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(SPOILERS) Why did they put all their eggs in one basket?

This fascinating series is a combination of historical seafaring, swashbuckling adventure, and high technological science-fiction. Join us in a discussion!
Re: Why did they put all their eggs in one basket?
Post by evilauthor   » Sun Sep 21, 2014 11:20 am

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runsforcelery wrote:As for the more . . . esoteric notions being floated about, there are two problems. One is that some of the people proposing them seem to be making assumptions about Federation technology based on facts not in evidence. For example, the notion that “the entire human race” could have been recorded on a molecular disk and that the necessary biological material could have been synthesized from elements extracted from asteroids. If you think the Federation was capable of that, then you are are hugely overestimating its capabilities, at least as constructed in my tech bible.


Getting the entire human race recorded? Probably not. But you can get a substantial number of people recorded since you described it as already done. However, "substantial" in this case could very well mean "enough to keep from getting lonely" and be well short of "sizeable minority". You basically pack copies of every virtual personality that already existed (and perhaps record as many more as you can) onto whatever the Federation used for hard drives and then send them... wherever. And you don't pull them out of storage until it's deemed safe to power up other equipment again. This is tech that is already demonstrated to exist.

Replicating whole new biology from raw materials is a whole other kettle of fish. I agree, nothing you've shown so far suggests that Federation technology can do it. However, given PICA technology and virtual worlds tech displayed, there's no reason that any virtual personality archive needs to do it. You could have a "colony" that exists entirely of virtual personalities living out their lives in computers and robotic shells that after a certain hibernation period where everything was turned off to avoid Gbaba detection goes all Von Neumann building an anti-Gbaba fleet and researching better technology for it. And the "seed" for such a thing would require much less in the way of resources than what got committed to Operation Ark.

OTOH, I can also see some problems with the Virtual Colony with Von Neumann fleet (let's call this Plan B) idea.

1) It doesn't do a thing to preserve biological humanity. It's more a "revenge from beyond the grave" sort of deal.

2) Because of its focus as an anti-Gbaba revenge deal, Plan B could very well turn into the Gbaba, at least insofar that it goes around irrationally blowing away everyone on the off chance they might be "Gbaba". Just because they were created to fight the Gbaba doesn't mean they'll STOP at the Gbaba.

3) If Operation Ark (the Plan A) survives and prospered as it was meant to, it could very well find itself fighting the Plan B colony if the B colony went the route in (2).

4) There's textev that one of the dangers of living in virtual worlds that the residents become so enamored with them that they stop interacting with the outside universe. I can just imagine the majority inhabitants of Plan B going this route. What makes it worse is that they may well decide to leave the Von Neumann anti-Gbaba warfleet they built running on "automatic" as it were, resulting in Scenario 2 above.
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Re: Why did they put all their eggs in one basket?
Post by Weird Harold   » Sun Sep 21, 2014 11:22 am

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Why not just have the real colony ships in stealth and drop out of hyper from there, ...[/quote]

The obvious answer is that "Colony Ships" don't sport the same level of Stealth technology that the warships replacing them have. The success of Breakaway depends on the 48 replacements not being detected while in Stealth, so they are logically the 48 stealthiest ships in the fleet.
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Re: Why did they put all their eggs in one basket?
Post by DrakBibliophile   » Sun Sep 21, 2014 11:23 am

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My thought is that if Operation Breakaway happened before the Gbaba found the main Fleet, there's a strong possibility that the Gbaba would have found the Breakaway Fleet before they found the main Fleet.

So my thought is that for Operation Breakaway to work, the Gbaba must believe they found and trapped the Project Ark Fleet.

Once the Gbaba believes that they have destroyed the main Fleet, the odds of escaping further discovery for the Breakaway Fleet have increased.


Randomiser wrote:Slightly off topic, but why on earth did they make such a meal of Breakaway?

DW in OAR P11 wrote:Forty-six huge starships killed their hyperdrives and disappeared as they dropped instantly sublight. But in the very same instant that they did, forty-six other starships which had been carefully hidden away in stealth, appeared just as quickly. It was a precisely coordinated maneuver which Pei’s command had practiced over and over again in the simulators, and more than a dozen times in actual space, and they performed it this one last time flawlessly. The forty-six newcomers slid quickly and smoothly into the holes which had appeared in the formation, and their drive’s emissions signatures were almost perfect matches for those of the ships which had disappeared.


Clearly the Gbaba couldn't simply detect ships dropping out of Hyper per-se or it would never have worked at all, so why all this messing around with substitution? Why not just have the real colony ships in stealth and drop out of hyper from there, leaving the Gbaba with exactly the same emissions signatures and no window to spot the holes in the formation or other ships filling them?

On the similar lines, we don't know how long the fleet were clear before they were found again, but if they had managed any decent flight time it would have made much more sense to cold-bloodedly execute Breakaway before they had been picked up again.
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Re: Why did they put all their eggs in one basket?
Post by Randomiser   » Sun Sep 21, 2014 11:54 am

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Weird Harold wrote:
Randomiser wrote:Why not just have the real colony ships in stealth and drop out of hyper from there, ...


The obvious answer is that "Colony Ships" don't sport the same level of Stealth technology that the warships replacing them have. The success of Breakaway depends on the 48 replacements not being detected while in Stealth, so they are logically the 48 stealthiest ships in the fleet.


Well that's a possibility, (the colony ships not being stealthy) although it's not mentioned in the text. The question then would be 'Why ever not?' They had time to silently vet and recruit the crew and 8 million colonists and build or outfit all the colony ships, why not stealth them up at the same time?


It is even more crucial that the ships in stealth look as much like the colony ships as possible, they are dreadnauts and carriers if I remember right, so, no, they aren't the stealthiest ships in the fleet. Those would be little scouts, probably.
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Re: Why did they put all their eggs in one basket?
Post by Randomiser   » Sun Sep 21, 2014 12:17 pm

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Duckk wrote:
Clearly the Gbaba couldn't simply detect ships dropping out of Hyper per-se or it would never have worked at all, so why all this messing around with substitution? Why not just have the real colony ships in stealth and drop out of hyper from there, leaving the Gbaba with exactly the same emissions signatures and no window to spot the holes in the formation or other ships filling them?


Subsequent discussion in the chapter show that the Gbaba scout was close enough to get good sensor readings. They had a solid count of the ships and their emissions, so simply disappearing Operation Ark's ships would have been a major red flag. That's why they went with Breakaway - to absolutely sell the Gbaba that this last attempt completely failed and not inspire them to look harder.

On the similar lines, we don't know how long the fleet were clear before they were found again, but if they had managed any decent flight time it would have made much more sense to cold-bloodedly execute Breakaway before they had been picked up again.


Kau-Zhi said that Breakaway would occur half an hour after giving the order to push the scout back. So there's really no delay at all aside from the need to get the scout far back enough to make sensor readings a lot more tenuous.


Sorry Duck you have misunderstood my points. The 1st question is 'Why not have the colony ships themselves in stealth so there is no need for tricky substitutions?' The 2nd one refers to the interval between the fleet breaking out of Sol system and being picked up again by the scout which found them, not the period between being found again and Breakaway.
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Re: Why did they put all their eggs in one basket?
Post by Weird Harold   » Sun Sep 21, 2014 12:22 pm

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Randomiser wrote:Well that's a possibility, (the colony ships not being stealthy) although it's not mentioned in the text. The question then would be 'Why ever not?' They had time to silently vet and recruit the crew and 8 million colonists and build or outfit all the colony ships, why not stealth them up at the same time?


It is even more crucial that the ships in stealth look as much like the colony ships as possible, they are dreadnauts and carriers if I remember right, so, no, they aren't the stealthiest ships in the fleet. Those would be little scouts, probably.


Again, the answer is obvious: Every cubic meter used for stealth equipment is a cubic meter that can't be used for a colonist or supplies. The Colony ships don't really need stealth since they're going to drop out of hyper and go dark. Beyond a bare minimum of stealth to cover minimal life-support they're going to be extremely hard to locate just by going dark.

The replacements OTOH need top of the line stealth so they can look like the colony ships for as long as possible. That would presumably be the reason they didn't use EW Drones to duplicate the colony ships -- lack of endurance.
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Re: Why did they put all their eggs in one basket?
Post by Randomiser   » Sun Sep 21, 2014 12:32 pm

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DrakBibliophile wrote:My thought is that if Operation Breakaway happened before the Gbaba found the main Fleet, there's a strong possibility that the Gbaba would have found the Breakaway Fleet before they found the main Fleet.


I suppose it's a trade off between that danger and the danger of being spotted pulling the switch.
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Re: Why did they put all their eggs in one basket?
Post by Randomiser   » Sun Sep 21, 2014 12:46 pm

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Weird Harold wrote:
Randomiser wrote:Well that's a possibility, (the colony ships not being stealthy) although it's not mentioned in the text. The question then would be 'Why ever not?' They had time to silently vet and recruit the crew and 8 million colonists and build or outfit all the colony ships, why not stealth them up at the same time?


It is even more crucial that the ships in stealth look as much like the colony ships as possible, they are dreadnauts and carriers if I remember right, so, no, they aren't the stealthiest ships in the fleet. Those would be little scouts, probably.


Again, the answer is obvious: Every cubic meter used for stealth equipment is a cubic meter that can't be used for a colonist or supplies. The Colony ships don't really need stealth since they're going to drop out of hyper and go dark. Beyond a bare minimum of stealth to cover minimal life-support they're going to be extremely hard to locate just by going dark.

The replacements OTOH need top of the line stealth so they can look like the colony ships for as long as possible. That would presumably be the reason they didn't use EW Drones to duplicate the colony ships -- lack of endurance.


The colony ships needed to be as stealthy as possible to avoid any continuing Gbaba search while they flew away and hunted for a colony site, after all that's why Safehold needed to go dark for 500 years.
I don't think space was all that short given they took along enough 'useless stuff' that Commodore Pei could divert an assault shuttle, 3 APC's, 200 assault rifles and 2 million rounds of small arms ammunition without them being missed! ;)
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Re: Why did they put all their eggs in one basket?
Post by MPCatchup   » Sun Sep 21, 2014 12:55 pm

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What about the Psychological aspect of it? Remember that the personnel of Operation Ark new that they were the last hope of the human species because they had seen all of Earth's colonies wiped out and were leaving Earth before it too was wiped out. Many were leaving their families and friend behind to die so that the colonists would have a chance to hide. For most of the fleet it was a suicide mission and they new it. After all the death and destruction they had been witness to it's surprising their wasn't a mass suicide by the command crew once they put the colonists on Safehold. They probably weren't thinking of anything but hiding from the Gbaba and hoping that they didn't make some mistake somewhere that would give them away. For the first 100 years or so they probably lived with the fear that some scout ship would stumble onto Safehold and lead the Gbaba to wipe them out. The command crew wasn't trying to recreate a human federation, all they wanted was to not be found.
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Re: Why did they put all their eggs in one basket?
Post by DrakBibliophile   » Sun Sep 21, 2014 5:52 pm

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IMO the Command Crew were fanatics about "preserving the last remains of mankind" so would see their duty to survive themselves to ensure the survival of mankind on Safehold.

MPCatchup wrote:What about the Psychological aspect of it? Remember that the personnel of Operation Ark new that they were the last hope of the human species because they had seen all of Earth's colonies wiped out and were leaving Earth before it too was wiped out. Many were leaving their families and friend behind to die so that the colonists would have a chance to hide. For most of the fleet it was a suicide mission and they new it. After all the death and destruction they had been witness to it's surprising their wasn't a mass suicide by the command crew once they put the colonists on Safehold. They probably weren't thinking of anything but hiding from the Gbaba and hoping that they didn't make some mistake somewhere that would give them away. For the first 100 years or so they probably lived with the fear that some scout ship would stumble onto Safehold and lead the Gbaba to wipe them out. The command crew wasn't trying to recreate a human federation, all they wanted was to not be found.
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