Not Your Daddy's Universe
Space is weird. You may think you know it well, but it's highly likely you haven't grasped how big a mind-fuck it really is. This first entry is not about war, but about where you'll wage it. It's a primer for the guide itself, and a big reminder of just how incredibly alien and dangerous space is to us living things. So, fasten your seat-belts, and get ready to learn some stuff.
There are five basic things you need to remember before seriously getting into this guide. First, space is bigger than you think. Second, supersonic turds are out to get you. Third, calling space slippery is an understatement. Fourth, gravity is a fickle thing. Finally, a thermostat will save your life. Ignore these truths, and you'll die before you even meet your enemies.
Too Big For Words
The closest world to the Earth is the Moon, and it's got a hell of a restraining order. On average, it's about 240,000 miles away, which is like going from New York to Los Angeles and back 40 times. It's so far, if your voice could get there, the delay between you shouting and anyone on the Moon hearing you would be about two weeks. Let's not get started on planets or stars.
No, actually, let's talk about planets and stars. Venus, the nearest planet, never comes closer to us than 24 million miles; that's a sound delay of three and a half years. Proxima Centauri, the nearest star, is 25 trillion miles away; a delay that's millions of years long. Don't just nod and say, "I already know this." Let it sink in for a little bit, and realize how insane it is.
Mind The Feces, Will You?
You're probably thinking, "It's okay, I'll just go faster!" Nope. Space is big, but it's not empty, and there's more than stars, planets, moons, and asteroids out there. There's countless pebbles and snowballs zipping about much faster than sound, and they'll gladly ruin your day at the drop of a hat. For a moment, imagine driving really, really fast, and then hitting a 1-inch turd.
"It's okay, I've got a windshield to protect me", you say, but you're wrong. The force behind something that fast, be it a turd, snowball, or pebble, is like a shot from a handgun. There are lots of bullets out there, some bigger, faster, or both; so slow down, or get a lot more protection. While size is important, speed weeds out who lives and dies in space more often than not.
Cosmic Skating Rink
Speaking of speed, moving in space is nothing like sailing at sea or flying in the air. This is thanks to gravity, or the lack of it, but we'll get to that in a bit. For now, let's talk about friction, or the force that slows things down. Aside from gravity, pushing, or pulling, you're usually speeding up or slowing down because you're shooting stuff in the direction opposite of your destination.
This is because there's no air to slow you down, so you can practically cruise at supersonic speeds for all eternity. Before you think about changing speed or direction really quickly, remember that gravity is nonexistent out here, and everything in the ship will have to match the changes on their own. Basically, you're making short-lived artificial gravity, so hold tightly onto that porcelain!
Timmy's In The Gravity Well
Gravity is something we take for granted. It allows us to walk, lets us think in just two dimensions, and tends to keep shit from floating aimlessly. Without it, we push and pull on stuff to move, floors and ceilings are just extra walls, and Velcro stocks skyrocket. Artificial gravity is nice, but it requires lots of upkeep; lower gravity is also nice, but have fun bouncing instead of walking!
Having gravity isn't a good thing, though. Falling sucks, since you tend to crash once you stop, and you usually get pulled down faster the closer you get the source of the gravity. Getting away from a source of gravity is also tricky, since going too fast will just add lots of artificial gravity to the real deal, crushing both you and your porcelain before you even get into orbit.
IcyHot Is An Evil Bastard
Finally, we'll talk about temperature. We living things like to be warm, obviously, but empty space is barely above absolute zero; in plain English, that comes out to, "so cold, molecules stop moving". On airless worlds, whether on their night side or on worlds far from stars, it's just a tad bit warmer. Being near a star helps, but then lethal radiation becomes your new problem.
Death by cold is not the only danger; naturally, overheating will also kill you. This threat is constant, regardless of whether you're in the shadow of a world or far from any stars. Why is this so? Well, there is no air in space, so there's nothing slightly cooler than you to suck the heat out. Without any way to get rid of the heat, everything on board quickly becomes fried to a crisp.
Summaries and Stuff
You're still here? You're quite the trooper! So, now that you know the basics behind how hellish outer space is, you've taken the first step on the journey to becoming an expert in waging war within the final frontier. I hope this entry has been informative, and would love to get your feedback. Feel free to leave me a private/visitor message if you have any comments, questions, topic requests, etc.
See you next time!