Thursday 17 November 2016

An Artificially Managed Society

Software is pervasive in today's world. We listen to what computers have to say, and the results printed on a screen are considered more reliable and consistent than human intuition. Artificial intelligence has started replacing human minds entirely, known as expert systems. If these trends continue, what do we end up with?

Wednesday 9 November 2016

Saturday 29 October 2016

The Hydrogen Steamer: Stealth Spaceship Concept

Further to the Stealth in Space discussion, we found a type of spaceship perfectly suited to moving about the Solar System undetected. It is called the 'Hydrogen Steamer', and relies on using large amounts of liquid hydrogen.
Here is a discussion of the mechanisms involved, the capabilities and potential designs for the Hydrogen Steamer. 

Friday 21 October 2016

How to live on Other Planets: Venus

Venus is our closest neighbour and Earth's 'sister planet', and yet it is very different from our cool blue marble.
We have a look at some of the challenges and advantages of colonizing this planet.

Thursday 13 October 2016

How to live on Other Planets: Mercury

Nuclear war. Collapse of the biosphere. Catastrophic global warming. Space elevators. Whatever the reason, Earth is no longer green and friendly. Many want to live on other planets, and have the resources necessary to go.
So how will life on other planets look like?

Wednesday 5 October 2016

The solution to long range space combat

A short analysis of the challenges the different weapons in realistic SF face when trying to deal damage at long ranges, and a proposed solution.

Space Warship Design IV: Complete Examples

In this post, we'll use the numbers we've put together so far, and the baseline spaceship from the last post, to create three 'complete' space warship designs.

Thursday 1 September 2016

Space Warship Design III: Final Considerations

In this post, we'll look at some final considerations required to complete out baseline warship.

Tuesday 23 August 2016

Space Warship Design II: Guns and Shields

We will continue looking at the vital systems you need to design to complete your space warship.

Sunday 31 July 2016

Space Warship Design: A Process

In these posts, we'll go through the process of designing a space warship from A to Z. We'll start from the initial brainstorming session, and end with multiple models easily derived from our baseline.
Of course, many methods exist. Even if you apply the exact same steps described here, you might end up with a very different result. Nonetheless, please use this as a 'worked example' from which you can build your own method, or simply as inspiration if you find yourself in a tight spot!

Sunday 24 July 2016

You are wrong about nanotechnology

Nanotechnology. The foremost buzzword of the 2000s, holding the promise of a technology that could make anything, with little input other than raw materials. A liquid factory, in a sense. Others saw it as the precursor to the singularity, with resource scarcity becoming a thing of the past.

Let's take a closer look at this mainstay of science fiction.

Friday 15 July 2016

Friday 8 July 2016

A Constellation of Warships

So, you've designed a spaceship to fight your wars in space. It can travel between planets, perform multiple missions and is based on NASA reports and real, hard science. You've estimated your nation's military budget, and come out with a fleet capacity and a number of spaceships.
But then... your glorious collection of spaceships fly out in Napoleonic square formation. Or was it pre-WWI lines of battle? Maybe it's Star-Wars-esque clumps of capital ships with space fighters swarming around them. No, you need the ToughSF approach.

Thursday 23 June 2016

Gun Fusion: Two barrels to the stars

To start a fusion reaction, you have to create extreme conditions. A combination of stellar temperatures, incredible pressures and lightning-quick energy dumps have all been tried to create these conditions, with varying degrees of success.

In this post, we'll look at a low-cost, low-energy method of achieving nuclear fusion. It's not Cold Fusion, it's Gun Fusion.

Friday 17 June 2016

The Nuclear Spear: Casaba Howitzer

When a nuclear technology has been kept classified since the 60s, you know that it is worth looking into. The Casaba Howitzer is one configuration for a nuclear shaped charge, that can concentrate the power of an atom bomb into a narrow cone.
In this post, we'll look at its potential configurations, its advantages and limits, and how it can be applied to both propulsion and warfare.

Saturday 4 June 2016

Saving the planet with alcohol: An Ethanol Energy Economy

In this post, we'll detail how an ethanol economy might arise, its advantages and its effects on the environment and the world economy.

Tuesday 31 May 2016

Why go?

Why aren't we going to space? Where are the fleets of space stations promised in the '50s? Where are the dozens of flights a month the Space Shuttle was designed for? Why has there never been more than 13 people at once in orbit?

In this post, we'll tackle one of the major questions that hard science fiction has to confront, and that is creating a setting with appropriate motivation for going into space.

Friday 20 May 2016

Battleships of the Future

Naval warfare has been defined by transitions, all triggered by major advances in technology. Steam power, radar, aircraft... all have led to drastic changes. Today, we are on the verge of another such transition. 

Wednesday 13 April 2016

LWW: Laser Weapon Web

For those who have read the previous few posts, you'll find many arguments and solutions to reducing the effectiveness of lasers. Un-fun by design, they allow for combat at extreme ranges, where manoeuvring becomes insignificant and combat nothing more than a slug-fest.... but what's the logical extreme?

Friday 1 April 2016

Stealth in Space is Possible IV

Stealth in space is possible... but it will not resemble our conventional understanding of it.

We will now consider all elements discussed in previous parts of this series to paint a general picture of how stealth would be applied in a plausible setting.

Monday 28 March 2016

Stealth in Space is Possible III

In this part, we discuss active sensors and defenses against them. We'll then move onto discussing what do with the lowered detectability achieved by the various methods described so far, and how stealth affects various elements of the setting and vice versa. 

Thursday 24 March 2016

Stealth in Space is Possible II

We'll continue looking at the various methods commonly proposed for stealth in space, then start looking into effective solutions.

Wednesday 23 March 2016

Stealth in Space is Possible

The first thing an aspiring scifi fan looking into the harder end of the spectrum is told is: No Stealth In Space. They're still high off the latest Star Wars, or vividly remember scenes from Alistair Reynold's Revelation Space or James S.A. Corey's The Expanse, but they're given the choice of giving that up or leaving.
This is ToughSF's answer to that.

Saturday 12 March 2016

The Big List of Propulsion Failures

When writing a science fiction story, often the author will place the characters inside a spaceship heading towards danger or adventure. For dramatic tension, the reactor explodes! The engines explode! The propellant tanks leak... the fuel explodes!
You have created a vast world, written colourful characters and captivating moments, so why the lack imagination when it comes to failure modes? Hopefully, this post will inspire you to rewrite those dramatic moments.

Friday 11 March 2016

Innovating in armor

Representations of spacecraft in fiction usually take one of two forms: an armored block bristling with turrets, or a delicate assembly of struts and solar panels straight out of NASA's blueprints.

In this post, we'll discuss how armor can becomes a component of spacecraft design as varied and interesting as the weapons and engines, and the forms it will take can affect the appearance of a spacecraft.

Tuesday 8 March 2016

The Future of Air War

Aerial combat is a central aspect of modern warfare, and has proven its importance from the Doolittle raid of 1942 to the latest 6th generation fighter unveiled by Russia.
However, this is poised to change as new technologies enter the battlefield. It will have to adapt or be phased out like the battleships. In this series of posts, we'll lay down the foundations and concepts you will need to grasp so that you too can plausibly predict the future of air war.

Friday 4 March 2016

Electric Cannons and Kinetic Impactors II

In this post, we go through a list of options for the sci-fi writer or worldbuilder to make electric cannons as useful, if not more so, than other weapon systems. 
Both advantages, disadvantages and predicted consequences will be looked at.

Thursday 3 March 2016

Electric Cannons and Kinetic Impactors

One staple of the science fiction armoury is the railgun. Spinal-mounted or in turrets, it has adorned spaceships from Halo to the Honorverse. However, there are strong arguments against their use in 'hard' sf, such as their relatively low muzzle velocity and large mass penalty.
Here's how you keep your guns.

Wednesday 2 March 2016

The Laser Problem III

We've seen the effects laser weapons have on space combat, and the consequences of deriving laser power from rocket engine power output. As promised, in this post, we'll go through a few solutions authors and game designers have to avoid cornering themselves into unfun combat systems.

The Laser Problem II

If you strip down any combat system in any setting, you'll find a system of choices.
What choices do you have an a realistic scifi setting?

Tuesday 1 March 2016

The Laser Problem

One of the most important decisions to be made during worldbuilding is choosing the pace of the events to unfold. This is usually the frequency of major events, modified by the focal point of the narration (an individual, a group, a government or a civilization as a whole). 

In science fiction, the frequency of 'major events' generally has an upper limit, that is how long it takes for the characters to travel to another location. 

Saturday 27 February 2016

What is Tough Science Fiction?

Any science fiction enthusiast has faced multitudes of worlds, built for games, movies or stories, that fall apart the moment you take a closer look at them. 
They might be your favourite worlds: Star Wars, Halo, or lately, The Expanse, so this isn't necessarily a bad thing. However, they force the audience to suspend disbelief more than they should, creating an extra level of difficulty when it comes to hooking them in.