(© CSM Scriptator 1999)
Today we have naming of smallships. Anyway
Someone has to do it. And tomorrow we shall
Have fitting, loading and equipment check. But today,
Today we have naming of smallships. Supernovas
Flashlight the heavens in multifarious profusion,
This is a Larger Green Warthog. And this
Is a Smaller Green Warthog; the difference is clear:
The latter is bigger by far. And this is the Widdershin Vortex
Which for some reason does not work. The starscape
Shows in its wholeness a vast eternal design
This is a Type 42, which is always named
With an easy dactyllic phrase. And please do not let me
See anyone using a spondee. You can do it quite easy
If you have any art in your soul. The heavens
Are totally motionless, never letting anyone see
And this you can see is a Trug. The naming of this
Is by sonnet and tone, as you can see. Or name it by
Palindrome forwards and backwards; we call this
Springing with ease. Outside the endless blackness waits
For us to venture forth upon our first adventures.
And this is a Pleximult; which normally we do not use,
But when we do, we name it after things which do not move
To confuse the natives. And if, for some reason, this does not work,
Then we apply our art to spring, with ease, another ploy,
Always remembering to put into it our soul.
And today we have naming of smallships.
Piebald Shadow In The Rotunda At Noon was one of my favourites. Well, I liked it. So, presumably, did Zander, who invented it. Others--Soren, Vassily, other vathatched types--say his names don't make sense. Lots of things about halfkind don't make sense to vathatched, Me, I'm a convert, which is something altogether else, but we won't go into that in this piece.
It comes back, of course, to the homeship computers. Oh, and before we leave la difference behind, there's another aspect to it which may go some way towards explaining things. Seems that while vathatched are generally streets better than halfkind at getting the computers to do what they want them to, they don't often make any effort to understand how their, er, minds work: whereas most halfkind will spend weeks at a time trying to get under the skin of the homeship computer, and can sometimes achieve a very useful understanding. Which, I suppose, is why when Soren and Zander, or Grendel andTarquin, go planetdown, it's usually the halfkind who indents for the ship (and gets to pick the name). Don't get me wrong. Vathatched can get a ship as easily as halfkind. They just don't get very good ones, is all.
You're probably getting the general idea. Humans judge you fit to drive a ship if you're in reasonable physical shape. can read serial numbers at half a klick, have good reactions, a sound memory for standard comm codes and signals, and of course sufficient cash or credit to buy and run said ship. Nyrond homeship computers judge you fit to drive a smallship if they like the name you pick for it. Otherwise they just don't release the airlocks. It's not exactly the most reliable test of ability, and of course no-one has a hope in hell of knowing what they're going to like at any given time. Zander seems to succeed more often than not with coinages in the mould of Piebald Shadow above. Clement, another halfkind, uses ancient phrases he's picked up in his reading, though he picked a prosaic enough name for the smallship he's had longest, the famous Single Bolinder. Grendel's been going almost as long with Indelible Watermark Of A Pig's Ear, a name he coined in the Zander style...but very few Nyronds can keep a ship intact and running long enough for a name to stick, as it were.
Let's be brutally honest about this. Very few Nyronds consistently bring their ships back.
Other successful names that spring to mind: Clement's 30x30 Chamber With Nothing To See...Jubal's Up With Your Hands And Give Me Your Money...Wulstan's Why Does It Squeak When I Push It?...Grendel's Untold Devastation In A Small Phial...Zander's notorious Wug series, which finally died out when the computers flatly refused to respond to Second Cousin Of Wug Strikes Back Again: The Gathering...Hilary's rather minimalist Ship...Tully's Classic For Fame, Fortune And Fish Fingers I Dared The North Face Of Mount Hoowakawaka And Found Two Pebbles And A Small Green Whatsit That I Never Identified On Account Of Its Falling Out Of My Pocket During The Descent, But Here Are The Two Pebbles Anyway, Or At Least One Of Them, Does This Mean The Fish Fingers Are Off?...the list is, if not endless, certainly very very long, and it would be true to say that many promising coups have foundered on the inability of the Nyrond concerned to leave the homeship, having failed to tickle the computers' fancy with the name he picked.
Which only goes to show that it's an ill wind, and all that.
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