Everything about Cyan was designed to give a picture of what might actually happen in the early days of extra-solar exploration. No ray guns, no hovercraft of the Marty McFly type, but hovercraft in the sense of ground-effect machines instead. Some of the technology I chose to give my people was not too far advanced over what we have here, early in the millennium. Why? Because if you are light years from home, you want your gear to work. It is not particularly important that it be up to date, but it needs to be indestructible. (see 253. Handgun Accuracy)
They walked a lot on Cyan. Feet don’t need new batteries.
In real exploration, you can’t expect everybody to survive. That means that you don’t want just one medic, or pilot. Someone has to be ready to step up in case of tragedy, and that needs to be planned in advance.
Which brings us to today . . . I mentioned last week that I have been cleaning out a house I used to live in. Today (May 11, actually, since I write these things ahead) I found an old ms. of Cyan with some notes I hadn’t seen in years.
I wrote the first half of Cyan on a typewriter. Go google it; it’s a crude instrument from ancient days. You actually had to spell words right without spell check, and if you lost something, it stayed lost.
That is why I am posting this now. I had intended to talk about this during the run-up to the publication of Cyan, but I didn’t want to trust my memory for details. Now I have the details right in front of me on a sheet of paper I typed up decades ago.
Except for Keir, everybody on the roster of the starship Darwin had a specialty, and one or more back-up specialties. Here is the list, alphabetically.
Stephan Andrax captain (spaceside) – astrophysicist
Debra Bruner microbiologist – astronomer – medic
Petra Crowley geologist – soils scientist
Keir Delacroix groundside crew leader – generalist
Viki Johanssen anthropologist – paleontologist
Gus Leinhoff zoologist – biochemist – medic
Leia Polanyi paleontologist – geologist
Ramananda Rao meteorologist – cartographer – geologist
Tasmeen Rao first officer (spaceside) – pilot (starship and landing craft) – engineer
Uke Tomiki botanist – biochemist – medic
In fact, only weeks into their exploration, a tragedy forces two of the crew to take on the job of one who has died, with unforeseen consequences. You know what I’m talking about, or you will as soon as you download Cyan from Amazon.
In the original iteration of Cyan, the expedition was from a united Earth with crew members from many nations. Stephan and Viki were Scandinavian, Petra was Greek, Keir was French, Gus was German, Debra and Leia were American, Ram and Tasmeen were from Trinidad, and Uke was Japanese. That hopeful future died along the way. In the world that Cyan eventually came to represent, the ever voracious United States, following a world wide financial crisis, gobbled up Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. The crew members were now all from the United States of North America, but with their various ethnic backgrounds intact.
I like the idea of a peaceful, united world, but even when I began Cyan, America looked hungry. Today — well let’s not open that can of worms. Let’s just say that the less than peaceful Earth that ended up in the novel Cyan represents another attempt at realism.
” Because if you are light years from home, you want your gear to work.” — This is exactly why the most advanced military in the world still uses the M2 Browning Machine Gun, which was designed in 1918. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…unless some lobbyist is paying you a million plus, of course.
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Also the Colt 1911 automatic pistol. In Jandrax, I gave my colonists double barreled breech loading rifles that could be repaired locally after the starship left.