The Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator is a small, highly specialized explosive
device that remarkably resembles a stick of the Earth invention dynamite
. The resemblance is particularly notable for the fact that illudium
of any kind, let alone the highly specialized Q-36 isotope
, is nowhere to be found on Earth, and cultures that have discovered space modulation technology tend not to have a great familiarity with Terran culture.
Despite the resemblance, the IQ-36ESM is to a conventional explosive what quantum physics is to Newtonian physics. When a small amount of heat and kinetic energy is fed into the top of the IQ-36ESM (usually by means of a fairly conventional fuse), that energy is modulated within the confines of the device's small shell, until the wave of kinetic force that emerges from the bottom exhibits some very strange qualities. The IQ-36ESM causes space itself to continue modulating the shockwave, making it disobey physical laws that would normally apply. Not only does the force magnify itself greatly rather than dissipating over space and time, reaching a destructive capability orders of magnitude higher than any other explosive, but the physical force itself can be carried across vacuum when focused properly. (Such focus requires the IQ-36ESM's explosion to be channeled through large barrels containing further modulating chambers.)
Needless to say, explosive space modulation is extremely dangerous, and many societies that develop it soon find themselves victims of the school of unintended consequences, as the technology falls into the hands of their maddest scientists and most unscrupulous generals. The planet Mars, always predisposed to war, was all but wiped out by the geometrically scaling effects of modulation warfare, leaving their home planet largely uninhabitable. The remaining Martian commanders (mostly insane, solipsistic and inbred) roam the solar system, erecting strange orbital platforms from which to mount their curious, vengeful missions. These sad, diseased, perhaps truly evil souls have the evolutionary advantage that they can breathe in vacuum, because they are cartoons.