Spaceship Warfare in Movies

Ivan Vanchev

Monday, March 3, 2014

It is a little known fact (i.e., literally no one has known until now) that the original intent behind the conception of this blog was to extract interesting discussions from conversations between the co-authors and present them as a more dynamic form of the classic blog post. What follows is the first in (hopefully) a long and fruitful series of such "conversations" that has been somewhat edited to be more comprehensible to the non-bilingual among our followers. Plamen and I have often discussed the way different sci-fi franchises handle life aboard a spaceship, as there often seem to be inconsistencies, errors, or simply ommissions of details. Below, Plamen brings up a point that sparks a broader discussion on tactics and technology in the BSG universe.

Space Battle

Plamen Ivanov: Another fun topic to post about - spaceship warfare in movies. And why they don't use the FTL to put bombs on the opponent's ship.

Ivan Vanchev: hahah

Plamen Ivanov: I just came up with at least 2 reasons.

  1. FTL engines are obscenely expensive...
  2. the other ship is constantly moving so FTL jumping IN it may be hard to do.

Ivan Vanchev: Although some fantasy universes have ships that block teleporting inship. E.g. Stargate

Plamen Ivanov: Well, yes, that's a good reason, but still - BSG type of FTL.


Ivan Vanchev: Hmm, no reason not to.

Plamen Ivanov: You take a large raptor and FTL it in the middle of the other ship, or, for that matter, anywhere in the ship.

Ivan Vanchev: Indeed.

Plamen Ivanov: There was a scene in which a raptor jumped in close proximity to Galactica and took off some of its plating.

Raptor FTL damage on BSG
If this happens inside, not only will there be a raptor embedded within a part of the base-star, but a region around it becomes majorly twisted. To be honest, BSG didn't have the luxury to use FTLs as weapons...

Ivan Vanchev: Yes, that too.

Plamen Ivanov: ...since they couldn't really make new ones. But they were in some situations in which they lost plenty of raptors and vipers, and pilots...

Ivan Vanchev: Yes.

Plamen Ivanov: They could have sacrificed a raptor and taken out the center of a base-star.

Ivan Vanchev: I guess deliberately sacrificing raptors is different.

Plamen Ivanov: eee, "different"...

Ivan Vanchev: In that it isn't part of their standard tactics.

Plamen Ivanov: Well, if you need a pilot to go with the raptor...

Ivan Vanchev: :)

Plamen Ivanov: ... it will be a little tough.

Ivan Vanchev: Quite.

Plamen Ivanov: But even then...

Ivan Vanchev: Good point.

Plamen Ivanov: a 45% chance of death for x people for 100% chance of death for 1 person can be an acceptable strategy at some points. Not always.

Ivan Vanchev: Yes.

Plamen Ivanov: I mean, they even fraking lost a raptor to a bad jump INTO a planet.

Ivan Vanchev: haha true.

Plamen Ivanov: I wonder how well they can pilotlessly aim a raptor so that they don't have to ask for volunteers.

Ivan Vanchev: Should be easy enough; although they are operating without networked computers.

Plamen Ivanov: That''s the tricky part, but I think you can literally have some hard to decrypt point-to-point wireless control such that:

  1. you use it for very brief periods so the enemy doesn't have time to decrypt
  2. you always use a different key
  3. the receiver should have a limited range and be directed in such a way that the enemy would have to be IN your command ship to transmit data directly
Or forget all that - use a cable. lol. You just run the display and controls of the FTL and raptor through a cable which doesn't need to be longer than a few hundred meters.