Monday, 11 January 2016
In The Slower Than Light Ship
the first slower than light interstellar spaceship, the Pioneer, is launched in 2126 on a hundred and twenty three years journey to Alpha Centauri;
in 2205, there are seven thousand people on board and the ship is under its second captain, Gomez;
the Captain's Court, which rules the ship and tries cases, comprises the Captain, three officers, representing Astrogation, Administration and Engineering, and one crew member;
the Captain invokes "'...a tradition that junior officers should be seen and not heard...'" (Cold Victory, p. 35);
the occasion is the trial of junior officer, Evan Friday, found guilty of sedition, mutiny and bribery, punishable by death or imprisonment;
in his statement to the Court, Friday alleges that -
he has been framed;
the ship has endured eighty years of tyrannies, revolutions and corruption;
there is "'...a ceaseless struggle for power which is used only to oppress...'" (p. 34);
two successive Captains have not exercised due authority;
the Captaincy is a farcical figurehead;
the officers are a tyrant caste;
the crew are an ignorant mob!;
on this basis, the expedition will fail.
Because of his youth and good record, he is merely demoted to Engineering Section crewman, his property sequestered.
Something is wrong:
only one crew member in the Captain's Court;
the third person narrator describes the Astro officers as a rigidly mannered caste;
junior officers are treated like children in Victorian England;
are any of Friday's allegations about the ship and the flimsy, perjured case against him true?;
how can this be happening in a spaceship where the common purpose should be to reach Alpha Centauri and colonize a planet, not to play power politics en route?
Having read the story before, I know what is going on but maybe I should have suspected something on the first reading?