentioned used to be active on the sfconsim-l mailing list, but not sure if it has any findable archives any more.
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Old 04-30-2021, 04:11 PM   #4
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Default Re: Hard Sources for Space Warfare

sfconsim-l is still active on groups.io, but I don't know how much of the archives were brought over when Yahoo groups went away.

Children of a Dead Earth is an interesting attempt at realistic depictions of space combat. It overlaps with Ken Burns' and Chris Weuve's work to a certain extent.
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Old 05-04-2021, 07:48 PM   #5
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Default Re: Hard Sources for Space Warfare

Probably the hardest take on space warfare I've seen in any games is in Albedo's Ship Sourcebook (which is now on DTRPG) - the only real break from reality in it is high efficiency fusion... the battle is essentially a done deal before the first shot is fired.

Why? Because it's all going to be computer controlled, pre-marked, and human input isn't going to be fast enough to matter in the (usually) single pass battle of two high (but limited) delta-V fleets using KKMs. (Albedo is roughly Traveller TL 10 ish, which, IIRC, is GURPS TL 9-ish.)

SpaceTime (BTRC) comes to much the same conclusion, but without the player input ahead of time, and brushes it under the carpet, after describing the passenger's view of it.

There are also several excellent episodes of Isaac Arthur's podcast about aspects of space warfare at significantly higher tech levels. Some of which got to Kardashev 2+...


Probably the single most important element of space warfare for any kind of high tech culture is that warfare is more about ego and identity than need for resources. There's just too much out there to make use of. A point that Isaac makes several times.
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Old 05-04-2021, 08:59 PM   #6
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Default Re: Hard Sources for Space Warfare

A lot of the problem with space warfare in games and novels is that it turns out that, under all reasonably plausible tech assumptions, combat between spaceships is tactically uninteresting.
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Old 05-05-2021, 10:41 AM   #7
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Default Re: Hard Sources for Space Warfare

Quote:
Originally Posted by ak_aramis View Post
Probably the single most important element of space warfare for any kind of high tech culture is that warfare is more about ego and identity than need for resources. There's just too much out there to make use of. A point that Isaac makes several times.
That sounds as if it may reflect presentist biases. W.S. Jevons showed in the 19th century that as steam engines became more efficient, so that it took less coal to produce power, the use of power increased more than in proportion, so the total consumption of coal rose. That same kind of thing has happened with other technologies; I've seen it discussed for illumination, for example. The fact that we now use such small enough amounts of palladium or yttrium that one metallic asteroid could supply more than we can imagine using doesn't say anything about how much a spacegoing civilization might find uses for.
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Old 05-05-2021, 10:56 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
That sounds as if it may reflect presentist biases.
The problem you run into for any realistic interstellar travel is that there are basically zero resources where it's more efficient to go somewhere else, take resources, and bring them back, rather than just synthesizing it locally.
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Old 05-06-2021, 04:33 PM   #9
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The problem you run into for any realistic interstellar travel is that there are basically zero resources where it's more efficient to go somewhere else, take resources, and bring them back, rather than just synthesizing it locally.
It sounds as if you have just said that a space-traveling civilization has NO resources, whereas ak_aramis said that a space-traveling civilization has such unlimited resources that there's no point in fighting over anything. I don't see how both can be true. But perhaps I've failed to parse your sentence correctly; I'm not at all sure that I know what it's supposed to say. Can you restate?
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Old 05-06-2021, 04:45 PM   #10
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Default Re: Hard Sources for Space Warfare

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
It sounds as if you have just said that a space-traveling civilization has NO resources, whereas ak_aramis said that a space-traveling civilization has such unlimited resources that there's no point in fighting over anything. I don't see how both can be true. But perhaps I've failed to parse your sentence correctly; I'm not at all sure that I know what it's supposed to say. Can you restate?
I may have been making a different point. The basic problem is that the cost of transporting things from one solar system to another is so high that it's almost always more efficient to produce them locally; there's not that much room for even interstellar trade (other than in information) let alone capturing resources to bring back. You could still get warfare in the form of "I wish to conquer your stellar system" or more accurately "I wish to colonize your stellar system and you aren't strong enough to stop me", because doing it practically likely means a power mismatch on the scale of a Kardashev II civilization against the modern Earth.
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