This year, as part of my job of being Fabulous Publisher Babe™’s Marketing Troll, Ollie, I’m branching out into a few new realms, in that eternal quest to make enough writing money that I don’t have to get up and put on pants in the morning. (Venn Diagram. Two circles that do not touch. “Days I am happy.” “Days I am wearing pants.” Snerk.)
One of the tasks is a new semi-picture book for the Jessica Keller Books tentatively entitled “Uniforms of the Fleet” that will show what (in my mind) a Republic of Aquitaine (Senior/Command) Centurion wears, and how I think it differs from what you see on television or in the movies. (Eventually, we’ll do a full technical manual, but not today.)
Andy Weir has taught us to use science in our science fiction. In his case, a truly impressive array of “how would you do this, trapped on a hostile planet?” (Which is kind of awesome, when you realize he just updated Robinson Crusoe and made it brand new to an entire generation. That takes skill.)
So we’re going to explore Aquitaine uniforms. One of the things that strikes me is that you’re in space. Deep. Cold. Hostile. If something goes wrong, you are in a vacuum quickly.
With that in mind, you have to be able to get into an emergency suit quickly.
Jessica’s technology is advanced, but not out in the realm of magic. (I remember a story where their tech was so high that they wore a small belt that produced a full life support force field around the wearer. At one point in one of my favorite stories, the main character snuck into a space base by wearing something so startlingly primitive (to her and her culture) as to be merely cloth wrapped around someone and sealed, instead of a full field.)
Worry number two, you don’t have time to strip out of your existing gear before you put on the emergency suit. That’s 10-15 seconds, in the dark, in a rush of escaping atmosphere, with the gravplates turned off. Things will go wrong. Things will blow away if you aren’t holding on tight.
So, you have to be wearing something that your suit will go over, and do it quickly, blindly, and while rotating in three dimensions in motion.
Next, you live your life in a fully controlled-climate environment. Temperature, pressure, humidity are standard across the fleet, unless you have a small ship, with a tight crew, and a command centurion who talks them all into raising or lowering the temp. Normally, this would be a long-serving crew who all originated on a single planet. And even then, the Navy frowns on that sort of thing.
Standards exist for a reason.
So, here we are. You need to design a uniform that can be worn under the emergency suit. All environments are close enough to identical to not count.
Shoes. Everyone will wear ship-slippers most of the time, with the exception of engineers and security marines. And even then, the difference is slightly more tread and steel toes and steel underplates to protect the foot in hostile environments. So weight, rather than bulk. Easily slipped on and off, and not required to do much except keep the arches intact and keep a grip while running or exercising.
Pants. Everyone will wear black, semi-stretchy pants. Not quite spandex. A heavier material than yoga pants, but serving the same purpose. Pockets on the front for your hands. Pockets on the outside of the butt (think jeans) for stuff. Maybe pouches on the thigh, but more frequently a belt attachment that can be jettisoned in a hurry. Again, nothing to get in the way of keeping you alive.
Tunic. Jacket. Whatever. The pants will come up over the hip bone. The tunic will come down and rest on the hip bones themselves. Open at the bottom, instead of having elastic. (Anyone else remember Patrick Stewart standing up and immediately pulling down his jacket? My friend always called THAT the Pickard Maneuver.) Cut close to the body. Again, a little stretchy (think a heavy jersey material). Zippered, or velcroed, or somethinged up the front. Whatever we manage to invent in the next twelve millennia. No collar, so think of the t-shirt you are wearing with the collar cut out. Plus take a small vee (maybe 2 inches) out of the center top.
The tunic is dark green. There will be a pattern under the arms in black (TBD). The upper arms are black, the lower arms are the same green as the body. Cuffs that cut back at a 45-degree angle to expose the outer wrist bone when you are typing. There is a black line across the pectoral muscles. On wearer’s left side, medals when in dress uniform. On the right, badges for schools and certifications.
Undershirt. I don’t have a good way to describe the color. I saw it once in a store. Mix neon green with gray in a chaos pattern. Since everyone wears a tunic over it on duty, and the tunics are the same weight, this is how we account for different body temperatures. The only uniform requirements are that the undershirt run an inch above the top of the collar as a low mock-turtleneck, and that they not appear at the wrists, and that they tuck in to the pants. Beyond that, there will be different weights of fabric, different sleeve lengths, etc. for people who run hot or run cold. (Men and women will absolutely have different weights, will be my expectation.) Folks might print something on the front, as long as a superior officer who sees it isn’t going to be offended enough to do something about it. Women will generally wear a bra or sports bra underneath that, as necessary. (Moirrey doesn’t have enough chest that she had to wear one, so she might not, half the time. YMMV)
Hair is expected to be kept neat, but does not have to be kept short. An emergency suit has a hood that is attached and flips up and over and seals, so presumably your hair will be inside, or might be stuck on the outside and cause a slow leak, but not bad enough to kill you in the short term. (If you’re going to be floating for several hours in a vacuum, you might have a problem. Maybe. Again, if all else fails, cut off the part that sticks out and pull the rest in.)
So there you have it. A uniform design that is based on my interpretation of how human need and technology will interact. They don’t have technology that mimics magic. And they aren’t gods. They have risen, fallen, and risen again on a number of occasions. Some of the falls were nearly terminal. None of the rises has been godhead.
So what the hell is all that about?
Simple. I’m doing Uniforms of the Fleet as an exercise in technology for me the writer, but also for me the marketing troll.
I’m meeting today with an artist I want to hire to do all the pictures, starting with Jessica as a command centurion. I’ve structured the contract to both our benefits.
She gets to draw pictures in the Auberon universe for a number of years, and sell them at cons and on her website. Hopefully, she will make good money from it.
At the same time, her name will be on the cover of the picture book when it comes out. (I’ve always dreamed of running into someone cosplaying a Command Centurion at a con. And now they’ll have images to work from.) Plus I’ll get access to all her fans.
Every time someone looks at her pictures, I have a chance to sell the books. Every time someone reads the series, they might go out and buy this art book, and then go look at all the other art she’s done and buy prints and stuff.
Everyone, hopefully, makes money. And has fun, which is the more important part.
This is the year where we use art as a marketing tool. Partly because it might make me more nickels.
But partly, because I can.
shade and sweet water
west of the mountains, WA