Seriously, a part of me can’t believe that we actually made it this far. This is barely a drop in the bucket, but it’s a very important, symbolic drop.
Okay, that metaphor got weird fast. Let’s move on.
We have so much planed for you guys going forward, and I’m so excited about everything that a part of me wants to tell you about it all right now while jumping up and down and waving my arms in the air. But I won’t. It will be more fun for you to discover things as we go along, so I will try to restrain myself. For now you can look forward to next week and the beginning of episode 2. Episode 2, you guys! We finally get to change the cover image!
In other news, I got an email this week from a reader who made a very good point in response to my post a couple weeks ago about the synthetic muscles that are currently being field tested on the space station. Justin wrote:
RE: plastic vs metal arms - I think it’s legitimate to point out that a future with 27 years of war in a spacefaring future would probably outfit its super soldiers with metal arms. Plastic, if it’s built well, can be very high impact and sturdy, but I’m imagining the Alloys of the Future! ™ would provide more durability and resilience to hard vacuum, radiation, bullets, energy weapons, etc.
Also, in this dark future you have planned, oil to make plastic is probably not easy to come by, given the rate at which we’re burning it now. Iron ore, on the other hand, is easy to find in asteroids and other planets. Oil might be unique to planets with carbon based lifeforms and several eons worth of evolution.
If you needed a justification, there it is. :)
This is a very good point, Justin. Modern science isn’t quite sure what percentage of the planets in the galaxy are likely to be home to carbon based life, but they’re pretty sure that it’s a damn small number. And without life, you don’t get oil.
I expect you’ve all heard it said that oil is just melted dinosaurs. That’s not exactly true: it’s possible that a dead dinosaur fell into the mix somewhere, but mostly oil was made by organic sediments composed primarily of bacteria and algaes that “fossilized” into oil and natural gas over the course of hundreds of millions of years. (That’s where the term “fossil fuel” comes from.) The vast majority of oil deposits began their journey towards our gas tanks and home heating systems long before the dinosaurs walked the earth.
(Side note: there are a small number of scientist who have suggested that maybe oil does not come from organic material at all. They’ve suggested that maybe it comes from the interaction of inorganic methane pockets with other elements in the high pressure environment of the earth’s mantle. Most of these scientists happen to work for oil companies, so their conclusion that maybe oil is not actually a limited resource and we don’t need to bother to conserve it is a tad suspect. Still, it only seemed fair to mention it, especially since it’s always good to remember that “science” is not some monolithic source of absolute truth that has all the answers. It’s a work in progress, messy, often controversial, and full of outright mistakes and errors. It’s a body of knowledge assembled by humans, after all, and you know how it goes with humans and being just flat out wrong about stuff most of the time.)
Anyway, getting back to Half-Man (a.k.a. what’s really important here), what all this boils down to is that when looking to the future of humanity in space, we can’t really count on finding oil on other planets. It may be out there somewhere, but that somewhere being close enough to us for us to reach in a single lifetime, even with the magical fictional technology of “hyperdrive”..? The odds are against us, that’s all. Metals, on the other hand, are freaking everywhere.
Still, we do know for a fact that there are some local planets in this fictional universe which have hosted organic life for a significant amount of time. Because, you know, the K’ul have to come from somewhere. So…maybe whatever crazy person is writing this thing is using the Human-K’ul war as a metaphor for the real world’s current obsession over oil?
No, no she’s not. She just thought of it right now. That would have been cool, but I think the boat has sailed on that one.
I’ll be honest: in my personal playground of a vaguely future-esque world, life on other planets is actually fairly common. Not because I think that’s realistic or likely to be true, but because I think it’s more fun to write about. And, hopefully, to read about.
Anyway, thanks so much for writing in, Justin! If any of you crazy cats out there want to send Patrick and me a letter, you can hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org, or just use the “contact” link at the top of the page. If you mention in your letter that your words are okay to print, you might even see parts of your letter appearing here. Or if you’d rather not be printed here, that’s cool too, we’d still love to hear from you!