GENERAL DISCUSSIONS

More Western than a Wagon Train to the Stars - Spoiler Discussion

POSTED BY: FERALWANDERER
UPDATED: Thursday, June 1, 2006 01:42
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Sunday, June 9, 2002 3:52 AM

FERALWANDERER


I have been checking out a few of the spoilers and spoiler vids, and its like Joss is dropping ~1870 US of A, wild west, into 2470 but only adding in the new stuff like ships and keeping the clothes, guns etc all pretty much western.

Its kinda cool (and I think Han Solo is a greta example of this) but I really hope there is some great rational that comes out on the first season to explain this, and its not just left to us to work out why these guys don't have at least MP5's with laser sights, kevlar body armor etc etc, let alone more advanced weaponry. Sure they might have blasters/lasers/phasers that look like circa 1870 western weapons, but my suspense of disbelief will be troubled if this 'cool look' isn't backed up with some believable reasoning.

I am sure Joss will come through for me - Buffy has always tried hard to be internally consistent.

Jason


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Sunday, June 9, 2002 2:18 PM

J


Well, they shouldn't be using projectile weaponry on a spaceship anyway. And I'm not sure how much explanation of the tech will occur.

As far as the things that look like six-shooters really being weapons that shoot six different kinds of energy beams I actually think there's less explanation needed for that than most media science fiction weaponry. Revolvers and automatics work. Proven design. How the hell are you really supposed to aim a phaser? How do you even know if you've got the right end of it without looking at it - or whether it's right side up? And, at the opposite extreme, many other SF weapons are so complicated, rickety looking, and obviously poorly weighted and balanced, with projecting pieces and doodads that are completely inefficient, that they're laughable.

If they really are six-shooters, the following doesn't really get the excuse-job done, but it is always possible that, while wars generally promote a rapid advancement in technology, this one was the kind of knockdown dragout that resulted in economies collapsing and being unable to sustain any but the most vital technologies - like they've got spaceships but nothing to speak of in them or on them.

I dunno - have to wait and see, I guess.


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Sunday, June 9, 2002 3:06 PM

MOJOECA


No lasers; the guns shoot bullets. I saw a clip on CNN (Wanda discussing fall lineup) where a gun was fired.

--- Joe

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Sunday, June 9, 2002 3:12 PM

J


Uh-oh. Houston, we have a problem.


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Sunday, June 9, 2002 3:45 PM

MOJOECA


*Rant On*

I, personally, couldn't care less about guns and horses and whatnot still being used 400 yrs from now. Nobody said this is *the* vision of the future. Joss built a sandbox to play in; he's not Da Vinci.

To my knowledge there has *never* been a space show that doesn't have some implausible elements to it -- but it's all contrived to tell stories. (edited to add -- AFAIK 2001: A Space Odyssey comes closest, but it did have that monolith and while I like the movie, many find it boring).

I have a friend who refuses to watch BUFFY because of the fantasy elements. But he loves Star Trek. I had to call him on this narrow suspension of disbelief: All aliens are humanoid? Puh-leez. About as plausible as the existence of demons. Phasers? Warp Drive? Beaming? That's magic. Sure, you can rationalize the tech after the fact, but Roddenberry just needed a way to conquer distances of space, move people around. Technogeeks (forgive the term, not intended to be insensitive) latched onto it. Hence, the ridiculous merchandise such as technical manuals -- they're cash cows, not how-to guides.

Now, me, not a Star Trek fan. I find it boring. But I'm not going to nitpick the technobabble because it's all bullsh*t to begin with. That's why I love Farscape, because though it does have the same implausibilities, it doesn't presume to be "realistic."

*Rant Off*

--- Joe

Edited to add: After re-reading, I see how I may come off as angry -- I'm not. I just have a very definite POV on sci-fi nitpicking.

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Sunday, June 9, 2002 4:38 PM

RINGWRAITH


I have to agree. I like shows like Babylon 5 because though it uses technology that is *possible* it doesn't waste precious time having each episode solved by running the phase-transducer through the omegamodulator to keep the ship from blowing up each week. The story comes first; it tries to be as realistic (sci-fi wise) as possible but not at the expense of an interesting story.

I'm just getting into Farscape (saw my second ep *ever* today) and I like it so far because it's just good sci-fi. Not much techno-babble. It's selling me on the stories and characters.

As for Firefly people using six-shooters and such, no problem with that here. To me it adds a bit to the charm. Afterall, knives have been around thousands of years and people still use them to kill others, so why not keep around a good ol Smith & Wesson?

************************************************
"How will this end?"
"In fire."
--Babylon 5, 'The Coming of Shadows'
************************************************

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Monday, June 10, 2002 11:05 PM

FERALWANDERER


Quote:

Originally posted by Ringwraith:
As for Firefly people using six-shooters and such, no problem with that here. To me it adds a bit to the charm. Afterall, knives have been around thousands of years and people still use them to kill others, so why not keep around a good ol Smith & Wesson?
B]



Whilst I agree on the story/character over technobable, to answer your question, more modern (or futuristic) firearms will have better range, fire volume, accuracy, hitting power, reliability (?) and ammunition capacity -all really good reasons in my mind. I want to know why we are seeing tech that's dated. I kinda like that it is but if its purely for "cool factor" then in my mind it suffers as badly as other Sci Fi's with there numerous weird and unlikely lasers/phasers/blasters...

It's all about suspence of disbelief and internally consistency. If no explanation is given or if we see ships are exchanging fire with lasers and autoguns, and yet the gun tech for these guys is circa 1870, I'll watch it (It's JOSS!) but I'll be a little disappointed.

Jason
Sydney, Australia


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Tuesday, June 11, 2002 2:59 AM

PANDORA


Quote:

Originally posted by feralwanderer:


It's all about suspence of disbelief and internally consistency. If no explanation is given or if we see ships are exchanging fire with lasers and autoguns, and yet the gun tech for these guys is circa 1870, I'll watch it (It's JOSS!) but I'll be a little disappointed.

Jason
Sydney, Australia




My thing is this (and maybe there's a little too much blind faith on my part, but there it is): I think Joss'll handle it. Buffy has proven to be, for the most part, internally consistent for six years now. Very little on that show is done solely for effect- there's a reason for almost everything. Angel is fairly similar. Now while there are notable exceptions to each of these, I'm sure that the basis for why things are the way they are in this mythos will be adequately explained to the viewer's satisfaction.

Pandora
Trust in the Whedon, the Whedon is good.

"Logic is a wonderful thing, but it doesn't beat actual thought." -Terry Pratchett, the Last Continent

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Tuesday, June 11, 2002 5:24 AM

ZICSOFT


Quote:

Originally posted by mojoeca:
After re-reading, I see how I may come off as angry -- I'm not. I just have a very definite POV on sci-fi nitpicking.

Well, for some of us, the nitpicking is an essential part of the genre. I find myself kind of irritated at being told, "Oh, the premise is just a framework for telling a story." I know that. That's true of any premise. I'm perfectly willing to let some inconsistencies and illogicality go in the name of telling a good story. But the technical details are important too.



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Tuesday, June 11, 2002 8:40 AM

MOJOECA


Quote:

Zicsoft: Well, for some of us, the nitpicking is an essential part of the genre.

I understand that. I accept that there is a niche (a large one) in sci-fi fandom that demands science fact. That's cool. And please don't let little ole me discourage you from doing the nitpick thang. I just think sometimes it goes too far -- I doubt Joss believes we'll still be using modern-day guns 400 yrs from now, but it's a stylistic choice, and so I think people should let that slide.

--- Joe

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Tuesday, June 11, 2002 10:09 AM

J


Quote:

Originally posted by mojoeca:
...I accept that there is a niche (a large one) in sci-fi fandom that demands science fact. That's cool...

--- Joe



It's that "science" in the term "science fiction" that makes us crazy like that.

Seriously - I come from a print SF perspective. I watch plenty of media SF but it's an entirely different beast - which isn't of the good, to me. In print SF there are much more rigorous standards for the S in SF - with some notable exceptions - and I prefer this. You get a freebie, like "Okay, we can go faster than light on this ship" but the tendency is to try to get everything else right and, even with FTL, to convey that in a hypothetically convincing way.

I agree that character/plot/theme is the essential element but to be SF the technology has to at least a) relate to, explain, and condition character/plot/theme and b) not get in the way of suspension of disbelief. So it depends on the presentation. If this is an SF show, it's going to be nitpicked like one. If it's a technobabble show like ST, I don't really see the point of nitpicking anything but logical, rather than physical, absurdities. If it's a space fantasy, like Star Wars, you can get away with even more. If all else fails, invoke "the Force". I think it's just the complete absence of anything even resembling genuine hard SF in television that has a portion of fans really wanting something plausible.


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Tuesday, June 11, 2002 10:55 AM

FERALWANDERER


Quote:

Originally posted by J:
Quote:

Originally posted by mojoeca:
...I accept that there is a niche (a large one) in sci-fi fandom that demands science fact. That's cool...

--- Joe



SNIP
I think it's just the complete absence of anything even resembling genuine hard SF in television that has a portion of fans really wanting something plausible.




And from what I recall of this project Joss was shooting for an counter-Star Trek feeling series, which suggests less techno babble, jump suits, rubber foreheads and flashy equipment. So I am very curious what the rational he has come up with that makes everything circa 1870 - clothes and guns. For me the rational is a big deal because its so clearly a regressive technological step it begs for an explanation...and a good one at that.

Jason
Sydney, Australia



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Tuesday, June 11, 2002 12:08 PM

ZICSOFT


Quote:

Originally posted by feralwanderer:

And from what I recall of this project Joss was shooting for an counter-Star Trek feeling series, which suggests less techno babble, jump suits, rubber foreheads


Not rubber. Latex.

http://www.insanity.com.au/firefly/2002/01/24.htm
Quote:

and flashy equipment. So I am very curious what the rational he has come up with that makes everything circa 1870 - clothes and guns. For me the rational is a big deal because its so clearly a regressive technological step it begs for an explanation...and a good one at that.

Well, some of it should be pretty obvious. Most of the stories take place on "frontier planets" with no industry. People in the "core planets" ride around in air cars (there are shots of this on the Fox site) wear futuristic clothes, etc. But out on the frontier, those things are expensive imports, so people ride horses, wear clothes manufactured locally by relatively low-tech factories, etc.

Also, a lot of the "western look" is just that -- a desire to look a certain way. So the guns look vaguely like Remington six-shooters, but obviously aren't. And the Serenity looks vaguely like an old steam engine -- if the engine were manufactured by Boeing and could fly!

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Tuesday, June 11, 2002 12:32 PM

ZICSOFT


Quote:

Originally posted by J:


Seriously - I come from a print SF perspective. I watch plenty of media SF but it's an entirely different beast - which isn't of the good, to me.

I basically agree, but even a lot a of print SF is of the level you describe. Even ignoring movie and TV adaptations and tie-ins, most print SF seems to be written for people who just want to zone out in an alternative universe for a couple of hours, and damned with the explanations.


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Wednesday, June 12, 2002 12:05 AM

FERALWANDERER


Quote:

Originally posted by Zicsoft:
Quote:

Originally posted by feralwanderer:

And from what I recall of this project Joss was shooting for an counter-Star Trek feeling series, which suggests less techno babble, jump suits, rubber foreheads


Not rubber. Latex.

:)


Quote:

and flashy equipment. So I am very curious what the rational he has come up with that makes everything circa 1870 - clothes and guns. For me the rational is a big deal because its so clearly a regressive technological step it begs for an explanation...and a good one at that.

Well, some of it should be pretty obvious. Most of the stories take place on "frontier planets" with no industry. People in the "core planets" ride around in air cars (there are shots of this on the Fox site) wear futuristic clothes, etc. But out on the frontier, those things are expensive imports, so people ride horses, wear clothes manufactured locally by relatively low-tech factories, etc.

Also, a lot of the "western look" is just that -- a desire to look a certain way. So the guns look vaguely like Remington six-shooters, but obviously aren't. And the Serenity looks vaguely like an old steam engine -- if the engine were manufactured by Boeing and could fly!



Well I guess the need for "simple" field tech suggests a regression, but is it really easier to make wheel guns and such simple firearms, as opposed to a more modern hyrbid semiautomatic specifically designed to have simple to produce (with CAD CAM - an essential tool for any colony)?

As for look, I am cool with the look, I just want some solid rational. What you suggest makes lots of sense for clothes and everything western, but I hope we get some detail as to why so much tech and clothes is western and why other stuff clearly isn't. This goes for the war flashbacks as well. Surely if the captain was in a war not long ago there should be plenty of military surplus out there that's more advanced that circa 1870... Perhaps the war dragged for generations and tehc regressed...but the wars of the 20th century would actually suggest the opposite - we had soem of our biggest tech advance spurts then...

Anyway, I am looking forward to the depth I like to think Joss has behind this look.

Jason


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Wednesday, June 12, 2002 6:41 AM

SHUGGIE


Quote:

Originally posted by feralwanderer:
Perhaps the war dragged for generations and tehc regressed...but the wars of the 20th century would actually suggest the opposite - we had soem of our biggest tech advance spurts then...



Yeah but 20th century conflicts have not dragged out for generations. Conflicts which do drag out over an extended period do tend to end up with an odd-ball mixture of technology. So if you have a situation where some people have lasers, others have revolvers etc that could be plausible. If it's all revolvers/shotguns then some explanation is probably needed.


Shug

Her lips were saying 'No' but then I looked into her eyes
... and her eyes were saying 'read my lips'
- Niles Crane

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Wednesday, June 12, 2002 3:09 PM

NOVAGRASS


Quote:

Originally posted by mojoeca:
No lasers; the guns shoot bullets. I saw a clip on CNN (Wanda discussing fall lineup) where a gun was fired.

--- Joe



Couldn't the "bullets" be something like plasma bullets? On the gun designs I've seen there really isn't a place to load ammunition... so I see it as more of a plasma/photon/whatever pistol. Maybe I'm wrong, cause I haven't seen the weapons fired.

--Dylan Palmer, aka NoVaGrAsS--

... I guess it's a Joss thing...

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Wednesday, June 12, 2002 4:54 PM

MOJOECA


From what I saw, I'm certain it was a modern-day gun. Without spoiling, I can only say that the gun was fired and someone was shot. No plasma or light f/x -- just the standard gunshot sound effect and a gunshot wound (a close up, in fact). It's possible that there was a plasma (or whatever) effect yet to be added.

OTOH, if you look at the wallpaper (the one of them in cockpit), you see that Gina Torres has bullets clipped into her belt.

--- Joe

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Thursday, June 13, 2002 5:50 AM

ZICSOFT


The guns fit in with the clothes and the horses. Presumably you can buy a plasma pistol, or at least an Uzi, in the core planets. But suppose you take a gun like that out to the frontier planets and it breaks? Where do you get parts? Is there a gunsmith with the necessary skills and tools in this star system?

We're so used to technology, we forget what a complicated and fragile thing it is. To have an industrial base, you have to have a lot of different things: natural resources, the ability to machine things to fine tolerances, people with lots of different and obscure skills.... If you're going to colonize a new world, you can't just instantly bring all the industrial technology with you.

So you don't bring technology that's hard to reproduce. If you're going to start a farm, you don't bring tractors and combines that you won't be able to replace or repair. You bring horses and donkeys that replace themselves, and machinery with parts you can fabricate yourself. When you need a gun, you probably can't afford and certainly can't fix a fancy off-planet weapon, so you get the local version of the Colt Peacemaker because that's what they know how to make locally.


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Thursday, June 13, 2002 6:22 AM

TYMEN


Very true.

Also, since Joss is using the Civil War as
one of his influences, it should be noted
that one of the reasons the South lost the
war was that the North had a superior
manufactoring and industrial complex supporting them. Easier access to more weapons and supplies.
Hence the access to more primitive technology on the fringe than in the core worlds.

Tymen

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Thursday, June 13, 2002 9:37 AM

ZICSOFT


Quote:

Originally posted by Tymen:
Also, since Joss is using the Civil War as
one of his influences, it should be noted
that one of the reasons the South lost the
war was that the North had a superior
manufactoring and industrial complex supporting them. Easier access to more weapons and supplies.
Hence the access to more primitive technology on the fringe than in the core worlds.

Ok, my turn. Very true. What's more, this technology gap was one of the reasons the war happened. The agrarian south saw itself less and less influential in relation to the industrial north.

The election of Abraham Lincoln as President was the last straw. It wasn't just that he was an aboltionish, though that was important. It was that he was able to win the election without a single southern vote. (The Republican Party was just getting started, and didn't have the resources to qualify electors in every state.) So they decided to go their own way.

Anyway, this kind of issue makes Reconstruction a prime model for an "anti-Star Trek" story. Instead of there being a technological fix for every problem, technology is part of the problem.


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Thursday, June 13, 2002 9:58 AM

PANDORA


Quote:

Originally posted by Zicsoft:

Anyway, this kind of issue makes Reconstruction a prime model for an "anti-Star Trek" story. Instead of there being a technological fix for every problem, technology is part of the problem.




Another really interesting difference between Star Trek (along with other Roddenberry spawn) and Firefly is that Roddenberry's vision of the future was always one in which the Alliance/Federation/Commonwealth/whatever grouping of independent planets was benevolent, positive, and overall what was best for the universe. In Firefly, the Alliance may yet prove to be those things, but that's not the perspective from which Joss is taking us. It seems that the Alliance is a Bad Thing, at least from the view of our heroes, and the view of the future is a little more bleak than the shiny goodness of Mr. Roddenberry's vision.

It'll be a nice change of pace for the sci-fi genre.

Pandora

"Logic is a wonderful thing, but it doesn't beat actual thought." -Terry Pratchett, the Last Continent

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Thursday, June 13, 2002 9:58 AM

PANDORA


Quote:

Originally posted by Zicsoft:

Anyway, this kind of issue makes Reconstruction a prime model for an "anti-Star Trek" story. Instead of there being a technological fix for every problem, technology is part of the problem.




Another really interesting difference between Star Trek (along with other Roddenberry spawn) and Firefly is that Roddenberry's vision of the future was always one in which the Alliance/Federation/Commonwealth/whatever grouping of independent planets was benevolent, positive, and overall what was best for the universe. In Firefly, the Alliance may yet prove to be those things, but that's not the perspective from which Joss is taking us. It seems that the Alliance is a Bad Thing, at least from the view of our heroes, and the view of the future is a little more bleak than the shiny goodness of Mr. Roddenberry's vision.

It'll be a nice change of pace for the sci-fi genre.

Pandora

"Logic is a wonderful thing, but it doesn't beat actual thought." -Terry Pratchett, the Last Continent

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Thursday, June 13, 2002 9:09 PM

FERALWANDERER


Quote:

Originally posted by Pandora:
Quote:

Originally posted by Zicsoft:

Anyway, this kind of issue makes Reconstruction a prime model for an "anti-Star Trek" story. Instead of there being a technological fix for every problem, technology is part of the problem.



SNIP

It'll be a nice change of pace for the sci-fi genre.

Pandora

"Logic is a wonderful thing, but it doesn't beat actual thought." -Terry Pratchett, the Last Continent



Yeah, I agree I am really looking forward to a real frontier vision; where the "law" is thinly spread, the social environment is very dunamic as "gold rush" equivelent fever exists, technology isn't a panacea, and legends are built on personality and grit.



Jason
Sydney, Australia




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Friday, June 14, 2002 7:24 AM

SHUGGIE


Quote:

Originally posted by Pandora:
Quote:

Originally posted by Zicsoft:

Anyway, this kind of issue makes Reconstruction a prime model for an "anti-Star Trek" story. Instead of there being a technological fix for every problem, technology is part of the problem.




Another really interesting difference between Star Trek (along with other Roddenberry spawn) and Firefly is that Roddenberry's vision of the future was always one in which the Alliance/Federation/Commonwealth/whatever grouping of independent planets was benevolent, positive, and overall what was best for the universe. In Firefly, the Alliance may yet prove to be those things, but that's not the perspective from which Joss is taking us. It seems that the Alliance is a Bad Thing, at least from the view of our heroes, and the view of the future is a little more bleak than the shiny goodness of Mr. Roddenberry's vision.

It'll be a nice change of pace for the sci-fi genre.

Pandora

"Logic is a wonderful thing, but it doesn't beat actual thought." -Terry Pratchett, the Last Continent



Whilst I pretty much agree with what you've both said I'm going to stick up for Star Trek and Roddenberry a little. Technology as the all-pervasive solution to society's problems was a very popular theme in 60's SciFi - something which was mirrored in the attitudes of the time.
So in that sense I think it was just that Roddenberry was a man of his time.

I prefer the more realistic view we have today. But when you think of the technological change that took place post-WWII it must have seemed that technology really was going to solve a lot of problems.


Shug

Her lips were saying 'No' but then I looked into her eyes
... and her eyes were saying 'read my lips'
- Niles Crane

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Friday, June 14, 2002 8:47 AM

TINYTIMM


Just a pair of points:

After the US Civil War many parts of the country suffered. You can argue that East Kentucky didn't recover from the Civil War until the Coal boom around the turn of the century. You can also argue that it's seriously depressed today.

A "Colt Peacemaker" is a highly developed piece of technology requiring a skilled gunsmith to properly assemble, time, test and finish.

If fixed ammunition is available even a clutz like me with a crude machine shop and a lathe can slap together a submachine gun. Ya gotta be careful about technology.

Then again, if you need to slap something with a massive dose of kinetic engergy, an 1898 style Mauser Bolt Action Rifle will do the job very efficiently and probably will for the next few hundred years.



Jeff Timm
Who notes do-it-yourself SMGs can get you in serious trouble with most Governments of the world, a few Western ones will give you a fair trial before they toss you in the clinque, in the rest of the world they shoot you until you are rather seriously dead.

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Friday, June 14, 2002 8:52 AM

TINYTIMM


Quote:

Originally posted by Shuggie:

Technology as the all-pervasive solution to society's problems was a very popular theme in 60's SciFi - something which was mirrored in the attitudes of the time.



Considering the track record for technology in solving problems, and the track record for everything else. I'll stick with technology, even if it is so sophisticated it isn't noticeable, such as super rice.

Jeff Timm
Who also likes free market economies, compared to everything else that's been tried.

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Friday, June 14, 2002 9:49 AM

ZICSOFT


Quote:

Originally posted by TinyTimm:
A "Colt Peacemaker" is a highly developed piece of technology requiring a skilled gunsmith to properly assemble, time, test and finish.

If fixed ammunition is available even a clutz like me with a crude machine shop and a lathe can slap together a submachine gun.

OK, my ignorance of firearms technology is showing. Please be patient with me in the following discussion.

Your comparison between 19th and 20th century guns does make sense. But there's a reason that Colt gunsmith had to be so much more skilled than his modern counterpart. His materials were less developed, his machines had lower tolerances -- oh well, I'm talking out of my depth, but you get my point. When you're a long way from the nearest factory, the toys are more primitive and the craftmen are more skilled.

You ever meet an umbrella repairman? Of course not, we don't have them in industrial countries. But they have them in rural India -- and they get top rupee for their work.

You mentioned "fixed ammunition". Isn't that a pretty sophisticated bit of technology? Easily obtained whever UPS goes. (Which is not everywhere. In central New Guinea, the going rate for local labor is one shotgun shell per person per day.) But how hard would it be to go to a planet with no industry and get everything you need to manufacture it?

And as for your machine shop tommy gun. Well, even assuming it didn't have to fire black powder hand loads, and you'd also thought to import the actual machine shop from an industrial planet -- what kind of materials do you need? Hopefully there's some kind of on-planet steel mill, but will it be able to produce the kind of material modern guns are made of?



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Friday, June 14, 2002 11:02 AM

SHUGGIE


Quote:

Originally posted by TinyTimm:
Quote:

Originally posted by Shuggie:

Technology as the all-pervasive solution to society's problems was a very popular theme in 60's SciFi - something which was mirrored in the attitudes of the time.



Considering the track record for technology in solving problems, and the track record for everything else. I'll stick with technology, even if it is so sophisticated it isn't noticeable, such as super rice.

Jeff Timm
Who also likes free market economies, compared to everything else that's been tried.



That's fine. I just think that the 60s SciFi view of technology was a too uncritical.

Shug

Her lips were saying 'No' but then I looked into her eyes
... and her eyes were saying 'read my lips'
- Niles Crane

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Friday, June 14, 2002 1:39 PM

ZICSOFT


Quote:

Originally posted by TinyTimm:

Considering the track record for technology in solving problems, and the track record for everything else. I'll stick with technology, even if it is so sophisticated it isn't noticeable, such as super rice.

You speak as if doing technology were something we choose to do. Hardly. Our species is defined by its ability to make things.

Perhaps I put it badly when I talked about technology as a solution or problem. Technology both solves and creates problems. Which is fine. What's bad is blind faith in *any* tool, system, idea, etc. And that's the attitude the traditional Star Trek plot encourages, where some discovery or invention is guaranteed to save the day about 10 minutes after the final commercial break.


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Friday, June 14, 2002 2:29 PM

FERALWANDERER


Quote:

Originally posted by Zicsoft:
Quote:

Originally posted by TinyTimm:
A "Colt Peacemaker" is a highly developed piece of technology requiring a skilled gunsmith to properly assemble, time, test and finish.

If fixed ammunition is available even a clutz like me with a crude machine shop and a lathe can slap together a submachine gun.

OK, my ignorance of firearms technology is showing. Please be patient with me in the following discussion.

SNIP

You mentioned "fixed ammunition". Isn't that a pretty sophisticated bit of technology? Easily obtained whever UPS goes. (Which is not everywhere. In central New Guinea, the going rate for local labor is one shotgun shell per person per day.) But how hard would it be to go to a planet with no industry and get everything you need to manufacture it?

And as for your machine shop tommy gun. Well, even assuming it didn't have to fire black powder hand loads, and you'd also thought to import the actual machine shop from an industrial planet -- what kind of materials do you need? Hopefully there's some kind of on-planet steel mill, but will it be able to produce the kind of material modern guns are made of?



I don't think "fixed ammunition" is that complex. Your talking brass and lead - the use of moulds and simple filing and crimping - not that I have any experience as a gunsmith. Plus you would not be working from scratch, you would recognise the need to bring this technology along, it being as much a survival resource as spacesuits/air tanks, hating, food etc.

Now the thing for me with the series is that if I see them fixing complex "black box" technology like radars, engines and stuff, then I am going to be seriously questioning why they couldn't have and maintain at least mid 20th century weapons. If the ship is so well built it doesn;t need much maintenance and its pretty old, then I will be more convienced that gun technology as de-evolved (if that's a word) and the level has plateaued out circa 1870.

All this chit chat makes me really want to know about what the big guns are. What are we going to see? 6 pounders, smooth bore canons, compressed air powered rubble ejectors, high tech missles?

Jason
Sydney, Australia


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Saturday, June 15, 2002 12:02 AM

TINYTIMM


Most limits on weapons are legal, not technical.

In many jurisdictions in the United States if you can afford the bribes to the Police and politicians you will only be permitted a 2" barreled .38 Special Caliber Revolver of 5 or six shots. This "encourages" people who want to protect themselves, businesses and families to "hire" "off-duty" police as guards.

Jeff Timm
Who notes the prosecution of a dozen or so "Law Enforcement Officers" in Cleveland, OH, because they failed to pass on bribe money to the Feds.

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Saturday, June 15, 2002 8:32 AM

ZICSOFT


Quote:

Originally posted by TinyTimm:
Most limits on weapons are legal, not technical.

Oh gawd. I'm not even going to go there. Let's not have another Second Amendment flame war. There is zero chance that anybody is going to convince anybody else, so what's the point?

Anyway, we're talking technology here. Technology on the Lawless Frontier, beyond the reach of the central government. Presumably that includes the future equivalent of the ATF.

You seem to know more about firearms technology than the rest of us. I wouldn't mind hearing more about that. But I don't think anybody wants to try and catch these political hot potatoes.


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Saturday, June 15, 2002 9:29 AM

TINYTIMM


But all life is politics!

The beauty of Babylon 5 was it's acceptance of same. I also loved "The Sandbaggers" when it played on PBS.

It used to be the weapon of dread and politics was the crossbow. Now, you can buy one without a license and the only legal restrictions have to do with hunting seasons in a few states.

Hummmm. Maybe "Polyquazniomic Particle Beams" are heavily regulated and Revolvers aren't?



Jeff Timm
Who does technical things for a Department of the North American Continents major bureaucratic entity.

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Saturday, June 15, 2002 12:51 PM

ZICSOFT


Jeff, you're stuck in a rhetorical rut. We already dealt with the legal thing. If you're gonna do the same mantra over and over, you risk inflicting the most vile of online sins: being boring.

This is not the place to seek affirmation for your "From My Cold Dead Hands" sensibilities. Perhaps there's a forum on the NRA web site?

Besides, I hate B5. Nobody talks like that!




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Saturday, June 15, 2002 12:58 PM

SHAMUS


Ok. You got me. Zicsoft, do you ever have anything positive to say, about anything?

Nothings exceeds like excess.

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Saturday, June 15, 2002 1:15 PM

ZICSOFT


Quote:

Originally posted by Shamus:
Ok. You got me. Zicsoft, do you ever have anything positive to say, about anything?



Jeez. How am I supposed to respond to that kind of flamebait? I've said both positive and negative things in this thread and this board. If you want to focus on the negative things, that's your problem.

I do want to hear more of what Jeff has to say about weapons technology. I do not want to waste time on another pointless argument about gun control. Jeff's not obligated to honor my wants, but I'm not going to apologize for making my wants clear.

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Saturday, June 15, 2002 2:18 PM

ZICSOFT


Quote:

Originally posted by feralwanderer:
I don't think "fixed ammunition" is that complex. Your talking brass and lead - the use of moulds and simple filing and crimping - not that I have any experience as a gunsmith. Plus you would not be working from scratch, you would recognise the need to bring this technology along, it being as much a survival resource as spacesuits/air tanks, hating, food etc.


Well, we're both kind of talking out of our depth here, which is why I want Jeff to get out of his political rut and share his knowledge with us. But until he does, I'll just have to guess at the issues and hope I don't look too stupid.

OK, if you have brass tubing and other brass thingees, plus the right machine tools (and you're right, these will be imported once and used to make more machine tools), you can have fixed ammunition. But where do you get the brass? You have to mine copper and zinc, smelt it, fabricate the tubes... I'm not saying a frontier planet couldn't do this, because I have no idea how hard it is. At a guess, it'd be doable, but not in enough quantity so that everybody can have an Uzi.


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Saturday, June 15, 2002 5:18 PM

FERALWANDERER


Quote:

Originally posted by Zicsoft:
Quote:

Originally posted by feralwanderer:
I don't think "fixed ammunition" is that complex. Your talking brass and lead - the use of moulds and simple filing and crimping - not that I have any experience as a gunsmith. Plus you would not be working from scratch, you would recognise the need to bring this technology along, it being as much a survival resource as spacesuits/air tanks, hating, food etc.


SNIP

OK, if you have brass tubing and other brass thingees, plus the right machine tools (and you're right, these will be imported once and used to make more machine tools), you can have fixed ammunition. But where do you get the brass? You have to mine copper and zinc, smelt it, fabricate the tubes... I'm not saying a frontier planet couldn't do this, because I have no idea how hard it is. At a guess, it'd be doable, but not in enough quantity so that everybody can have an Uzi.




Well brass should be pretty easy...I would think that in space (or one of many earth like planet colonies..which raise another lame duck Star Trek problem) they will take stuff at least to be able to refine all sorts of metals...else they won't be surviving very long... Id they are to do more than mearly survive they need to produce energy generators (solar, gas, steam); pipe natural gas, oil, water; provide shelter; cultivate fields (more cmahinery or hard yakka); build all sorts of related infrastucture. And I think this is all stuff that can be done in circa 1870's tech, and perhspas more efficiently with at least 21st century knowledge.

So, again, it brings me back to wondering how good and strong the rational for wheel guns is...

Jason
Sydney, Australia


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Sunday, June 16, 2002 5:06 AM

TINYTIMM


Trust me. I have not even begun to Rut Politically. Nor do I intend to.

Firefly is already into heavy politics with those lines about the battle of Serenity. My speculations about those decisions could fill a small book.

Technically speaking however, there are several considerations on the nature of colony worlds. Out in the frontier are colonies the result of planned exploration/exploitation or the result of "We don't likes ye religion, hie ye and the lot o'ye to Massachusetts and call thy selves Pilgrims, John Winthrop!"

If you are a planned exploiter on a smash and grab of local resources, then being kept dependent on an external source for supplies makes sense. Being abandoned by that source because of a war also makes sense. Having to survive after that could send you down to the stone age.

If on the other tentacle, you are forming a colony because the sky where you are is the wrong shade of purple, or the local politicians do something offensive, banning left handed bloop guns comes to mind, then you are going to plan being self sufficient at a resonable level of technology.

On another tentacle, if you are searching for a new world where you can live the simple life. You are gonna have to be real lucky to keep breathing.

Jeff Timm
Who wishes people wouldn't make assumptions about his poly-ticks.

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Sunday, June 16, 2002 5:45 AM

TINYTIMM


Given what we know about the Knownspace Economy of the Firefly Universe:

Space ships and star travel are cheap, easy to use and fast. Firefly class ships are as cheap and ubiquitous as C-47 ne' DC-3 cargo planes in 1946, and even more reliable and easier to maintain. Cap Mel may have received one in lieu of back pay and mustering out benefits, formally or informally.

Why do I believe this? Because Mel has one. Reavers have ships. Therefore we can also assume a lot of little colonies started on a shoestring, but aiming for self sufficiency.

Big massive colonial enterprises must also exist. If for no other reason than they can. And there are large organizations who will take a trip to avoid involvement in Galactipolitics.

Lots of Earther survivable planets are available. If there weren't, you wouldn't need a lot of little ships going places and this would be a seriously boring show.

Exceptions of course. Is there a low upper size limit on Starships? This seriously changes the economics. But the show would still be boring.

Lots of little colonies will either require a diverse industrial base in order to exist or there must be a massive all in one superfactory that can build anything and everything. Thing is the first thing you have a factory like that build is a spare.

Therefore I must conclude a diverse industrial base, but it can get very basic.

A submachinegun can be built out of steel stampings, a barrel and some decent springs, cross reference the WWII Sten gun. Less than $10 US (1943 dollars) and pieces where built and the guns assembled in many of the "Mom and Pop" er "Mum and Dad" shops in the British Empire c. 1942-1945. The more automation you can bring to the process the cheaper it gets per unit. In the first part of the last century there was a tendency to over design and overbuild weapons, cross reference M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle. The cheap SMG is a product of WWII and the involvement of industrial designers in ordnance. Catch phrase, "You wanna launch bullets and you wanna do it cheap." The STEN (UK), the M-3 Grease Gun (US) and the PPSh (USSR) were the answers. Guidelamp Division here in Cleveland OH turned out a couple of million for about $15 US a piece (1943 Dollars).

Jeff Timm
Who gets seriously longwinded sometimes.

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Sunday, June 16, 2002 12:24 PM

ZICSOFT


Ok, I disagree completely, but this is turning into a decent thread, so don't be offended.

I doubt if Mal got any mustering out pay. He fought for the Confederacy/Independent Faction, not the Union/Alliance.

I dunno how cheap and ubiquitous space ships are in this future. But if they're *really* so, then there's no story here, 'cause the Alliance can use those ships to extend its authority to every inhabited planet.

OK, you can build machine guns out of old car parts. But where do you get the parts? From the nearest junkyard? Which is light-years away, in Alliance-controlled territory.

And I'm still not convinced you could easily manufacture all those brass casings.

I'm not going to pretend to have any real expertise about this. My opinions come from reading a lot of SF which tries to deal with the problem of keeping technology going at the end of a multi-parsec supply line. Heinlein's Tunnel in the Sky and that middle part of Time Enough for Love. S.M. Stirling's recent stuff. There's lots more that I can't remember offhand.

Heck you can make a case for industry falling apart simply because you don't have the critical mass of experts to keep it going. That's the premise of Earth Abides and that Terry Nation series, Survivors. In the latter, there's a scene where a character asks if anybody in the room can build a table from scratch. By which she does not mean going to the hardware store and getting tools, nails, and wood, she means cutting down the tree, making it into boards, joining them together, all using things that will still work when the hardware stores have been out of business for a century or so.


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Monday, June 17, 2002 12:08 AM

TINYTIMM


Quote:

I dunno how cheap and ubiquitous space ships are in this future. But if they're *really* so, then there's no story here, 'cause the Alliance can use those ships to extend its authority to every inhabited planet.


Where will they get the man power? The only thing worse than winning a war is losing one. "Oh Great Leader we have won the WAR!! Forget rebuilding! Let's go conquer a vast wasteland for your Glory!" Now, you may get a couple of nut cases talking like that, but any government based on that kind of idea isn't gonna be around long.

Jeff Timm
Who doesn't underestimate the cost of central government.

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Monday, June 17, 2002 12:17 AM

TINYTIMM


Quote:

Originally posted by Zicsoft:
My opinions come from reading a lot of SF which tries to deal with the problem of keeping technology going at the end of a multi-parsec supply line. Heck you can make a case for industry falling apart simply because you don't have the critical mass of experts to keep it going.



That's the point. I don't think you can base anything but a "smash and grab" strip mining colony on a supply line. It will be a very delicate operation.

Colonies are going to be self sufficient, or they won't be there. The idea that society will comfortably drop back into the late stone age, hunter gatherer economy is the stuff of bad fiction.

Jeff Timm
Who remembers the old joke, "Before white man come to this land, men hunted and fished, women did most heavy work. Stupid white man, thought he could improve on that system."

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Monday, June 17, 2002 2:01 AM

FERALWANDERER


Quote:

Originally posted by Zicsoft:
SNIP

I doubt if Mal got any mustering out pay. He fought for the Confederacy/Independent Faction, not the Union/Alliance.

I dunno how cheap and ubiquitous space ships are in this future. But if they're *really* so, then there's no story here, 'cause the Alliance can use those ships to extend its authority to every inhabited planet.

OK, you can build machine guns out of old car parts. But where do you get the parts? From the nearest junkyard? Which is light-years away, in Alliance-controlled territory.

And I'm still not convinced you could easily manufacture all those brass casings.

I'm not going to pretend to have any real expertise about this. My opinions come from reading a lot of SF which tries to deal with the problem of keeping technology going at the end of a multi-parsec supply line. Heinlein's Tunnel in the Sky and that middle part of Time Enough for Love. S.M. Stirling's recent stuff. There's lots more that I can't remember offhand.

Heck you can make a case for industry falling apart simply because you don't have the critical mass of experts to keep it going. That's the premise of Earth Abides and that Terry Nation series, Survivors. In the latter, there's a scene where a character asks if anybody in the room can build a table from scratch. By which she does not mean going to the hardware store and getting tools, nails, and wood, she means cutting down the tree, making it into boards, joining them together, all using things that will still work when the hardware stores have been out of business for a century or so.




On ship - From what I recall of the review of the opening episode, Mal was legal until things went down during that ep, so he must appear at least to legally have it originally.

I agree on scarcity of ships. I say there are a few but most are likely controlled by major companies/governments - like ocean going ships are now - and only a bunch of smaller one's on the fringe are privately owned. I would also say there are pirates and other macoltents on the fringe where Mal's crew hangs out, making private shipping willing to take risks to ship goods, profitable.

As to guns. Well if you are scarce on ammo, you recycle your brass by having brass catchers (bags) on your smg/rifle extraction ports, and you keep your six shooter brass as well. You then only have to replace the lead, powder and percussion cap. From what I understand this is a fairly simple process for basic small caliber bullets. If you look at our own history, you will see that all the basic elements for obtaining raw materials and smelting relevant metals can be acheived with 5th century AD technology. Think King Arthur, think Roman Empire! So I am fairly confident unless a planet is short of key and what I understand are important elements for life, you will find what you need and will only need the know how. With a large enough population you should be able to increase your technology. I would argue that future computing memory would allow your 24th century all-weather palm pilot to have every bit of knowledge and instruction you would need to construct all modern weapons - and the progressive generation of industry to do this.

I also still think that problems of servicing star ships is going to jar with me if it's not handled well next to the weapons (and other) tech available to everyone. If one small star ship crew like Serenity has the know how and tools to repair their ship, all alone they would in theory be able to over time increase the technology of a colony of thousands in an earth like environment.
So unless the people they run into are barely surviving or clearly isolated from raw materials needed to increase their lot, I will find my suspense of disbelief stretching.

Jason
Sydney, Australia


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Monday, June 17, 2002 11:43 AM

TINYTIMM


From the official website, the picture of Jayne with a rifle. http://www.fox.com/firefly/photos/baldwin_rifle.htm

The rifle appears to be a Blaser R93.
http://www.snipercentral.com/blaser.htm

7.62x51mm NATO (.308 Win,)6 mm Norma BR,.243 Win.,
7.5x55. or .338 Lapua Magnum. I wonder which cartridge will be around in 400 years?






Jeff Timm
Who bets on the 7.62x51mm NATO, after all the 9mm NATO, has been around since 1908.

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Tuesday, June 18, 2002 2:20 PM

TINYTIMM


Back in 1856, Messers Horace Smith and Daniel B. Wesson, used the Rollin White patent (#12,648) and produced the first practical fixed cartridge revolver, the Number 1, for their .22 Caliber rimfire cartridge. During the US Civil War (and I'm not going to open that particular kettle of fish) S&W produced thousands of revolvers, in .22, .32, and .38 caliber.

In 1873 the patent ran out and Colt produced the Legendary 1873 Colt Army Revolver. Aka the Peacemaker.

(Thanks to Edward C. Ezell "Handguns of the World" ISBN 0-88029-618-6)

So, extruding brass is fairly low tech.



Jeff Timm
Who notes the .22 Short has been in constant production for 146 years.

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Wednesday, June 19, 2002 8:46 AM

INARASNEWTOY


I'm a little disapointed in the weapon tech myself...

I mean this IS science fiction after all!

You can have projectile fireing weapons and get creative with them. Just look at Aliens weapons! Both the big rig mounted assult weapons and the smaller machine guns were awesome looking.

I'm sorry, after creative weapons like Farscape's Peacekeeper blasters and Pulse Rifles six shooters just don't cut it. :disapointed:

INT

One evil at a time, that's the best i can do - Farscape

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Wednesday, June 19, 2002 8:47 AM

INARASNEWTOY


Double Post, bad, bad me....


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Wednesday, June 19, 2002 11:33 AM

TINYTIMM


The problem with so many SF weapons is sheer sillyness. With the exception of Will Smith's Jay in MIB.

Shootists have long defined the ideal hand weapon as having the size of a .25 Automatic, the magazine capacity of a Baretta 17 rounds (now limited by law to 10 only) The hitting power of a .44 magnum and the recoil of a Hammerli Free Pistol (or nearly zero) So OK, 3 outta four ain't bad. And no weapon on Earth can blow a neat 8 foot diameter hole through both sides of a semi-trailer. Recoil was a bit much.

Most SF weapons are too big and clumsy to be of much use. As for the Jedi...never bring a knife to a gunfight!


Jeff Timm
Who understands there's this guy at a back table in the Creature Cantina just south of the Sea of Tranquility on Luna who can get me one one of those MIB hideout guns. Anybody got a saucer I can borrow?

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