a gallery of computer-generated images

The Forever War


Joe Haldeman’s military science-fiction novel, “The Forever War”, has always been a big influence on me (so has the Comsat Angels song “Missing in Action”, which I mentally associate with “The Forever War”). One of my earliest 3D images was an attempt to render a scene from the novel using Bryce and Poser.

When I saw the A.N.T.S. Armored Nano Suit by Dajenksta, I thought it would be just about perfect as a model for the kind of powered armor worn by the protagonist in the book. I decided to revisit the image and try to do an updated version, using new technology.

Technology has moved on in the quarter-century since I first tried to illustrate “The Forever War”. The original image looks laughably crude now; the new one looks a little better, largely thanks to the skill of the artists who make the models I use, and to the Iray renderer.

The image, like its predecessor, is intended to illustrate a scene in the novel where the protagonist and his fellow soldiers defend a forward base on an alien planet against enemy infantry. The action takes place on a ‘portal planet’ -- a frozen world orbiting a black hole (in Haldeman’s universe, black holes or ‘collapsars’ act as gateways through which spacecraft can transit in order to travel faster than light; the adjacent planets are thus strategically important). To prevent their enemies simply nuking everything in sight, both sides deploy ‘stasis fields’ which impose an upper limit on the velocity of anything moving within the field. That upper limit is somewhere below the speed of a rifle bullet, so the armored soldiers -- whose armor protects them against the effects of the field -- are reduced to fighting with modern versions of medieval weapons: swords, razor-edged quarterstaffs, and bows and arrows.

My original image did a rather better job of conveying the darkness of the airless ‘portal planet’. I tried to reproduce that in this image, but I couldn’t get it to look the way I wanted, so eventually I resorted to lighting it with a sunset sky HDRI. While less textually authentic, it made for a better look. Who knows? Perhaps this represents an earlier scene from the book: some of the action takes place on more terrestrial worlds.

The armored suit is used more or less ‘as-is’, although I removed some elements of the armor that I thought were impractical. The grounded fighter in the background is a kit-bashed chimera: the core is the futuristic Stormfall fighter model, but the model’s wings didn’t fit with my mental image of the way I wanted it to look, so I eliminated them by setting Cutout Opacity to 0.0. I then added elements from the Modular Starship Kit and from DZFire’s eternally useful Nurnies Greebles Parts and Pieces, until I had something that looked more the way I wanted. The result only holds up from certain angles, and only the front end is fully built out, but it’s good enough for my purposes. Of course, by the time I’d finished applying fog and muted lighting, all the detail that I added is invisible, but it’s the general impression that counts.

You can see the fighter a bit better in the Gunship Pilot image.


DAZ|Studio 4.12
Photoshop CC 2020