Wednesday, 16 November 2011

New Art Riot #3 - lighthugger

A little while ago I did this sketch for a correspondent who was interested in building a scale model (well, I hope it was a scale model) of the Nostalgia for Infinity. To my surprise (and delight) there are already quite a few sketches and models of lighthuggers out there on the web - some of them very close to my mental image.


You can view the image at full size by clicking on the version at my website. I couldn't find a way to link to a bigger one from here.

http://www.alastairreynolds.com/id18.html


I semi-pinched the name "lighthugger" from Ian Watson and Michael Bishop, by the way. Their excellent first contact novel "Under Heaven's Bridge" has relativistic ships called lightskimmers. And look - it's available to download:

http://www.sfgateway.com/books/u/under-heaven%27s-bridge/

18 comments:

  1. Good grief, that's nothing like I imagined. In my mind's eye the NfI looked long and thin, like the Sulaco from Aliens, with the (much smaller) Conjoiner drives at the back. I guess I didn't pay enough attention to the description in your novel ;-)

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  2. Well, it's my interpretation 12 years after I wrote the book, so I wouldn't be too dogmatic about it. The Sulaco, though - wasn't that the big chunky-looking military ship that carried the marines all the way to the colony?

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  3. Interesting to see this. I just got to the bit in RS where Volyova initiates the palsy and makes a break for it in the Melancholia for departure. It looks kind if like the shape I imagined, but much more fragile.

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  4. Since you are often said to be in the hard scifi genre, I have 2 questions regarding lighthuggers.

    First since they get massive gamma levels with 1 g acceleration for such long times, won't the blue shifted CMB be shifted well into xray and gamma rays? I didn't run the numbers but since its 1g in the lighthugger frame of reference perhaps the gamma is not as bad as it looks. [gamma=1/(1-v^2/c^2)]

    Secondly, getting a many ton ship close to the speed of light would make a great planet buster with no real defense. A weapon Up there with The Weapons Cache. Is this the way it works in the Revelation space universe, or are they a weapon that no one has used..so far?

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  5. The sketch is superb. I think I'm going to colour it in :-) Always wondered what characters like Skade looked like...another sketch perhaps?
    Thanks and regards, Simon

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  6. Hi Al,
    You'll be happy to know that work has begun on the pre-plague Nostalgia, I'll be sure to send you some pictures as I get further along. My wife is a bit apprehensive about the project as I plan on it being about 4 feet long when completed...
    Thanks again for taking the time to put this on paper, very much appreciated.
    Thanks,
    Matt

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  7. wow, exactly how I pictured it, I perhaps imaged the drives closer to the main body, but other than that, spot on to my imagination!

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  8. I can't remember completely but isn't the NFI 4km's long and 400m wide at the widest, so should be much more needle like. And the drives have big clam shells on the front.

    Also. Bob, I don't think anyone has used lighthuggers as planet busters as you just need to point the drive exhausts at the planet to do the damage you would want. I guess it would be very time consuming to send out a lighthugger on a planet intercepting path, as you would need to convince the ship AI that it wanted to do it first. When why do it, when you have better weapons, just tow a big enough asteroid into the orbital path of the planet and then not lose one of your key resources.

    So the old reasons of Cost and efficiency would mean they would only be weapons of last resort, and even then only for the very insane.

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  9. Bob - I don't work these things out to that degree, I'll confess. I mention that the ships need lots of shielding, though.

    Brodie: if that's the case (4 x 400m) then the NFI would look like one of the more slender variants in the lower left corner. I don't remember the dimensions, I'm afraid.

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  10. Nice drawing! I really liked the approach to interstellar flight in the Rev Space universe - especially as the LightHuggers are compared, in (I think) the Prefect (or maybe Redemption Ark? or Chasm City... I should reread them all), to the mothballed Demarchist attempts at a working Starship. Really added a great level of realism to the conjoiner/demarchist faction war.

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  11. Yes, I always imagined the NfI being a needle-like ship, and even before the melding plague being a distorted freak of a ship. I imagined that since Ultras own the majority of lighthuggers, very few of them would be close to their original spec. We all know after all, that Ultras love to tinker with things! Just my thoughts, and one of the things that makes reading such a more enjoyable medium than film/tv: we can manipulate things to make them look how we imagine.

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  12. http://sixdelta.deviantart.com/gallery/#/d4ef0qd

    This is my interpretation. Seems very different to the others I've seen around. I never pictured huge spars when I was reading the book, so I didn't put them in the drawing.

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  13. Excellent, I like that a lot.

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  14. I realise I'm a few months behind the times with this post, but I really dig the sketch. It's nice seeing what you had in mind.

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  15. Hello, here is my contribution
    http://cggallery.itsartmag.com/story.php?title=Nostalgia-infinity

    Additional pictures here :www.yann-souetre.com/0-data/NFI-ALL.zip
    Animated Gif only: www.yann-souetre.com/0-data/NFI.gif

    Thank you Alastair :)

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  16. Hello, i have updated and added 3 other high resolution views (6000x3000) in the zip archive at www.yann-souetre.com/0-data/NFI-ALL.zip

    Don't hesitate to share your feedback

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    Replies
    1. Wow thanks for sharing, you really nailed it. heh I would love to see how you illustrate NFI post Cpt.Brannigan's makeover :)

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    2. Wow great job Yann! I'm working on my own version now. I'll check back when it's done.

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