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

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Re: Why did they put all their eggs in one basket?
Post by gantrakk   » Sat Sep 20, 2014 3:58 pm

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I have also found this to be a bit strange but since I couldn't think of a way to get the in book situation without some illogical moves on the planners part I just assumed the answer must be because of plot, so I gave it a pass.

The thing that I really found strange was the comments of Nimue's father buying her an expensive PICA toy to play with in her spare time after growing up on a world losing a war of extinction.

I don't know about you but I would have thought that whilst losing a war that would then result in the extinction of the human race there wouldn't be any rich people to waste such resources on trivialities and that all human activity would be subsumed to the war effort to such a degree as to make the soviet commitment to the second world war look like they weren't really trying hard at all, not that the federation wouldn't even bother to go to the commitment level of even Britain.

Surely a war to stop the extinction of the entire human race must be a case in which there is no extremity which is too extreme to go to win?
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Re: Why did they put all their eggs in one basket?
Post by DrakBibliophile   » Sat Sep 20, 2014 5:14 pm

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A few thoughts.

First, the Gbaba war has been going on for about forty years but we're talking about a time when a person can live around three hundred years.

So Nimue's father may be "indecently rich" but his companies are likely heavily involved in the war effort.

So is the Terran Government going to risk disrupting the war economy by taking over his companies when his companies are already doing what needs to be done?

Second, David Weber has stated that the Solar System's defenses are strong enough that the Gbaba can't easily break them but that the general population (at least at the time of Nimue's birth) isn't really aware that mankind is doomed in the long run. While Nimue thinks about attending parties where people were aware of the coming doom, I think it's safe to say that the general population may not be fully aware that it's doomed.

Third, it's implied that mankind's industries are already working at full capacity and there was a definite comment that available manpower wasn't a limiting factor in the defense of the Solar System.

So IMO while David Weber has stated that the Terran Federation is "bending the rules" in some areas, I suspect that the Terran Federation believes that a massive disruption of Earth's society (in the manner you're thinking about) is not necessary and would be counterproductive.

Also while David Weber has said that research into PICA technology is no longer done, it isn't IMO unbelievable that Nimue's father could purchase a top end PICA for his daughter. Likely orders for such PICAs are a minor draw on the over-all economy of the Solar System as they were not something that the average "man-on-the-street" wanted or needed.


gantrakk wrote:I have also found this to be a bit strange but since I couldn't think of a way to get the in book situation without some illogical moves on the planners part I just assumed the answer must be because of plot, so I gave it a pass.

The thing that I really found strange was the comments of Nimue's father buying her an expensive PICA toy to play with in her spare time after growing up on a world losing a war of extinction.

I don't know about you but I would have thought that whilst losing a war that would then result in the extinction of the human race there wouldn't be any rich people to waste such resources on trivialities and that all human activity would be subsumed to the war effort to such a degree as to make the soviet commitment to the second world war look like they weren't really trying hard at all, not that the federation wouldn't even bother to go to the commitment level of even Britain.

Surely a war to stop the extinction of the entire human race must be a case in which there is no extremity which is too extreme to go to win?
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Paul Howard (Alias Drak Bibliophile)
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Sometimes The Dragon Wins! [Polite Dragon Smile]
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Re: Why did they put all their eggs in one basket?
Post by Dilandu   » Sun Sep 21, 2014 12:17 am

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Dahak wrote:
(I've always wondered if Hamilcar was finally destroyed. Having the last starship available would be a major resource for anyone playing Tin God.)


Hm. According to snippet:

The servitors who’d fought for the Archangels had largely withdrawn to the Dawn Star, the last of the ‘demons’ fighting for the Fallen had been driven back to their final fastness in the Desolation Mountains, and the Archangels must have been preparing their final assault.


It looks like "Hamilcar" at least survived the war.
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- Who would won in battle between strawman Liberal-Democrat and strawman Conservative-Republican?
- Scarecrow from Oz; he was strawman before it became political.

P.S. - And he have Russian twin, to watch his back)
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Re: Why did they put all their eggs in one basket?
Post by Dilandu   » Sun Sep 21, 2014 12:23 am

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DrakBibliophile wrote:Second, David Weber has stated that the Solar System's defenses are strong enough that the Gbaba can't easily break them but that the general population (at least at the time of Nimue's birth) isn't really aware that mankind is doomed in the long run. While Nimue thinks about attending parties where people were aware of the coming doom, I think it's safe to say that the general population may not be fully aware that it's doomed.

Third, it's implied that mankind's industries are already working at full capacity and there was a definite comment that available manpower wasn't a limiting factor in the defense of the Solar System.


It looks almos as the Federation want to loose the war... They aren't fully mobilized, they preserved the capitalist economy (let's imagine that California was suddenly cut off from the rest of the United States, and under siege of the genocidical enemy; you want to convince me that in such a situation capitalist economy of the state wouldn't just collapse?), and they didn't attempt the quantum leap even as the final measure.
------------------------------

- Who would won in battle between strawman Liberal-Democrat and strawman Conservative-Republican?
- Scarecrow from Oz; he was strawman before it became political.

P.S. - And he have Russian twin, to watch his back)
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Re: Why did they put all their eggs in one basket?
Post by runsforcelery   » Sun Sep 21, 2014 2:55 am

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Dilandu wrote:
DrakBibliophile wrote:Second, David Weber has stated that the Solar System's defenses are strong enough that the Gbaba can't easily break them but that the general population (at least at the time of Nimue's birth) isn't really aware that mankind is doomed in the long run. While Nimue thinks about attending parties where people were aware of the coming doom, I think it's safe to say that the general population may not be fully aware that it's doomed.

Third, it's implied that mankind's industries are already working at full capacity and there was a definite comment that available manpower wasn't a limiting factor in the defense of the Solar System.


It looks almos as the Federation want to loose the war... They aren't fully mobilized, they preserved the capitalist economy (let's imagine that California was suddenly cut off from the rest of the United States, and under siege of the genocidical enemy; you want to convince me that in such a situation capitalist economy of the state wouldn't just collapse?), and they didn't attempt the quantum leap even as the final measure.



I’m sorry you think the human race was so ineffably stupid.

What makes you think (a) that the Terran Federation was still running a capitalist economy, on the one hand, or (b) that a capitalist economy is incompatible with maximum efficiency, on the other? One can certainly argue that “capitalism” wasn’t suspended by the United States during World War Two, despite which the US managed to be the greatest industrial power in the world. There is absolutely no reason to believe that state planning/coordination and capitalism are somehow antitheses. Central planning/coordination and unfettered free market capitalism probably are incompatible, but that doesn't mean the capitalist system per se is unworkable under those circumstances

Was the Terran Federation sitting around and letting Apple and Samsung duke it out for the civilian market? Absolutely not. Was the Terran Federation backing competitive projects by Boeing and Lockheed in order to keep production lines running? Of course not. Were the Federation authorities allowing anyone to profiteer at the expense of the war effort? Puh-leese! :roll: I remember a remark made by one of the naval officers involved in the USN’s World War Two buildup. He said that money wasn’t an issue; you could get all of that you wanted. It was steel and government-assigned priorities for it which were the constraints. I guarantee you that with the human race facing extinction, those "government-assigned priorities" were pretty damned steel clad and every industrial facility in the Solar System was running at full capacity 24-hours a day.

Now, does that mean that no consumer goods whatsoever were being produced? Of course it doesn’t. And does it mean that somebody who was the equivalent of a majority stockholder in Boeing in 1942 wasn’t still able to pull strings sufficiently to acquire a single PICA for his beloved, only-child daughter? In what world do you live that you think Howard Hughes or Warren Buffet or George Soros couldn’t pull that off no matter what the priorities were? The diversion from the war effort would be so minute, so miniscule, that no one would ever notice. It literally would make exactly zero difference to the war effort, and the authorities would probably think it was an extraordinarily minor concession to someone who was an enormous net contributor to that war effort. And that someone, if I haven’t been perfectly clear, was Nimue Alban’s father. He wasn't just sitting on an inherited trust fund somewhere. He was one of the handful of wealthiest people in the entire Federation, and he'd placed his resources completely at the service at the Federation fifteen years before Nimue was born. That's why he knew just how bad the situation was long before it became evident to the majority of the human race. In fact, Elystan Alban was one of the individuals who'd been pressing the Federation to pursue a much more robust military budget well before the Gbaba were actually encountered at Crestwell's Star.

Remember that only forty-three years elapsed between that moment and Operation Ark. (Nimue was born less than sixteen years after Crestwell's Star, which is one reason her mother was able to convince herself that her father's pessimism about humanity's future was unfounded. On the surface, things just looked grim to those outside the innermost circles, not hopeless.) Now, forty-three years may seem like a long time, but given the distances involved, the nature of the threat, the fact that humanity had multiple star systems to defend, that its military machine had to be essentially built from the ground up, and that the Gbaba had a pronounced tech advantage from the outset, it really isn't all that long, and for that entire time period, humanity had its back to the wall, whether everyone realized it or not. The Federation's government had every reason to use its already existing infrastructure and economy as the basis for its war effort rather than trying to build something new on the fly. So, yes, they retained a capitalist structure under a strictly rationalized war planning authority, and it worked very well for them. In fact, for the first twenty-odd years, while a majority of the human race was still able to convince itself that the Gbaba were not, in fact, unstoppable, the retention of a familiar, known economic system — on the surface, at least — was a plus for civilian morale.

As to why the Federation might still be producing something as "frivolous" as a PICA, I've already told you that PICAs were being produced throughout this period both for industrial applications and for people who needed them for medical reasons. And unlike the purely "industrial" models, most of those PICAs being manufactured for people who needed them for medical reasons were last-generation PICAs, just as capable as Nimue’s. They were no longer being built for recreation (although there were more of those "recreational" PICAs than you might think around, most of which had been built before or during the first couple decade or so of the war against the Gbaba), but they were certainly being currently manufactured for medical purposes, and Nimue's father happened to own one of the companies which built them. So basically, he diverted a wheelchair from the Army Medical Corps's delivery queue and repurposed it as a gift for his daughter. Somehow, I don’t think FDR would’ve gotten his undergarments in a wad over that, and neither did the Terran Federation, war of extinction or not.

As for the eggs in a single basket and the second terraforming fleet.

There was never any intention for the Safehold colonization fleet to establish multiple colonies. The planners calculated that the existence of a second colony would have more than doubled the possibility that the Gbaba would stumble across one of them and realize that any colony had gotten past them, but they could have lived with that, given the survival benefits of redundancy. A far larger factor in their thinking, however, was that they had decided that they needed all 8,000,000 of those colonists in a single colony, sufficiently widely spread across the surface of humanity's new homeworld that no conceivable natural catastrophe or unanticipated environmental disaster was likely to wipe them out. (Excluding, of course, the probability of some planetary extinction event like a cometary collision, but for that to happen the human race would have had to crap out, indeed.) If they were only going to get one shot at building a new home for the human race, then they intended to give that shot the very best odds of success and survival that they could.

Even if the original mission planners had intended to provide for the possibility of a second Operation Ark colony, however, Langhorne and Bédard would have scotched it. They didn’t want an additional colony world. They wanted one world, so deeply buried the Gbaba would never find it, and the anti-tech fanatics of the command crew frankly doubted that they could have found someone as committed as they were to their vision of perpetually preventing the evolution of advanced technology to oversee the creation and establishment of a second colony outside their own direct control. They had enough trouble with Shan-wei right there on Safehold. Did they really want to empower a second Shan-wei in another colony (where they would have no control whatsoever) to undo their “hide forever” strategy? Especially since what Shan-wei wanted to do was exactly what the original mission orders had called for before Langhorne and Bédard . . . modified them. Who knew who else in the command crew might secretly have sympathized with Shan-wei and seized the opportunity to reinstitute the original mission plan?

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. The second is that most of the other proposals — for O’Neil cylinders or colonies, for example — would have left/generated a far more detectable “footprint” than a pre-technic colony at the bottom of an atmosphere. Terran Federation stealth systems were very, very good, and emissions control would obviously have been a huge part of any such colony operation. Nonetheless, the creation of a self-sustaining deep space habitat, including the resource extraction necessary if only to provide raw materials for expansion and maintenance, would be much more apparent to a scout ship passing within a few light-years of a star system than a bunch of human beings emitting carbon dioxide into a planetary atmosphere.

The Safehold colony was not the only colonization attempt the Federation made. If you recall, they got one colony fleet (that Nimue knew about) out, only to have the colony detected and destroyed (and see also my final paragraph below). The Federation was probably technologically capable of building a fleet of von Neumann probes, but they couldn’t build interstellar-capable ships with that sort of capability so small that thousands of them could evade the Gbaba blockade. (Considerations of power supply and the need to build a hyperdrive into them, if they were going to attain FTL movement, meant they had to be a certain minimal size, and that size was big enough that the sensor net the Gbaba had constructed around the Sol System would have seen them coming. That was one of the reasons Operation Ark had such a strong military escort — not simply to fight its way through the blockade, but to be big enough for its active emissions to hide the stealthed colony ships accompanying it.) Moreover, as I’ve already stated above, the Federation’s nanotech, good as it was, had not reached the point of being able to build zygotes out of any handy elements. Given another few decades, they might well have attained that level of medical tech; they didn’t have it yet, any more than they had the ability to place someone indefinitely in cryo and ultimately revive him.

The suggestion that they might have effectively sent out a fleet of PICAs (or of von Neumann ships capable of building a tech base that could then build the PICAs) with recorded human personalities is probably the most workable of the options suggested. Even that, however, would have required multiple breakouts from the Sol System, which was problematical at best.

Essentially, the Federation strategists who came up with Operation Ark put everything the Federation could spare from its defenses into a single roll of the dice that was the very best roll — had, in their estimation, the best chance of breaking out and breaking free — available to them in the time window they had. You may disagree with their analysis; you may disagree with my analysis. There were however reasons for their decisions other than abject stupidity or a desire to lose the war. Had there been time, the fleet that was sent to Safehold would have been followed by a second attempt, and a third attempt — as long as the Federation lasted — to create “hidden” colonies, with each expedition dispatched in a totally different direction from any other expeditions. The problem is that there wasn’t time, and there wasn’t a sufficient covering force to get more than one colony fleet out and away in the window available to them.

The clock ran out on the human race. It was that simple, exactly as Admiral Pei remarked to his chief of staff just before his final battle.


"Oh, bother!" said Pooh, as Piglet came back from the dead.
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Re: Why did they put all their eggs in one basket?
Post by Dilandu   » Sun Sep 21, 2014 4:05 am

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Ok, thank you for the detailed explanation!
------------------------------

- Who would won in battle between strawman Liberal-Democrat and strawman Conservative-Republican?
- Scarecrow from Oz; he was strawman before it became political.

P.S. - And he have Russian twin, to watch his back)
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Re: Why did they put all their eggs in one basket?
Post by jgnfld   » Sun Sep 21, 2014 7:50 am

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Plus he's kinda' already written that book ("Excalibur Alternative")

lyonheart wrote:Hi Pokermind,

thanks for making me smile.

But it sounds too much like RFC's parody of how the series won't end. :lol:

L


pokermind wrote:Hmm, quite a plot twist. All of Safehold is shocked as the orbital bombardment system is destroyed by the third arrow in Shan Wei Pei's quiver, her grandson Totally Pissed Off Pei leads the techie fleet to liberate Safehold from Langhorne's plan :lol:

Poker
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Re: Why did they put all their eggs in one basket?
Post by jgnfld   » Sun Sep 21, 2014 7:58 am

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runsforcelery wrote:
Dilandu wrote:...
The suggestion that they might have effectively sent out a fleet of PICAs ... with recorded human personalities is probably the most workable of the options suggested. Even that, however, would have required multiple breakouts from the Sol System, which was problematical at best.

...



So my idea wasn't SOOOO bad!
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Re: Why did they put all their eggs in one basket?
Post by Randomiser   » Sun Sep 21, 2014 9:34 am

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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 Duckk   » Sun Sep 21, 2014 10:24 am

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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.
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