Indeed. The writing is fantastic. If you really want a good example of David's writing, join the Supporter's club. Sure he's got wallpapers in there, which are nice, but a lot of artists make them and there's only so many wallpapers I can take. The gem are the extra stories he's written in there and they're not just good for getting some indepth knowledge beyond whats in the comic, they're excellently written (even the older ones) and just flow beautifully.
On Stabalisers. Here's something I've gathered together but there's more information to gather yet so it's by no means complete. I know David's explained Stabalisers quite nicely somewhere (probably in a news post under a page) but I haven't come across it yet. There's another post he's made on the Scarborough's Variable allignment stabalisers which explain why they're beneficial.
FASTER-THAN LIGHT travel through space is achieved through a series of "JUMPS", inititated by a starship's "JUMP DRIVE".
Jump Drives generate a pocket of narya particles which temporarily shift a vessel into a hyperspacial dimension commonly known as "riftspace". The riftspace manifold is relative to, but dimensionally distinct from the space-time continuum. An object in riftspace acts as though the speed of light and gravitational constant of the universe were fluid and changeable. The result is that a vessel can travel at an unremarkable speed relative to riftspace, but appear to be travelling at many times the speed of light relative to the spacetime continuum. Technically speaking, the vessel is not moving "faster-than-light" because, as far as it is concerned, light is moving even faster.
Though a vessel travelling through riftspace is affected by spacetime, the vessel is effectively insubstantial and highly maleable. As a result , without precise calculations, a vessel can easily be smeared across space by any substantial gravitic mass (such as a star) - such a vessel would return to normal space as a cloud of dust or gas.
The calculations required for each jump can take minutes or hours, depending on the complexity of the jump. Jumping without properly calculating a course is tantamount to suicide. For safety and efficiency reasons, the standard practice is to calculate inter-stellar jumps from one system's edge to another, and then to calculate a second sub-system jump to reach the desired planet or station.
Jump Drives Explained
In its solid form, an ice-cube can't get to the other side of a sponge, but if we melt it, it can filter through the gaps in the sponge's structure. Once through, the ice-cube can then be re-frozen into it's previous form.
Jump-drives change the structure of the spaceship so that it is able to pass through the gaps in space, aka "riftspace". But there's a problem. A re-frozen ice-cube will have had all of its molecules rearranged while in liquid form. That's alright for water, but bad news for a Starship and its crew.
Stabalisers help to maintain a ship's basic structure while moving through riftspace. Stabiliser technology, though centuries old, is still in its infancy. They are the primary limitation on a ship's maximum jump speed and distance. There are many different approaches to stabiliser design, and they can vary considerably in appearance from one ship to another with some Starships employing wings while others use nacelles.
Even with stabilisers, ships are still highly maleable and vulnerable to the effects of gravity: stars, planets, asteroids, etc. Therefore complicated calculations must take place before each jump. This ensures that the ship, and its crew, won't end up smeared across hundreds of kilometres of space as a cloud of dust.
When a ship jumps into a system it produces a significant burst of energy, essentially an EMP. The exact nature of this burst depends on a variety of factors, such as the ship's size and mass and the configuration of its jump stabilisers. The burst is therefore distinct to each ship class, and has become known as a jump signature since it is possible to quickly identify an incoming ship's class if you have remote sensors rigged to scan for the right data. Ships which have undergone extensive modification, such as Niobe, will have a unique signature. This can be a pro and a con. It means that Niobe won't register as a Tantalus class Corvette, allowing for a degree of anonymity, but if someone knows Niobe's unique signature then they will be able to identify her immediately.
The first successful test of Fast Than Light travel was conducted in the year 2124 and lead to new optimism about interstellar travel and colonisation but is was not until the year 2146 that Faster Than Light travel was finally certified as "Safe for human travel", and the I.S.E.A. announced a "new era of hope for humanity, as we finally embrace our destiny among the stars". Surveyors started using the technology to search nearby systems for planets that were suitable for colonisation.
Mercy Machine wrote:Variable geometry stabilisers eh? Perhaps so that Scarborough can dock in some sort of tunnel back on Golgotha? Incidentally, Mensk plainly had no poetry in his soul. How could you name a ship that looks like that after an unfashionable sea-side town in the north of England? Something like Peregrine or Kestrel or Tercel would be more appropriate.
"The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not mov'd with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils."
A fitting epitaph.
The closed position if for docking and inter-stellar travel, the open position is for sub-stellar travel. Larger, more prominent stabilisers are more effective, but by increasing the ship's profile they also add to calculation time. There's a balance to be struck between designing stabilisers so that they are effective at sub-stellar jumps (which are much slower and more complicated due to the abundance of gravitic bodies) without being so large and elaborate that they make inter-stellar jumps slower and more complicated than necessary. Variable stabilisers are a more elegant solution.
H.M.S. Scarborough was one of the ships of the First Fleet which brought the first convicts to Australia over two hundred years ago. I am descended from a convict named John Nicols
who was transported aboard the Scarborough.
When the first colonial fleet was sent to Tau Ceti in 2163, one of the ships was named Scarborough by another descendent of John Nichols (there are actually quite a few of us out there) - and Mensk was descended from one of the colonists aboard that ship. Mensk was always very proud that his family was descended from the First Colonists.
So what this means is that there are two things which can increase the time it takes to calculate a jump
1. The profile/size of the ship
2. Gravatic bodies (stars/suns and planets, etc)
Now Larger stabalisers help a ship deal better with gravatic bodies and can cut down on calculation time but, obviously, the larger or more spread out they are the greater the profile of the ship that needs to be navigated through riftspace so if they're too big it can actually add to calculation time rather than reduce it.
Inter-stellar travel (travel from one star system to another star system) is generally through open space, so there are very few Gravatic bodies and forces that need to be factored in, so calculations for jumping can be quite quick and is more affected by the size of the ship it needs to take into riftspace.
Sub-stellar travel (travel within a star system, between planets, etc) will be dealing with a lot of gravity from asteroids, commets, planets and the system's star, so these add to calculation time much more than the ship's profile and its a short jump anyway.
Variable stabalisers give the obvious advantage of being able to extend wide for faster calculations on sub-stellar travel close to Gravatic bodies while staying in close for Inter-stellar travel over long distances with little Gravatic bodies exerting any serious forces.
The other obvious advantage is being able to bring the stabalisers in to decrease the profile of the ship and make it harder for guns to hit or simply easier to dock with stations or other ships (Niobe seemed to take up so much space when docked to Espenson Station that its unlikely a ship could have used the dock immediately to the left of it).
Beyond that, I seem to recall mention that the designs of the Stabalisers vary in style depending on the profile of the ship's hull and various theories and implementations of the jump drive systems on the ships AND, of course, you've got to give some room for artistic license in the ship's designs.