Relativistic Sky Picture

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

Under a Relativistic Sky, image composition notes: At relativistic speeds, for crews aboard the interstellar colonization Ram-Ships, the appearance of the sky changes as velocity climbs: in the direction of travel stars crawl together slowly, their colors shifting up-spectrum, taking on a blue-white radiance like a handful of diamonds … while in the antipodal direction, starlight red-shifts to the baleful hue of dying embers – to the sides the universe is compressed to a ring of stars glowing in rainbow hues.

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.

Angel's Pencil is the fourth ship to the Procyon colony “We Made It.” It’s construction is part of a UN initiative to establish interstellar colonies. Described as a “Human safe” ramscoop, colonists traveled in cryogenic stasis, the ship being manned by a flight-crew of 12. In the Known Space timeline the ship was launched from Sol System in 2355, and in 2366 made first known contact with the Kzinti when it was attacked by the Kzinti vessel “Tracker.”

This is my re-envisioned version of Niven’s Angel's Pencil.

My re-design is merely one of personal aesthetics, being a long-time fan of Niven’s work, something about the idea of hanging the ships only landing-craft out on the bow of a relativistic starship kept bugging me, leading eventually to this design exercise.

I’ve modified the vessel extensively, to bring it’s appearance more in line with the conventions of theoretical Ram-ship design: 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 name Angel's Pencil no longer fits, so I’ve renamed the ship “Light-Barer” for the obvious thematic parallels out of mythology (i.e. the Prometheus myth, most notably). The Greek word ἑωσφόρος (heōsphoros) is a proper noun, literally meaning “Bringer-of-dawn,” translated as an adjective the word means “Light-barer.”

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 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 Man’s first encounter with the Kzinti.

As part of this short sequence of images I’ll be doing a slight re-design of the Kzinti starship “Tracker” as well.

Used Tools: Bryce 6.3, Bryce Pro 7.1, Photoshop
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-Barer: 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: Prometheus