Sunday, January 18, 2015

Naval architecture

Shayla Carver spends a fair amount of time on board Imperial warships. Although there are only a few brief descriptions of her surroundings, I drew rough plans of the layout to guide me and to ensure inner consistency between one chapter and the next. It was these rough drawings that I fleshed out recently and posted to my website.

In doing so, I wanted to avoid the clean interior lines of Star Trek Federation ships, or the monolithic intimidating feel of Star Wars Imperial craft. Instead, I drew heavily on twentieth century naval plans to get a worked-in look and feel, steeped in the weight of history. In Shayla's time, most ships of the Imperial fleet are many centuries old.

Research included studying real plans from sources such as the excellent Anatomy of the Ship series, and seeking out online examples such as the USS Arizona. I also drew on memories of visiting HMS Belfast, moored in London.
The biggest impression I get is of function over style. Whereas spaces designed for living in tend to have some visible unifying architectural themes, the internal layouts of warships are dominated by the machinery they carry. Living and working spaces are crammed in wherever they can fit, with little regard for human comfort. The end result has a rather chaotic feel to it, with no effort wasted on aesthetics. Uncompromising mechanics intrude everywhere.

Of course, the physical requirements of a warship in space are very different from those of one afloat, but the principles for me remained the same: arrange the major engineering and combat components first, then storage, and only then think about the crew.

8 comments:

  1. Good point. My warships probably aren't as detailed, but the living quarters are tiny.

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  2. People like you are influencing the future. Sci-Fi so often becomes reality.

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  3. Delores, these are not cruise liners we're talking about :)

    Alex, I find the detail helps me to write. Only a fraction finds its way into the story, but that is the process that works for me.

    Stephen, not sure I'd want this future to become reality :)

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  4. I like all the research you do for your book! Your readers can count on great detail and realism.

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  5. Chrys, I hope so, though at the same time I hope not to overwhelm the story with unnecessary details. That's the danger of research :)

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  6. Awesome schematics! Very nicely done. I love the layout and that priority sequence, I suppose that makes sense. Functionality before comfort.

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  7. Crystal, you can see I'm a schematics kind of person, can't you? :)

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