Randy McDonald (rfmcdpei) wrote,
Randy McDonald

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[BRIEF NOTE] Two Babylon 5 Notes

  • J. Michael Straczynski, creator of Babylon 5, can trace his roots to Belarus. rydel23 should be proud.

  • pompe wondered what all the colonies in the Babylon 5 universe did (star list here). The answer is one reason I like Babylon 5 so much.

Though the astropolitical setup is incoherent at best, I suspect that most of the sophont communities labelled "colonies" are more properly outposts, lacking self-sufficiency and depending on transfers of resources in order to survive. Babylon 5's Mars, the oldest and largest of the human colonies, is home to only two million people. Mars is likely self-sufficient, though it's described as dependent on trade with Earth; the Proxima III colony, likewise, is blockaded by Earthforce during the Shadow War instead of being occupied, suggesting that it too is self-sufficient. The other human "colonies," though, seem to be too small and too dependent on external support to be viable.

The Minbari colonies, dating back centuries, have likely evolved into mature offshoot societies of Minbar as befits the product of a mature society; the Centauri colonies are likewise probably vigorous offshoots, though the Ragesh 3 colony attacked at the very beginning of the first season was home to only five thousand people. The Narn claim to have unlimited manpower, but in practice their presence off of their homeworld seems to be limited. Their largest colony, destroyed by the Shadows, was a hostile-environment complex with a population small enough to be quickly transported to the Narn homeworld. The smaller powers are likely much the same.

Why have colonies? While some colonies on major trade routes might be profitable in their own right, and although the larger human colonies like Mars and Proxima III have probably passed the breakeven point, I'd be surprised if small hostile-environment settlements with populations in the hundreds were anything but massive investment sinks. Having colonies in particular locations might be useful for power-projection purposes, but the costs of supporting permanent settlements are prohibitive. Prestige is the simplest explanation. The Earth Alliance's centralized control of the colonies suggest a fundamentally mercantilist orientation to me.

Colonies, in the Babylon 5 universe, don't seem to be automatic sources of wealth. They aren't necessarily where the future is to be found, unless you find abandoned alien technologies or cities there (and we know how dangerous that can be). They're just held because they can be held. I like this.

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