The Science Officer

I’ve been writing a whole bunch over the last half year in the Alexandria Station universe, mostly concentrated on the far end of the calendar, specifically Jessica Keller and Henri Baudin (a name you’ll meet next week when The Story Road drops). It dawns on me that I really haven’t spent a lot of time on Javier Aritza lately. Partly, that’s because Jessica has been all-consuming, like and an itch I can’t scratch.

It’s my plan (still on plan, btw) to work on the third episode of The Science Officer once I finish the first Jessica Keller Trilogy (update: about halfway through Last Of The Immortals, and Queen Of The Pirates is coming out in August).

We left our indomitable hero at the end of The Mind Field, right after Sykora has departed with Wilhelmina Teague, returning to that place called civilization. Javier has made his peace with his lot in life, currently. Suvi is mostly safe from discovery. Javier has decided that he can make a life with the rest of the crew, once he figures out how to deal with Sykora.

I’ve had a lot of comments from people who expect the two of them, Javier and Djamila, to end up as an item together. That may entirely happen, but I hope you aren’t holding your breath.

Those two hate each other.  I mean, planning on how to make it look like an accident kinds of hatred. There are a lot of ways to wrap that up in a pretty bow, but there is a lot of animus there. The Concord is a very sexist place, relegating women frequently to a second-class status. It is also a very status-conscious place, more like part of modern South Asia, or parts of the UK, where it is extremely difficult to overcome the situation of your birth. Javier is a guy, and he comes from a planet that is pretty well connected.

Sykora, however, comes from a much different place. Neu Berne is a very Teutonic kind of place. Their militarism was a driving force in the Great War that just ended 80 years ago, shattering all major powers in such a way that The Concord kind of had to step in and take over. She was a tall, kind of dorky girl from the wrong side of the tracks as a youngster, who rose as far as she could by being as close to edge of human physical perfection as one could get, but she would never make it any farther, except as a trophy wife. And suggesting that to Djamila is a good way to get bones broken.

For her, Javier is almost everything she has been fighting against for her whole life. That he’s a sarcastic, mouthy sh*t around her does not help things.

Finally, I’m the writer, and, unlike other things I write, I see this as a tremendously long arc of stories that need to be told. In my head, The Science Officer is just the first episode of a very long television show on cable, maybe broken into arcs in the way the old Dr Who episodes used to be (and I mean the first  Seven Doctors here). It is the Pilot episode, if you will. The Mind Field could be considered to be the first episode of Series One. I already know what the next story will be about, although I have no idea what it is named yet.

In many television shows, the best parts are always related to the tension that arises between two characters they that might otherwise be attracted to each other, but who have a hatred that evolves. The best shows evolve that into a rivalry that eventually grows into respect. With luck, they drag that out for a long time, with the “will they? won’t they?” aspects keeping the audience on the edge of their chairs. For those of you old enough to remember the show, think about how Moonlighting handled it.

For me, I plan to write a lot more stories about Javier and Suvi and the crew of the Storm Gauntlet. The crew dynamics fascinate me, as you have this complete outsider who probably could turn his life around and become an up-standing galactic citizen if he left, surrounded by people who are not scum and dregs, but generally down-on-their-luck following the end of the war. The economy has not recovered, but it will one of these days. For now, they are just making their way.

And it’s not that I don’t see Javier and Sykora’s relationship changing over time. Both are extremely competent people, doing what they want to do, and doing it well. But there are powerful tides at play that will have to work themselves out. Plus, I get mortally offended at the common trope that the girl is supposed to immediately fall in love with the leading man and betray herself, her side, and everything she believes in, just for a chance to win his love. (See Bond, J, most of for really cheesy examples thereto).

Djamila is a warrior. An Amazon in exactly the way the Hellenes saw them, three millennia ago. Bad-ass warrior babes from north-east of what we call today the Black Sea, who do not need a man to give them worth and definition. Or the Etruscans. Or the Vikings. Neu Berne does not appreciate a woman like that, except as a trained attack dog.

Javier is a twice-divorced goofball who doesn’t much like people, being around them, answering to them, behaving by their rules.

To him, she’s just another stick-up-the-butt authority figures that he instinctively rebels against. To her, he’s just another man-child coasting on the benefits of his birth and up-bringing, and refusing to take anything seriously.

But l like them both. And I have several more episodes to write to see where they will take me. After all, Javier will have been born 5,895 years before Jessica Keller. I have space into which to put stories. Way more stories. Yet more people who have not yet introduced themselves.

They all fit in a nice happy little bucket, with room to play, while at the same time leaving room for everyone else, in their on slot of history.

After all, Suvi is the only one who gets to live forever.