GENERAL DISCUSSIONS

The Reason for River?

POSTED BY: SPACEANJL
UPDATED: Saturday, March 10, 2007 23:15
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Thursday, March 8, 2007 7:49 AM

SPACEANJL


So...we have the Government of the Unified Alliance of Planets, based on Londinium. With a President, and representatives of the planets. (I choose to belive that some of these are ex-Companions - see Serenity OVC pg 13)

We have the Military Council, nominally under the aegis of Parliament, but pursuing its own agenda. (ibid)

And we have the Companion's Guild on Sihnon. If we take the idea that a retired Companion can take a political role, then we have a very interesting crossover, with folk who know where the bodies are buried, and which of their political opponents (or allies) like hinky things with oranges.

Then we have the corporate concerns. Which must also cross over with the military and the political. Who funds and supports campaigns? The Academy on Osiris was government run, but Blue Sun funded. So...is Blue Sun a front for government control? Or outsourced military R&D? Or simply an entity large enough to run a project and then see which concern wished to bid for the results?

We never got to find out what the point of River was. She wasn't the only 'subject', just the most successful. Someone was trying for a quite specific result.

My thoughts? Assassin? Probably. But who for? Military SOE? Is this the beginnings of the next gen of Operatives? Or was she a domestic product? Corporate espionage? Or...

Think about it. (Those of you who have read 'Zen and the Art...' will know where I'm going with this.)

Pretty. Bright and well-educated. Graceful. Accomplished in many spheres, including martial arts. Sound like someone else we know? Now add in...an ability to read people past the normal.

If you are guarding against an assassin, who do you suspect? Possibly not the little girl serving you tea. How do you guard against a spy who can read your mind? (btw - I know about female ninja. The kanji for their name can also mean 'water' or 'stream'.)

"Dance right up and kill you with a kiss. Be anything...a leaf, a butterfly, a blade in the dark..."

I think 'Miranda' has blown the lid off. And there is now going to be a scramble for power. There will be public accountability in the political sphere - there always is - but behind the scenes, those who have been able to weather the storm will be eyeing each other.

Welcome to the AnJLverse, anyhow. Anyone else care to weigh in?




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Thursday, March 8, 2007 1:12 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Ooh...now there's a possibly sinful idea, SpaceAnJL! Someone should definitely do a tale where instead of the Alliance or Blue Sun wanting some warrior or assassin...it's the Guild seeking a higher former of Companion that caused the creation of the Academy and River's recruitment. Wonder how Inara would take that revelation

BEB


' border='0' alt='Sweet Charity' />


Come bid on my delectable derriere at the Sweet Charity auction! Buy me for a good cause;D

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Thursday, March 8, 2007 2:23 PM

NBZ


You are assuming Inara does not know.

I for one do not see any organisation that gives its members (rumoured) suicide/murder kits as being benevolent.

As for the purpose of River there are many many possibilities.

Blue Sun is a government contractor, and also a big business. It also has alot of power so much as to influence government decisions.

The guild is another large organisation.

There are probably a few others too, but not as large as these two.

Both have their own agenda's. Some times they match, sometimes they do not.
At some levels they probably cooperate with each other, and at other levels be at war with themselves.

Then there is an allied government. A massive bureacracy with layers of govwernment. some good, some not so good.

Any one of them could have wanted a River like person. From an expert negotiator to a personal opeartive to a bodyguard to a troubleshooter, to an assassin to an anti reaver weapon.

I would assume once they perfect the techniques, they would try to expand it by making it like a conveyor belt operation where the Blue Sun division meets orders.

Alot of powerful organisations will want such a product.

All product controlled by one division of one company.

Unless others try to get in on the act, get their own product. Reverse engineer, trial and error.

to them River is a product to be cultivated then consumed, not a person being cut on, altered.

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Friday, March 9, 2007 2:02 AM

SPACEANJL


Quite. NBZ, that's exactly what I was trying to get at.

BEB, someone did write this idea. Me. 'Zen' was only the beginning of the arc. And don't think I've forgotten Project Daedalus either.

I'd like AgentRouka's take on this, since I think she(?) has fundamentally misunderstood my take on Inara and the Guild. I don't see prostitution as evil. I see any large organisation with political influence as potentially evil. And I can see how someone with fine ideals could find themselves trapped in a system, wherein they agree with the principles and the goals, but not always the methods taken to achieve these. (Also, if you are raised within a culture, particularly one with a very efficient propaganda machine, how do you find or experience alternative versions of the truth?) The Alliance and, by extension, the Guild, are very much 'don't rock the boat'.

Maybe it's my background. I studied history, with the attendant economics and politics. (And if this sounds familiar to my readers...) I am also a crime fan. So my first thought on looking at any situation is to think Cui bono? (Who benefits?) In other words, where's the money? I have a deep distrust of any large organisation, be it political, religious or industrial, simply on the grounds of past experience, mine and other people's. I think any large entity will have its fair share of loons, as well as good people. And this goes for both sides, Alliance and 'Coats.

Blue Sun is everywhere in the 'Verse. They manufacture processed food. Which is another interesting thing. Why does a canned goods company run a project raising killer psychics?
In the light of Pax, doesn't this worry you? My theory is a variation on the nanites. If they'll mess with the air, who knows what they've done to your coffee? (And it would explain River's little freak-out in Shindig. The evil toothpaste will get you.)

Soylent Blue, anyone? (And if anyone else uses that title, I'll send BEB after you!)

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Friday, March 9, 2007 5:57 AM

SPACEANJL


Bump. 'Cos I can.

Guess no-one wants to play in the sandbox today.

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Friday, March 9, 2007 6:49 AM

ZEEK


My guess is River was always going to be an assassin, spy or operative of the parliament. She may have been trained to act like a companion during her spy role or something, but I don't think the guild was behind it all.

What I really would like to see is how the other subjects turned out. I have no doubt we'd eventually have come across at least one. If the alliance had a way to patch them back up and make them normal after the experiments then it would be interesting to see river face off against one of them and then to see the internal struggle of her wondering if they could still fix her and if she can trust them.

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Friday, March 9, 2007 7:11 AM

SPACEANJL


River was the most successful subject they had, according to Dr Matthias. Which means you have an unspecified number of people with varying abilities. How many are functional in any capacity, we don't know. Paranoid and possibly homicidal schizophrenics would not be let out to play.

However, if we take the idea that a symptom of schizophrenia is hearing voices, then has the Academy discovered the ability to create psychics? It's managing to filter the information so that they know which is reality, which are their own thoughts, and what is external input. It would require serious monitoring and medication to deal with it.

My original thought on this thread was the political ramifications of the whole thing. How the 'Verse is connected up. (Too much Philip K Dick and William Gibson recently)

And I think River is fixing herself. I think that until she saw Miranda, she still had a deep-seated fear that she was imagining it all, or that it was going to happen. When she saw that it was real and a past event, then she could begin to process what was her thought, and what was external.

Simon notes at one point that her body eventually finds a way to break down any medication he gives her, which I found very suggestive, too.

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Friday, March 9, 2007 8:26 AM

NBZ


I always have had the impression that the Operative closed down the Academy.

Question is what was done about the subjects? I would assume there was a "terrorist incident" to cover up to allow for them them being killed off... can't send a derranged lunatic to their parents. There would be questions.

Also, if you have a look at the River Tam sessions, it is hinted she was already a reader. They just tried to focus this.

They did not create readers. They just wanetd to control them.

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Friday, March 9, 2007 8:56 AM

KAYNA

I love my captain


NBZ, I've got to respond to your ideas here.

I like the idea of the "terrorist incident" to cover up the "closing down" of the academy but I doubt they would just throw away all of thier test subjects. Some of them may have been killed yes, need some bodies for authenticity, but I think they would want to keep fiddling with some of them at least. Especially some of the more successful ones.

Thier subjects weren't just random folks from off of the street. Judging by River, they were looking for a very specific type of person. They don't have an unlimited supply and perhaps they can ...modify them and fix some of the mistakes they've made.

As to the Tam Sessions. It seemed to me more like they were saying she had the potential to be a reader not that she neccessarily already was.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Op: You're fighting a war you've already lost.
Mal: Yeah, well I'm known for that.

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Friday, March 9, 2007 9:07 AM

NBZ


What we have to ermember is that the Alliance is not one small unified group.

It is a bureacracy. Different elements will compete with each other.

One aspect got spooked and got the Operative to close down a Blue Sun project.

There may be other sites. There may have been completed prototypes in operation, nut I hold firm that those still in the facility would either be released (those that were not deemed acceptable) or killed.

The Operative says the alliance no linger wants psychics. The government, or an aspect of it got spooked and pulled the plug on the whole thing.

I am sure they would not be worried about "waste". Afterall they killed the person who lead the project too, and that is no small thing.

This closing of the project had nothing to do with Blue Sun, but all to do with an element wanting secrets to be kept.

The sessions show she had potential and the series show they stripped her amigdala, so that she felt everything.

My theory goes she could already read, but the conscious part of the brain would interfere. That interference is what they were trying to remove. make sure she did not ignore the reading. In effect make her feel everything.

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Friday, March 9, 2007 9:14 AM

KAYNA

I love my captain


I know that we're not talking about one unified group here but those subjects would be too valuable to just destroy. A lot of time and (more importantly) money went into them.

Dr. Mathias was killed because he screwed up royaly, and River is now a liability. She knows too much to be left out on her own and they've had no success getting her back so killing her becomes nessaccary.

And when, exactly, did the Operative say that the Alliance no longer wants psycics? I seem to have missed that part. And besides, how do we know that creating pycics what the only avenue they were persuing?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Op: You're fighting a war you've already lost.
Mal: Yeah, well I'm known for that.

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Friday, March 9, 2007 9:28 AM

NBZ


That last bit is not 100% canon, as it is in the shooting script, but not the movie.

but I count shooting script as mroe or less canon.

Serenity VC page 50:

Operative: The parliament has no further interest in psychics. They represent a threat to the harmony and stability of our alliance.

(this goes just ebfore thewould you rather be killed in your sleep? bit...)

I however do not understand the sentiment that eh screwed up royally. There was a security breach.

His job was to make psychics, not run the security of the academy.

I admit people do not agree with my take on things. Virtual Firefly ( http://www.stillfying.net) in their scripts as a continuation of the show go slightly differently from me, and most others do too, but I like my thinking.

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Friday, March 9, 2007 9:39 AM

KAYNA

I love my captain


That's all right. Everyone has thier own view of how it all works out. Different perspectives. Different understandings. I was just using your posts to work out how I thought it all went down. Sorry if I came off a little hard. I like your stuff too, it just doesn't ring true for me.

And to clarify my statment about Mathias screwing up. He put those government types in a room with a mind reader. He then lost said mind reader. I know he's not the security guy but he was more than just the lead researcher. I got the impression that he was in charge of the entire facility. Just as he would get the credit for successes, so he would be blamed for mistakes.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Op: You're fighting a war you've already lost.
Mal: Yeah, well I'm known for that.

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Friday, March 9, 2007 9:50 AM

NBZ


But getting killed for it still a little harsh. :)

Yes, putting the military guys in the same room was probably his mistake.

If there is further research in this field, I would say ti would be kept from the government. A corporate secret.

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Friday, March 9, 2007 9:53 AM

KAYNA

I love my captain


They have a guy like the Operative working for them so I think harsh is kinda thier thing.

Still, interesting thoughts you stired up in my head. Thanks for the discussion! I do enjoy chatting with my fellow Browncoats on the finner points of the sotries.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Op: You're fighting a war you've already lost.
Mal: Yeah, well I'm known for that.

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Friday, March 9, 2007 9:59 AM

NBZ


tis all good.

Sorry to spaneAnJL for going offtopic instead of sticking to River.

Finer points of the stories? heard about the one where Book was a companion? One of the crazier notions I have discussed. So crazy and out there that I like it. Just noone else does.

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Friday, March 9, 2007 10:17 AM

ORANGEHAT


Hmmm I often wonder as to exactly what type of 'missions' River was intended for. If you look at the fact that the 'Verse is united, and the brown coats 'squashed', the government has no real enemies to speak of and the only real use for a mind reader/assassin is to know whats coming and what the opposing side is considering. With no enemies' minds for River to infaltrate why then does she exist? Was it someone playing God? They obviously knew what they were doing when they created her but what use would a government have for a mind reader,a genius one at that, unless of course of the domination of people. Perhaps its like 1984 style. We already know the government was trying to control its citizens (Miranda!) perhaps if they can get into the minds of the society its ruling over they can control it better what does a ruler want if not more control? Though I have to admit why take a brillant persons life? I want to know why the smart person was targeted surely they would be harder to control, to double cross to outwit. Why not get a stupid person, they would theoretically be easier to control as they wouldnt have the smart resource to fall back on. They must have been sensing civil unrest OR SOMETHING.

Lets review the facts (as its all we'll ever have)
River is:
Mind reader
Programed
Weapon
We do not know who her violence was supposed to be directed at nor her abilities as a mind reader. Unless the right hand has no idea what the left hand is doing. Unless its what fails every dictorial government, the need for more power. Perhaps one side wants to over throw the other. Perhaps there are divisions, though the Operative knowing all about River coming to clean up the mess, thats governmental, the people who turned her into the wonder that she is, that sounds more like a company investment...

That nerdy hat

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Friday, March 9, 2007 10:43 AM

PLATONIST


Quote:

Originally posted by SpaceAnJL:
[And we have the Companion's Guild on Sihnon. If we take the idea that a retired Companion can take a political role, then we have a very interesting crossover, with folk who know where the bodies are buried, and which of their political opponents (or allies) like hinky things with oranges.


If you are guarding against an assassin, who do you suspect? Possibly not the little girl serving you tea. How do you guard against a spy who can read your mind? (btw - I know about female ninja. The kanji for their name can also mean 'water' or 'stream'.)





Absolutly!

River could have been used by any number of private and governmental orgs.

Weapons are usually developed to be sold to the highest bidder.

But, I'm thinking the Guild's way of gaining political info and placing assassins is a wee bit more "old school" shall we say. Alias, anyone?

Would River need a her brain thingy stripped to meet the criteria to be a Companion/Assassin? A flash of skin and a well met fantasy can go along way.

and what about the Reaver plot thread, we can't forget that...maybe this is WHY Inara left and rejected Top House Mom in the first place...was she asked to comply?

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Saturday, March 10, 2007 1:06 AM

SPACEANJL


The mind reading element? Let's just say that minds can become rather more open at certain times.

The ultimate honey trap. Cuts out the need for indiscreet pillow talk.

I guess I just have a paranoid turn of mind here. I suspect all large entities on spec. As has been said, there are a number of strands of government pursuing their own agendas.

I just like the idea that someone has created a weapon, which has now been turned loose and there are several groups in play, attempting to gain control of it.

The 'Verse is bigger than one little ship and its crew. The war was bigger than one man. When you consider the numbers involved, and realise the resources committed to retrieving River (try saying that fast - gah) then you have to wonder what else she picked up from the top minds.

"Key members of Parliament. The minds behind every diplomatic, military and covert operation in the galaxy,[ ] in a room with a psychic."

Diplomatic. Military. And Covert.

Who's boffing who for funding. Who wants who dead. Which planets might be selling off colonists in return for resources. Which planets might be accepting seeds for crops with that little bit extra added. What's in your water supply? How many terraforming crews have disappeared and where. Where does the money from the slave trade end up. Backhanders from organised crime. And the whole legitimate process of looking the other way which is the everyday way of politics.

There have to be a very large number of people who are not going to breathe easy until they know that she is either dead or under their control.

Just because the Parliament has been forced to back off publicly, with a very bloody nose (that was a lot of ships went belly-up) doesn't mean they will lie down and roll over. There will be some private hate to work off from those who lost out.






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Saturday, March 10, 2007 5:25 AM

SPACEANJL


Picking up another point and running with it.

Is there internal dissent in the Parliament itself? One faction trying to unseat another?

I'm getting a beating in other threads for daring to drag nasty politics into the pink and fluffy world of everybody loving each other, but hey, get real. If Joss wanted to create a fully realised world, then there are bad people in it on all sides, and...can anyone find me an example of a large organisation that wasn't bent at some point.

After all, the most impressive, far-reaching and powerful concern that I can think of in history, one that has had influence in the spheres of art, banking and politics, and has been responsible for torture, repression and genocide, is the Catholic Church. So don't give me any crap about spiritual bodies being above material concerns.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007 6:32 AM

KAYNA

I love my captain


Internal dissent within Parliment?
I think that's not only possible, but likely. It's a large group of folks after all. Whenever power is shared there are bound to be problems with that and with a body of government as large and powerful as the Alliance Parliment those problems only get worse.

And I have to believe there is some corruption in there as well. What did they really want with Miranda anyway? To make people "better"? Or did they really just want a docile public that was easier to control?

As to Orangehat's question about why they needed smart folk for thier experaments...I think me and NBZ hit on it with our earlier discussion. The Tam Sessions hinted that River already had reader potential. So she gets snapped up. And psychic abilities are mental things. They are very clocsely linked in most people minds with highly developed brain functions. Supposedly a genius would have well developed brain functions of thier own. Thier minds are that mu ch closer to what the "scientists" are looking for so it would take less work to push them into psychic talents.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Op: You're fighting a war you've already lost.
Mal: Yeah, well I'm known for that.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007 7:01 AM

AGENTROUKA


Quote:

Originally posted by SpaceAnJL:

I'm getting a beating in other threads for daring to drag nasty politics into the pink and fluffy world of everybody loving each other, but hey, get real. If Joss wanted to create a fully realised world, then there are bad people in it on all sides, and...can anyone find me an example of a large organisation that wasn't bent at some point.

After all, the most impressive, far-reaching and powerful concern that I can think of in history, one that has had influence in the spheres of art, banking and politics, and has been responsible for torture, repression and genocide, is the Catholic Church. So don't give me any crap about spiritual bodies being above material concerns.




Going on the assumption that you mean me, which I could be wrong about, but since you quote me...:

1) There was no beating. There was an exchange of ideas. Sorry if not agreeing with you felt aggressive to you.

2) There was no pink, fluffy world, either. All I said that the Guild might - shock of all shocks - not be evil from its inception and eagerly involved and aware of all the evil the Alliance does.
Not to mention, there's quite a large difference between the Catholic church and its history and practices and those of the Guild. No one universally powerful dictated, ever, that people have to use Companions and convert to its teachings. That's quite a different sphere of influence and political curruption.

3) If you didn't mean me, never mind this. And if you did, why don't you say such politely phrased things as "get real" in your responses in the relevant threads?

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Saturday, March 10, 2007 8:24 AM

SPACEANJL


Re-reading that above post, actually, I'm very sorry. That was rather rude. Other folks were annoying me elsewhere in the world. I get easily confused at my age

I'm enjoying the exchange of ideas here. And I'm not trying to yank anyone's chain. I studied history to post-grad level, and I guess I just have a very set opinion on a few things. But I would hate to think that you thought I was just a mindless bigot of any kind.

I think I watch too much wu xiu actually. I just like byzantine politics. There was something in 'Finding Serenity' about Inara moving in a rich world of deceit and betrayal, and I think that, and Joss' idea that the whole thing should be about the grey areas of morality, made me shoot my mouth off a tad.

Of course, the Guild is a massively powerful organisation. If it discovered that Parliament was attempting to subvert it for its (Parliament's) own ends, that could be interesting...but I'm going off to write it, instead of wrangling about it.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007 1:09 PM

PLATONIST


I think you've answered your own question, SpaceAnJL, River's esp talents(and those like her) were being developed to be used primarly by the Alliance Military (a weapon... mind and physical), but a number of private and governmental agencys could possibly be competing for her also.

Mal realizes this soon enough in the BDM when he asks Simon, "What are we going to find in there when she wakes up the weapon or the girl?" Their not in Kansas anymore and she's anything but normal. I wouldn't portray her as anything less than that. This isn't PollyAnna. In time, she may gain some control, but she can be dangerous and lethal in the wrong arms.

Such are the horrors of Human Experimentation, and for me that's what River, the Reavers and Miranda symbolize in the story context. Unethical practices of a potential totalitarian government.

The theme of "Dystopia" is often apparent in classical science fiction. I'm guessing Joss was more influenced by Huxley( Brave New Would ) than
Herbert's Dune which you mentioned before. Miranda
is the name of the women who conceives and gives birth to a child by natural means in BNW. When writing look to those.


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Saturday, March 10, 2007 5:19 PM

STINKINGROSE


Jumping in late.
I haven't seen this brought up here yet,(I may have to use it myself!!)but:
Is it possible that there is a power struggle between Blue Sun/millitary and the Guild? Perhaps they were trying to one up the Guild, or infiltrate it, or topple it..
(Companions practice their arts on each other before going out to ply the trade from what we've seen). Is there a practical with your instructor? When you go for priestess? Just picking up the background noise on Sihnon? Who knows...
The generals know who knows what they know, maybe they want more control over who is walking around with the pillow talk?

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Saturday, March 10, 2007 11:15 PM

SPACEANJL


This is what I started in 'Zen'!! My storyline, mine, mine!!

*cough* Sorry.

River is an unexploded bomb. And she's strollng about in the company of a man who is known to hate the Alliance and all it stands for.

NBZ, 'Brave New World' is on the reference shelf next to 'Dune'. As well as '1984', and a number of Gibson and Dick novels. I've read pretty much everything that counts as 'classic' dystopian sci-fi, and quite a lot of bonkers stuff, too. Neal Asher and Richard Morgan, for two. I have nearly as much sci-fi as crime on my shelves. (And I'm packing to move at the moment. The firm tell me I have five times as many books as the average family household. I didn't have the nerve to mention the stuff in the loft.)

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