This was a sudden inspiration. I did a sketch one day, and then I thought, as much as I want to leave this one to the reader, the image of the tuxedo and the rifle just stuck, and I went ahead and painted it. This is the primary protagonist, Alton Ely. A scanned pencil sketch painted with a Wacom tablet.
This is the concept sketch for the rifle Alton is holding in the fist image. It's a hybrid caseless assault rifle, using a conventional propellant to fire a saboted dart into magnetic rail acceleration, quite like the 'Chemrail' from Elysium. If you've seen that movie, the effects of such a rifle are very dramatically and realistically displayed. Basically, you don't want to get in front of this sort of thing. The hybrid design solves a whole host of the engineering hurdles that arise when you try to produce a manportable railgun. The biggest problem with today's chemical propellants is that the muzzle velocities reach a hard limit. Since magnetic acceleration is frictionless, it has the potential to increase those velocities by a huge margin. In this case, you fire a magnetic round with chemical propellant (but no brass casing, like the HK G11) into the second stage, which consists, essentially, of a pair of magnets which use a massive current to accelerate it to an even higher velocity.
It's all pretty macabre, but when you're writing novels sometimes you have to get that way.
On SEBASTIAN MARSHALL
I needed a new word, so I just made one.
intek: hybrid of "internalize" and ancient Greek "teknik"
intek: To go from a state of knowing a craft or skill theoretically to knowing how to perform that craft or skill in the real world.
I was sitting in Pacific Coffee thinking about business. There's a lot of things I know in a theoretical sense right now, but I haven't built into myself to the point where they're running smoothly. The same concept could apply to anything that needs real world practice - you know something in theory, but in practice you're still doing it wrong.
As far as I know, there's no great word for this. Before "intek", you have theoretical knowledge. After intekking, you can now do in the real world and really know it at a deeper and more meaningful level.