Juvenile Sealurks, when isolated from the collective planetary consciousness, perform astounding feats as underwater sheepdogs. Vasts schools of calorie rich Sporefish may be herded by only a few well trained specimens. Just don’t let them get too close to the fungus or they’ll turn on you like a Razorshark.
– Captain Ulrik Svensgaard, “Tending the Sea”
This quote displays more in the way of the Weather Paradigm than you would expect from a grizzly sea captain. If you recall the post on the Nautilus Pirates, I made the claim that they do not fit into Alpha Centauri, and that they (along with the other expansion factions) were added too late to be given enough room to grow into what they could be. The Pirates should be ruthless marine biologists, and this quote – this is it.
To be sure, it is a strange critique to level at something to say that it is lacking because it is not enough of what it is. But I want to underscore this fundamental disconnect as a way to close this chapter. The other technologies were – to paraphrase the introduction – all about finding a place in the world and to align one’s tools with reality as it presents itself. Here, in a level one technology, we find someone discussing boats (a level two technology) alongside ecological practices which are well into the future at this point. The taming of mind worms and sealurks is an immensely delicate operation, which requires more attention to detail than can be expected in these early days. It is not that the quote is not thematically appropriate – it is very much in tune with the narrative – but it comes too soon. The colonists are barely able to scrape together a rowboat, and yet here we are, isolating young sealurks to perform tricks of ecology for our benefit. (It should also be noted that the gameplay benefit from building an Aquafarm is unavailable until researching Gene Splicing, which is quite a distance away in both game and publication time.)
You have heard me say many a time that it is important to get initial conditions set up just right, so that later good results follow from inertia. You have also heard me say that it is easier to set up things properly from the start than it is to change course later. This quote is an example of that: it is tacked onto an already existing body of lore and has to act as it fits in. And it does, as long as you do not stop to think about it, which by now you do. Both with regards to Alpha Centauri, and perhaps also in relation to others things – in particular future creative endeavors. There comes a point where what you have created adopts certain characteristics, where any attempt to add or subtract something will bring unintended side-effects. The creative work is bigger than you, and if you let it too close to the proverbial xenofungus, it will turn on you like a Razorshark indeed.