Forgotten Futures II
The Log of the Astronef

The Log of the Astronef


The Astronef

The Astronef has two main decks; the glass-walled upper deck, and a lower deck inside the main cylindrical hull. There is also a small conning tower above the upper deck, which looks very like a funnel and is used mainly for navigation in deep space.

The greenhouse-like upper deck is used for recreation and observation, but is not absolutely essential to the operation of the ship; in an emergency the compartments around the stairs can be sealed, allowing air to be retained even if the glass is broken. This is unlikely, since the glass is thick and can be covered with steel shutters (raised pneumatically) in moments. Mounts for the ship's Maxim guns and pneumatic cannon are also on this deck; the weapons themselves are stored in lockers under the deck, along with many other supplies. The compartment at the forward end of the deck contains controls for the atmospheric engines and rudders, used for navigation in air. Some of the glass panels of the main compartment double as airtight hatches, and can be slid open in atmosphere; naturally this is only done after the air is thoroughly tested. For safety it is impossible to open them if there is a vacuum outside.

The layout of the upper deck makes the Astronef perfect for astronomical observations; there is even a large glass panel in the lower deck, allowing observation below the hull. Naturally it is usually protected by hatches and outer steel shutters. Later vessels often omit such refinements. Equipment customarily kept on the upper deck includes two powerful astronomical telescopes, deck chairs and tables, and Lady Redgrave's cameras.

Amidships the lower deck is largely occupied by the engines, air and water purifiers, and other machinery. There are large sliding hatches in the walls beside the engines, used mainly for servicing on Earth; like the hatches on the upper deck, they are securely fastened in space and held closed by tons of air pressure.

Forward are the engineer's cabin, which is also used as a workshop, and the airlock. This can be filled with air in less than thirty seconds, or pumped out in two to three minutes. Aft are the saloon, galley, bathroom, WC, night cabin, and the engines which operate the air screws. There is electric lighting throughout, the power being a by-product of graviton flow in the engine crystals. The electrical mains are 48v DC.

While the Astronef may seem large for the number of occupants, much of her volume is taken up by machinery, by pipes, ducts, and cables, and by stores. Most internal functions are carried out by electrical or pneumatic machinery, or by steam from a small electrically-heated boiler which is also used to distil drinking water. For example, the galley oven, hot plates, and grill are electric, with boiling water on tap for beverages. All compartments have steam radiators (which can instead be linked to an electrical refrigerator if the ship is too warm). Electrical fans circulate the air, then it is compressed and passed through various filters and chemicals to remove carbon dioxide and excess water vapour. Tanks of liquid oxygen supplement any shortage. After a few weeks the air is a little stale and insipid, but this is only noticeable by comparison with fresh air. Similarly, the water would have little or no taste if Lord Redgrave had not thought to add a supply of mineral salts to the distillation system.

An important function of the compressed air system is operation of the Astronef's cannon. These are four powerful smooth-bore pneumatic guns, firing two types of shell. The first contains a powerful explosive, equivalent to twenty pounds of dynamite. The second holds two liquids, an oxygenator and a powerful incendiary agent. When mixed they ignite spontaneously in a reaction which will continue even in a vacuum. The effect is like burning a similar weight of thermite. For obvious reasons both types of shell must be handled with great care; the incendiary is especially dangerous, since it could easily burn through the deck or hull of the Astronef if it were accidentally dropped, and shells are kept in padded cases until they are needed. The guns can throw these shells to a distance of about seven Terrestrial miles on Mars, about four miles on Earth; exact range depends on gravity and air resistance. They cannot be fired in space.

The other weapons carried aboard the Astronef include two Maxim guns, two ten-bore elephant guns firing explosive bullets, a dozen assorted rifles and shotguns, and six revolvers.


HMS Nova Class

Warship, Royal Navy, completed 1905 (8 others built 1906-1916)
British, base Plymouth, Devon .




All information and Ship Designs are From the Role Playing Sourcebook "The Log of the Astronef" by Marcus L. Rowland, Copyright © 1994, revised 1998

Which is Based upon George Griffith's Scientific Romance Novels "Stories of Other Worlds" and "A Honeymoon in Space", Published in 1900

What is Forgotten Futures?
Forgotten Futures is Marcus Rowland's table-top role playing game based on scientific romances, the predecessors of science fiction that were published in the late 19th and early 20th century.