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View Full Version : Galactic Empire vs. The Inhibitors



molten_dragon
2011-11-14, 08:53 PM
Ever since reading Alastair Reynolds's Revelation Space trilogy I've been intrigued by the idea of the Inhibitors taking on a galactic-scale civilization.

So for the purposes of this discussion, let's say that a moderate detachment of inhibitor machinery is sucked through some type of wormhole into the Galaxy containing the Galactic Empire. They realize that there is a massive infestation of intelligent life, and the only way to do their jobs is to sterilize every single planet in the galaxy. Who is going to win? Will the inhibitors be able to sterilize galaxy, or will the empire figure out how to destroy them?

A brief overview of the Inhibitors can be found here. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Races_in_Revelation_Space#Inhibitors_.2F_Wolves)

In terms of industrial capability, the inhibitors are at least as advanced as the empire. In Redemption Arc, they create a superweapon on the scale of the 2nd death star in a few months or a year, which is similar to the amount of time it took the Empire to build the 2nd death star. It's mentioned that this is one of several dozen different kinds of superweapons they know of.

Technologically, the inhibitors are behind the empire in some ways and ahead of them in others. Most importantly is the fact that they do not use faster than light travel. The books aren't exactly clear on whether it is because they are incapable of doing so, or because FTL travel in the revelation space universe is hellishly dangerous (as in if you screw something up bad enough you'll be erased from existence, past present and future. A lesser screw up will just result in you being crushed into a singularity).

The inhibitors don't really show much in the way of personal or ship-scale weapons. They pretty much just use planet or star destroying superweapons. When faced with smaller foes, they rely on their borg-like ability to adapt to and shrug off pretty much any sort of weapon, including planet-destroying superweapons, and simply break the enemy ships and creatures down into more of the replicating machinery which they are made of.

The inhibitors have also shown the ability to manipulate gravity and inertia on very large scales.

So who would end up winning?

Trixie
2011-11-14, 08:59 PM
You have a state you need to spend 200.000 years travelling with speed of light. That means war will last at least that much. Of course, since other side can concentrate its whole force on one point of such offensive, or even take out factories once forces are too far away, it's academic anyway, Empire wins hands down.

The Glyphstone
2011-11-14, 09:02 PM
If they're immune to even planetcracking superweapons, where's the contest?



. The machinery can only be defeated by alien weapons supplied by the Hades Matrix or the Nestbuilders.

The Empire has neither.

molten_dragon
2011-11-14, 09:02 PM
You have a state you need to spend 200.000 years travelling with speed of light. That means war will last at least that much. Of course, since other side can concentrate its whole force on one point of such offensive, or even take out factories once forces are too far away, it's academic anyway, Empire wins hands down.

I'm not sure it's that cut and dried. The inhibitors are replicating machinery. They don't have factories and shipyards and capitals and homeworlds like the empire does.

molten_dragon
2011-11-14, 09:03 PM
If they're immune to even planetcracking superweapons, where's the contest?


The Empire has neither.

Yes, but due to the Inhibitors having no FTL, they've got time. Time to perhaps research and develop weapons that would work on the inhibitors.

Trixie
2011-11-14, 09:16 PM
Empire has 200.000 years o do it. That's only 10x longer than the hyperdrive civilizations existed in SW universe. Once something works on Inhibitors, Empire wins.

Plus, assuming Inhibitors make roughly spherical trail of destruction, the Empire can simply wait until they pass and recolonize planets inside the sphere.

hamishspence
2011-11-15, 05:34 AM
In terms of industrial capability, the inhibitors are at least as advanced as the empire. In Redemption Arc, they create a superweapon on the scale of the 2nd death star in a few months or a year, which is similar to the amount of time it took the Empire to build the 2nd death star.

According to Timothy Zahn's Choices of One, construction on the 2nd Death Star was well in progress 9 months after the Battle of Yavin.

4 years after the Battle of Yavin, it's still only just over half complete.

The Emperor & Thrawn visit it, Thrawn points out the lack of defenses for the shield generator, then figures "Trap" and the Emperor confirms it.

He also warns the Emperor not to underestimate the Ewoks, and the chance they might team up with any saboteurs, and the Emperor points out: "They don't like strangers. Any strangers."

kamikasei
2011-11-15, 05:47 AM
In terms of industrial capability, the inhibitors are at least as advanced as the empire. In Redemption Arc, they create a superweapon on the scale of the 2nd death star in a few months or a year, which is similar to the amount of time it took the Empire to build the 2nd death star. It's mentioned that this is one of several dozen different kinds of superweapons they know of.
Do note that this was starting pretty much from scratch. As in, Inhibitor machines arrived in a system where they had no established presence and started dismantling moons and gas giants in stages to build what they needed to dismantle the next biggest thing on the list until they had their doominator. I don't recall how much machinery they started with, but essentially all their raw materials were just about as unextracted as they could have been at the outset. This makes it a more impressive feat in my book than a galaxy-wide Empire marshaling a part of its industrial base toward a project (not least because in principle the Inhibitors could have done it or something like it in as many systems as they liked simultaneously).

A "moderate detachment" of Inhibitors lacks the advantage they have in the Revelation Space verse of being everywhere all the time, waiting, lurking. On the other hand, it's entirely plausible that they'd be patient enough to spread themselves throughout the galaxy, multiplying in the dark spaces between stars and harvesting resources from uninteresting systems, until they could coordinate an attack across the entire galaxy. Since this is a situation completely contrary to their normal operating environment, it's hard to guess at what MO they'd adopt, but I don't really see impatience as a likely vice for them to discover.

molten_dragon
2011-11-15, 06:26 AM
Plus, assuming Inhibitors make roughly spherical trail of destruction, the Empire can simply wait until they pass and recolonize planets inside the sphere.

The planets inside the sphere will more than likely be incapable of supporting life again.

The one time we got to see the inhibitors sterilize a system, they turned the star into a giant flamethrower that they then used to strip the top 20 or 30 kilometers of crust off of each planet in the system, while at the same time turning the star into a dwarf too dim to support life in the system. The empire has never shown terraforming abilities that advanced.

kamikasei
2011-11-15, 06:41 AM
The planets inside the sphere will more than likely be incapable of supporting life again.
This isn't standard Inhibitor MO, though, and it's not entirely clear what way they'd go when faced with the Empire. The Inhibitors don't want to wipe out all life, they just want to keep technological civilizations from spreading between stars. Burning a planet down to its mantle is acknowledged within the book to be massive overkill by their usual standards necessitated by the unusually quick resurgance of spacefaring life in the system in question since the last cull; wherever possible they prefer to let a system still produce life in the (possibly very far) future.

I'd guess the Inhibitors would find it both preferable and easier to shut down space travel and then either deal with the infestations planet-by-planet using techniques like ecosystem change or biological/chemical warfare than to utterly sterilize all the affected worlds.

hamishspence
2011-11-15, 06:44 AM
To shut down space travel- they'd need to wipe out the hyperdrive co-ordinates of every system (stored in droids, satellites, ship computers, etc).

This would be a start. Wrecking every hyperdrive construction yard to the point where it would take decades or even centuries to rebuild fully, would be a good secondary goal.

Megaduck
2011-11-15, 08:10 AM
I'm going to go with the Inhibitors here. On one hand, the Empire has faster ships and better communication. On the other hand the Inhibitors are basically giant nanotech swarms that I don't think Imperial weapons would be useful on and I can't recall the empire has any experience with nanotech.

The only way I can see the Empire winning is that the Inhibitors expand so slowly that the Empire has time to come up with weapons that are effective, unfortunately 'New Innovation' and 'Star Wars' are not words that go together in my mind. (KoTH used similar technology to the 'Current' time.)

Eldan
2011-11-15, 09:16 AM
If they're immune to even planetcracking superweapons, where's the contest?

The Empire has neither.

Eh. The Hades-cache weapons weren't on the planet-destroying scale, or at least not all of them. One was seen used on a planet, and while it created earth quakes, climate changes and super-volcanism after impact, people still lived there for quite a while. And they were still effective against the inhibitors.

That said, the inhibitors have the advantage of age. They are - unless I'm mistaken, I don't remember the time of the Dawn War, really - billions of years old, and their single project is preparing for an event three billion years in the future. They have wiped out countless civilizations already, some of which quite widespread. Their other advantage, probably, is technology and production.

That said, they are from a relatively Hard Sci-Fi setting, while Star Wars is, really, pudding-soft. Who knows what they'll pull.

hamishspence
2011-11-15, 09:24 AM
Are the inhibitors capable of figuring out that A: Star Wars FTL travel is safer than theirs, and B: that to properly take on the Star Wars setting, they need to co-opt it's FTL?

If so, then I can see the inhibitors trying to capture Star Wars ships, and use them to spread out across the galaxy, establishing outposts everywhere from which to lock down the many Star Wars worlds.

Eldan
2011-11-15, 09:38 AM
Could perhaps happen. They were created when several of the survivors of a galactic war merged into one machine species. I doubt they have encountered much truly-new technology in the last few hundred million years, but if they found any, the could probably try and retro-engineer.

They don't really have ships, it seems. Or units, or anything. The way they are described, they mostly consist of a kind of force-field projected by subatomic machinery. A more advanced nanomachine-swarm, if you will.

hamishspence
2011-11-15, 09:42 AM
I was thinking board the ship and coerce the inhabitants into taking you where you need to go- but retro-engineering would be useful at a later stage.

Eldan
2011-11-15, 09:54 AM
I'm not sure if they can actually communicate with any reasonable degree of effort. Can't think of it ever happening in the books, actually.

molten_dragon
2011-11-15, 10:13 AM
I was thinking board the ship and coerce the inhabitants into taking you where you need to go- but retro-engineering would be useful at a later stage.
We did see some inhibitor infested lighthuggers in the books. Whether they would try to use sw ftl tech is debatable. When it comes to innovation, the inhibitors are about a slow at it as is possible. their newest tactic for sterilization is hundreds of millions of years old.

Eldan
2011-11-15, 10:18 AM
That was, however, because innovation was not necessary for them, at all. 200 million years ago was probably the last time they encountered a novel situation. I mean, if they cut back everyone who develops enough technology to leave their solar system, no one will ever get dangerous to them (or so the theory went).

If they encounter Star Wars, which has tons of technology they lack? Who knows. Perhaps they are calcified and stupid. Perhaps they are amazingly smart.

Trixie
2011-11-16, 06:37 AM
The planets inside the sphere will more than likely be incapable of supporting life again.

The one time we got to see the inhibitors sterilize a system, they turned the star into a giant flamethrower that they then used to strip the top 20 or 30 kilometers of crust off of each planet in the system, while at the same time turning the star into a dwarf too dim to support life in the system. The empire has never shown terraforming abilities that advanced.

Empire has hundreds of planets that basically can't support life, yet do so due to technology. Coruscant being first, with lesser examples like Eriadu, Duros, or Kessel showing different ways of bypassing that.

Heck, Empire has enough resources to basically "go Eldar" and stop needing planets at all if needed.


To shut down space travel- they'd need to wipe out the hyperdrive co-ordinates of every system (stored in droids, satellites, ship computers, etc).

This would be a start. Wrecking every hyperdrive construction yard to the point where it would take decades or even centuries to rebuild fully, would be a good secondary goal.

And they do so how, exactly? :smallconfused:


I'm going to go with the Inhibitors here. On one hand, the Empire has faster ships and better communication. On the other hand the Inhibitors are basically giant nanotech swarms that I don't think Imperial weapons would be useful on and I can't recall the empire has any experience with nanotech.

The only way I can see the Empire winning is that the Inhibitors expand so slowly that the Empire has time to come up with weapons that are effective, unfortunately 'New Innovation' and 'Star Wars' are not words that go together in my mind. (KoTH used similar technology to the 'Current' time.)

Nanotech? Empire has it, and I can't see nanotech not being vulnerable to, say, turbolaser bolt. Might be difficult to wipe out all the nanobots, but stopping them from being a threat is enough.

Innovation? New Republic was far weaker than Empire, at yet, with Yuuzhan Vong invasion, they completely shifted their war machine to adapt to new threat in 2 years.

Eldan
2011-11-16, 07:24 AM
Not Nanotech. Femtotech. Their machines are subatomic in size. Everything you see from them are their projected forcefields.

Trixie
2011-11-16, 02:14 PM
Not Nanotech. Femtotech. Their machines are subatomic in size. Everything you see from them are their projected forcefields.

Ah. Well, SW universe structural materials are actually with forcefields many thousands times stronger than material they're made of, according to calculations (http://www.stardestroyer.net/Empire/Science/Size.html) (case study: Executor) - and they're definitely penetrable. I guess we'd need to calculate how Inhibitor shielding compares to that before we can make any verdict.

Eldan
2011-11-16, 02:26 PM
Not really much to go on. Planet destroying superweapons seem to be able to hurt them, but there's not really any numbers thrown around like in the Star Trek Universe. Someone could probably calculate the minimum output of one of the Hades weapons Volyova uses, but even that would be really vague. The main weapon used against them was an "Acausal Quantum Weapon" (I'm not even sure what that means. Reynolds probably does) that just, I don't know. Made pieces vanish, I guess. Teleported away, I think.

The thing is, though: even if you get through the force fields, what then? There's nothing behind those force fields to shoot at.

The Glyphstone
2011-11-16, 02:38 PM
Ion weapons, maybe? They're the SW 'anti-machine' weapon without going into much detail as to how they work (that I know of), and presumably being enveloped in the beam created by an ion cannon wouldn't be healthy for even subatomic machinery.

Eldan
2011-11-16, 02:42 PM
It shoots ions I assume? Because Ions are still atoms.

The Glyphstone
2011-11-16, 03:18 PM
It shoots ions I assume? Because Ions are still atoms.

That doesn't guarantee they can't harm subatomic machines - at atomic/subatomic scales, a 'near miss' could be as damaging as a grazing or direct hit.

I did state in the beginning that it would be impossible for the GE to win, because the Inhibitor's only weakness is a very specific type of weaponry from their own universe. Assuming that isn't true for the purposes of even having a crossover, ion streams are probably the GE's best bet.

Eldan
2011-11-16, 03:40 PM
Hades weapons aren't awfully specific, I think. They basically just generate large outputs of energy. They seem to be just beam weapons. When one of them hits a planet, it creates a big explosion and crater. Nothing fancy.

They aren't very effective, though. The humans have dozens of those weapons, and the inhibitors take them all out.

Chess435
2011-11-16, 03:55 PM
The main weapon used against them was an "Acausal Quantum Weapon" (I'm not even sure what that means. Reynolds probably does) that just, I don't know. Made pieces vanish, I guess. Teleported away, I think.



Probably messes with the quantum superpositions of the particles comprising the object or something like that... Or it could just be technobabble :smallwink:

molten_dragon
2011-11-16, 05:22 PM
Probably messes with the quantum superpositions of the particles comprising the object or something like that... Or it could just be technobabble :smallwink:

The idea that I got was that the quantum weapons that they used towards the end were shunting matter out of the normal time stream. 'Mildly Acausal' seems to allude to something like that anyway.

molten_dragon
2011-11-16, 05:25 PM
Ah. Well, SW universe structural materials are actually with forcefields many thousands times stronger than material they're made of, according to calculations (http://www.stardestroyer.net/Empire/Science/Size.html) (case study: Executor) - and they're definitely penetrable. I guess we'd need to calculate how Inhibitor shielding compares to that before we can make any verdict.

Actually, that's an interesting point. Would the inhibitor machinery be able to penetrate Star Wars energy/particle shields? Because Energy shields don't exist in the Revelation Space universe.

If they couldn't, it would require the inhibitors to develop (or remember) much smaller-scale weaponry, something that we never saw them use.

hamishspence
2011-11-16, 05:53 PM
Ah. Well, SW universe structural materials are actually with forcefields many thousands times stronger than material they're made of, according to calculations (http://www.stardestroyer.net/Empire/Science/Size.html) (case study: Executor) - and they're definitely penetrable. I guess we'd need to calculate how Inhibitor shielding compares to that before we can make any verdict.

Those calculations are a bit debatable- since they're based on the assumption that what happens in the book is exactly what happens on the screen- even though the book has clear deviations from the screen.

Quite apart from the fact that they're based on a 900km DS2 (which the star destroyers are supposed to be moving toward, then decelerating), when there's quite a bit of in-movie evidence suggesting a smaller one.

Which is not to say that the basic idea (that the GE make use of forcefields) isn't valid, only that the evidence to support the conclusions in that article is questionable. The highest figure I've seen given for a SSD's acceleration is about 10 km/sec, not 30 km/sec.