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SCIENCE FICTION WEAPONS – Terrible Writing Advice

SCIENCE FICTION WEAPONS – Terrible Writing Advice

Hokey fantasy religions and ancient weapons
are no match for a good good science fiction weapon at your side. Intrepid science fiction characters need to
be well armed in their… um totally peaceful mission of exploration! Exploring new worlds to discover new life
and new civilizations goes a lot smoother if you walk softly and carry a big photon
torpedo. Set phasers to copy so we can plunder some
cool science fiction weapons for our setting! Now what future weapon of war should we start
with first? Something classic. Deathray? No. Too classic. I got it! We all know that future battlefields will
be dominated by lasers. Lasers are great weapons that suffer only
a few drawbacks. No not real problems like thermal blooming
or finding a sufficiently compact power source so the future trooper isn’t lugging around
an extension cord. No. The problem with lasers is that while moving
at the speed of light they are super easy to dodge by the main characters and despite
having laser precision shot grouping are very inaccurate since the bad guys can’t seem
to hit anyone with them. Also, lasers have a really powerful kick despite
a complete lack of kinetic force when firing. Writer’s should avoid using lasers for boring
realistic military applications like point defense against explosive projectiles or as
a non-lethal stun weapon. Lasers not got enough punch? I think I’ll use plasma weapons instead. A plasma weapon is simply a super-heated beam
or bolt of high energy matter that is hot enough to transition from gas to matter’s
fourth state, plasma. How is this energy contained and directed? Um… space science stuff, obviously. It’s just like real life plasma torches. That should stop those critical emails from
hard scifi nuts. Plasma weapons too sophisticated or maybe
you don’t like watching your imperial guardsman explode. Then why not try some good old fashion rail-guns. Using electromagnetic force to propel projectiles
along a rail, hence rail gun, is actually a weapon we have in real life. Seriously, the navy already has one. This is great for near future settings. Unfortunately, near future settings are also
incapable of miniaturization hence why rail-guns are relegated to starships only. Infantry and ground vehicles will have to
make due with old-fashion ballistics so the author doesn’t have to get out of their
comfort zone… er I mean they haven’t developed a power source compact enough to power small
arms sized rail-gun weapons. Just ignore those lasers we are using alongside
our ballistic weapons. Their battery is different okay! We can’t have our science fiction weapons
get too crazy. Armies of the future should still be shooting
conventional missiles at one another even if point defense technology makes them worthless. We need to keep things understandable for
the modern audience. Sometimes our weapon design requires only
a subtle touch, like a giant robot! Nothing is more subtle than that! Our giant robot is the ultimate weapon of
war as it has no equals on the battlefield even as it sinks into the soil thanks to ground
pressure. Smaller drones in supporting roles or integrating
AI into conventional vehicles won’t work because none of those are as cool as a giant
robot. What! Those boring tanks with their low profile
and sloped armor trashed my giant robot! How? A single shot sent my giant robot’s internal
structure collapsing in on itself. Oh. I see. The dreaded square cube law strikes again. I should have built my giant robot out of
contrivium. That would make my giant robot invincible! Nothing can hurt it! If only we had some kind of super weapon to
stop the enemy giant robot! Like a big explosive of some kind. Like a weapon that wields the power of atomic
energy to produce an unparalleled destructive force. Alas, I know of no such technology that has
existed since 1945 that could do such a thing. If such a terrible, destructive weapon did
exist, then an author should probably create an effective counter measure to make sure
future space battles don’t turn into nuke fights. Hmm… Come to think of it, I should probably add
some super-weapons. Super-weapons should be powerful enough to
destroy entire planets. This large and expensive weapon of mass destruction
will be hyper advanced and truly huge in scale. The destructive potential of this weapon is
only matched by the staggering resource requirements in order to build and maintain it. It’s really too bad they don’t have access
to that aforementioned technology from 1945. Nuking a planet from orbit would be a lot
cheaper than maintaining a moon sized space station. Same goes for the rebels who have to resort
to daring space fighter raids to destroy super weapons rather than firing a few nukes at
the enemy doom station and calling it a day. Then again, I can’t really think of any
real life examples of expensive super military projects that the enemy just finesses their
way past. Wait. I think I’m forgetting something. Oh right. Even though I gave my futuristic military
forces weapons, I should also give them some clever tactics as well. Now with all of these lasers, missiles, plasma
bolts, and super weapons mounted on giant robots being thrown around our forces should
carefully use the very cunning tactic of bunching up and charging at the enemy in a big mob. Clustering troops is a great idea when the
enemy is using explosive, area of effect weapons. Air support? Armored columns in open terrain? Combine arms operations? All of that is unseeded. Having both sides formulate a strategy before
tactically deploying their forces is dumb because then the heroes can’t swoop in at
the last minute and single handedly turn the tide of battle. Bonus points if the hero uses a science fiction
themed sword in a setting with primarily ranged weapons. What author is dumb enough to do that? Um… I mean swords are cool so a scifi writer should
have no hesitation when adding them into a futuristic setting even if they have no way
of nullifying ranged firepower. Personal deflector shields would just cramp
the good guy’s style. Can’t have that. Gotta kill that red shirt somehow. So we now have an arsenal of high tech weapons
for our science fiction setting. Our forces are made up of endless legions
armed with missiles, lasers, and plasma weapon systems. Our generals now use only the latest cutting
edge tactics to obtain total battlefield superiority. Super weapons rule space while giant robots
dominate planet-side. This military force has no equal. Nothing can defeat them… well except alien primitives armed with sticks
and stones. Can’t bomb them into the stone age because
they are already there. Even though high tech armies are maintained
by logistical networks that allow for combat on a planetary scale, they will still lose
outright to freaking tiny tribes of cave men that haven’t even made their first wheel. I guess sheer pluck gives them the knowledge
on how to effectively wage a guerrilla war against an enemy that outnumbers them in the
billions. Unfortunately high tech weapon systems and
futuristic armies are simply no match against primitive alien tribes armed with nothing
more than their quick wits, some cool alien monsters and a few trusty stone tools. Better luck next time military industrial
complex. DARK LORD: You said I would do all of your
sponsor reads. JP: I am altering the deal. Pray I don’t alter it any further DARK LORD: Hey… that’s a pretty good line
actually. I think I’ll save that one for later. JP: NNNNOOOOs always have reverb for some
reason. DARK LORD: None of that matters now, pathetic
love triangle man. All of this channel’s sponsors are now mine,
including today’s. I shall possess the power of audible. CONSPIRATOR: We simply allow you to think
that. All according to plan. DARK LORD: Oh great. It’s you ancient conspiracy guys again. I see you have returned to haunt me. CONSPIRATOR: I am not a ghost. This is hologram. We used them to fake the moon when the astronauts
landed on it. Those fools were none the wiser. DARK LORD: Didn’t the last of you die by
my hand? CONSPIRATOR: We got better. More importantly, I see that you have another
sponsor lined up. DARK LORD: My sponsor. CONSPIRATOR: Do you even know what audible
is? DARK LORD: Of course I know what an edible,
eh adu… of course I know what it is! CONSPIRATOR: Clearly you could use some real
time intel. As it turns out, my organization possesses
the information you require. DARK LORD: 80, 20 split CONSPIRATOR: 50, 50. DARK LORD: 70 30 CONSPIRATOR: Done! DARK LORD: Excellent. Now what’s an audible? CONSPIRATOR: Easy! Audible is… hang on minute. Hey guys, anyone know what audible is? Is it anything like a Walkman or betamax? GUY IN THE BACKGROUND: Okay, grandpa CONSPIRATOR: Stop calling me grandpa and just
answer the question. CONSPIRATOR: Let me put you on hold for a
moment. NARRATOR: Some time later
CONSPIRATOR: Okay. We abducted some schmoe off street and tortured
him until he broke and he told us everything. We learned that Audible is an online service
that provides an unmatched collection of audio books. DARK LORD: Books? Oh I know what those are. Those are those things I burn when I conquer
new lands. Can’t have the peasantry getting too educated. CONSPIRATOR: You can access your audio-book
from a free app for iPhone, iPad, Android, and Windows phone. It’s great for multitasking as you can listen
to a book while performing a separate task like driving, exercising, secretly pulling the strings of world leaders or some other menial
chore. DARK LORD: I can listen on my phone? Great! CONSPIRATOR: You have phone? How? You live in a fantasy world. DARK LORD: I got it some tribe of amazons. CONSPIRATOR: Okay. Then why don’t you recommend a book you
enjoyed. DARK LORD: I love Paradise Lost! I really like that angel of light guy. I really identify with him for some reason. CONSPIRATOR: Yeah I bet you do. DARK LORD: Go to or text
terrible to 500-500. CONSPIRATOR: That’s audible . Com / terrible
or text terrible to 500-500 and get a 30 day trail and be rewarded with a free audiobook. Now it’s time for your reward, Darklord. DARK LORD: Curses! CONSPIRATOR: Yes. I’m betraying you now. DARK LORD: Not that. I was going say “I am altering the deal. Pray I don’t alter it any further.” CONSPIRATOR: That’s from Star Wars. Besides, my betrayal line is much cooler than
yours. DARK LORD: No it isn’t. CONSPIRATOR: Yes it is. DARK LORD: No it isn’t. CONSPIRATOR: Yes it is.

Reader Comments

  1. We have enough nukes on earth to send any planet into pure chaos by launching just 4 or 5 nukes at the planet (Dust storms would occur and their world would slowly turn uninhabitable.)

  2. Ok, now I am going to come off as one of those people who every Youtuber hates, however you have a few things wrong with your fantasy and real-world examples. One: The normal soldiers do not get the power armor because it weighs close to 100 pound (450 kg). As such, according to the lore, only with extreme training and both biological and mechanical augmetics allow the Spartans to use said power armor. Next, the Maginot Line was a decent idea. I would suggest the series "Brilliant" strategies of ww2 done by a YouTuber known as Eastory. Simply put, the main reason behind France losing was due to the fact that the Germans managed to cross several natural defenses that were previously thought impassable by the French and as such put the bare minimum fortifications there. Aside from that, I would say good video. It was enjoyable and as an aspiring author, I appreciate the advice. Thank you and have a great day.

  3. You forgot that all future ground vehicles will move on mechanical leg despite the obvious flaws.

  4. Even if some magic super material existed to make giant mechs out of, realistically wouldn’t it just be much cheaper to deck out your tanks with the material instead of building one huge, slow, robot?

  5. 1:15 Light may not have mass, but it does have momentum, subjecting any light emitting object to conservation of momentum. This effect only noticeable without instruments at very high power levels, ex. The Death Star.

  6. This one, kind of sucked… I know it's making fun of tropes for fun, but I mean I could go on about most point's in this video, why they don't matter and what the script writers got wrong/misunderstood about science, military and so on… maybe i just took it too seriously. Love your vids in general.

  7. One thing about nukes. While people often overestimate their inherent fragility and bulk, they still are fragile and bulky in comparison to conventional kinetic weapons.

    If a 100 gram kinetic dart at ludicrously high speeds will go straight through a spaceship at Mach 100 and eviscerate everything inside from reactors to crew to weapons to fuel supply, you do not need a nuclear weapon to then turn the eviscerated starship into plasma. More to the point, a nuke is a pretty big payload for some counter-measure-defeating kinetic missile to carry.

  8. It is funny that alien primitives manage to defeat imperialist invaders EVER.

    Realistically those who defeat giant empires usually have support. Barring that, we are talking decades long guerrilla wars or protracted people's war, or actually have technological advantages. See: North Korea, the USSR, and China had AK47s by 1949 but America didn't really have a proper assault rifle, the M16, until 1963 or so. Also the North had China and the USSR on their side and still only managed to pull out a ceasefire.

  9. Remember to not use robot soldiers (or even AI cannons), and if you use them they must work for the evil guys and they can't be smarter than humans.

  10. And don't forget. If you build giant robots you must force have other characters force a 14 year old to fight in it. Bonus points if the person forcing the 14 year old is their father who abandoned him.

    God I hate how much hate Shinji gets. It is like people forget he is still a child.

  11. My soldiers generally just use conventional guns that are pretty similar to current ones. Plasma and laser weapons are only used in space, and the lasers are only used for point-defense. The bigger guns use heated rods that really hurt when they hit something.
    As for using nukes, it's purely for sieging planets and annihilating defenses, or just straight wiping out the population, depending on what empire it is.

  12. I have a feeling you'd like the Hema from Warframe. It's an assault rifle made out of tumour that makes it's ammo out of your blood. Not particularly cliche.

  13. The emperor's plasma weapons do not overheat, spreading disinformation to the loyal citizens and soldiers of the Imperium will be punished by death. Please wait for your local Adeptus Arbites to arrive.
    Signed: your local Inquisitorial HQ.

  14. Low-tech weapons have their place, but it must be made clear in the story that they take advantage of weaknesses in high technology. Forcefields stop or divert energy weapons? Shoot projectiles. Your high-tech camouflage can conceal body-heat but not the energy signature of your fancy energy weapon? Yep, ordinary firearms and knives. Can your fancy-ass navigation and targeting systems be hacked? Train in the use of old-fashioned maps, compasses, binoculars, and scopes (besides hardening your systems and keeping backups).

    And let's not forget that all the fancy armor and technology in the world can lead to complacency, allowing the people who DON'T have fancy armor and technology to sneak in and cause endless trouble because nobody thought to — metaphorically speaking — put screens on the windows and lock the deadbolts on the doors.

  15. I've actually seen a good book where the main characters use swords in a science fiction setting. It's called "Winds of Marque" and it makes sense due to a simple reason: in a starship floating in the void of space, the last thing you want is to puncture the ship's hull with a stray shot. So when fighting on a starship, characters tend to use melee weapons while holding guns back in case of emergencies.

  16. Muv-Luv is pretty much the only Sci-fi I know who can make up logic reasons why Giant Robot(most of which we're named after real fighter aircrafts) was invented. Not mentioning the interesting world building and their weapons are pretty conventional, hardly flashy, and in no way overpowered. Too bad the series is so underrated….

    And I shit you not, lowly MBTs and even insurgents with RPGs can take those robots down.

  17. 1:10 Wouldn't powerful lasers have a kick? Photons have momentum, so by conservation of momentum you would feel a kick. Also, what's "kinetic force"?

  18. The moment that you have light speed or FTL technology, internal consistency with weapons is out the window.

  19. Your video is wrong. Technically they beat the primitives with bows and arrows. They got throughly trashed by the local wildlife. Animals that are not even remotely intelligent or cunning and have to rely on the weapons and armor they were biologically given. They were pretty much beaten by a stampede and a aggravated nest of flying lizards.

  20. Big fancy superweapons might be incredibly expensive and less efficient than nukes, but they could still have their place in sci-fi. They would act more as a deterrent than anything else, just like modern-day nukes just sit in missile silos their entire lifetime without actually being fired. Having a planet-destroying superweapon would also have alot of shock value. Of course, using a superweapon as a deterrent would only really apply if your evil galactic empire is fighting a symmetrical war against an opposing state with similar military power, so it doesn't really work in the Empire vs. Rebels situation of Star Wars.
    Regarding the Maginot Line, it actually did what it was supposed to do. It forced the Germans to invade from the North, so the French could concentrate their defense in that region instead of spreading out along the entire Eastern border of France. It wasn't the Maginot Line that failed, it was the French military in the North that failed.

  21. Square cubes law doesn't work on dinosaur Godzillas or legendary Godzilla because they're bones evolve with them to hold that weight

  22. Uh… Have you ever tried peacefully exploring somewhere like Pakistan?

    And those space captains have a crew to protect.

  23. I know Star Wars has terrible logic with their weapons and fighting, aside maybe the lightsaber duels in the first trilogy. But re-watching the Clone Wars (one of my top five or even three favorite shows btw) I kept cringing at the tactics used in the Second Invasion of Geanosis Arc. Like, marching "parade style" towards a highly guarded factory? Seriously? I get that it was a distraction but Anakin could of been smarter! And the landing strategy was ridiculous too, no wonder it was so disastrous…

    "Remember when I warned you about the giant wall and you said 'don't worry, Snips, we won't go anywhere near that'!"

  24. A highly advanced sci-fi army defeated by natives with sticks and stones.
    Man, Return of the Jedi certainly isn't the worst Star Wars movie and it wrapped up the trilogy quite decently, but the Ewoks defeating the Empire sure was dumb as hell.

  25. I don't think we would have hand held guns in the far distant future, after all our ancestors probably thought we would still be using bow and arrows to this day. By then I think we would have some drone which could fire hundreds of thousands of point laser attacks over a distance of kilometres and track down enemies.

  26. I have a few questions Terrible Writing Advice: How would one go about making a cyborg that runs on plasma, how to recharge batteries uaing plasma, and what affects should occur when cyborg uses plasma-based attacks

  27. Slight problem I see, the poke on Star Wars, while yes it is space fantasy and takes liberties, the Death Star was in-universe difficult to maintain, and lorewise took decades of planning, construction, and Imperial planet enslavements gathering resources, thus the start of what caused the rebellions. Yes, rebellions. And not all this is relegated to outside the movies, you can see it from Episode II to III to Solo to Rogue One to IV. Its not up front and glaring in your face the whole time, but it is there

  28. While I may not agree with terrible writing advice's thoughts on gundums and mechs I did however enjoy the"Megas XLR" reference. A great but tragically underrated and forgotten show. Also bonus points for all the other sci-fi references. I think he hit most if not all of them at least all the main ones that people will know and care about.

  29. Let’s be real though, paradise lost is a great book and everyone identifies just a little bit with Lucifer. That’s part of the point of telling things from his perspective.

  30. Near future space combat will most likely consist of people hundreds of kilometers away firing nukes at one another

  31. Just call your weapons "blasters" or "phasers" or something else that doesn't exist in the real world. Then you can have them be as nonsensical as you want and no one can say you're being unrealistic? It doesn't matter if whatever your weapons shoot seems to move extremely slowly or seems to do very little damage when hitting e.g. walls but cause a person that's hit to just disappear leaving almost nothing behind.

  32. Blowing planets up is an enormous waste of energy. Something like a hundred million times less energy would be sufficient to melt the entire surface which should be enough from a military point of view.

  33. Oh man…

    So I was playing something of a wargame with someone where I was using guerrillas armed with standard kinetic and laser weapons against a hyperadvanced space empire. The big empire guy’s entire strategy consisted of Zerg rushing me with mounted soldiers who had swords that were overpowered as hell. Overpowered swords, however, don’t mean anything when you’re using machine guns.

    If you’re curious to know how it ended, I eventually obtained and used nuclear missiles to shoot his ships out of the sky as they entered the atmosphere and EMP masses of troops so I could come in and obliterate his forces. He threw something like a fourth of his military force at me before another interstellar empire forced him into a surrender. About a week later yet another interstellar empire rolled in with a giant fleet and wiped him off the face of the galaxy.


    Edit: “Mounted” means cavalry. Like, organic mounts.

  34. so what I got from this is never use giant robots or anything not based in reality when writing sci-fi and or sci-fantasy?

  35. Actually a laser would have a really powerful kick if it's hot enough from the rapid expansion and collapse of air. Similar to the thunder of a lightningbot.

  36. You realize that if you’re a Space based civilization it would be cheaper to just fling a giant piece of tungsten at a planet since a nuke would just leave a place irradiated and thus uninhabitable

  37. All other YouTube channels, this is how you you do sponsorships. Congrats on the 200 thousand you deserve it and more c:

  38. Nitpicking, but lasers do actually produce recoil. Light is massless but it still carries kinetic energy and still imparts force. It’s just negligible except in very large amounts.

    Which is where laser weaponry comes in. If you have a laser gun powerful enough to instantaneously vaporize a human body? You’re talking a gigawatt range laser at least which actually would have the photons producing enough recoil to be very noticeable, on par with modern large caliber pistol cartridges and smaller rifle cartridges. The bigger issue with such a weapon then isn’t the recoil produced, but rather how the user manages to fire it without also giving themselves severe burns and possibly incinerated from the rapidly superheated atmosphere and thermal bloom redirecting some of that energy back at them.

    Also, missiles still make sense in a setting with laser point defense. A laser point defense system needs to stay on target for a set period of time in order to destroy it. How long this is can be decreased with a stronger laser. However, that generally means a bulkier housing which will increase the time it takes to traverse it to a target and also will generate greater waste heat necessitating improved cooling.

    So missiles in such a setting make sense as a way to overwhelm laser PD systems as the system either won’t be able to shoot them all down or will overheat before it can.

  39. Did I already mention that the plasma is formed into balls through microwaves & launched as ball lightning in a plasma rifle? Cause, I could have sworn I did. : / also, scifi layers are just laser propelled plasma streams, but, let's not get " too " technical. : /

  40. Also, many mechs are about the size of tanks, with legs to allow jumping capabilities, like in metal slugs. Larger ones, like gundams, are seen activating there jets frequently I'm the older series, even when only running. This is primarily because, the legs are used, as cheap BALANCING devices, &, not as the primary source of mobility. This means less complex moving parts on the jets, while essentially solving the " hovertank " issue, of large , quick armored vehicles.

    Baisicly, if you can justify putting the spider legs from the Johnny quest robot on a rocket powered hover tank & giving it a " flail tank " option, then, you can justify a giant robot.

  41. I love that Guardsman's spunk. Give him a promotion if he lives.

    But seriously, I love how the 40k descriptions of lasguns vary widely but some mention them having no recoil.

  42. Are there any of these where you mention finding a reason for ground combat to even exist in sci-fi settings?

  43. Actually we have real- very lightweight coilguns which are similar in principle to railguns. The only problem is that they don’t have the same velocity as conventional ballistics.

  44. 1:25 Now thats just completely wrong.

    If any guardsman would dare to insult the glorious Lasgun, he would have a second asshole blasted out by a commisars bolt round before he even notices.

  45. I always maintain that conventional weapons IE bullets will remain the infantry choice in future settings, but on Space board capitol ships will be replaced by either rail guns or high powered lasers.

  46. I feel like some of these issues can typically be covered by "suspension of disbelief", assuming that suspension is well-maintained.

  47. I am a big fan of warhammer 40k weapons.
    many people tend to give the universe a lot of shit for being to OP and rediculouse at first glance, but a lot of it actually makes a lot of sense and has coold ideas.
    like, the Emired Laser rifle has some logical advantages and disadvantages.
    it is much easier to maintain and supply than constantly needing to manufacture ammunition. it is fairely powerful, despite its nickname, the emperors flashlight, but it actually aonly struggels against armored targets.

    and YES I understand this is a non seriouse sarcastical pot shot series.

  48. unconquerable army armed with sticks and stones approaches
    "Can't bomb them into the stone age because they are already there."

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