Sunday, March 02, 2008

Why it's Stupid to build a Death Star


I'd like to take a moment to point out something very obvious to all those Hollywood screenwriters, producers and directors and science fiction writers who are reading my blog.
I know it's tempting to build a death star. I know that blowing up a whole planet with a rogue wormhole sounds like fun. I know that planet smashers, giant death rays and multi trillion mega giga maxiton warheads that smash planets to bits are both attractive ideas and fun ways to consider getting your blowing up shit freak on, things that make you hard and squirmy and make your pants tight and your palms warm from being rubbed together.
But please, for a moment, just consider throwing a rock. Or even dropping it, or nudging it. A really, really big rock. That's all it takes.
It's simple, elegant, and while it may harsh out the current planetary ecology, it leaves you with a nice livable planet in a few thousand to hundred years, doesn't take much energy, and usually there's plenty of big rocks to be found in most planetary systems.
You could even make a giant global sauna by picking an asteroid that is mostly water and skimming it in so most of it breaks up on the way, or have some fun sitting back and watching volcanoes and tsunamis by dropping various size rocks that are mostly iron. Drop one on the Yellowstone Super Caldera and watch it blow most of the central USA into two feet of ash!
But I think blowing up a wh0le planet just seems dumb, a waste of rare and handy biosphere and usable space. Not only that, you have to outrun the big chunks, and risk taking a chunk of San Francisco up your tailpipe.
So instead of building huge death stars, making giant fusion bombs, building whole giant motherships that take a whole small sun's worth of energy to use, just swing by a nice big asteroid on the way through a solar system, push it at the planet of your choice, then go have a nice lunch on some pleasure pit/space station in another quadrant, then come back. Whoosh, boom, done!
Might not be as much fun or as lucrative as having contractor buddies build you a mega death star or weapon, but it's a lot like what you'd see when human children are beating frogs with rocks and sticks.
You could even just go park on the moon and set up a rail gun/linear accelerator and fling smaller rocks, and watch human cities go poof!
But really, this whole blowing up planets thing is getting old, and it's a big waste of time and energy. Try kinetic weapons, mass drivers, rock dropping. I think you'll like it!

2 comments:

Jesse said...

For your consideration:

Most planets have moons, why not crash a moon into the planet? Most likely the scientists on said planet won't even see it coming. If you send an asteroid that is a million miles out they will see it coming and have a chance to shoot it down. In the case of a moon, just hanging out there in the heavens, it is like, "oh shit, the moon is falling."

Pyromancer said...

I like your thinking. I guess you've read Niven's "Footfall" at some stage? Never made it to the end, the actual story wasn't gripping enough, but the kenetic weapon concept there was a good one.

"Sometimes a scream is better than a thesis." Ralph Waldo Emerson