Relativistic Sky Picture

The first in a series of images re-envisioning Larry Niven's short story “The Warriors.”

Composition note: The crew of a ship moving at relativistic velocities will notice some weird effects. The view of the sky will be distorted both fore and aft by relativistic aberration. Doppler shift will make the stars ahead look more blue, and the stars behind will appear more red. Back in the 1970's it was thought that the two effects would combine to make a sort of a rainbow of stars around the ship's destination. Alas, in 1980 a study published in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society did the math and proved that it just wasn't going to happen.

The Space craft:

Larry Niven's description of Angel's Pencil from “The Warriors”: "It had a broad, wide ring encircling a cylindrical axis, like a mechanical pencil floating inside a platinum bracelet "halo".” The habitat ring was spun for spin-induced gravity … The Kzin considered the vessel “the most primitive spacecraft ever seen … ”

In Niven’s short story the Angel’s Pencil is an interstellar Bussard Ramjet, driven by a fusion powered photon-drive, and launched by light-sail. The vehicle is accelerated up to Ramjet speeds by batteries of laser-cannon on Earth’s moon and in the asteroid belt. Upon reaching ram-scoop operational velocity, the light-sail is ejected. The Angel would then fire it's photon-drive, accelerating at .05 g to a final cruise velocity of 0.8c.

This is my re-envisioned version of Niven’s star ship. I’ve modified the vessel extensively, to bring its appearance more in line with the conventions of theoretical Ram-ship design - hence the name Angel's Pencil is no longer appropriate, so I've renamed the spacecraft Light-Bearer – I've moved the landing-craft capture-and-docking deck back behind the life-system and brought the ram-field module to the bow – the idea of hanging your only landing craft out on the nose of a relativistic vehicle just seemed a rather dubious choice for the engineers to make.

Renaming the ship:

Etymology: the Greek word ἑωσφόρος (heōsphoros) is a proper noun, literally meaning “Bringer-of-dawn,” translated as an adjective the word means “Light-bearer.”

Light-Bearer lends the obvious thematic parallels out of mythology, most notably it evokes the Prometheus myth.

Allusions to the Prometheus myth seem particularly appropriate to ”The Warriors:” It can be argued that, in Niven’s story, Steve Weaver’s awakening to the rational requirement of self-preservation had far-reaching effects, weakening the hold the UN government had over mankind. In Niven’s known Space universe the UN’s social-engineers had, for hundreds of years, restricted access to historical records in order to obscure general knowledge of mankind’s past, using a mixture of mind-control techniques, drugs, and psychiatric manipulation to transform Man into a child-like, pliable, robot* – all of which ended with Steve Weavers choice to use the spacecraft's drive as a weapon during Man’s first encounter with the Kzinti.

* On a philosophical note I rather doubt that simply removing knowledge of violence would result in a more passive human (and I rather think the desire to attain this goal is questionable in itself) with or without extensive propaganda, mind-control, or psychiatric manipulation.

Stock Resources: Softbox Lens Flares

Relativistic sky backdrop used numerous NASA/JPL sourced star field images as base for extensive photo-painting.

Related Images:

Light-Bearer: Construction Orbit

Stalking Prey

For those interested in more information on the Bussard Ramjet, and Ramjet derivatives, the following links to Winchell Chung’s Atomic Rocket’s site.

Bussard Ramjet.

Bussard Scramjet.

Alan Bond’s Ram-Augmented Interstellar Rocket (RAIR) .
Continue Reading: The Myths