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Relativistic Sky

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The first in a series of images re-envisioning Larry Niven's short story “The Warriors.”

I thought it more interesting, with these posts, to illustrate aspects of Niven’s story not covered by others, there are three images in this series (See Links Under Related Images) and each  focuses on a different aspect of the work.

Physics, viewing the relativistic sky

The crew of a ship moving at relativistic velocities will notice some weird effects. The view of the sky will be distorted both fore and aft by relativistic aberration. Doppler shift will make the stars ahead look more blue, and the stars behind will appear more red. Back in the 1970's it was thought that the two effects would combine to make a sort of a rainbow of stars around the ship's destination. Alas, in 1980 a study published in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society did the math and proved that it just wasn't going to happen.

Renaming the ship:

Etymology: the Greek word ἑωσφόρος (heōsphoros) is a proper noun, literally meaning “Bringer-of-dawn,” translated as an adjective the word means “Light-bearer.”

Light-Bearer lends the obvious thematic parallels out of mythology, most notably it evokes the Prometheus myth.

Allusions to the Prometheus myth seem particularly appropriate to ”The Warriors:” It can be argued that, in Niven’s story, Steve Weaver’s awakening to the rational requirement of self-preservation had far-reaching effects, weakening the hold the UN government had over mankind. In Niven’s known Space universe the UN’s social-engineers had, for hundreds of years, restricted access to historical records in order to obscure general knowledge of mankind’s past, using a mixture of mind-control techniques, drugs, and psychiatric manipulation to transform Man into a child-like, pliable, robot* – all of which ended with Steve Weavers choice to use the spacecraft's drive as a weapon during Man’s first encounter with the Kzinti.

* On a philosophical note I rather doubt that simply removing knowledge of violence would result in a more passive human (and I rather think the desire to attain this goal is questionable in itself) with or without extensive propaganda, mind-control, or psychiatric manipulation.

Stock Resources: Softbox Lens Flares

Relativistic sky backdrop used numerous NASA/JPL sourced star field images as base for extensive photo-painting.

Related Images:

Light-Bearer: Construction Orbit

Stalking Prey

For those interested in more information on the Bussard Ramjet, and Ramjet derivatives, the following links to Winchell Chung’s Atomic Rocket’s site.

Bussard Ramjet.

Bussard Scramjet.

Alan Bond’s Ram-Augmented Interstellar Rocket (RAIR) .
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© 2013 - 2021 William-Black
Comments5
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jc-starstorm's avatar
"Warriors"
I like this story.
CaveGrue's avatar
That's crazy
, but beautiful.
dmaland's avatar
One of the most perfect images I've seen in a long time. Great colors and composition.
SamuraiTaiga's avatar
Sooooo beautiful. I've read all of Niven's short stories and that was one of my favourites that always stuck in my mind.
1Wyrmshadow1's avatar
Looks at title.. "hey I know those words"... yup exactly what I thought it was and WELL DONE depicting the effects. I think the only other place I've seen this tried was in the 80's with Carl Sagan's COSMOS. I could be wrong.


As far as interstellar ships go, the Kzinti were right, it's as primitive as you can get and still go to the stars. The story of Angel's Pencil is unfortunately the only Known Space story I've read. Very ingenious those humans, so good at making war they had to stop.