BattleTech - The Board Game of Armored Combat

Catalyst Game Labs => Ask the Writers => Topic started by: Akamia on 04 March 2021, 18:51:34

Title: Lasers: Visible beam or invisible beam?
Post by: Akamia on 04 March 2021, 18:51:34
Let me preface this by acknowledging why visible-beam lasers happen in visual mediums like video games and movies; people like a light show, and they also like to see where weapons are being shot. This is often an acceptable break from reality across science fiction, from what I understand, including the ones on the harder end of the scale that still feature laser weapons, for the reasons stated.

In books and other mediums that are much less visual, though, this trope seems far less necessary, at least to me, but still happens on occasion.

I have to ask this now, though, because I’m still reading Decision at Thunder Rift, by William Keith, and the first couple of chapters described lasers as invisible beams, like they would be in real life, while some of the later chapters seemed to have disregarded that. On the other hand, far as I got, there was no mention of actual beams being emitted, just light reflected off of surroundings, or just straight out blinding light.

The two latest novels, both by Blaine Pardoe, went full visible-beam in the prose.

Do the characters in-universe actually see the beams the way we do every time we play the video games, or are the beams invisible except at the target point like real life laser light...? Or is this one of those things that really does strictly depend on the writer? ;D

(I’m not even going to get into the colors of said beams; red seems to be pretty common as far as the novels and short stories I’ve read so far are concerned, though.)
Title: Re: Lasers: Visible beam or invisible beam?
Post by: cray on 04 March 2021, 19:18:09
Most BattleTech descriptions of lasers describe them as brilliant, visible, colorful beams and pulses, just like you'd see flying out of the roof of a Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy. Some of the earliest writing, like Decision at Thunder Rift, was a little more attentive to realistic laser behavior and made them mostly invisible, just like fusion engines were described as non-explosive in the earliest books.
Title: Re: Lasers: Visible beam or invisible beam?
Post by: Akamia on 04 March 2021, 19:31:33
The fusion reactors are still mostly non-explosive, aren't they? Unless you're Michael Stackpole, at least? ;D

Stackpole's work aside, I don't think I recall reading in any fairly recent work about BattleMechs - or anything else using such an engine - exploding spectacularly because of engine damage.

In any case, that's a bit strange. Aside from "turbolaser" batteries, I don't think Star Wars ever claimed their energy weapons were lasers. They always call them "blasters", and I assumed they were shooting some sort of plasma, not photons. lol

But fair enough, I guess. I think I prefer to interpret the lasers in a more realistic manner, but I wanted to know what the official word on them was, if there was any.
Title: Re: Lasers: Visible beam or invisible beam?
Post by: cray on 05 March 2021, 21:21:30
The fusion reactors are still mostly non-explosive, aren't they? Unless you're Michael Stackpole, at least? ;D

So long as authors keep reading Tech Manual's description of engine explosions, hopefully. :)