Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Science Fiction Wishlist (A Grabbag) — Part Two: Personal Craft

     At this point, wish-fulfillment 'me' has a lightsaber slung to his belt in some unnamed Sci-Fi universe.  Or stashed in a coat pocket.  Have to figure that one could easily hide either a lightsaber or one of the garage door opener looking phasers in just regular clothing.  The lightsaber doesn't look like it is anything more than a poorly designed flashlight.  Now I need a way of getting around.
     What should I use?
     There are more choices, I'm sure, than I could ever reasonably think of in short order.  Would I want something as simple as Luke's landspeeder from Star Wars?  Have the wind whipping through what is left of my hair?  Would I want the BattleMech I used as my command vehicle for six years (and three different campaigns), the Catapult?  Well, if I could be guaranteed it would be the CPLT-27 version I put together with scavenged Clan tech – two LRM 20s, four Medium Pulse Lasers, double heatsinks, and more armor – for Captain Jonathan Alexander Frost.  But it is a 65 ton Mech, or about the weight of an M1A1 Abrams, and I see there being some serious problems getting it around most places.  Add in the fact that those long range missiles have a maximum range of about half a mile and it just seems so far from optimal.  Cool looking, but not optimal.
     How about VR-052 Battler Cyclone power cycle? You get all of the coolness of riding a motorcycle with extra safety equipment and all of the utility of a suit of power armor with forearm mounted mini-missiles and an EP-37 Beam Rifle at hand.  It runs on protoculture (or a distilute of the essence of the Flower of Life, since the series was pretty clear that they can run out of fuel after a few months of constant use), so gas prices aren't an issue.  It even folds into a small(ish) box when not in use.  The downside?  Well, there is the matter of how I feel about motorcycles.  The more pressing one would be that when being used as power armor it requires the user to carry most of the weight of the vehicle.  And how do you explain to the cool Sci-Fi heroes why you have wheels sticking out behind your head?
     Besides, I have a feeling that the personal craft should be one that can fly.  And not just fly in an atmosphere or space, but both.  And it should look cool.  Maybe like the old Cylon Raiders.
I had the toy for the Raider that actually shot the missiles.  Actually had a couple of the Vipers – word to the wise, the stickers on them held up much worse to the bathtub than did those on the X-Wing – but the Raider was always one of the favorites.  Maybe because it had that creepy mix of flying saucer design to go with its Luftwaffe gray color scheme.  I think it had more to do with the fact that not only did it fire two missiles (as opposed to the Viper's one), but it was pretty accurate out to about ten feet.  Great for shooting my brother.  
Pretty sure the missiles on ours were yellow, but this is what the toy looked like.
     Still, love of the toy should not be the deciding factor.  
     I guess my runner up would be the SA-23J Starfury "Thunderbolt", the improved version of the human fighter pods from Babylon 5.   Never mind how ridiculous the notion of fighters for space combat.  If we paid attention to practicalities, I wouldn't have a lightsaber swinging from the hip.  It fulfills the desire to have the presumed daring-do of WWI era dogfighting in a Sci-Fi universe, just as the lightsaber brings swordplay out of the Medieval and Renaissance tales.  And the Thunderbolt version of the Starfury looks like a cross between an Anime style fighter and the X-Wing.
It is even a little reminiscent of the craft from The Last Starfighter.  But where I want to give the B5 team credit is in giving at least a small acknowledgement to the physics of space combat.  The Starfuries spin about on thrusters, and moving in whatever direction is necessary instead of just away from engines.  Besides, given all of the B5 bashing I am going to be doing next week (maybe in two weeks, we'll see), I should give the series some degree of credit.

     No, if I can only have one personal vehicle, I am going with the VF-1J Veritech Fighter from Robotech/Macross.  Not only is it clearly a rip-off of the F-14 Tomcat (which was largely obsolete when Maverick made flying it look cool in Top Gun), but it turns into a giant robot fighter.  Well, first it turns into something that looks like this:
This is known as either the Gerwalk or Guardian mode (depending on what level of purity one chooses as the source material).  It allows for flying around like a jet (sort of) with all of the fun of wielding a gun and punching things like a robot.
      It looks like the figure above when in battloid mode (NOT GOING TO CALL IT BATTROID).  Perfect for fighting giant aliens or just menacing anyone else.  It is the versatility of the craft – along with how cool it looks, and my enduring love of Robotech – that makes it a clear winner.  It can carry loads of long range missiles (which means that they can go about 1,000 miles) with Reflex warheads (all the blast of nuclear weapons, none of that worrisome lingering radiation).  It can fight in space and the atmosphere.  And it will run for close to 15 years before the power gives out.  
     Plus, it doesn't need a droid plugged into it for the pilots to kick ass.
If only there were a chance of them being real.  Or at least getting proper big screen treatment.