1. Very interesting 🙂 Maybe if ships don’t have shields, crews might just concentrate on finding ships, catching up and boarding them, fighting with regular weapons once on the inside? Fighting inside scifi ships seems to happen often enough, though I probably haven’t read enough to know if it’s a trope for such battles to be standard due to a lack of shields/no captain wanting to risk huge holes blown in their ships during a fight?

    How often do people seem to explore ships as being giant computers to be hacked? I see lots of instances where people try to infiltrate a ship, sit down in front of the main computer or some terminal and do hacking there. But even on current computers, much hacking is done remotely. I could imagine a ship pulling into port, a hacker (remotely) infecting it with a virus of some sort, and maybe when the ship clears the planet the virus automatically shuts down the ship’s mobility and defense systems, leaving it vulnerable to the pirates that hacked the ship.

    • Travis Perry says:

      The trope of shields being down, so we can board the ship, doesn’t really apply when shields don’t exist at all. I mean if shields DO exist you can get space vessels relatively close to each other without powerful weapons guaranteed to destroy the enemy coming into play. Then if the shields go down on one of them, you can board, especially with highly fictional transporter-style technology.

      But if nobody has shields but weapons remain powerful (and nuclear weapons and antimatter ARE powerful), it would be really hard to board a ship because combat would happen from far enough away that distance itself would give some protection from enemy weapons. Closing in beyond a certain range would be suicidal. If you came in to board, the enemy would nuke you long before you got close!

      Of course boarding would still happen under some circumstances, but it would happen less in a world without Star Trek-style shields, not more.

      As for hacking your enemies’ weapons array, that requires you to know exactly what kind of computer system they use, gain access to that system, then target the system with an attack. We are vulnerable to Intetnet viruses because the number of possible computer systems are known and we leave access open in one way or another to use to Internet at all. I can see no reason why future warships wouldn’t close all digital commo to their Internet systems in a combat zone, so I doubt you could hack a starship at war (not to mention you’d might have no idea how alien computers would work). But hacking a warship at port or in peacetime would seem a real possibility!

      • I guess that makes it important to think about who is developing space tech and which cultures have it/are in control, then. Well, maybe not in a Star Wars like universe where it’s so futuristic that most planets are going to have multiple types of space tech. But maybe in a universe where space travel is much younger, development for space travel could be expensive enough that there were only one or two species capable of it, or one or two brands of spaceship operating systems available. But in a Star Wars type universe, hacking would be more specialized, or even accomplished through AI.

        There’s been more and more talk about using AI to guard against hacking, actually. So I guess that’s something else to keep in mind.

    • Larry P. says:

      Actually in Wrath of Khan Kirk uses his computer terminal and Khan’s computer’s access cod to take down the shields.

  2. Larry P. says:

    A game I play uses three different defenses for three different types of weapons. Point Defense for missile which would also include ecm since missle type weapons should have some form of guidance system whether torpedoes or missiles. Kinetic energy weapons would require armor although objects moving near light speed would really have too much penetrating power for armor to stop. Some means of deflecting the projectile into a path that will not hit the ship might be more effective. Shields would only be effective against beam weapons although as you have pointed out electromagnetic weapons would be hard to shield against in actuality. Another point is that some defenses would require some way to fire your own weapons and perhaps even to see or use sensors.

    In another vien I have an objection to most scifi shiop design as command centers are generally very vulnerable.

What do you think?