Designing a Starship

In Star Trek, the starships are all very elegant looking and quite beautiful.  They just look really good.  They are also advanced and have had a couple hundred years of history, so the designs tend to be more aesthetically pleasing.

I’m designing a starship for Journey to Ariadne.  I’ve made a sketch which looks a bit clunky, but I’m not entirely satisfied with it.  I don’t want it to look beautiful.  It shouldn’t look beautiful.  It should be built for function, not form.  Take a look at past forms of transportation in their first incarnations.

The first automobile, an 1885 Benz.
The first automobile, an 1885 Benz.
The Wright Flyer, the first airplane from 1903.
The Wright Flyer, the first airplane from 1903.
The Vostok I capsule that brought Yuri Gagarin into space in 1961. Photo taken by SiefkinDR and used under Creative Commons License.
The Vostok I capsule that brought Yuri Gagarin into space in 1961. Photo taken by SiefkinDR and used under Creative Commons License.

Notice a theme?  None of them are particularly attractive.  They weren’t built to look good.  They were built simply to work.  It’s only in the years and decades after that design became important (cars are now made to look good, planes are made to be aerodynamic and fuel efficient, and the space shuttle ended the utilitarian spacecraft era).  So it’s only logical that the first interstellar spacecraft will look more like a collection of modules connected by a framework and various instruments extending from the main body.  This is what I need to consider when designing a starship.  Think about function first, then refine it a bit.

I’m going to have one ugly spaceship.  And it’ll be a massive one.

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Meanwhile, I Get Annoyed

I’ve read many books with beautiful prose, wonderful narration, and great transitions.  And then I get to a book where the author does something that irritates me so much, I wonder if she was actually a professional.

The book I’m about to finish is filled with rapid scene changes.  It’s a movie novelisation, so I guess we can expect that if there are many scene changes in the movie.  However, at the beginning of many scenes, the author uses words such as meanwhile, meantime, and back in the (insert place).  That just seems really sloppy.  Those words are not needed.  I have no idea how it got past the editor.

Ever read a book which overuses certain words like this?  What are some examples?