arthur c clarke

Space Elevator, Kepler-22

Finished off another abandoned project - this one I originally started (so the Finder tells me) in July 2014.

As I have discussed elsewhere here and on dA, I grew up on the works of Arthur C Clarke, and so first encountered Space Elevators in The Fountains of Paradise (still have my copy!). Of course the concept was not even remotely new when ACC wrote about it; Konstantin Tsiolkovsky had beaten him to it by over 80 years. Space Elevators have become a common plot device - Iain M Banks ‘Feersum Endjinn’ is set in a crumbling, enormous State-sized city structure that includes a space elevator (referred to as the Tower or Fass(t) Tower). Ken Macleod’s ‘The Night Sessions’ has climactic scenes that take place on a space elevator (trying to avoid plot spoilers!).
Space Elevator-thumb
At the end of Banks’ Feersum Edjinn there are descriptions of the top of space elevator - it features hotels, museums, sports facilities just like a modern airport… And that was the picture I had in my mind when I came design the space elevator. In particular, how like today’s airports, do you manage thousands of travellers? So, here are hotels, parks and so on. My design has an internal dock for small (inter-system?) ships, but larger interstellar ships dock at one of the four arms at the top of the elevator.

My space elevator - like Bank’s - is a compression structure; that is, a structure but from the ground up (as opposed to the cables-plus-counterweight structure generally now proposed). Why did I put it on Kepler-22? Kepler-22 is larger than Earth and therefore a greater gravitational mass, requiring a greater escape velocity (and therefore fuel) to get in to space. Using space elevators therefore makes sense.

The mesh is a bit of a kit-bash; the central components are the base mesh I used in Cities in The Sky and Colony Station. The “environmental supply & control systems” on some the arms were also used in Colony Station.

The living quarters - the discs around the central column - are a little in-joke… They started off looking a lot more like one of the famous 1950 UFO pictures that you find around the Internet… .

I borrowed quite a lot from other people for this too: the large circular frame is from “Low Earth Depot S1” by Ignus Fast, available at Foundation3D. The girdered arms and also “power generators” (the rectangular boxes) are from a sort of spaceship building kit called “Truss Pack” which is (I think) by Kenny Mitchell.

…and, of course, everything is greebled to death!

Texturing is extremely simple, being basically the hull and the girder textures, which are both mine - the hull colour is available in my resources gallery here on dA. The textures used in the hanger entrance at the top of the space elevator are by Dosch. FYI, the texture under the dome at the top of the space elevator is actually the architects impression of the recently cancelled Japanese Olympic Stadium ☺

The planet - Kepler-22 - was created using Michael Welters Atmosphere plug-in for C4D. It uses my own “Water World” texture (I know, there is a big continent there - in fact the texture has 3 Australia sized continents and lots of island chains). I used this mask from my DeviantArt Resources gallery here to create it.

A Meeting With Medusa

Something of a quicky, this one… Author Alastair Reynolds mentioned on his blog that he and Stephen Baxter have co-authored a follow-up to Arthur C Clarke’s “A Meeting With Medusa”.

ACC’s original “A Meeting With Medusa” is one of my all-time favourite stories; as I have discussed elsewhere on dA, I first read the story serialised in a magazine around 1973, accompanied by excellent quality artwork. The same magazine also printed (in other editions) “Summertime on Icarus” and “Into the Comet” - all with fabulous accompanying artwork. A year or so later, I had moved to Secondary school and the school library ran a book shop - I found there two collections of ACC’s short stories, which between them had all of these stories - I was hooked!

Kon Tiki Portrait-thumb

So, I enjoy both Alastair Reynolds and Stephen Baxter’s work and the prospect of them continuing the original story inspired me to do a piece of art based squarely in the general plot. I have imagined a ‘Kon-Tiki 2’, a larger balloon than the 1-man vehicle of the original - though it has all the features of the original, including a pulsed laser for heating the envelope gases and a nuclear-powered engine for escaping Jupiter at the close of the mission.

The image you see here is a crop; the original has both the creatures that feature in Arthur’s story - the mile long dirigible jellyfish-like creature (Medusa of the title) and the 100m-wide manta Ray-like creatures that feed on them. If you look closely, you can still see a flight of Manta Ray’s in the background. I have exorcised the Medusa because, frankly, it is crap. I followed the original story closely, but mine just doesn’t look believable. I’m going to go back to it, and you may still see a wide-screen version complete with Medusa, but don’t hold your breath!

The Kon-Tiki 2 and Manta’s were modelled and rendered in C4D. The Kon-Tiki’s envelope is supposed to be like the original Montgolfier balloon, but with its little peplum replaced with photo-electric cells. I have modelled almost the entire interior, so I may do something with that too. I put in quite a lot of research on the colour of ambient light in the Jovian atmosphere, including this article In the end, I gave in to what looked about right Happy

The background is a quick and nasty Photoshop job on a montage of clouds; you don’t have to look too hard to see how rough it is… Does the job though!

Arthur C Clarke Style Personal Space Pod

I don’t have much spare time at the moment, so in what time I do have I’ve been picking up partially completed projects and trying to finish them off...

A project that I started in 2011 (and which was supposed to be a quick and simple modelling exercise) was to realise the original space pod design from Arthur C Clarke’s short stories of the 1950’s and 60’s. Most people know ACC’s space pod concept as realised in 2001: A Space Odyssey, however the design as described in his short stories such as ‘Who’s There?’ and ‘Summertime on Icarus’ is much more of a stubby cylinder.

Clarke-style Spacesut Pod

I first came across Arthur’s short scifi stories when some were included in a (British) comic I read (and which included some fantastic accompanying illustrations - I would love to know who did them). Later as a young teen, I found two collections of ACC’s short stories in the school book shop. The books included his “The Other Side of the Sky” and “Venture to the Moon” series of stories. ACC imagined that much of the space station building that would occur in the 1970’s (!!!) onwards would essentially require a tiny spaceship with arms - for manoeuvrability and also because spacesuit gloves have many issues for astronauts.

This was the future I expected to grow up in....

Sadly, ACC entirely missed the fact that transistors would quickly replace vacuum tubes and make the need for space stations redundant - they would be replaced by purpose specific satellites. The geostationary orbit that ACC described for space stations and satellites in a 1945 technical paper is still sometimes called the Clarke Orbit.

This image was modelled and rendered entirely in Cinema 4D, the Earth was created (as ever) with using Michael Welters ‘Atmosphere’ plug-in. There was a tiny bit of Photoshop post-production.

In terms of style I have tried to bridge ACC’s description with the production style of 2001: A Space Odyssey, including the lack of background stars. The girder is red, of course, because the bare girders of the under-construction space station we see in 2001 are red. Happy

The pod’s combined camera and lights module, fitted to the top of the “helmet” is a little in-joke: Without the strong sunlight and shadows it looks just like Wall-E Happy