One of the elements of my writing is that I try to keep the science plausible and realistic where I can, without bogging down the story. Since I write a lot of military sci-fi, much of the research I do is in weapons and armour technologies. Most of the weapons in Dark Nova are either currently in use in a much more primitive form (Gauss weapons, a.k.a. "railguns", particle beam weapons, etc.) or are theoretically plausible with advances in technology (particle projection weapons, antimatter weaponry, plasma weapons, nanite weaponry, etc.) Researching these things has been.... interesting. First off, in my Brady Tactical Emergency Medicine manual (as a tactical medic, this is sort of our bible), there is a section on treating directed energy weapons. Yes, believe it or not, we are already being trained in how to do battlefield triage and treatment of combat laser burns, particle beam blasts, MASER burns, microwaver burns, etc. Particle beams are the nastiest, doing thermal, radiant AND hyper-kinetic damage. They are like being hit by a nuclear grenade launcher on fire. However, nothing is more shorts-threatening than when you look into antimatter, and realize CERN makes this crap.
Seriously, it is scary stuff.
One ounce of antimatter- enough to fit into a thimble, or even smaller, depending on the material- will have an explosive yield of 1.2 MEGATONS of force if it comes in contact with matter. Say someone visiting from CERN was tooling through Central Park with a container of the stuff and dropped it, the blast radius would obliterate everything from the Bronx to Brooklyn, from Newark to Queens. One freakin' OUNCE!
Now, consider this- anti-ship missiles carry pounds of the stuff, and APMs- anti-planetary missiles- carry 450 TONS of antimatter in their warheads. An APM would unleash 17.568 TERAtons of force (that would be 17,568 gigatons or 17,568,000 megatons for those who're not familiar with higher orders of magnitude of yields) with a blast RADIUS of 225 miles. It would wipe out most of Texas, and the crater left behind would be 22 miles wide, and would punch through the crust deep into the mantle, cracking the tectonic plate it hit for hundreds of miles in all directions. There are- in the setting- mercenary warships capable of carrying 16 or more of them. Some military vessels, such as the totalitarian Orion Empire's Vindicare-class destroyer, not only carry them but have a history of using them with extreme prejudice, wiping out the biosphere of rebelling planets in seconds.
A little-known fact I don't discuss at the risk of sounding off my rocker- the setting of Dark Nova is largely born from dreams and visions I have had since I was a very small child. Not imagination-born fantasies, but visions. I was drawing fusion reactor cores on my kindergarten notebook paper in the 70s when everyone else was trying to learn how to spell "cat", and it wasn't because I was some sort of Michio Kaku genius. I saw things, and drew what I saw. Ships, weapons, engines, star systems, races, etc. I took some artistic liberties with the setting- especially some of the races and such- but the majority (85% or so) is directly from those visions. I don't know what to make of it, I don't ascribe anything to it beyond "this is what I saw, this is what I wrote, make of it what you will", but even a chance that humanity will develop weapons like this in just a few centuries should frighten the piss out of people.
scary thing is, they're not even the most powerful or nasty ones, either. Don't even get me started on Nova bombs that cause a star's gravity to weaken dramatically, allowing it to explode into a nova, or Pinpoint Singularity Projectors (black-hole cannons) or Point-to-Point Singularity Beam Emitters (G-slicers). Nastier still- genetic and viral weaponry, nanotechnology that can turn living matter into goo, or just convert all of the tissues, fluids, etc. into solid gold to literally turn you into a statue for some sick crime lord's amusement, etc.
The balance- people live for centuries and enjoy perfect health, most illnesses are cured, even the most grievous of wounds can be healed in hours (if you have a severed head with neural tissue still alive, you can regrow the body in 12 hours and have the patient arguing with the insurance lady at checkout within 24), traveling between stars is as easy and casual as traveling between towns or states (depending on distance, 10,000 light years is still a helluva drive taking several days), we are not only not alone, but discover the universe is teeming with life of all sorts, some very much like us, some VERY alien, and we learn more about the nature of the universe and cosmos, bringing religion and science closer together as both find common ground in areas they had previously vociferously disagreed (they no longer argue over the existence of the soul, they just argue over what it is, exactly). Nightmares and beautiful dreams, this is the nature of Humans (and many other races out there), and will be for millennia to come.
and it's all stuck in my head >.<