One aspect of science fiction that I think really needs looking at in many different stories and universes is the command structure. What do I mean by this? Surely any advanced space faring species would have a command structure that would reflect the society that they come from?
Sure, but why does it have to be the military structure that is duplicated time and again? Let me explain what I mean:
Scenario 1: Battle
The starship Enterprise (or whatever becasue it’s not just confined to that now) had got three Klingon warships attacking it from different angles. To defend itself, the Enterprise is covered in weapons and yet becasue the captain is human pile of walking mush that can only handle a certain amount of things going on at one time only a fraction of the defence capability is being used.
Let’s get real here. One man or woman / being cannot process an influx of data about damage control, position of attacking craft and how / what to shoot first. Even in this day and age computer warfare systems are able to identify multiple (by this I mean many) threats, prioritise them and take them out accordingly.
It’s fair to say that in the future things will have moved on (likely on both sides which kind of means war is a bit pointless but that’s another topic) so the commander will actually say “Computer. See those nasty Cylons or Borg or whatever – can you please kindly take them out for me. Thanks a lot.”
That will be it. Job done. The computers will be assigning the right things to do the right job and the human brain will not explode from stress.
Scenario 2: Landing Party
A small group of the starship Enterprise have landed on a planet and the Captain needs to be informed of anything before a decision is to be made. But as always some alien interference is stopping this so the landing part are lost and confused. It seems that being detached from the command structure is a big problem.
This point here can also be transferred across the other three points. I think it’s safe to say that mission and function leads will be autonomous. They will have to be trusted to do their jobs as one commander cannot possibly be all over the place. So this means a much flatter structure and probably a less authoritarian one. The commander is there to guide and give very high level strategic instructions like:
1) Take out that annoying alien base.
2) Find the glowing swirling thing that we want.
3) Have a chat with these locals – but I really don’t want to annoy them.
That kind of thing. How the team does this is down to the mission lead.
Scenario 3: Ship / Base / Facility Functions
Here we have a ship of facility of some kind with maybe hundreds or thousands of people on board and the commander has to authorise every little thing that’s going on. Thi si often seen by the commander being given a pad to give authority by a junior rate.
As in the bit above it’s safe to say that key function will be handled by function leads running their own sections. Whether it’s authorising engine maintenance, or security details or… whatever. Most of it the commander won’t see and will only hear about. They don’t want to know becasue they would have told everyone how they want the job done.
Don’t bore them while we’re exploring Orion’s nebula or working out how to stop an asteroid crashing into a planet or something.
So that’s my take on sci-fi command structures. The old style military thing of know every detail micromanaging can’t be handled by one person. It can’t, not when you have so many more systems just to stay alive – let alone do anything. How this comes across is a little hard becasue even I know that it’s easy to use this blueprint.
What are your thoughts?
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