A number of central, recurring topics is treated in several episodes of SPACE aab, and this is my short account of some of them. They are more or less familiar in this or similar forms to us even nowadays...

 jump to Genetic Engineering/In Vitroes 

 jump to Remarks about War and Beings 
 

Artificial Intelligence and Human Faults

There is a special character in the series, who is largely affected by this problem: Marine Captain Shane Vansen. And this is the background:

When (look also below) the reproduction rate of mankind dropped down during the first half of the 21. century, in the first place some helpers were needed to match the demand for work, which couldn't carried out by usual machines. So the silicates were created, at principle mobile computer units, linked together to a central CPU by some sort of modem, and strongly resembling humans. The only easy visible deviation are the crosshairs in their eyes, maybe an intended feature for identifying purposes for humans. These androids remained loyal until an irresponsible technician, who was disappointed for some reason with his work, did a thing resembling the criminal and widespread abuse of programming of our present time: he introduced a virus into the CPU and that caused a major struggle subsequently. "Take a Chance" was the name of that virus, and it had catastrophical consequences. The silicates began to deny human orders and ultimately killing humans, originally surely unable to do such things, by pure gambling attitude. Than even a war arised, and finally, only partly reinforced by in Vitro troops (see below), the shrunk mankind gained the victory and the remaining silicates took some old space vessels and escaped into space with them. 

By the way, who were the real terrorists? The silicates, irritated by the virus or the technician, who introduced intentionally that fault into their computer parts?

Shane Vansens parents were also commissioned Marine officers, and some day, when Shane was a five years old child, while her sisters were even younger, a silicate group attacked and finally killed her parents while the children were watching it. This was shown in the pilot and more extensively presented in the episode "Dark Side of the Sun". The trauma of the young Shane, witnessing that horror in an age, in which she could later only remember especially strong events, shaped the character of the woman very much. And so "Dark Side of the Sun" and already partly the pilot showed the fears, nightmares and dark sides of the otherwise sympathetic Shane Vansen, who killed ultimately with visible satisfaction silicates especially in "Dark Side of the Sun", which was a slight horror for her friends - her fellow Marines - too.

And also her claustrophobia had to do with that traumatic event, because she and her sisters had hidden in a tight closet, while watching the murder.

Another episode showing this special "relation" of Vansen and the silicates was "Bacchus", when she fought a billard duel with the silicate owner of a bar on the entertainment station. For pure hatred and anger because of her horrible memory, Vansen missed a point, nearly proving fatal for her game against the hated silicate, when he demasked himself.

Not in the series, but in the well written novel "Demolition Winter" by Peter Telep (Harper Prism), strongly based onto Morgans & Wongs series, the fight of Shane Vansen with her feelings is illuminated in even more detail, when she was forced to work together with a reprogrammed silicate, who was no more linked to the CPU.

Genetical Engineering, Racism etc.: the In Vitroes

Two of the Marines of the TV series are in Vitroes: Lt.Col. T.C. McQueen and especially 1.Lt. Cooper Hawkes are the persons, which demonstrate the related problems.

Some major environmental problems seemed to have degraded the mankinds ability to reproduce themselves in a natural manner in the first half of the 21. century. The despite this tendency advanced technical-scientific possibilities were than exploited in two ways: creating human-like androids ("silicates") as helpers of any kind and subsequently also the creation of humans by pure synthetical means, the in Vitroes. No cloning whatever, but arranging genes considered as "good" in various manners, these were also human beings, "only" lacking two important ingredients of personal evolution. First, they had no parents. Logically, because they were created and grown up in tanks without being conscious up to a physical age of 18 years and then really "born". There the second problem has arisen: they lacked personal experiences of lower ages, therefore they were in the first place like childs, despite their adult bodies.

In the episode "Who monitors the Birds?" this past of Cooper Hawkes is shown in fragmentary flashbacks. Wondering about the position of the navel at the neck I asked myself, if this was introduced for technical reasons or because a very bad intention of the creators of the in Vitroes. However, there is a long "tradition" of using malevolent, racist expressions like the German "Untermensch", the English "Nigger" and else, and the expression "Nippleneck" derived from the navel position of the in Vitroes seems to be another step in this devilish abuse of language.

The in Vitro schools were another twisted institutions. Also in the above mentioned episode it is seen, that they were at the time, when Cooper Hawkes was educated, only aiming to make warriors against the enemies of natural born humans. Because the in Vitroes were as varied as natural borns, most of them didn't fit well into the required scheme and more, discriminated by many people in very nasty, often physical harmful ways, they denied of course almost generally to fight against the silicates, the main purpose of the in Vitro education at that time. The prejudice and the hatred incited by an accident could be seen in the episodes "Mutiny" - a black(!) executive officer of the cargo carrier ship discrimated Cooper to no end - and also the workers, who took an accident at work as reason for an unfounded lynch trial in the pilot.

For me this shows a nasty truth: however they are considered to being different, at all time some minority will suffer discrimination and/or racism by the majority; it is the most easy way especially for simple minded people, to assign faults and problems, which are mostly self-made or by others of the majority.

Other bad pieces of in Vitro experiences were shown in "Dear Earth", when McQueen reported the slavery and other human rights of in Vitroes ignoring behaviour of natural borns, when he worked in an ammuntion depot; and also in "Mutiny" the way, in which unborn in Vitroes were designated as "volunteers"(!) by the otherwise not so racist Captain of the cargo carrier ship.

Finally the problems of the in Vitroes due to their lack of parents and natural born education by such are often present in the series, eventually culminating when one in Vitro (McQueen) asks another (Hawkes): "Who has said, that you are an human?"

But there was another event in "Eyes", which showed the extent from racism widespread even in the leading political class, when the UN General Secretary was murdered by an in Vitro and subsequently McQueen and Hawkes (and certainly all other in Vitro military personnel) were ordered into a loyality test, a rude invasion of their personal integrity. This proved again the above point: many of the in Vitroes struggled to find a job to make their living, and so it has been certainly easy, to pay one of them to murder the UN General Secretary. Besides this job was supposed to be at least as dangerous for the actual holder of the position, as today to be the US president. There are simply enough people, who would be relieved and/or glad, to see a president dead...

About War and the involved (Human) Beings

It is often commonplace, that war is bad, even horrible, but the only science fiction series I know so far, which shows that fact without any mercy, is SPACE aab. Because we see the five young Marines and their elder superior officer (McQueen) during this war, there are many facets of this horror throughout the series, and so I will only remember and comment of some of it. Despite the often brutal events shown, this series is clearly meant ANTI-war, and this is another point, which makes it alongside with the "realistic" presentation in every respect unique and examplary. And another truth is, that the war pulls out all the devilish tendencies lurking in human (and supposedly also other) beings.

Civilean victims have become more and more widespread in modern times with the advent of far reaching, wide area devastating weapons as aircraft bombs and rockets, and also in SPACE we witness two massacres among such persons, the two colonist groups of Vesta and Tellus. Besides a few dozens from the Tellus mission, all of the 450 colonists were wiped out, without any knowledge why and by whom.

As part of their business, US Marines are used to lose fellow Marines since the foundation of the Corps in 1775. And the events in SPACE are not a bit different in this compared with such in the past history or in present times: in the pilot, the not yet commissioned Michael Pagodin was killed by enemy sniper fire during the final training mission of the recruit group. And in nearly every episode we see Marines lose their life, as they did in Vietnam, World War II, the Great War and in earlier times in considerable numbers. Of course, this is very hard to handle for Marines, who are willing to risk their lifes for their fellow Marines on a daily base, one of the key confessions of the US Marines. As a general rule, the more close they are, the more the surviving suffer from the loss of them. That's a reason, for which for example Captain Vansen tried - largely in vain! - not to become to close to the other members of the Wild Cards. And now remember the losses, especially in the episodes "Dark Side of the Sun", "Ray Butts", "Stay with the Dead", "Level of Necessity", "Never no More", "The angriest Angel", and especially in "Toy Soldiers" and the last three episodes, beginning with "Sugar Dirt".

The episode "Sugar Dirt" showed another facet of war: without support in the enemy controlled area, the other threats than the usual ones by enemy soldiers are shown again without mercy: the threat of starvation, illness, lack of ammunition and so on. And also the horror to take away usable equipment from already dead Marine fellows... That time there was good reason for Cooper Hawkes to complain, and Shane Vansens reaction showed clearly, that even the tough captain was not immune against this mental stress.

Other nasty actions are shown in "Stay with the Dead" and "Stardust", in which the general big respect of Marines for their dead comrades was sacrificed for tactical respective strategical reasons.

And in "The angriest Angel" McQueen crossed clearly the line, when he threatened the existance of the silicate (Elroy model) for gaining valuable informations about the home base of the advanced Chig fighter. Despite the complain of the devilish silicate (see below) sounds ridiculous, because he was himself ignoring all rules of humanity, this behaviour might have taken McQueen befor a war justice trial, if it would became known to others.

But the resistence of 1.Lt. Paul Wang against McQueens actions in that situation was limited because of the hatred, which that Elroy model silicate had previously incited in Wang by torturing him continously and pressing to a statement, which lasted heavy on Wangs psyche, as it could be seen in "Pearly", when Wang betrayed his Wild Card friends, McQueen and the British Major. Torture is also common in todays world and especially at groups in war with each other - there is in my view indeed not much hope, that this will change in near future.

A generally seldom event - against the opinion of many people - happened in "Toy Soldiers". In a bid, assigned as "John Wayne behaviour" by 1.Lt. Nathan West, an irresponsible, inexperienced Marine 2.Lt. sacrificed some other recruits for the totally nonsensical wish to become a "hero". Indeed, the drill instructors and superiors try to avoid such developments of new members of the Corps. And so McQueen once said to Hawkes, when the last stated, that he will be with the others to fight a nearly hopeless battle, that "it is always hard to tell, if it is brave or stupid".

And in "Ray Butts" you could see quite clearly the result, when a Marine belongs too long to the Corps while suffering war times and losses of comrades: the Lt.Col. Ray Butts behaved really malevolent after losing his friends of his recon squadron, and about Vansens opinion, "nobody is born being that bad", he said later, that she was partly right, but that he already started as a bad person, only becoming even more malevolent after too many incidents.


 

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