10/16/23 – Humble Question

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




Seems like an innocent enough questions to me.


  1. Pete Rogan

    The ability to justify the wholesale theft of knowledge whilst pretending it has value to anyone other than the thief is a sure sign of amorality and, worse, the desire to confuse others as the thief’s true intention. I’d call that naked proof of criminality. Anybody disagree?

    Our nameless interlocutor has identified Choan’s defects and correctly anticipated the problem of dealing with her: She likely already has planned for any attempt to eliminate her or restrict her actions, and those measures will likely cost anybody attempting them a sizable proportion of their flesh, possibly their intellectual capacity as well. She is far more dangerous than her tea-sipping appearance allows.

    Which means any step past this point either has to be Choan’s apparent idea, or the only option left open to her. If she’s got no other business in her dead hometown, that’s going to mean the Bupillions get her next. And whatever she has prepared for them, which might be adequate, probably is not. She’s now in the same condition as Poudric — her next move is constrained to wherever the Bupillions want to cast her. Unless she’s found a way to rewire the potholer, or leaned the coordinate system in her spare moments, which might be possible, but she’d have to have been damn’ sneaky about it to get it done in front of everybody and keep talking.

    Which, of course, suggests another course of action: Park the quest across the Bupillionverse until she understands the potholer coordinate system, prepare to rip them off blind when she jumps to their last location, and flee back to our Galaxy or some other place she might had have scouted out in the time presumed to be taken. How does one state a potential future uncertain action? Beats the crap out of the pluperfect, I know that. However she would have planned to have pre-acted in the time not yet past, it would seem the time for such action is now. The indefinite unlimited now. If her own people don’t immolate themselves trying to get rid of her first.

    I see this is going to be another fun week. I’m going to need more gin. A lot more gin.

    1. Hexrowe

      Okay, Pete, I’ll bite. 🙂

      First of all, you’re conflating morality with legality. Although good legislation is informed by sound moral principles, they’re otherwise two entirely different things, and amorality or even immorality does not indicate criminality nor vice versa.

      Second, what she’s showing here is a lack of tact, not a lack of morals. I don’t know the local laws, of course, but assuming they’re remotely like anything on Earth, downloading public information isn’t theft or even espionage; she seems to be asking permission for what amounts to a massive google binge, albeit in an openly self-serving manner. Quite gauche, I’m sure, but probably not criminal and certainly not immoral.

      Third, in all her screen time, when has Choan ever acted like what you suggest? We’ve seen people attempt to “eliminate her or restrict her actions” several times and she’s never been cruel or vengeful. One person who tried is having tea with her right now, unhurt apart from the loss of his service sidearm and the probably consequent mountain of paperwork waiting for him back home. The only instance I can think of her getting violent is the incident that got her exiled, and so far we’ve gotten no reliable account of that.

      And fourth and last, in the next strip we see her send Ruddock back home, so evidently that’s also an option. She’s not trapped, she started this trip and continues it of her own volition.

      As far as I can tell, everything Choan’s actually said and done shows not a dangerous monster but a person lacking in social graces and burdened with a healthy amount of self doubt.

      1. Pete Rogan

        Actually, Hexrowe, I think you have confused legality with conduct. Choan cares as much for other people as she does for haircuts, with the result that her conduct reflects nothing but her personal interests and evasion of negative consequences. Amorality or criminality that caused YOU a direct loss would, I think, make this connection real for you, as it presently is not.

        Let’s also make sure we understand one basic assumption here about Choan’s conduct: Whether or not she ever received permission, she’s going to download all the data she wants and nevermind what other people think should or shouldn’t be done with that. Such consequences do not touch Choan’s conduct. Do we agree?

        As to Poudric, she’s obviously unarmed and no present threat to him. She possesses all the overwhelming force she needs in being able to leave him behind at her whim. She hardly need spend any additional efforts on things like threats. What could she possibly get more from him that way?

        And when has Choan shown the slightest amount of self-doubt? She’s acted forthrightly and directly without a twinge. Even her slaughter of the princess and her guards brought not a breath of self-doubt from her. She did what she wanted when she wanted, end of story close the book. If you hallucinate her moral character you play into her hands and sabotage yourself completely. You haven’t the chance of a used nasal tissue against her. Once she blows, you’re gone.

        The issue of the potholer is a different element, one I deal with in its time and place.

        1. Hexrowe

          Maybe I wasn’t clear, in which case, my bad. To clarify, I’m not condoning immoral or criminal conduct. I was directly answering your question of whether anyone disagrees that a show of amorality is “naked proof of criminality”, and my answer is that I do disagree: amorality is apathy towards moral concerns, criminality is breaking the law, and morals and laws are two entirely different things.

          And no, we don’t agree on what Choan is going to do. How could we? That’s future information I don’t have access to yet! I wouldn’t be surprised, of course, since technology is her main interest and learning all about it seems harmless beyond currently non-existent commercial concerns, but I WOULD be disappointed if she repeats the same mistake so soon while actively trying to do some self-reflection.

          Poudric is, indeed, harmless for the moment – and instead of eliminating him or even just leaving him to fend on his own, Choan lets him tag along despite his insistent antagonism. It’s not in her best interest to do that, that’s just her being nice. And IIRC this is what she’s done to everyone who’s come at her so far: outmaneuver them, take satisfaction in pointing that out, and move right on with no hard feelings, no gratuitous cruelty, no sadistic backlash. I may be wrong, here, but based on all we’ve seen her do, to me the alleged mass murder in her distant past seems a suspiciously stark contrast to her actual conduct on screen. Maybe she really was hugely more violent and vindictive in her youth? Maybe the cursory narratives of it we’ve heard so far are false? Who knows, I don’t see any way to tell, yet.

          And, I mean, self doubt is the whole reason she’s taking this road trip to begin with. There are earlier foreshadowing remarks, but she starts to be explicit about it here: https://www.baldwinpage.com/spacetrawler/2023/08/11/081123-choan-calls-in/

          1. Pete Rogan

            Ah. I understand. I think you have not had the experience with the amoral that I have had, Hexrowe, and so the question of criminality and its connection to not caring about people is abstract to you. I’m not so fortunate. I’ve seen the amoral blithely abuse and rob people simply because they could, and doing so was pleasurable to them. If you haven’t had this happen to you or the people you care about then you are in a blessed state that I hope continues.

            As to Choan, I think she’s demonstrated the limit to her capacity for self-understanding, and it’s well short of comprehending the necessity for compassion and fellow-feeling. Given an opportunity to take what she wants, she will, and people in her way will be swept out of her path with less concern than you or I would have waving mosquitoes away. I do not make the mistake of thinking that failure to injure or kill is evidence of a wish not to do so. It’s just what happens. Choan has only learned that doing so can get her jugged for ten thousand Draak-Sim revolutions, something she doesn’t care for. The corpses in her wake are less than mosquitoes to her.

            It’s important to understand this. We crave fellow-feeling from the people we are in contact with, but I must tell you it is not a universal emotion, and the freedom that the amoral have over you and your circumstances is absolute. Get in their way and you likely will not live to tell the tale. Not all of you, certainly. May you never encounter one such in person. But they are out there, and they smile like you do and talk as if they were friendly. They are not. They cannot be so.

  2. Demarquis

    Oh, come on. When has Choan ever acted in an evil or amoral manner that we have seen? Her one crime was years ago, and as she says, she did the time. Remember when she helped Nogg and company when they were being attacked on her station, even though she didn’t have to? There must be half a dozen examples like that.

    Anyway, the idea that one could be morally responsible for not knowing that you knew the consequences of your actions is simply incoherent.

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