07/26/17 Unexpected Aulton




No Aulton penguins were harmed in the making of this comic.


  1. This planet is going on a short, three hour, tour to another part of the solar system. Please be sure that your seats are upright and your tray tables are in the upright and locked position, Please check your safety belts and remember that there are flotation safety devices under you seat in case we land in a watery grave.

    1. Mic

      “Three hour tour”?

      Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale,
      A tale of a fateful trip
      That started for this planet
      Seen from this tiny ship.

      The mate was a sneaky bag of snakes,
      The skipper cloaked and sharp.
      Many passengers set sail that day
      For a three hour tour, a three hour tour.

      The situation was getting rough,
      The cloaked missiles were fired,
      If not for the guile of a secret guild
      Aulton would be lost, Aulton would be lost.

  2. The Gorram Batguy

    The thought of the fuel that must power those rockets, where it was stored, and the effects of that significant loss of mass to the planet, staggers the mind.
    And that’s before taking into account the change in momentum and so forth affecting the orbit of the planet around its star.

      1. Dave

        You don’t keep quadrillions of kilograms of antimatter on a planet that has universe-savingly important things on it. My guess would be a monopole-catalyzed-total-conversion photon rocket of some kind. Hopefully a kind that doesn’t have a planet-destroying failure mode.

  3. Herandar

    Assuming that they were in a stationary point in orbit above the planet, wouldn’t they be locked in the gravitational well of the planet? And wouldn’t they therefore move with the planet when it moves? Maybe not in the exact same point since the planet is changing it’s position from the pole, thereby moving out of the elliptical plane of the solar system?

    I know it’s just a comic, just pondering how it would work in the physical universe.

    1. 3oranges

      For our physical universe, a planet can’t just move without conservation of momentum. If you’re using propellant, you have to expel a lot of mass or get it away very quickly. Either way the center of mass is going to remain constant.

      Something far enough out would keep orbiting that same center of mass. When it gets close to the same separation as the planet and propellant, it’s a 3-body problem and things turn chaotic. It could get dragged along with either the planet or the propellant; it could also get ejected on its own.

      Since the ships here work on principles like slipping between light particles and riding darkness, of course, I’m sure there are other considerations that make this work exactly as shown.

  4. TB

    One of the Top Ten things you don’t want to hear on a spaceship control deck: “What planet?”

    Old-fashioned spaceships have to move between orbits using thrust, and need to orbit or fall into the planet. Real futuristic spaceships with total gravity control can just pick a point in space near a planet and sit there. Gravity would still affect it, but it would be ignoring it. I suspect this is one of those kind of ships.

  5. Widdy

    In the face of a planet moving *really* fast on thrusters the size of continents – who wants to be captain? Free captain’s chair! Any takers? Yes?… no? Looks like no.

  6. 0z79

    THAT’S IT! If I cared at all about the physics in this comic before, I’ve officially stopped as of now. What’s the reaction mass? The planet’s core? WHO CARES!!

    1. TB

      What, only NOW do you have a problem with alien physics in this strip? Take two seasons of Dr. Who and call me in the morning.

      We got planets that are computers, planets that are monster eggs (see recent season of Dr. Who for THAT one, too). Planets that are spaceships don’t take much of a leap.

      Larry Niven hauled the Earth out to Jupiter. James Schmitz flew the planet Karres around a galaxy using witchcraft. Heck, we might wake up some morning with a shiny new planet in our own solar system. That should knock some of the crap headlines out of our newspapers.

  7. Night-Gaunt49

    I’d say the planet is the reaction mass. Some kind of matter-energy converters-annihilation engines at work. They are sacrificing the planet to use since anything on its surface will be wrecked unless they have some kind of protection. So as they use the engines the mass of the planet will be reduced leaving an ionized trail behind it as they go. Just imagine a starship coming upon such a trail. The reports from the science station as they pursue it to locate it. We now now that maverick planets do exist. Somehow out of orbit and flying free about the galaxy. Shades of
    “When Worlds Collide” both movie and several novels!

    1. 0z79

      So it’s kind of, “Better a reduced, possibly-unstable planet than none whatsoever”?

      Also, that tech… it’s rather mind-boggling. Certainly possible but very, very, very difficult. Moreso than the Schlockiverse “light a two-ended plasma candle and shove one end deep into a gas giant” thing.

  8. Peter Rogan

    That looks like a reaction drive — so it’s no spacetrawler. No Eebs in the piping.

    Newtonian physics and questions of fuel aside, Aulton just demonstrated — if, in fact, the planet itself and not a human-scale operator is responsible — that it can a) detect missiles that are cloaked, b) activate its reaction drive and c) move out of the way — possibly to a safe distance, which it might also know, therefore d).

    Planets, at least those within the scope of my purview, do not act so on their own. Therefore there’s an agency at work — past, buried in programming, or present, ditto or possibly living.

    What this might mean to the kreebrick at this time is, of course, impossible to know.

    Think I’ll get some more popcorn before we find out.

    1. Nathanyel

      Not all planets though. There were some that the crazy Eebs destroyed. Although I think they merely scorched them, which might’ve been fine with the planets. Unpleasant, but so’s an anthelmintic therapy.

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