Wit Beyond Measure

Civilization's Role in FTL in Defending Elysium & Skyward

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In Defending Elysium, Faster Than Light (FTL) communication and transportation - and all of cytonics, really - were viewed by alien life forms as interchangeable with Primary Intelligence and Civilization.

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Sonn waved a clawlike hand; a symbol of denial. “You must understand that he knew the risks of living in an undeveloped civilization. Creatures of lesser intelligence [humans] cannot be held responsible for their acts of barbarity. You have not yet learned a better way.

...

"You must tell to me—how go your efforts at civilization? Will your people soon raise themselves to Primary Intelligence?”

“It will take some time yet, Minister Sonn,” Jason said.

“You are an interesting people, Jason of the Phone Company,” Sonn said, his claws held before him in a gesture of supplication.

“You may speak on.”

“You have such disparity amongst what you are,” Sonn said. “Some of Primary Intelligence, some of Third—or even Fourth—Intelligence. Such disparity. You must tell to me; are your people still convinced of the power of technology?”

...

“They certainly are confident, aren’t they?” Lanna asked in his ear.

“They have reason to be,” Jason replied. “It has always happened as they expect. A race discovers FTL Cytonic Transmission at the same time it achieves a peaceful civilization.

...

“What if they’re wrong, Jason?” Lanna asked. “What if we do get FTL travel before we’re ‘civilized’?”

Jason didn’t reply—he didn’t know the answer.

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And later, near the end of Defending Elysium:

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“Why did you try to kill Coln?” Write finally asked.

Edmund just smiled. “Even for a PC agent, you’re an extremely secretive man, Jason. You’ve been hiding things from the Varvax. If they knew that you could create mindblades, they’d certainly be tempted to elevate humankind’s intelligence designation.”

Write frowned. “It was a test. You wanted to see if I could stop the bullets.”

“And I was not disappointed,” Edmund said, stopping just in front of Write. “Mindblades are very advanced, Jason. Another few decades of study, and you might get FTL. I’m impressed.”

So the aliens have assumed that a civilization must reach Primary Intelligence and a completely peaceful society before attaining FTL travel (cytonic hyperdrive).  Both Jason and Spensa seem to prove this theory incorrect to a degree, though I am certain that M-Bot's cytonic hyperdrive would never have been engaged had the Battle of Alta not been won a decade before, allowing the clans to come together and Spensa to grow up with some civilization in Igneous.  The primary mission of the Krell (Varvax?  Tenasi?  Those and more?) seems to be preventing humans from congregating in large enough groups to form a society and gain civilization because they know that this is the path to FTL.

Pre-Battle of Alta, Spensa's dad (Pages 6 & 9) says, 

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“To me, there is only one clan that matters: humankind. Before we crashed here, we were all part of the same fleet—and someday all the wandering clans will remember that. They will come when we call them. They’ll gather together, and we’ll form a city and build a civilization again.”

...

“If we let them bomb Igneous, then we lose the apparatus,” my father said. “We lose the manufactories. We lose everything. If we ever want to have a civilization again, a world again, we have to stand here!”

 

And then later, from the top brass (Page 95):

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As we walked down the building’s hallways, the PA system cracked on. “Today’s fight was an incredible victory,” Admiral Ironsides said. “Proof of Defiant strength and tenacity. Remember what you fight for. Remember that if the enemy manages to get a lifebuster bomb into range, they can not only destroy this base, but everyone below, and everything we love. You are the line between civilization and madness.

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And then the big reveal at the end (Page 509):

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“The lifebusters were designed to annihilate our civilization if we seemed to be getting close to escaping Detritus. But most of the time they attacked, I don’t think they were trying to actually destroy us. They have laws against destroying a species entirely. They consider this planet like…a preserve for humankind. They sent ships to keep us focused on the fight, to occupy us, so we wouldn’t have time to research how to escape. And while the fighters always tried to keep our fleet down to size, they were only authorized to use a certain amount of force against us, lest they accidentally cause us to go extinct.” I shivered despite the blanket. “Something changed recently, however,” I said. “It seems this last bomb really was meant to destroy us. There have been…politics about how much they should tolerate from us. They tried to destroy Alta and Igneous, but we defeated them. That has them scared." 

So annihilating civilization without annihilating human race is the Krell goal because the Krell know that civilization leads to FTL.  The Krell must suspect Spensa is close to FTL, as they suspected her father was, but Spensa indicated that they didn't know she could listen in on them and that they certainly didn't know she could FTL travel. 

The Defiants are far too uncivilized for FTL, yet, at least according to Varvax theory, and still, humans seem to be defying this law of reaching a peaceful civilization before achieving FTL.  So this theory seems both partially right and partially wrong.  I'm convinced Spensa's cytonics bloomed as a result of the Battle of Alta and Igneous's civilization, but Spensa is a far cry, even at the end of Skyward, from a peaceful person, and Defiants are a far cry from a peaceful civilization.

So perhaps the aliens are wrong about what constitutes civilization.  Is peace at all costs civilized?  Are cytonic-stifling concentration camps civilized?  Is what the Krell have done to the Defiants (bombing to scatter, making Defiants warmongers) civilized?

My hope is that the Defiants will soon be undergoing an FM revolution, one that will raise them all to Primary Intelligence even if they aren't the same peaceful civilization the aliens insist must occur to reach that level.  FM's philosophies on civilization are explored on Page 190:

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“I was raised Defiant,” she said. “But I choose, now, to be what people down below call a Disputer—I raise objections about the way the war is being run. I think we should throw off the oppressive mantle of military government.”

...

“I am still willing to fight,” FM said, her head high as we walked. “Just because I want change doesn’t mean I’ll let the Krell destroy us all. But do you realize what it’s doing to our society to train our children, practically from birth, to idealize and glorify fighting? To worship the First Citizens like saints? We should be teaching our children to be more caring, more inquisitive—not only to destroy, but to build.”

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And as a bit of an aside but still related, Doomslug!  That Doomslug FTL travels seems at least 90% certain given how she moves with lightning speed whenever Spensa's not looking.  Aliens tell us that one must reach Primary Intelligence to obtain FTL, and so Doomslug appears to be a creature of Primary Intelligence.  Dude!!!  That would mean, at the very least, Doomslug is sapient.

So is Doomslug Krell?  I think that is a distinct possibility, but I definitely see her as friendly even if she is the enemy.  The Varvax are "small creatures that floated in a nutrient bath sealed within their inorganic shells [enormous exoskeletens]," but what if Doomslug lost her exoskeleton?  Could Varvax survive without these and their nutrient baths?  

Edited by Wit Beyond Measure
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3 hours ago, Wit Beyond Measure said:

Could Varvax survive without these and their nutrient baths?  

That would actually explain Brandon's response to the WoB pretty well.  Nice job.

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Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

What does Doomslug eat?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Doomslug eats mushrooms, among other things. I don't want to say anything more...

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

I know, I was trying to find something that wouldn't be RAFO'd

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Yeah that's actually shockingly relevant of a question, so... Hmm!

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1 hour ago, Kal-Eldin said:

That would actually explain Brandon's response to the WoB pretty well.  Nice job.

Thank you!  I need to spend some Skyward time on the Arcanum...  This one is pretty cool, too!

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Questioner

Will we see more animals like that strange slug?

Brandon Sanderson

You will indeed see more of both Doomslug and creatures like her.

source

 

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well, that part about civilization and ftl seems more bigot lingo than anything else. "A civilized people wear smokings and cravats. Those guys don't, so we can take their stuff and make of them indentured slaves impose our culture on them and kill any who rebels show them the right way"

And I already stated elsewhere that attacking with lethal force a peaceful fleet and then nuking civilian populations on a regular base are not civilized acts. But of course, since they have ftl and humans didn't anymore, then they could nuke them. They could nuke them because they are more civilized...  which further supports the "bigot lingo" interpretation

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Here are some more quotes I'm reviewing on the Varvax and their similarities to the Krell, and what that may or may not mean for Doomslug.  From Page 503 of Skyward:

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A small number of the boxy ships approached M-Bot in the blackness. They struck me as couriers or maybe towing devices. Through the wide glass fronts, I saw creatures that looked vaguely like the drawings we had of Krell. Dark forms in armor, with red eyes. Only here, they were bright colors—a perky red and blue, not dark at all. They reminded me a little of the pictures of crabs I’d seen from Old Earth, during my ancient biology courses. And the “armor” they wore seemed more like some kind of living apparatus, with open plates on the “head” portion for the creatures to see out of. 

 

And then from Defending Elysium, describing Sonn the Varvax:

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The figure on the holovid screen was large and boxy, and its skin shone with quartz and granite. That was, of course, only the exoskeleton—the Varvax were actually small creatures that floated in a nutrient bath sealed within their inorganic shells.

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The murdered Varvax ambassador was described as a "burned carapace."

From Page 255 of Skyward:

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Cobb changed the hologram to a hovering image of a burned-out helmet and some pieces of armor. I shivered. Krell remains. His hologram was a much more detailed, much more real version of the artistic renditions I’d seen. The photo showed a few scientists standing at a table around the armor, which was squat and bulky. Kind of squarish. “This is all we’ve ever been able to recover,” Cobb said. “And we only find it in occasional ships we shoot down. One in a hundred or fewer. They aren’t human, of that we’re sure.” He showed another image, a closer-up hologram of one of the helmets, burned out from a crash.

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So the Krell (creatures inside living crablike armor that is squat, squarish, and bulky) seem amazingly similar to Varvax (creatures floating in nutrient baths sealed within inorganic exoskeleton shells, also called carapaces).  Knowing Brandon, I cannot think these similarities are coincidental.

So, Skyward tells us several times that most burned out Krell ships are empty, which jives with what we learn at the end when Spensa discovers that the Krell are "prison guards who fly mostly unmanned drones."  However, some Krell ships contain burned out armor with no bodies inside.  Those nutrient baths could be consumed by the fires, but what about the creatures inside?  Would there be nothing left?  Is Doomslug the only one who survived?  

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