Saturday, 19 March 2011

Scribbling Saturday: The Kestrel and PACT

I have mentioned often my science fiction novels Flight of the Kestrel, so I thought it would be good to spend some Saturdays talking about the background, to build the world.

Human life is not radically different to now. More technology, better medical treatment, but sociologically the same. Space travel has enabled colonies to be settled on the Moon and some other planets, some of which are in other solar systems. Enns comes from Alpha, the first colony outside our solar system, which has become very insular. Ryan comes from another colony world (Orion 3) that sought to return to simple pre-technology living, or at least minimal technology and mostly physical labour. This backfired when they lost their doctor and couldn't find someone with the older healing skills, or who was willing to 'rough it' on their terms.

Space travel also brought contact with aliens, and the Planetary Alliance for Co-operation and Trade (PACT) was formed as a sort of United Nations in space. The Kestrel works for the 'peace-keeping' arm and acts as a fast response diplomatic and trouble-shooting force. There are other sections of PACT which we do not meet, which deal with exchange of technology and ideas, shared scientific and other developments, cultural exchange, and trade.

All the fast response ships are named after birds of prey. They encourage diversity in their crews to promote inter-species understanding. Out of 11 crew, two (Enns & Ryan) are humans not from earth, and two (Reuel & Balitoth) are aliens. Dr Grace is from Earth but has worked away from Earth for many years. This may apply to some of the other human crew also.

They also try to keep the ships constantly in service, so crewmen are swapped in and out to have leave, giving others a chance to get experience on a number of different ships. This was found to have a detrimental effect on morale, so crews are kept together as much as possible, with not too many being swapped at a time.

This makes the Kestrel stories different to most 'spaceship' stories, where the crew remains the same all the time. In the beginning of book 1, one crewman has left, one is missing due to illness and a temporary replacement is found, the First Officer has been promoted and about to leave. During the book the First Officer leaves and the doctor gets injured and there have to be replacements for both, and the sick crewman returns. It makes for interesting dynamics between the characters, as well as the challenges faced in the missions.

No comments: