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Two weird thoughts about Monty Python and the Honorverse - Elf M. Sternberg
elfs
elfs
Two weird thoughts about Monty Python and the Honorverse
Thought #1

The other day, I was casually playing Zuma (that stupidly addictive game from PopCap) when it suddenly hit me: the scene in Monty Python's Meaning of Life where the American tourists at a restaurant, given a selection of "topic cards" about which to converse while their meal is prepared, attempt their hands at philosophy, eventually handing the cards back with the comment, "Waiter, this conversation isn't very good."

While I get the surface of the joke, the underlying commentary that, sometimes, it is the customer that fails the meal at the restaurant. The restauranters have to deal with, not "poor" customers, but customers who just don't get it. I can appreciate now what Cleese was writing there.

Thought #2

While listening to Linkin Park in the car, I suddenly realized that the cargo vessels in David Weber's Honorverse were very poorly designed. The idea that the ships are "giant skins of metal stretched around a hyperdrive core" is ridiculous: why aren't they designed more like the Nostromo?

The hyperdrive core could dock with a containerization platform that can be loaded and integrated independently of the hyperdrive. The cartels could load and prepare the cargo completely independent of the n-space impeller and h-space "sails." A cargo vessel could drop a cargo into orbit with automated minimal station-keeping, or turn it over to a small, local station-keeping engine, and immediately turn around and pick up an outbound cargo (or empty containers, which could even be folded into a low-profile configuration, given that Weber's ships have pseudo-inertia in hyperspace propotionate to their hull diameter) and head back out without all that faffing about planets. The cartels already have massive infrastructure for moving cargo surface–to–orbit; a few small local ships to reduce hyperspace turnaround to nil would result in huge operational savings.

The first merchant cartel to introduce containerized cargo transport on the Terra—Manticore—New Potsdam run is going to destroy the competition.

Admittedly, this would have made Honor Among Enemies (the one where she commands a cargo vessel) a much more difficult novel to write.

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Current Mood: amused amused
Current Music: Dave Matthews Band, The Space Between

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Comments
resonant From: resonant Date: March 12th, 2013 12:52 am (UTC) (Link)
But how can Honor invite the captains of merchantmen in orbit over for a friendly dinner in her quarters, if they'll be departing before appetizers are served?
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 12th, 2013 01:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
It'll be limited to those that have to have maintenance done, with all the plot devices possible when the ship won't go due to scheduled maintenance.
elfs From: elfs Date: March 12th, 2013 03:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
They still need to take on fuel. There's an implication in the Honorverse that fueling is a long and involved operation.

On the other hand, any sane person who can see the benefits of containerization could just as readily see the utility of hot-swappable fueling modules to integrate with the hyperdrive spar as it transitions from one cargo pod to the next.

This really turns cargo ships into cargo "trucks," with the consequential demerit in prestige.
cadetstar From: cadetstar Date: March 13th, 2013 12:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
There was a Star Wars EU novel that used this idea for the cargo ships that appeared in it. The ships were a central beam with containers on either side down the center (along with fuel tanks IIRC). When they arrived in system, a tender would remove a container and replace it with another that was either empty or contained payment for the product.

-Michael
elfs From: elfs Date: March 13th, 2013 04:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's not a particularly new idea. Which is why it stands out so prominently is supposedly carefully-thought-out space opera universes like those of Weber and Bujold.
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