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Subject:More on Weinbaum scenarios
Time:12:24 pm
For the campaign framing thing I've been talking about the main player handout is a newspaper story that I posted here a while ago:

http://ffutures.livejournal.com/675811.html

I've since made a few changes but the main idea is still the same. What I'm trying to do now is put together some scenario ideas based on the hints in the story - so far I've got one based on finding fugitives, two about smuggling, one about the patrol's primary mission (preventing war), and one about something that isn't in the story.

What I don't have is anything convincing based on the union opposition to automated spaceships thing. I've never been very good at union politics, and I don't know very much about the US unions though I've read up a little on the AFL, CIO, Teamsters etc.

The obvious plot is the ship being "blacked" by unions who refuse to refuel it etc., but I'd prefer something a bit more subtle. On the automation front, I really DON'T want to go the HAL 9000 route.

Any suggestions?
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cobrabay
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-07-05 12:52 pm (UTC)
How about a "Blue Flu"? Like the Babylon 5 Dockers Guild did in the episode "By Any Means Necessary".
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ffutures
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-07-05 01:04 pm (UTC)
I can't remember much about that, I'm afraid, and the Wikipedia article on the episode doesn't mention flu.
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nelc
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-07-05 01:48 pm (UTC)
The phrase 'blue flu' is more appropriately applied to a form of unofficial police — hence 'blue' — industrial action, where simultaneously most of the force calls in sick. It's featured in one of the Transmetropolitan books, and I think it occured in an episode of one of the CSI shows, IIRC. Or was it The Wire?

I don't know what you'd properly call it in the case of dockers: 'brown flu'? 'Lumberjack-shirt flu'?
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cobrabay
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-07-05 02:04 pm (UTC)
"Blue Flu", or sometimes just called a sick-out, is when all the workers call in sick, usually because their contracts or local laws prevent them from striking. The B5 episode is one of fairly few TV SF representations of union activity.
Union activity at the time Weinbaum was writing altogether more robust than today's US union activity. Companies would hire armed union-breakers, union activists would be arrested and in some cases executed on trumped up charges. There was a number of big and sometimes very violent strikes in the US coal industry in the teen's and 20's (the film Matewan depicts a famous one), there were big strikes by the Detroit car workers in the 30's. There was the growth and decline of the I.W.W. (the Wobblies).
The portrayals of union activity I can recall from early SF are few, mostly from a later era (40s/50s) and almost entirely very negative, usually showing union reps to be corrupt, greedy, anti-progress and probably communist, and were drawn without much subtlety.
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3pitaka
Subject:Pilots' strike
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-07-05 03:16 pm (UTC)
THE NEW YORK REGISTER, July 4th:

STRIKE AGAINST INTERPLANETARY FORESEEN

Dr. W. J. van Hoorn's successful launch of an all-automated cargo rocket on June 18 has attracted considerable attention from representatives of the pilots' and engineers' unions. The rocket, carrying two tons of ballast, was launched from Middelburg, Holland, made two orbits of the Earth, and returned safely to its launch site.

This successful test followed four well-publicized crashes of automated vehicles by Dr. van Hoorn's Autorocket Institute. Details of the techniques used remain sketchy, but it is rumored that the ship followed remote instructions carried by radio-beam.

Though the test was initially dismissed as an impractical experimental curiosity, in recent weeks labor unrest has been fueled by rumors that the flight of Autorocket 4X. was merely the first of a new generation of unmanned rocketships. Spokesmen for the pilots' unions have accused Interplanetary, Inc. and other freight and passenger lines of already contacting Autorocket with the intention of converting existing ships to automation. Speculation may have been encouraged by remarks from Dr. van Hoorn recorded immediately after the landing: "The age of manned space travel is through! Today begins the Reign of the Robot!"

Vernon Huffy, third vice president of Interplanetary, issued this statement: "We can assure the pilots that we have no present plans to displace any person in favor of less-expensive, labor-saving automation. Any decision on such an issue would, of course, be announced to the relevant parties in the fullness of time."

Flip Anderson, representative of the pilots, replied: "These so-called assurances from Interplanetary are the bunk. Those bean-counters don't give a hoot about our jobs. They're raring to give us the old heave-ho as soon as they can buy enough of these robot ships. But I've talked it over with the boys, and we say, Heck No! We're going on strike!"

Strike action against Interplanetary called initially by Pilots' 4077th and 8055th local, New York, has now spread to other rocket ports in North America. Strikers are demanding "steel-solid" guarantees that no automated ships will be operated by Interplanetary.

Unless Interplanetary offers such guarantees by noon, July 8th, scheduled flights to Mars and Venus may end up being delayed by months. Valuable cargo, already paid for, will remain sitting in loading bays. People on Earth who urgently need to get off-planet will find themselves waiting in port hotels, and the economy will see a significant downturn for the quarter.

Although Interplanetary refused to respond to inquiries about a possible strike, possible responses include (1) acquiescing to the unions' demands, (2) bargaining, possibly offering a wage hike in compensation for potential automation-related losses, (3) hiring replacement pilots. The last, however, might spark sympathy strikes among other port workers.

This service will continue to provide times of launch and arrival for New York rockets as previously scheduled, with the proviso that all such scheduling is likely to be affected by the strike.
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3pitaka
Subject:Re: Pilots' strike
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-07-05 03:16 pm (UTC)
THE DAILY MOON, June 22nd

ROCKET SCIENTIST IN WORLD-RULE BID?

Dr. Willem Jan van Hoorn, Dutch rocket genius, recently announced that "the age of manned space travel is through! Today begins the Reign of the Robot!"

He was referring, of course, to the recent launch and landing of Autorocket 4X., the world's first fully-automated spaceship.

We consulted our house experts, Dr. Helmuth Oberst, retired head of the Experimental Rocket Group, and Warren Brown, President of the Teenage Space Travel Federation.

"This represents a huge step toward exploring the cosmos," Dr. Oberst intoned. "Robot ships can explore planets where humans could never survive. Immune to heat and cold and differences in pressure, they could dive into the icy oceans of Neptune, or fly among the clouds of Saturn. Undying, they could spread out to the stars, propagating themselves along the way -- a new form of unhuman life, conquering the Galaxy!"

"Aw, nuts!" responded Brown. "Space travel's no fun unless there's a guy -- or a gal -- in the cockpit. You need a real pilot to react with instantaneous reflexes to whatever happens -- here a comet, there a meteor, smash, bang, a blast with the port jets and you're flying free! No robot'll ever do that. I tell you, I don't like the sound of this van Hoorn feller at all. What does he really want with these radio-controlled rockets? I'll tell you. If he can send them up into orbit and control them from the ground, then he can bring them smashing into any place he likes -- like big, flying bombs! With that kind of power, he could rule the world!

What do you think of Dr. van Hoorn's invention? Write to us here at the Daily Moon, and if we print your letter, you'll get six months' subscription to your choice of Fly Fishing and You or Clean Kitchens Quarterly absolutely free!
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ffutures
Subject:Re: Pilots' strike
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-07-05 04:10 pm (UTC)
Nice! not quite what I'm looking for, I think, but that's the sort of prejudice I have in mind.
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