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Author Topic: Lasers: Visible beam or invisible beam?  (Read 805 times)

Akamia

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Lasers: Visible beam or invisible beam?
« 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.)
Let's all go to Cargonia, land of stolen things
Obey the quartermaster unless he is a 'ling
Cargo techs guard the station and find more stuff to take
But the boss is never satisfied until the station breaks...

cray

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Re: Lasers: Visible beam or invisible beam?
« Reply #1 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.
Mike Miller, Materials Engineer

**"A man walks down the street in that hat, people know he's not afraid of anything." --Wash, Firefly.
**"Well, the first class name [for pocket WarShips]: 'Ship with delusions of grandeur that is going to evaporate 3.1 seconds after coming into NPPC range' tended to cause morale problems...." --Korzon77
**"Describe the Clans." "Imagine an entire civilization built out of 80’s Ric Flairs, Hulk Hogans, & Macho Man Randy Savages ruling over an entire labor force with Einstein Level Intelligence." --Jake Mikolaitis


Disclaimer: Anything stated in this post is unofficial and non-canon unless directly quoted from a published book. Random internet musings of a BattleTech writer are not canon.

Akamia

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Re: Lasers: Visible beam or invisible beam?
« Reply #2 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.
« Last Edit: 04 March 2021, 19:34:17 by Akamia »
Let's all go to Cargonia, land of stolen things
Obey the quartermaster unless he is a 'ling
Cargo techs guard the station and find more stuff to take
But the boss is never satisfied until the station breaks...

cray

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  • Posts: 5988
  • How's it sit? Pretty cunning, don't you think?
Re: Lasers: Visible beam or invisible beam?
« Reply #3 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. :)
Mike Miller, Materials Engineer

**"A man walks down the street in that hat, people know he's not afraid of anything." --Wash, Firefly.
**"Well, the first class name [for pocket WarShips]: 'Ship with delusions of grandeur that is going to evaporate 3.1 seconds after coming into NPPC range' tended to cause morale problems...." --Korzon77
**"Describe the Clans." "Imagine an entire civilization built out of 80’s Ric Flairs, Hulk Hogans, & Macho Man Randy Savages ruling over an entire labor force with Einstein Level Intelligence." --Jake Mikolaitis


Disclaimer: Anything stated in this post is unofficial and non-canon unless directly quoted from a published book. Random internet musings of a BattleTech writer are not canon.

 

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