Science-Fic shows with shields: How do they explain you can fire weapons while shield's up

Are shields in those science-fic universe one-way? How do you fire your phasers/torpedoes/missiles/particle beam cannon when you have a shield covering your ship?

What are some “in-verse” explanations? (fan-wank welcomed too)

In Star Trek, there was an episode where the (Klingon sisters?) bad guys hacked Geordi’s visor. Because they knew the exact shield moduklation frequency they could shoot right through the shields. I assume this is the same principle used by the Enterprise itself to fire whilst shielded.

Nitpick: that was the movie. There was, though, an episode where Miles O’Brien used the same type of information to beam himself past the shields on another ship.

The full article on shields includes cites from movie or TV episode dialog.

In the Honor Harrington books, momentary openings in the sidewall are created to serve as “gunports”. It is possible for a lucky enemy hit to strike through such a “gunport” and do serious damage.

In simple terms, they could shoot through the shields for the same reason that WWI planes could shoot through their propellers: because they were designed that way.

That’s what I thought; the shield’s only designed to stop stuff from coming in, not going out.

A (space) wizard did it.


It´s easy - you just have to remember to modulate the ambient transspatial anaphasic subharmony ambulator before you superimpose the positronic nanofields.

In other words, it´s just works because it´s my space novel and neener neener.

I’m with wheresgeorge on this one.

Since “shield technology” is basically magic (i.e. nothing to do with real science), the writers can give it whatever properties they want. That goes for pretty much all the Star Trek technology, so I never spent a single second worrying how stuff is going to get resolved.

This is where people get science fiction wrong. It’s really not all about the gadgets. It’s more about the kinds of stories you can tell against the backdrop of a changing technological society.

In (one version of) the Dune setting, shields are directional - they impede (fast) projectiles coming from one side only.

I never got that out of the books…I thought that the sidewalls were there to protect the vulnerable parts of the ship in an up the kilt shot (a shot that goes between the focused gravity planes that are used to propel the ship), but that the missiles were fired out of regular old tubes cut into the hole, not passing in the instance when the sidewalls were down (or that the sidewalls had small holes in them). I know in the later books they use missile pods that are towed outside of the stressed gravity bands to give them better firing arcs.

In any case, in the HH universe the ‘shields’ are essentially impenetrable, either way…the only way through them is to fire around them either attacking or defending. A lot of technology is expended on simply trying to get attack birds into position to fire into the gap between the stressed gravity bands (and then get through sidewalls and armor).


I recall in one extremely old Buck Rogers comic, the energy shields were impervious to ray gun-style energy weapons, but were completely useless projectiles. Buck wasted the bad guys with a old 20th century handgun (which somehow still fired after 500 years)

No. You have the two drive bands, the “wedges” on the top and bottom of the ship. Then you have the much weaker sidewalls covering the sides. The fore and aft ends of the ship are left exposed, otherwise the drive doesn’t work*. An “up the kilt” shot is from behind, a “down the throat” shot is from in front. There’s a quote from Weber here, along with a diagram.

I know I saw a fairly long discussion of the “gunports” in the sidewalls somewhere from Weber, just not much in the books themselves.

The wedges, the drive bands of the impeller drive are essentially impenetrable; the sidewalls are much weaker. They also have particle shielding under that that can take something like a 2 ton object at 60% the speed on light. So basically they have three different types of shields. Four if you count rad shielding.

  • Except in the most modern ships, which either seal off fore and aft ends with a sidewall - rendering them immobile but harder to damage -, or use a “buckler shield” that blocks incoming fire from directly fore or aft, but leaves a gap for enemy fire to snake past it; the latter allows normal acceleration.

It has to do with baryon particles or maybe tachyon particles and…
Damn it, Scotty! I need those shields NOW!

In the Codominion-verse (The Mote in God’s Eye), you can’t fire weapons from within the shield. Or even see through it. All sensor arrays and weapons ports must stick out through the shield, and are vulnerable to being shot off.

I’ve only read Dune a couple times and none of the rest of the series, but there the shields only work against fast moving objects. How they detect the speed of objects and selectively reflect them is magic, but it certainly allows you to operate at normal speeds while disallowing speedy projectiles.

And, of course, if you shoot such a shield with a directed energy weapon, you get a nuclear-sized explosion, which I believe has led to such weapons being banned.