The book in question is a space navy-/space opera-type book. The human ships in the book(s) used primarily lasers as their weapons. As such they have countermeasures that I think were known as "sand bags;" they released said countermeasures which used sand and particulates to weaken laser beams before the the ship takes a hit.

At some stage they run into aliens whom are hostile and more powerful than the humans. None of the lasers can breach the alien hulls/shields. I remember one of the characters thought to use the "sand bags" as a weapon by laying them in the path of the Aliens whom are moving at considerable speed and when they hit the sand it overpowers their shields.

At first I thought it was from the Lost Fleet books, but I have recently re-read them and the "sand bags" were not used.

  • Hi, welcome to SF&F. When did you read this? Do you recall the names of any ships, characters or locations? Do you remember the cover art?
    – DavidW
    Nov 24, 2022 at 17:00
  • I'm afraid not. Like I said, all the sci-fi books I've read have kinda merged on me. I remembered other parts that I thought were part of this story that turned out to be from other books so now I'm totally unsure of which memory's belong to which books 😳
    – Eireannach
    Nov 24, 2022 at 17:30
  • That's okay, we all have that problem. :) Do you remember if the term used was "sand bag" (you've quoted that, but I don't know if that's to show it's an exact term, or if it's a scare-quote) as opposed to something like "sandcaster?" (Which is originally an RPG term, but may have been adopted by authors.)
    – DavidW
    Nov 24, 2022 at 17:35
  • I think you are right! It was sand caster. Another user said Star Carrier series by Ian Douglas and when I had a look it seems really familiar. I think thats the answer.
    – Eireannach
    Nov 25, 2022 at 20:16
  • I dont think I have read the Star Carrier series, but do recall I have reading about sand casters in other Space Opera series, so it might not be the only one. I do know that the OLD 1970s Traveller RPG had Sand Casters, so it might have been from Traveller RPG based novels. But I think it was another series that had them in it.
    – NJohnny
    Nov 25, 2022 at 21:44

1 Answer 1


This could be the Star Carrier series by Ian Douglas.

I have the first two books and sand is widely used as both an offensive and defensive weapon in exactly the way you describe. The invading aliens are the Sh’daar and as you say their shields are superior to Terran shields. Even a direct hit from a nuclear missile cannot penetrate them. However sand can be used as clouds dispersed in space for a defence, and sand carrying missiles called sandcasters can be used as offensive weapons.

However I don't think the term sand bag is ever used. I only have the first two books of the series and a quick skim didn't find any mention of sand bags.

The books are classic space opera, so that also fits your description.

  • I think you are right! I will see if I have the book in my library. Less than a day and the answer was found. Thanks!!
    – Eireannach
    Nov 25, 2022 at 20:17
  • 1
    @Eireannach If this is the correct book please will you click the tick mark to the left of my answer to mark it as accepted. Thanks :-) Nov 26, 2022 at 5:26

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