Shot, Lance, and Missile: the weapons of Jack Campbell's The Lost Fleet series

I'll be doing a big post about the military science fiction series tomorrow, but I'll do a brief rundown before talking about the weapons systems in the TLF series. In a nutshell, it's hundreds or so years into the future. Humanity is divided into two major interstellar factions, the Alliance and the Syndicate Worlds. There's two smaller factions, the Callas Republic and Rift Federation, but they're allied with the Alliance, so I don't count them as separate entities. The series follows Captain John "Black Jack" Geary as he's revived from stasis one hundred years after being forced to abandon his warship after it was attacked in an opening salvo of a war between the two powers, a war that is still ongoing. Not long after being revived, he's placed in command of the Alliance fleet (which had been lured into a trap and ambushed) and charged by its former commanding officer to get it home.

Anyway, onto the weapons. In the series, both the Alliance and Syndics (the nickname given to the Syndicate Worlds by the Alliance) use three primary armaments: grapeshot, hell lance, and specter missiles. Grapeshot is essentially nothing more than large ball bearings fired in clusters from railgun style mounts. They're normally used to weaken the shields of enemy warships, but can also be employed to destroy specter missiles and damage ships. Against smaller vessels, they can even deal fatal blows. Hell lances are particle cannons and are the primary weapons. When used in conjunction with grapeshot, they can bust through shields and punch holes through ship armor. They're also useful when needing to strike at ground targets or orbital installations. There's a scene in one of the books where they're used to suppress resistance at an enemy mining facility. Specter missiles are just missiles that are paradoxically used by both sides. They have some tracking ability, but if they're evaded on the initial pass, they're harmless. I suppose it's due to the speeds that opposing ships and fleets engage each other at, that the missiles aren't capable of whipping around to hit their assigned target or go after the nearest enemy ship.

There are two additional weapons, one of which is exclusive only to the Alliance. The first is kinetic projectiles - basically chunks of metal that gain power as they speed along. They're used both for planetary bombardment and to destroy any orbiting installations that pose a threat. The second is a null-field projector. When a null-field hits a ship (they don't work in the presence of gravity wells), those fundamental forces that holds things like atoms and thus, matter together are neutralized. In other words, anything hit by this weapon comes apart on an atomic level. Damn. As I mentioned before, this weapon is exclusive to the Alliance only. In fact, it's explained in I think book four, Valiant, that the projectors are rigged to self-destruct to prevent the Syndics from obtaining the technology. Also, battleships and battlecruisers are equipped with them. I can't recall if it's a size or power issue or what.

Something else worth noting is the combat itself. Ships in the series engage each other at high speeds - close to the speed of light - and whole fleets can pass each other in a fraction of a second. Since humans can't react fast enough, the actual targeting and firing is left to computers.

It's an interesting series and I highly recommend it. This will probably just be the first of many posts I make about this series, hopefully.

1 comment:

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed the series - its highlights for me were 'Hard SF' fleet tactics including the compilications of time delay and dilation, and the command challenges Geary had to overcome both from generational and political perspectives


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