Chapter 6: The 10 Year Mission That Wasn’t One – Year One

In which the crew is interviewed about the lackluster first year of their ten year mission that was twelve years long.

Chapter 6: The 10 Year Mission That Wasn’t One – Year 1

 

Prometheus was initially commissioned for a 5-year mission to penetrate as deep as possible into the unknown regions of space as possible and make its way back. For that challenge the ship was equipped to handle all possible events to come, from battle, to diplomacy, cartography, and outpost construction, on paper both ship and crew were ready when the mission began, but interviews with the crew speak of a different picture. Interview questions will be in bold and answers in italics.

If you had to describe the launch, what was it like?

(Commander Arroway) Nightmare.

How come?

Well, everything was still in flux. The beam weapons weren’t field tested yet, scratch that most of the weapons systems weren’t tested yet. I mean it’s understandable with the railgun because that thing is just way to destructive for a solar system with less and less uninhabited space to use, but still. I went to the captain about two weeks away from launch and begged her to talk to the admirals and postpone our launch. She asked me if we could leave space dock and go to hyperspeed. I told her that we could. That seemed to be more than okay to her.

So the problems following launch were her fault?

I didn’t necessarily say that. The captain was just following orders at the time. The launch date was set 10 years beforehand and it had to be on the day that the original Prometheus experimental ship launched to its first hyperspace flight. Ceremony and celebrations had a lot to do with it, I suppose. Then again… I mean she was Jive’s granddaughter, and she was kinda obsessed with the ship. When Chief Stevenson hit the hull markings with the space dock inspection shuttle while in dry dock, she made him go out in a spacesuit to give it a touch up. I mean that might sound crazy for an outsider or an onlooker but the captain had a way like that. So yeah, she wanted that on-time launch as well. A few weeks later when we were under attack she considered turning the ship around to head home to finish installing and calibrating the weapons. Eventually she decided to do it in-flight.

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Chapter 5 – The Making of A Crew

Chapter 5: The Making Of A Starship Crew and Captain

Humanity knows the names of some of its greatest heroes to this day. Many of them were never the heroes they became in fictional retellings and folklore. It is often hard to believe for people to come to terms with the fact that every human, no matter their rank, position or achievement, are just people. Some people we consider great, others terrible, but they are as shaped by their experiences and the time and culture they live in as any of us.

Prometheus was in more than one way the first modern starship. Take away the deep space exploration mission and you are still left with the ship that pioneered everything we still see mirrored in Spacefleet to this day and that has been adopted by as many real militaries across the Local Quadrant as in the fiction we consume to this day. A starship command crew, or “hero crew” in the terminology of vidmaking and writing, to this day always consists of a captain, a first officer, a chief medical officer, a linguist, a pilot, a weapons expert, a chief engineer, and an alien exchange officer. Prometheus’ command crew was the first to feature this setup and the way this first crew interacted with each other and impacted historical events set a precedent for future procedure and future academy training, for good and for bad.

Jean Mikkelsen, professor for contemporary history at the Humbolt University of Berlin wrote the following after the Actium Crisis was resolved and Prometheus returned home for a major refit in 2179 in defense of the actions that Captain Connors had taken:

The idea that a starship crew and its captain don’t matter in the grand scheme of history, is an outmoded concept of 19th, 20th, and 21st century politics and warfare. Armchair commanders since the Crimean War could command major operations from the houses of power and dictate when and when not to fight and which decisions should be made. It is only with the advent of hyperspace flight and deep space exploration that we have come full circle in the way we need to conduct naval action and foreign policy. Without any sort of faster-than-light communication there is nothing we can do at home but have faith in the commander and crew of the ships that are out there to defend out interests and protect our way of life. The very thought of giving Captain Connors and her brave crew just enough rope to hang herself with is perverse.

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Chapter 4 – The Compromises Of Making A Fleet

Chapter 4 continues the story of how compromises created a navy unfit for exploration

The Very Model of A Modern Starship Captain: A Fictitious History Novel

Chapter 4 – The Compromises of Making a Fleet

After having now set up the background knowledge, it is now time to dive deeper into the material that was made usable over the last years. After my first archive searches, I was actually approached by the Head of Spacefleet’s Historical Preservation Society, retired Rear Admiral Jaylah Chen. Admiral Chen was present in the debriefings of all of Prometheus’ senior officers and crew after the ship was decommissioned. I asked her why they would knowingly put some truly damning evidence on record when they could have easily hidden it. She just looked at me, smiled, and said: “We keep secrets in order to protect our nation and our people. When the time comes to make things public and learn from the mistakes of our past we will do it. After head have cooled down of course.” I will comment on this at a later, more appropriate time when I give my final remarks, but I wanted you to keep this in the back of your mind while we move along with our little history lesson.

Spacefleet was founded almost directly after EarthGov itself, rising from the mid to late 21st century’s obsession with private space exploration and a deep pacifist streak in Earth’s general population after a decade long series of Resource Wars and final imperial grasps by the world superpowers. It is not hard to accept then that Spacefleet would a reaction to that, not unlike EarthGov. Though while EarthGov was created in response to a weak United Nations, Spacefleet was created as a purposefully weak military organization. To this day many historians like Wehler or Tenzin believe that events might have turned out different had First Contact be of a violent nature, but in between peaceful first contact and Earth’s latest series of devastating wars, Spacefleet was founded to united Earth maybe even more so than EarthGov itself. Navies have always been big meritocracies going back centuries because of the professionalism that even primitive blue water navies required, something that survives to this day in Naval tradition regardless of how professional the rest of the armed forces have become. But like I said, originally Spacefleet was not designed as a powerful military. There was no need after all. Human colonies were administered by EarthGov and part of the planetary federal system from the start. We had met one alien species and they turned out to be good people, the whole business about trying to quarantine humanity in their solar system because they pulled the trigger too fast on first contact notwithstanding. Additionally, EarthGov created the Earth Space Agency in order to foster peaceful exploration and colonization of the Solar system. Spacefleet was never more than a planning and development force until the year 2159. Crewed with less than 10.000 sailors in a time when human population of the Solar system started to reach the 10 billion mark. ESA’s corps of astronauts was similarly small, while part of a bigger organization. Even at its height in 2145 when ESA astronauts completed Gateway Stations 1 through 40 at the edges of the Solar system, the Agency never had more than 200 astronauts with less than 200 crafts. And while Spacefleet was organized around a small corps of tacticians and planners, who tried to figure out how to wage a hypothetical war in space and on foreign soil with the ESMC (Earth Space Marine Corps), they never operated more than two converted cargo ships. None of their ships were ever designed to fight a war, even though Spacefleet’s first three Chiefs of Staff always pressured the Senate to give them more funding.

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Chapter 3 – The Prometheus Program and False Idols

The novel continues with chapter 3: ship naming contests, hard drugs, copyright, and… My Little Pony? Read more after these messages!

The Very Model of A Modern Starship Captain: A Fictitious History Novel

Chapter 3 – The Prometheus Program and False Idols

While pop cultural osmosis is correct in communicating to the public that the Prometheus Deep Space Program was not under consideration until 2107, many modern retellings of the First Contact of 2072 do miss to communicate the role that Dr Louisa Jiwe played in its creation.

Writing this chapter was a complicated process for me as I am perfectly aware that, regardless of what I write in it, it will not come close to scratching the surface of Dr Jiwe’s public image. And it really shouldn’t since there is nothing wrong with the person itself. We historians, or at least I, just speaking for myself, do not have vendettas against the people we write about. except maybe for Christopher Columbus. William Wallace, Claus von Stauffenberg, Ronald Reagan, and Winston Churchill. Also Abraham Lincoln. Humorous comment aside, Jiwe is a victim of her own success in many ways and however great and accomplished the real person was, there really is no way but down in regards to a person’s legacy once they have been so mystified by an entire planetary population.

Jiwe is more often than not regarded as one of the greatest minds of her generation, if not of all time, in one long line with Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Tim Berners-Lee, and James Dewar. As the inventor of the hyperspace drive there is little to argue with and her contribution to the engine, both in theory and in building it, are never exaggerated in fiction. So this part of her biography is accurate and rarely, if ever, has been misrepresented in fiction. It is quite impossible, even for filmmakers. But filmmakers and storytellers have, and probably always will, consistently decided to make one of the greatest minds of human history into a flawless deity, when the truth is far different from the fiction, regardless of what movie, series, game, or book you consume on the subject matter. Jiwe was a forward thinking intellectual, Nobel prize winner, billionaire inventor, hyperspace theorist, astronaut, and space adventurer. She was not Earth’s lord and savior. She was a person, a flawed one at that. This is by no means going to be a biography of the famous inventor and futurist but any discussion on the conceptual flaws of the Prometheus program cannot fail to mention the foundation on which the project was eventually built.

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Chapter 2 – First Contact

In chapter 2 we will talk about First Contact and the effects it had on humanity… and how it scared the alien ambassadors for live. In that order.

The Very Model of A Modern Starship Captain: A Fictitious History Novel

Chapter 2 – First Contact

The story as was taught in school books until this year was one of remarkable coincidence. In the year 2072, Nobel prize winning engineer and StarExpress founder Dr. Louise Jiwe piloted her privately constructed spaceship Prometheus, the first of a line of ships to bear the name. For those who don’t remember their history, Prometheus was the man who, in Greek mythology, had stolen the fire from the gods and given it to humanity. Dr. Jiwe considered the name fitting, given that, should her tests be successful, she would open the stars for humanity with her newly constructed hyperspace engine. The science behind the engine, essentially cheating the laws of physics by creating a bubble to shield the ship from the effects of Einstein space having already been theoretically proposed five years before and having gotten her the Nobel prize for her work. Since she couldn’t ask anyone to take up the dangerous task she wasn’t able to take on herself, Jiwe piloted the craft itself from Earth orbit. At 09:34 GMT Jiwe activated the ships’ small reactor and engaged the hyperspace bubble. Her test flight through hyperspace only took her ten minutes but she exited hyperspace 10.000 kilometers away from Mars orbit. The test was a success.

Ten days later, after Jiwe had made the return journey and been given a hero’s welcome on Earth, a spaceship exited hyperspace outside of Earth orbit and contacted the United Nations in a clear English translation of a speech that would go down in history:
“People of Earth, do not be alarmed by our presence. We are the Vaude, we come from a star many lightyears away from here. Our long-range scanners detected a hyperspace flight from within your star system. We rejoice in welcoming Humanity into the galactic community of enlightened species. We come in peace and offer friendship.”

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Online Novel: The Historian’s Crusade

There are no happy endings to stories, only bad research.
Find out more in the new fictional history book written by … someone who exists.

This is exciting, isn’t it? I have decided to publish my new novel I’m working on right here on the blog since it will allow me to have an audience to tell me to write faster. Here’s the deal: you get the book for free, it’s a first draft, and after its done I will revise everything and turn it into a pdf. Your job is to subscribe to the email notification list on the toolbar on the right and tell me that I’m great and flawless and poop rainbows. Great deal, right? … Anyway, here’s the first chapter, new ones will follow every Sunday.

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I Don’t Hate Superhero Movies, Only Hype and Fanboy Culture

Hype and fanboys can ruin everything.

People who know me personally or have seen just a couple of articles I have written over the years know that I have severely soured on the superhero movies that are currently reigning supreme on the American movie market.

My own personal gripes about big budgets ruining creativity in many instances aside, the biggest crux of the issue is not the films themselves. Films are good on a movie to movie basis. One bad movie doesn’t invalidate an entire genre, filmmaker, actor, or writer. No, hype and fanboyisms have ruined my enjoyment more than anything.

As a student of History and Anglistics  and with friends and acquaintances all over the planet, or simply as a cheapskate grad student in my 20s I rely on the internet for information, communication, and entertainment. Thus it is nearly impossible to not be immediately informed about a new trailer, article talking about a random rumors, Youtube videos, or Facebook status updates about upcoming projects. I was never one to go completely blind into a film. Informing oneself before one goes to see a movie is a good way to minimize getting burned on something, and of course you can never account for taste and personal style.

There comes a point, however, when hype and fanboyism can ruin something far greater than just the next movie for you.

The start of the Marvel Cinematic Universe back in 2008 was both a blessing and a curse, as it brought closer-to-the-comics adaptions of the source material into the mainstream as the publisher itself was involved with the films now instead of farming it out to different studios. The merits about that can be talked about and I am planning to write an article about the 90s superhero films at some point, but the crux of the matter is that one of the biggest problems brought forth with this and the DC Extended (Cut) Universe was that it brought the fanboy mentality of the comics, Marvel vs DC, DC vs Marvel, Marvel vs everyone else, DC vs everyone else, and so on, to the mainstream as well. There was a sharp cut in the reception of pre-MCU movies and post-MCU movies from other companies or the output of other studios. The fronts have consolidated, entrenched keyboard warriors are firing at the other position, and all that you’ll get out of it is trench foot. Maybe a bit overdramatic, but I hope you see my point here. Discussing a movie on its own merits or looking at a broader trend is all fine and good and I enjoy it myself, but being accused as a hater or a fanboy for hating or liking something you do not is not fun.

Hype culture is no different. A movie is announced two, three years before it releases, often a sequel is announced a month before the first one hits theaters. After that there is scant a week when we are not bombarded with article after article on rumors, set photos, casting announcements, interviews, and, of course, fanboys talking about something is going to suck years in advance.

In many ways, the negative pre-judging of films such as Fantastic Four (2015) and Batman v Superman (2016) coinciding with the negative reception on release is the worst that could have ever happened to me personally in the realm of hype culture as fanboys are now validated in spewing their irrelevant drizzle years in advance. Yes, the movie turned out to be bad. No, that does not mean you now have carte blanche to rake about the next one for two years and tell me in every single conversation we have that its gonna suck. That is for us to decide once we have seen it. In law one of our greatest achievements was the presumption of innocence.

Not to mention the fact that you’re shooting yourself in your own foot by lapping up everything someone puts out, you are giving them a blank check to pump out any old garbage and screw yourself over in the long run. If you want the superhero movie genre to have a long and prosperous history in Hollywood and world cinema you want quality, not quantity and misleading advertisements.

I urge you not to partake in this. Don’t feel like you have to see a movie simply to be able to participate in water cooler talk. You are under no obligation to see a movie to support something that is “greater than you”. If something looks bad, avoid it if you’re not a professional critic. And, for your own sake, don’t fill your life with this much hatred for something as inconsequential as a two hour movie with the gross domestic product of San Marino. Wait and see, be a good consumer and reward quality. Don’t be an unpaid arm of the marketing machine. You will not gain anything from overhyping yourself and you have everything to gain when you are positively surprised from keeping yourself surprised.

If you want to pass the time productively in between the next obscenely expensive superhero slugfests go and read the actual comics. It’s a medium worthy of exploration and going by the numbers its clear that not everyone watching the movies reads the comics. Broaden your horizon by reading a more varied number of books. My Goodreads list on the side bar can attest to me trying some new things in recent years and it was well worth it. Do anything but remain in a state of perpetual excitement forever. You are not doing yourself a favor and you are only depriving yourself of quality experiences in the meantime.