Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q is for Quark bomb

For the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I'm posting alphabetically on things related to Shayla's world from my (unpublished) novel, Ghosts of Innocence...

This exotic weapon is more potent as a threat to instill fear, than as a realistic weapon of war.

The quark bomb is to nuclear fission, as fission is to chemical explosives. When successfully assembled and detonated, a quark bomb can vaporize a mountain, and its radiation can sterilize a large portion of a planet.

The problem is that it's almost impossible to assemble successfully, let alone deploy under battle conditions.

The quark detonator, which produces the energizing field that initiates the full reaction, is touchy enough, but at least it can be handled. 

With care. 

By an expert. 

And it's small enough to fit in a small backpack.

The problem lies in bringing the fissile fuel together at the right moment without triggering a premature regular boring old nuclear explosion.

A detonator on its own does significant damage, though. It will leave a sizeable hole in a street, noticeably more than a small backpack full of regular explosives.

But the real damage is in the message it sends. Unlike a normal explosion, a quark detonator effectively atomizes everything within a thirty foot radius. The hemispherical crater is extremely clean, and it directs most of the resulting blast of superheated plasma upwards, so nearby buildings suffer relatively little damage. This means that its detonation leaves an unmistakable signature.

A signature which says "you nearly lost this continent."


  1. Well we certainly wouldn't want a boring, run-of-the-mill old nuclear explosion, now would we?

  2. As if nukes weren't bad enough.

  3. That's one chilling message, all right! I kind of miss the day of the sword.

  4. So here's the writer's dilemma: How much of the inner workings of this cool technology do you try to work into the story? Do you info-dump a technical spec some how? Do you ignore the operation because your characters don't know / don't care how it works? (Nobody of sufficient geekery can let it pass without some exposition.)

    I'm lucky in that with fantasy, I don't have advanced technology to show off to my readers. If I did, I'm certain I would fall on the end of the spectrum that ends up trying to put schematics in the book somehow.



  5. Delores: well, that would be boring, wouldn't it? :)

    Torggil, Lee: I don't see any reason why our capacity for destruction wouldn't keep growing :(

    J: I try not to let it be a dilemma. I like to have a good idea of these things in my own mind, so that I can write about how they affect people in the story without actually dumping on the reader. In most cases the operation doesn't feature because characters don't know (or care). There's an example of that coming up in my T post.

    I do have to suppress my inner geek though. :)

  6. Interesting post, Botanist. And I agree with your comment that, "I don't see any reason why our capacity for destruction wouldn't keep growing :(" It is not a fatalist opinion...just that of a realist. :-) Do you have a publishing date?


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