David J. Williams Guest Post 3 of 3: Project Orion
Time for part three of this ongoing series about the technology in the Autumn Rain trilogy! First we talked about the LEO space elevator in THE MIRRORED HEAVENS. Then we turned to the O’Neill cylinders in THE BURNING SKIES.
Now it’s time to look at the most fearsome piece of technology of all.
In trilogy finale THE MACHINERY OF LIGHT, the United States and the Eurasian Coalition duke it out across the Earth-Moon system, waging total war in space. At first America sweeps all before it … but the Eurasians deploy two megaships to turn the tide of in their favor, each one powered by nuclear pulse-detonation. That’s a fancy way of saying the ship shits out nuclear bombs, channeling each explosion against a massive pusher plate to propel the ship forward. Like so much of the tech in my books, I ripped this one straight out of NASA blueprints – indeed, physicist Freeman Dyson was the original brainchild behind Project Orion back in the 1950s, as this was a spaceship that could have transformed planetary exploration and brought the rest of the solar system within reach. As described in Dyson’s son George’s book, the Orion project had revolutionary implications.
Then again, it does shit out nuclear bombs, meaning it ran afoul of arms control efforts between the U.S. and the Soviets in the 1960s. Plus it’s the kind of thing that would be built and launched in space. No one in their right mind would launch such a machine from the Earth’s surface. But when you’re fighting the war to end all wars, the last thing you care about is environmental impact statements….
And don’t forget. I’m running a giveaway of 3 copies of Machinery of Light.