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Parts of this message can be found in the following threads:
;Date: Thu, 10 Mar 94 01:04:25 EST
;From: Jo_Grant.LOTUSINT.LOTUS@CRD.lotus.com
;Subject: Cherryhlist// many replies

Some replies to some very old articles:
I said:
>Agreed, it is clear from Merchanter's Luck that only about half the
> crew is needed that exists on a merchant ship.

Nick said:
>Half?  Sandor manages several jumps all by himself.  The ships
> could probably fly the routes completely automated.

The statistic I was refering to was the discussed possibility of
splitting the Dublin Again's crew in two to between two ships.
Sandor manages *one* jump by himself and is thought crazy by
a large number of people. I really, really doubt that they would
want to fly ships that were that expensive (where priacy still
does exist) automated. Nick has once again let his desire to 
trash Cherryh get in the way of logic.

I said:
> You can't say that it isn't cost-effective though unless you know
> how much they transport.

Nick says:
>In a way, I can.  Large, powerful drives are more expensive than
>smaller ones. For a given mass of cargo, a ship can have an
> expensive large drive hauling 1000 crewmembers along, or a
> smaller, cheaper drive flown by 5 crewmembers. Simple economics
> favours the latter.  That's for the same amount of cargo on the
> same route .
And later:
>Yes, if you have extended cabs that carry (20? 50?) people, along
>with food, beds, refrigerators, etc.  Their competitor could fill
> that volume &mass with profitable cargo instead.
Logical, yes, by straight numbers. However what I as arguing was
that it was inconsequential when compared to percentages. Nick
seems to realise this belatedly and covers up with:

>I don't get the impression that cargo takes up 90% (or whatever) of
>the ship's mass.  When the ships dump their cargo, their travel
>capacity doesn't go up 10x.
It is true that acceleration is directly proportional to mass.
Halving the mass doubles the speed. This appears to be the sort
of increase that you get for the Pride so your statistic of 50%
cargo is resonable *for the Pride*.
We're not talking about The Pride, though. We're talking about
the Dublin Again. In normal operations with a full hold we only
see the Dublin Again traveling at very low acceleration. It is
specifically mentioned that they use the rotational gravity when
traveling to the jump point. They only accelerate to set their
course. Yet, when empty of cargo it tears along at a preformance
level on par with the Norway.
Based on these references generous estimates might put loaded
acceleration at .25G and empty acceleration at 10G (max for Norway).
This gives a cargo tonnage proportion of 40 to 1.
Conservative estimates might make their loaded acceleration at .5G
and their unloaded acceleration at 4G. This gives a cargo tonnage
proportion of 8 to one. 
Even if we assume the later statistic we have 89% of the ship
(mass) used for cargo and 11% for drives, power plant, vanes,
and accomidation. My prefered percentages would break that down
as 3%, 4%, 2%, and 2% respectively. With that breakdown a ship
could increase its crew complement 450% with only a 10% impact
on cargo space. That, of course, would be favourable adjusted
by the imput of those extra personel. With the generous statistics
The non-cargo component is 2.5% with the quarters taking up .5%.
This allows a 1950% increase in crew complement to have a 10%
effect on cargo.

Nick continues:
>I don't get the impression of thousands of large cans
> moving off.  The the Legacy is loaded from flatbed trucks
> in a matter of hours, using one arm moving one can at a time.
>That mass of cargo would not dwarf that of the crew section
>for 1000 people.
And thus reveals the fundamental flaw of his arguments. He
is applying information gained in relation to small ships
like The Pride to the supercarriers of union such as
Dublin Again. 

Nick continues later:
>The family can't support itself and thus can't survive if it
>operates under a significant competitive disadvantage.
In competition with whom? All the other merchanters are
doing the same. It is not a competitive industry. There
are more than enough cargos to go around and the merchants
(the big ones anyway) can charge what they like. So much of
station economy depends on it. That's why you have Union
subsidising the super-carriers (remember they paid for most
of Dublin Again).

Bruce argues:
> And why reinvest income in more automation to eliminate crew
Nick counter argues:
>Automation is cheaper than supporting and training a human.
Not always the case, Nick. Certainly not in 20th century
Earth. That is what my new job is in: automation of testing
of computer software. A long shot from starship operation but
in principle there are still things which either can't or
aren't worth automating.

Nick continues:
>...someone had to pay for the jump drives...
>Each family member is essentially a stockholder in the family
As I said above Union is largely responsible for the major
investment in starships. It is a necessary part of their
economic plan. Similarly the independant stations would probably
give encouraging rates or loans. Loans work well becaues it
means the merchant has to trade back to you and thus you get
a good return on your investment. Part of the underlying
political tension in Union/Alliance is the power play between
the stations and merchanters. The stations and Union, as
investors, would have the upper hand as the capital holders
but the merchants have their solidarity. Remember when Earth
tried to tax the merchants? They boycotted Earth and pretty
much took it out of the interstellar scene. Say a station
tightens its grip on a supercarrier. They might just skip
it for one loop. They still owe the money but the station
has had a fair hit to its economy.
Much of this is possible becase there aren't *that* many
merchanters. In time, especially if Union continues its
policy of virtually giving away ships, there will be enough
to meet the needs and more cost-cutting competition will
set in. In the time-frame that Cherryh has shown us we can
only see this working on the smaller ships like Lucy.

Nick argues considerbly further but largely based on the
misunderstanding that the running costs of the crew section
of a ship are a significant part of the expense of the
In the end he says:
>the family-run merchant ships don't make economic sense.
>I simply turn a blind eye to the economic inconsistency
>and enjoy the stories.  :)
For turning a blind eye, Nick, you are trying awfuly hard
to find holes where they don't exist!

Nick again:
>Since the crew doesn't actually do anything in jump (they are
>physically incapable of it), what does the crew do that makes that
>50% difference? [quoted statistic on the Pride's automated survival]
> If it goes down to fast reactions, a computer can outdo any human,
>Hani, or whatever.
Computers can act fast but only along pre-programmed lines.

>Cherryh seriously underplays the role of computers in her universe.
>The Legacy's main computer seems little better than a desktop
>workstation today.
Gee. I wish my workstation could do half the informational
and relational language searches the Legacy's does. Do you
have any idea how difficult and compute bound that is?
However, to the point: Computers are dumb. There is no getting
around that. Artifical Intelligence is a SF device, like matter
transporters. I don't think any present day projection of AI
could out-think a cockroach. It is a SF device and Cherryh just
doesn't have that "option" in her universe. Perhaps she considers
it more "realistic". I know I do.
Computers are tools. Because they are tools they just become part
of the background. Cherryh doesn't underplay computers, she puts
them in their proper place.

Nick continues:
>Computers will change society so much in fifty years that we
>(today) would have trouble comprehending it.
Hah! One bit in Legacy that I though was wonderful was when
Hilfy was pouring over a printout, marking it up and punching
holes in it. We do it today, we did it 50 years ago, we'll be
doing it 50 years from now. In my work-environment we have all
sorts of tools for essentially runing a paperless office.
It is all e-mail and computer forms. But my desk is still
cluttered with printouts because there are just some things you
need on paper.

>Robotics will probably eliminate most of the physical tasks
>the Legacy's crew has to do (cooking, cleaning, maintenance),
>and do them much better. 
SF nuts have been predicting this for many many years. There is
still no sign of it becoming true. I challange someone to design
a robot that can flip a fried egg, clean the dust from under my
terminal, or keep the bolt holding the bottom of my chair together
tight. It just can't be done.
And, similar to the computers, I applaud Cherryh for not buying
into the myth that technology will cure all ails.

Once again Nick ends with:
>Cherryh's economics may not be believable...but I don't care.  :-)

Bruce writes:
>Clearly the *Dublin Again* was a profitable enterprise.  Clearly it 
>*could* have booted 3/4 of its crew off to find jobs on stations or 
>other ships, but as a group the family *chose* not to do that.  
>Essentially, the stockholders voted down such an action
Good analogy, Bruce. There are companies in Ireland where when
faced with closure have taken voluntary cuts to keep in business.

After some commends about inventing the perfect RPG Later Nick drops:
>I'm going to drop out of this discussion.  Thinking too much about the
>inconsistencies in the books could spoil them for me.
Nick, Nick, Nick. Why do you try so hard to find inconsistanices? Every
point you have come up with has been answered by at least two different
people. If your tastes are *that* discriminating how can you maintain
your suspension of disbelief for *any* SF at all? If these were real
problems I'm sure there would be people on this list debating both
sides but Even Onno is in agreement with the majority :-).
What you need to do is live outside the US for a while.  You
would be surprise at just how different things could be. The
tableau of human culture is so vast that you can transpose that
to a SF setting and get infinate variety without all the fancy
and improbably wizz-bangs of class SF. Cherryh knows this. She
was originally an anthropoligist.

Sfellows writes:
>Has anyone or is there any reference in the books as to the actual
>time effect of the jump?
I think in Legacy they do six jumps during the course of the book
and a year passes on Meetpoint. That puts it at 2 months for
a jump.
Judging by star density I'd gustimate the average jump at about
two to four parsecs.

Nancy writes:
>A while back, there was some discussion about doing a GURPs
>supplement for Cherryh's Union/Alliance/Chanur universe.
>Did anything ever come of this?
I talked to Steve Jackson in October and he was ameniable
to the idea and though that Cherryh would give the lisence.
I've had no time to do anything with the idea but I am now
playing GURPS at work and so am gaining a working understanding
of the system. If anyone else want to talk to him he gave
me his e-mail address as sj@io.com


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