January 15, 2013

Sci-Fi Writer Wants to Change the Face of War Forever . . . with Lasers


If you are a hardcore science fiction fan, you have read plenty of books and seen plenty of movies about global warfare. From Nevil Shute’s On the Beach to the 80s classic War Games, sci-fi writers have envisioned a near future where nuclear missiles fly through the sky and, perhaps, annihilate us all. Another common trope in sci-fi is the laser and all its variations, from the phasers and disruptors on Star Trek to the blasters and ion cannons in Star Wars.

And, while inventors have often taken a cue from science fiction when creating new and exciting technology, from cell phones to tablets to medical scanners, most sci-fi writers don’t set out to create the speculative tech that populates their works.

Until now.

He has a multipart plan. Step 1: raise money for his science fiction novel about a near-future global ware between China and the United States. Step 2: use the money from the sales of the book to fund research into a laser EMP that can disable guidance systems on missiles. Step 3: profit. Or change the world forever. Or something.

Of course, sci-fi writers are known for being dreamers, and Weigold had a very specific vision in mind for this project.

"I never had a good idea for an entire fiction book until I started to realize that if directed energy weapons did nullify the effect of guided missile technology, then all of warfare would be changed — especially strategy and tactics," he told reporters at Yahoo! News. If he raises his goal of $20,000 via Kickstarter, he can use the revenue from book sales to bring him closer to the $2 million necessary to develop his laser EMP tech.

The book envisions a future where China launches guided missiles at Western nations. But the US has the Lightning Gun technology, which consists of laser powered electromagnetic pulses designed to knock out the guidance systems of ballistic missiles. This is the technology he wants to bring to the real world, going so far as to recruit physicists who are interested in the project.

This, of course, marks a new merging of fiction and technology, though that trend is growing in ways previously unimagined. At New York Comic Con, I saw a fantasy novelist who had launched an online role playing game based in his fictional world. The actions of the players in the game would influence the plot of his forthcoming novels. And, in April this year, SyFy will debut a property, Defiance, that is both a TV program and a massive multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG). Still, neither of these properties is out to change the world like Weigold. 

Gene Roddenberry probably didn’t imagine his “Wagon Train to the stars” would inspire inventors to create a host of devices that have changed our lives. Maybe, if Weigold is successful, global thermonuclear war will become a thing of the past, and we can all live long and prosper. To find out for sure, we might have to wait for the release Dragon Empire 2.




Edited by Ashley Caputo



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