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Flash Friday 06/05/2016: Ship Shape

May 6, 2016

“This is the blueprint for the new mining shuttle spaceship we have planned to put into production soon. Really simple little ships. Taking miners from planet to planet, holds for equipment and machinery. Basic stuff.”

“It looks like you managed to design the ship to be highly compact. That’s amazing.”

“Given how there’s only eight people as crew and each facility is only in demand by one or two people at a time, it seemed pointless to create entire rooms that would hold everybody at once, bar the dining and recreation areas. It should cut costs without being a hinderance to the crew. Keyword being ‘should’.”

“I suppose it’s only something you’ll discover in practice?”

“Kid, when you’ve been in the design business as long as I have, you’ll know that even the best-laid plans are subject to unravel the moment it’s in practice. However, I feel optimistic about this one. Miners usually travel in converted cargo haulers, with no more luxury than some hammocks and a communal bucket. I’m sure the budget luxuries will go down very well.”

“I’m certain it will. You’ve got a kitchen, separate bedrooms, leisure area…oh, and there’s the escape pod. Compact and tight, just like the rest of the ship. That can hold all eight people?”

“No. Just two.”

“So where are the other three pods?”

“Nowhere. Just this one. See, when the ship is in critical condition and the crew have to abandon ship, then they’ll discover the escape pod doesn’t fit everyone. They’ll have to draw straws as sombre violin music plays in the background, and the fated two will earn their spot, waving goodbye in slow-motion as the music comes to a crescendo and the title screen appears. Yeah, that’d be a great start to a movie.”

“Why don’t we, you know…make pods that’ll fit the entire crew?”

“And get rid of the conflict? You can’t have a good story going without something going horribly wrong, you know. ‘The ship has some problems, so everyone bundles into the conveniently-sized escape pod and leaves, the end’. Great plot. Fantastic. Wheel in the BAFTA awards.”

“I don’t think stranding six people in an exploding ship sounds like stellar safety design.”

“I know it doesn’t, but when you’re in the business of making spaceships for science fiction, you have to think about how to ramp up the drama. For example; the main control panel for the oxygen supply completely shuts down the air systems once destroyed. Yeah, really happy with that one. You know how hard it is to shut off an entire subsystem based on a single control panel taking a hit? Kept me up all night. Then you mark its location with ‘OXYGEN SUPPLY’ in giant white letters, and then the aliens know what to smash when they invade the ship.”

“But what if they can’t read English?”

“Christ, Daniel, we can’t write it in every language. I’m sure the aliens will be smart enough to work it out. If you notice, we’ve also got other systems on board for an extra exciting experience, such as weapons systems that inexplicably jam during intense combat. Also, if the self-destruct sequence is activated, it’s virtually impossible to deactivate until the big, red, ominous counter only has one second remaining on the clock. It’s the little things that add up in the end.”

“Is there anything in the ship that actually helps the crew?”

“Sure! The intricate and complex air duct system ensures that every corner of every room is supplied with oxygenated air. Of course, it’s also large enough for creatures to crawl through, and confusing enough to baffle anyone climbing in to fight the monster off. That one’s a real classic.”


“Listen, I think I’m going to go help the department that doesn’t build spaceships designed to blow up in dramatic fashion.”

“Well, alright then. If you come across any cryostasis systems guaranteed to kill every occupant except one, you let me know, alright? That one’s been a pain in my side for months.

674 words

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