Science Fiction Safety Protocols or Why Don’t People Seem to Realise Space Travel Actually INCREASES the Number of Ways You Can Die?

Posted on 03/10/2012 by


Me: I just realised I’ve given this ship an airlock that it shouldn’t have out of existential panic and now have to figure out how to write it out.
Rick: Don’t they need airlocks?
Me: Ships that are meant to dock with one another should have airlocks. This ship is docking with another, hence I gave it an airlock. But the point of this little manoeuvre is that this ship is really not meant to dock with other ships.
Rick: Teleporters?
Me: Teleporting in my world is called ‘magic’. Or, in the non-wizard’s words: Ow, ow, god, why, no.

I spent a day recently just reading through everything I’ve already written, making sure I hadn’t violently contradicted anything that came before. Usually I don’t have much problem with continuity errors but as this book has until now been written in the background at the glacial pace of about two scenes per month there have been one or two… drifts in understanding. And I keep writing the real name of one character into the text despite the fact that the people he’s with don’t know it.

The thing with the airlock was the funniest though, since I apparently added the airlock because I was concerned about the safety of the people in my fictional spaceship. I also worry about the longterm health effects of what I’m putting them through. And the emergency protocols these ships should come with. And the pre-flight check they need to go through before take off.

I’m not the only one who does this right? I’m not the only one who watched Prometheus and thought: Okay, quite aside from the fact that they are screwing with the archaeological method like nobody’s business — where the hell are their safety protocols? What sort of lunatic says, ‘Oh, you didn’t die after four seconds, let’s all take our helmets off’? And what the hell sort of deep space mission doesn’t keep full and complete records of every piece of video footage taken so you know exactly how those missing guys were horrifically murdered by aliens?

Ahem. Right?

Screen capture from the movie "Prometheus" picturing three space suited people on an alien planet WITHOUT THEIR HELMETS

This should never have happened.