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Why is Starfleet Filled With Humans?

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If the Federation has so many races, why is Starfleet filled with humans?

Let’s go back to what the Federation is. It’s not the United States in space. It’s the United Nations in space.

Starfleet is based out of San Francisco, the origin of the United Nations, and the Federation flag is the UN flag with a darker shade of blue and the stars instead of earth.

Like the UN, the Federation is not a government. It’s a forum. It has members not states. Its military force depends on contributions. When there’s a real shooting war that the UN gets into, the big muscle comes from the US. Humans are the Americans of the Federation. They’re mean enough to be dangerous, but not mean enough that other races are threatened by them. They’re altruistic enough to help out without losing their military edge. And they’re also curious enough to be explorers. And most of all, they’re willing to foot the bill to play explorer and soldier.

Starfleet is filled with humans because they’re the ones that spend the money, put up the manpower and take the risks.

Logically, an organization like Starfleet is going to appeal to races that colonize a lot of planets. A species that just has to defend its own home system is not going to need to do much exploration or need a wide defense net.

A species with three systems and no drive to settle new worlds is not going to put in the energy and lives to run something like Starfleet. Humans aren’t the only species to settle new worlds, but they’re the most aggressive settlers in the Federation. Having an organization like Starfleet to find new worlds and protect farflung colonies served their needs.

And once it got going, Starfleet was institutionally defined by humans. If you’re an aggressive species that isn’t interested in exploration, Starfleet isn’t going to be a great fit for you. See Worf. If you’re a peaceful race that values exploration but not conquest, it won’t be a good fit either. There are Vulcans in Starfleet, but they don’t like it.

Starfleet has a human balance of exploration, defense and diplomacy. Other species have to adapt to it.

The Federation Council theoretically sets the agenda, but Starfleet has its own institutional culture and its captains make snap decisions that change history.

Starfleet lets humans do some of the same things as the Klingons and the Romulans, but without the ugly side. The Federation gives humanity the blunt force and power of an empire without having to conquer other races. Instead members get rewards and access to an interstellar network. It appeals most to smaller and weaker races. Or races that don’t like fighting.

The Klingons would never fit well into the Federation. A large species that can match humans in aggressiveness and expansionism would make for a tug of war. But a species like that wouldn’t join.

A Federation composed of a lot of smaller and weaker races is never going to displace humans in Starfleet. And it would be difficult to displace humans without changing what Starfleet is. Non-humans can preside over the Federation Council, but to wield any force, they need Starfleet. And Starfleet keeps the Federation together. It’s a huge asset to a small world to be able to call on a force that can stand up to any fleet in the neighborhood.

And since humans want to run it anyway, everyone lets them. It’s either that or work out how dozens of smaller alien races can build a new institutional culture for Starfleet together. That might be more IDIC, but it would be chaos.

The Federation lets humans have an empire without the imperialism. On their own, humans could have learned to match the Klingons or the Romulans, but they would always be just another race. The Federation gave them a technological boost and a network of different worlds to join without conquering. And Starfleet links that technology to military applications that races like the Vulcans are uncomfortable with.

It’s an arrangement that works.

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How Robert Charles Wilson’s The Chronoliths Predicted ISIS

Looking back, it’s hard to believe that Robert Charles Wilson’s The Chronoliths was a pre 9/11 novel. Its fractured world 1920247torn apart by the shadow of extremism and financial decline is extremely prescient.

In The Chronoliths, giant monuments appear in major cities across the world commemorating their conquest by a dictator named Kuin twenty years in the future. The monuments are indestructible but cause mass destruction and panic. The public is terrified waiting for the next one to show up every year, but some are attracted to Kuin.

Like the ISIS kids now, they wear Kuin clothes, join groups and run away from home to go on Haj and form brutal militias. Society is fractured between high level Adapt and Prosper collaborators who want to surrender to Kuin and a militarized government that pours money into trying to stop a seemingly invincible threat.

Kuin never puts out a political program. He might not even exist. But the teens who want to support him read their own programs into the chronoliths. It’s the idea of changing the world and creating stability that drives them.

Robert Charles Wilson writes about ordinary people caught in strange temporal events. He writes with the casual insight of memoir fiction about things like alternative universes and time travel that most science fiction writers don’t like to touch. And he makes the world of The Chronoliths seem amazingly relevant to ours.

Wilson not only nails the post-cyberpunk Amazon world in which the big data gig is predicting people’s behavior, but the fear and uncertainty of a declining America where the youngest generation is willing to turn to mass murder in a search for identity and meaning.

It’s a world with a wide generational gap, a dwindling middle class, the loss of privacy and security that faces a war against an unstoppable dictator from the future who conquers by terrorizing the past and builds shadow armies by tearing apart nations.

The Chronoliths vision of a divided America panicked by global terrorism, the end of privacy, financial collapse, teenage extremism and cities torn apart in ways that closely resemble 9/11 is amazingly prescient for a pre-9/11 novel.

It’s one of the very few Science Fiction novels to talk about where we actually are.

And its failure to win the Hugo for Best Novel over the fangirls and status seekers who gave it to Neil Gaiman’s American Gods foreshadowed the controversies that would turn the Hugo into a joke.

The Chronoliths isn’t Wilson’s best novel, but like Vinge’s End of the Rainbow, it’s one of the few that seems to capture where we’re headed. It’s hard to look at the beheadings, the teens running away from major cities to join militias and not think of the way that an uncertain future drives people to find certainty in brutality and terrorism.

Was Gotham’s Terrible Idiotic Finale Supposed to be a Parody?

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Sometimes Gotham is great. Sometimes it’s terrible. There’s not a lot in between.

Its finale, “All Happy Families Are Alike” didn’t go bad out of nowhere. The decline steadily began when the excellent Everyone Has a Cobblepot gave way to Beasts of Prey.

It got worse episode by episode.

Gotham’s best part is its characters and the characters were ruined. Riddler, a subtle villain even in his worst self, started acting like Norman Bates, stabbing and giggling. By the finale, he’s gone full Gollum.

All Happy Families Are Alike went off every rail there is. And none of the character moments made any sense.

James Gordon, whole defining trait was doing the right thing no matter what, suddenly buys into Falcone all the way fighting to help him rule Gotham. Falcone even compliments him for thinking like a mafioso.

And he keeps rambling about how he’s done in Gotham when just before the entire police force was cheering him.

Gordon doesn’t care about the law. He pals around with Falcone. He lets him go.

But All Happy Families Are Alike might as well be wearing a “We Don’t Give a Shit Anymore” sign. When you’re dressing up Fish and her gang like Mad Max rejects, you’re either going for parody or you just don’t care.

All Happy Families Are Alike is so full of stupid and ridiculous moments that it’s probably parody.

The rooftop showdown, “Shoot him”, “No, shoot her” and “I’m King of Gotham”. Gordon running around firing two guns and an assault rifle with one hand. Barbara smashing her way through a bathroom door with a kitchen knife.

All Happy Families Are Alike has so many cliches that it seems to have been designed to be stupid. It’s like the sort of episode writers might throw out in response to network demands. “You want this garbage. Here’s this garbage.”

Maybe Bruno Heller sucks. He hasn’t written many episodes, but The Blind Fortune Teller was good.

But if this signals where the show is going in Season 3, it’s bad news. And even if it doesn’t, most of the characters have been ruined.

Fallout 4 Has a Fallout 2 Vibe

And that’s a good thing.

You don’t have to be an NMA poster to know that Fallout 3 was a mess. An empty world where you spent most of your time killing things in subway tunnels with some ambitious set pieces, but few people in them and no sense of life.

Fallout New Vegas got back to what the series was meant to be and the new Fallout 4 trailer shows a world that is closer to Fallout 2, the best game in the series, that’s more than just radscorpions and wastelands, but has people trying to put things back together after the end. There’s color, life, sprawling commerce and cities with more than 4 people in them.

Fallout 3 was good at showing the devastation and emptiness left behind, but it lacked people. Fallout New Vegas did its best, but Obsidian couldn’t do much with the engine. New Vegas had to be broken up.

Fallout 4 seems to be set in a Boston that mixes old ruins with new technology. Hopefully like Fallout 2, it shows new societies emerging out of the rubble, secretive technology clans and a little bit of cyberpunk.

I would mention the faces, but it’s just easier to assume that any Gamebyro game is going to suffer from zombieface.

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