on Oct 4, 2006
One thing about this that really kills the drama of space warfare is that fact that even if we had energy shields and phazor-beams and neutronium rays and quantum torpeoes and whatever other ridiculous gibberish space heroes use to battle space villians, people still wouldn’t fight in space because there is just no reason to do so.
We would need some sort of resources to fight over. The other planets in our solar system are worthless from a strategic standpoint. What if some rogue nation launched fleet and declared that they owned all of the space from here to Jupiter? Meh. Who cares? If they claimed Venus, what would we do? Fine, it’s all yours. We won’t intrude on your space. Have fun funding the forces to patrol it. For no reason. Humans aren’t any more likely to fight over space than they are to fight over Antarctica. Less, in fact, since fighting in space would require all new technologies and tools and would be preposterously expensive.
(And of course, claiming planets is pointless. I never understood why Star Trek portrayed the bulk of Earth’s defense as being positioned on Mars. That’s only useful if Earth and Mars happen to be on the same side of the Sun, and the bad guys go to the extra trouble of passing by Mars on the way in, instead of entering at some other angle. In defense of Starfleet, the bad guys do exactly this. They always blast their way past Mars Defense on the way in to Earth. Very sporting of them, really.)
Personally I think we should take the Starcraft route: First we build huge orbital platforms. Then we load up the platforms with valuable resources. Presto! Now we have something over which we might wage war. Then we can build fleets and fight over the resources on the platforms. It’s a bit of a hack, and it is still unclear who would restock the platforms after each battle, but it might get the ball rolling. Perhaps the UN would be willing to do the restocking.
It’s either that or wait for aliens to invade. I’m beginning to worry that I might not get to pilot a spacefighter or even a mech before I die.
Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.