The Science Fiction blaster and you

Today we’re going to discuss the weapon of choice in most science fiction books and movies. The blaster. It is used as a pistol, rifle and there are many different varieties to it.

Let’s start with the weapon most people know, the phaser from Star Trek:

The common phaser used in Star Trek has different settings: stun, heat, kill or disintegrate living creatures. The common setting we see in Star Trek is stun. It is used to immobilize the target. Without going too geek here there are different varieties of phasers. They vary depending on when they were invented and what type of energy they are based on. For more on Star Trek phasers visit this site.

Next we’ll discuss the basic blaster used in Star Wars:

Blasters use an high-energy gas as ammunition,  activated by a power cell and converted into plasma. The plasma is released from a magnetic bottle effect to fire through collimating components as a coherent energy bolt. Inherent instabilities limit the ability to precisely aim a blaster bolt, but knowing one’s weapon well can strengthen marksmanship. Plasma energy is dissipated as the bolt travels, limiting range as the energy becomes incoherent. Longer range is developed by longer collimating tubes, which align the plasma energy carrier waves more closely through additional galvan circuitry.

There are also disruptors, a very powerful special form of blaster. They are illegal in most systems due to their extreme power. Disruptors destroy matter at a molecular level, so with some models, getting your finger shot off will result in the instant disintegration of your hand, and your body will eventually become disintegrated as well. Boba Fett is known to carry at least one disruptor.

In other worlds there are different types of rifles, guns and weapons.

Next is the movie Aliens:


The  “M41A Pulse Rifle” is a fictional firearm invented for the world of Aliens. It uses a 100 round magazine loaded with 10x24mm, explosive tip, caseless, light armor-piercing rounds, although supposedly downloaded to 99 to prevent stoppages. It is fitted with an underslung pump-action 4 shot 30mm grenade launcher.

There is also the M56 Smart Gun is an advanced weapon used by the colonial marines in the movie Aliens. Using electrical pulse action, it fires 60 10mm caseless high-explosive rounds at a rate of 1200 rpm. Despite the fact that the weapon weighs nearly 40 pounds, it can be easily carried and operated with the assistance of a servo-controlled harness. It is called a “smart gun” because the gun has its own guidance system, guided by infrared tracking systems on top of the gun’s barrel and on a head-mounted goggle system, guided by a targeting processor in the harness. When a target is designated by the tracking system, the harness automatically guides the operator and gun to the target. Switching targets is as simple as pointing the gun’s barrel at a new target. The gun can fire in a three round burst or in fully automatic.

To each Science Fiction creation there is a new weapon available. This makes things different, while at the same time making things look familiar to the audience.

Familiarity with the weapons makes the reader, or movie goer believe that the technology is possible.

We may be ten years away from anything resembling these weapons. We are also a lot closer with other weapons, such as the Rail Gun. A rail gun uses a magnetic field powered by electricity, a rail gun can accelerate a projectile up to 52,493 feet (16,000 meters) per second. And while current Navy guns have a maximum range of 12 miles, rail guns can hit a target 250 miles away in six minutes. Here is a video of rail gun being fired.

These are the main movie blaster and guns for Star Trek, Aliens and Star Wars. There are more movies with different varieties of guns as well as guns that still you conventional ammunition. Move of those movies are Dystopian – Blade Runner, The Matrix and its sequels among others.

I’m taking suggestions for next week’s post.


Star Wars – Blaster (Star Wars)

Aliens – Pulse Rifle

Aliens – Smart Gun 

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