01/16/23 – Roll Call

Spacetrawler, audio version For the blind or visually impaired, January 16, 2023.




I did temp work for years. It’s amazing the things you’re called in for because of work pile-ups.


  1. TB

    A question: do you have a little notebook where you file new aliens in case you need them later, or are a lot of them just one-offs you use and discard?

    I watch shows like Deep Space Nine, Babylon 5, and Star Wars spinoffs, and look at the aliens in the background. In some SF universes, there are maybe five major alien races in known space, but it others, like these, there seem to be thousands.

    These background aliens are bit players who spent two hours in the makeup chair just to walk across the bar and sit down at a table while the main action with the stars is going on in the foreground. I wonder how many of these are one-time appearances. Somewhere in Lucasfilm there is probably a small team whose only job is to catalog these aliens and maybe even write a back story for them. You never know…

    But hey, they’re in the show!

    1. @TB, ha! I wish. But I’d never be able to keep up. If I had one crowd scene, I’d simply use them all at once. So I make them as I go along. Some are… more inspired than others. There’s a few throwaway gems in there for sure.

      In the SF shows, I wonder if they had a team whose job was to just make new masks all the time, so they could be used as needed (similar to what you thought I might do).

      1. Pete Rogan

        It’s hilarious in context here, but sobering in the full translation from Tacitus’s “The Agricola,” where it’s part of a speech given by Calgacus, leader of the Caledonian Confederacy, before the battle of Mons Graupius in northern Scotland against Gnaeus Julius Agricola in AD 83 or 84:

        “These plunderers of the world [the Romans], after exhausting the land by
        their devastations, are rifling the ocean: stimulated by avarice, if their
        enemy be rich; by ambition, if poor; unsatiated by the East and by the West:
        the only people who behold wealth and indigence with equal avidity. To ravage,
        to slaughter, to usurp under false titles, they call empire; and where they make
        a desert, they call it peace.”

        Calgacus lost the battle. So the Romans made peace.

  2. Night-Gaunt

    Star Trek has too many aliens really a ridiculous amount that are space faring. In my SF I mixed SW/ST without actually doing them. Not many aliens only one were space farers and 3 others one is unknown from somewhere else the others are on a primitive planet eating each other. I used Keith Laumer as a guide.

    1. TB

      Some SF authors, like Isaac Asimov, constructed a galaxy with basically no aliens at all. As far as large numbers of space-faring aliens, the Rule of Profit states that once one species develops a useful star drive, in a couple of hundred years everyone will have one. It’s just too tempting to sell it to eager planet dwellers.

      In Star Trek, aliens waited until Earth independently evolved the warp drive. That’s a bit naive. In other stories, like Babylon 5, or Niven’s “Known Space” series, one race developed it, and wasted no time using it to sell stuff to other races.

      1. rws

        Yes, resources might have little value in one location due to local tech. I suspect that Lithium might have had little practical value 100 years ago. At one point, the only Molybdenum mine was in USA, going broke. No one knew what to do with it. During WWI, germans tried to buy it.

      2. Meran

        John Varley, in Steel Beach (and a few other works set in that universe, referred to having lost the Earth to other beings, without talking about them in any other way. (Luna and Mars are humans, I believe.)
        This isn’t his Gaea Trilogy. Those have very interesting beings in it. Intriguing ones. (Warning: their reproduction rituals are the most complicated I’ve ever read! Imagine a parentage of a hind father or hind mother.. then there’s the ~other half of a centaur to consider. Not sure if those were named fore-mothers or fore-fathers , but it seems logical. )

  3. Henrik N

    It is obvious that their zap-guns are made by different gun factories. In the third panel, the gun used by the avian alien to the left seems to resist the ZAP from his opponent. Nice detail!

  4. rws

    They didn’t hire either group. I see no reason for paper work. Assuming that their troops hadn’t gotten involved yet.

    Nothing happened here. Oh, a stray laser. Finders Keepers.

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