May. 13th, 2017

beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
So, I read a story where the Earth's entire colonisation effort was something like thirty women, and they were going to get implanted with preserved embryos on their first day there because they might be the whole hope of survival for the human race.

... which bothers me on several levels.

Read more... )

Obviously if everyone is women you do what the computer tells you and grow whatever was frozen well enough. Er, whoever.

How long would they keep up the Ladies Only plan?

I mean if the plan is to get as much genetic diversity as possible out of the frozen embryo stores in the ship and there's some kind of time limit on that, you'd want to make sure there's plenty of wombs to go around. Would you get everyone out in a single generation?

If you're aiming for ten thousand colonists, even if you have multiple births routinely and soak the risk, that needs a really big first gen pool. So you'd want to keep up the embryos plan for multiple generations, without losing any of the earlier generations. You could do that with donor sperm and embryos. Or with a lot of social stuff to make sure your great grandchildren are still interested in decanting old world people.


also one of the mathier pieces says "the consequences of the increased medical risks of late childbirth have not yet been considered." It wanted to stretch the generations on a generation ship by having kids around 40, but, wow is that a biggie to leave out of your math. I mean, your chances change substantially over time.

Read more... )

But only the first 200 would be volunteers who up front believe themselves willing to act that way. The future survival of the human race would depend on their reproductive behaviour. Their choices would be severely constrained.

And to get all the embryos out of storage in the shortest generations they'd need to get their daughters to act the same way. Which seems... unlikely.

Read more... )



Hard science fiction that sets out a space colony as that baby focused without thinking through how they're actually going to feed the babies is just bad.

I mean, maybe they all get pregnant before they've got a crop going on the grounds that if they starve to death it's all one anyway, but... no.



Also the science problem in the novellette I read was far less interesting to me than the social consequences of the background setup. Read more... )


I think one big factor for viable colony size calculations is something like, if we send people who act pretty much like people of that cultural background do, how many do we need?

Like, we'd need to include murder rates from somewhere.

You do not get perfectly behaved people. No matter how you filter them at the start.



And the cultural changes would be massive even in the first generation kids. I mean how many immigrants feel like they don't really understand their children?

And if the future of the human race depends on women's reproductive choices, it's kind of more likely to work if you start with what those choices *actually* tend to be. First gen you could filter for people that want big families - though not for people that want big families once they start having them and are surrounded by them - but second gen will do as they will.

How do you design a colony socially so it does what you need genetically?



Clue: you do not stick thirty women on a one way trip and keep them pregnant from the first month they get there.




Hard science needs to at least glance at soft science or it requires the ridiculous.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I've been watching Continuum and Doctor Who, and reading about Legends of Tomorrow and The Flash, so I've been thinking about time travel morality.

And it absolutely depends on the physics of time travel, in ways that seem sincerely difficult to determine for certain sure.

It's always about free will and self determination vs assorted definitions of the greatest good for the greatest number.

Read more... )




That's a very long way to say it
but
if a story does not give us the rules of time travel, we can't tell if the consequences of a travellers actions are good or bad, and we can't evaluate them in a time travel context.

If the rules aren't consistent it gets worse.

And seeing as we don't have time travel or any ability to know what happens elsewhere in the multiverse, we're pretty likely to evaluate actions in a simple way, where saving people is a good thing.

Even if it overrides their choices.

Or might butterfly all of history so whole family trees don't get born.

We can't know all that, we can't even call it a short term long term problem, so we're just going to sit there and sulk that someone could be saved so they should have.




My favourite thing that Legends failed to do? The approach I'd take with that crew? Play as much as you can in the gap between history and happened. Treat all of time as a heist where you have to avoid the cameras. Steal people out from under. Crew a ship with ghosts, whose only impact on the timeline thereafter has to be just as secret as their rescue. Steal the Acheron and make the name mean something.

Then you consider changing history to be a risk, but changing time to be a challenge.




But there's also the time traveller's dilemma, Reverse Flash edition: history says you did it. Do you change things and risk a paradox, do you fight fate and find out the hard way how it herds you, or do you consider the record to be sufficient reason to go ahead and do it? Read more... )



Time travel stories at the simplest ask: Even if we could know for absolutely certain what the consequences of our actions are, do the ends justify the means?

But time travel stories are not on the whole that simple.

So they pit free will against fate and choice against survival maths and generally get messy enough you can't tell if they've done good, and neither can they.

... putting them right back in the fog we linears have to live in anyways.





I get hung up on what we could go back and change, and should probably take a holiday from time machine stories to practice the here now a bit.

But they do allow explorations of possibilities not much available elsewise.

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beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
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