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Space: Above and Beyond

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"From this moment until we win this war, the only easy day is yesterday." - Sergeant Major Frank Bougus

Set in the years 2063–2064, the show focuses on the Wild Cards, members of the United States Marine Corps Space Aviator Cavalry, 58th Squadron. They are stationed on the space carrier USS SARATOGA. The main characters fill roles as infantry and pilots of SA-43 Endo/Exo-Atmospheric Attack Jet fighters. The Wild Cards are the central focus of the series, which follows them as they grow from untried cadets into veterans.

SynopsisEdit

In the years leading up to 2063, humanity has begun to colonize other planets. Without warning, a previously unknown alien species, the Chigs, attack and destroy Earth's first extra-solar colony and then destroy the colony ship supporting a second colony mission. The bulk of the Earth military forces sent to confront the Chigs are destroyed or outflanked. In desperation, unproven and under-trained outfits like the Wild Cards are thrown against the Chigs. Although the unified Earth forces come under the control of a reformed United Nations (UN), the UN has no armed forces of its own and therefore navies such as the United States Navy and the Royal Navy operate interstellar starships.

The Space: Above and Beyond milieu includes an underclass race of genetically engineered and artificially gestated humans who are born at the physical age of 18, and are collectively known as "In Vitroes" or sometimes by the derogatory name "tanks" or "nipple-necks". The In Vitroes have replaced the previous underclass, the artificially intelligent cyborgs known as "Silicates". These human-looking androids, referred to as "walking personal computers". The Silicates have rebelled, formed their own societies, and wage a guerrilla war against humans. The Silicates are also suspected of having some involvement with the Chigs.

Story arcsEdit

Space: Above and Beyond connects episodes through several prominent story arcs I addition to the main story arc of the Chig War.

The Chig War (2063–)Edit

Hammers

The Wild Cards

The Chig War, taking place six years after the AI War (2047–2057), represents a major setback for human space exploration. In the first half of the series, the Chig War progressed rather grimly for humanity[1][2], but with superior military strategies like covert operations[3][4] or disinformation[5], the humans are able to gain an upper hand and are able to launch major offensives.

With the Chig War as the main story arc of the series. Space: Above and Beyond probes human emotion in extreme desperation and conflict, and a generation that will grow up enveloped in them. The important motifs which can be gleaned from this story arc are those that can be found in a variety of war dramas: loyalty, courage, and the significance of individual actions.

Nathan West and Kylen CelinaEdit

Kylen and Nathan

Kylen and Nathan

The Nathan West and Kylen Celina story arc is a theme present in many episodes following Kylen, who had been taken hostage by the Chigs[6]. Instead of her, the device appearing in most of the episodes is an audio recording photographic tag she gave to Nathan, with the recording of Kylen saying: "I believe in you."[7] When Kylen was rescued and was onboard the SARATOGA briefly before returning to Earth, she replaced the recording with: "I believe in all of you."[8]

The relationship between Nathan West and Kylen Celina is placed against and interwoven with the Chig War story arc, adding the motif of hope and faith. As the rescue of Kylen Celina appears to be a key symbol of hope and motivation for the Wild Cards, this story arc also appears to be a driving force of the overall series.


The In VitroesEdit

Saab-invitro01

In Vitroes

As artificially gestated humans, the In Vitroes do not share social equality with those viviparously born, or so-called "naturally born". They are derisively termed "tanks" by regular humans, which seems to be a double entendre, describing not only their method of birth but also their physical toughness, which is always greater than "naturals", and the disposable nature of them, the first to come in battle, the "tanks" that open the way for the infantry. In Vitroes also seem to refer to themselves as "tanks" amongst themselves. Before its abolition, they were subject to indentured servitude[9] and there is still considerable racial segregation and resentment by normal humans[10][11], and governmental abuse for morally dubious purposes. Two main characters, 1LT Cooper Hawkes and LT COL Tyrus Cassius 'T. C.' McQueen, have to face all the ramifications of such a society from their perspective as In Vitroes.

This repeating theme explores topics such as racism and prejudice in a society, and also freedom. It differs from other story arcs in its complexity in the form of a division into two substories. One is presented as historical narration by the characters[12][13] or flashbacks[14]. The second occurs in the present, with the experiences of Cooper Hawkes and T. C. McQueen, including a subtle substory of the shifting relationship between Nathan West and a maturing Hawkes.[15][16]


The SilicatesEdit

Felicity OH

Feliciti OH

The Silicates stole military spacecraft at the end of the AI War and escaped into space.[17] During the Chig War, Silicates acts as mercenaries supporting the Chigs[18][19] and operating mining and prison facilities for the Chigs.[20] There is a sub-story arc between 1LT Paul Wang and Elroy EL, in which Paul Wang must deal with the fact that under torture, he falsely confessed to having committed war crimes. [21][22]

Nathan West and Neil WestEdit

The relationship between Nathan and his younger brother Neil is a short story arc.[23][24] It is used to explore the emotions associated with the amount of human loss and sacrifices during war time.


AeroTech and the United NationsEdit

The dark AeroTech and the UN story arc injects an element of conspiracy and high-level cover-up into the series. AeroTech Industries, founded in 2015[25], appears to be a monopolistic aerospace and defense supplier. It is connected with the UN by AeroTech's clearly evident political power, both with the UN (with a former AeroTech director becoming the United Nations Secretary-General[26] and with the armed forces, as evidenced by its control over advanced technologies.[27][28] It is also suspected that AeroTech was aware of the Chigs before the rest of humanity, and deliberately endangered the Vesta and Tellus colonists.[29][30] AeroTech further gathers, uses or withholds key strategic information in pursuit of its own corporate agenda.

The AeroTech and the UN story arc explores topics such as power, intrigue, politics, the military-industrial complex and perhaps to some degree also the ethics of science in the service of military and corporate interests and moral responsibility.

EndingEdit

The final episode ends in an open-ended fashion, where LTC McQueen is badly injured and most of the major cast is apparently killed or missing in action, with only 1LT Cooper Hawkes and 1LT Nathan West remaining. Yet with Earth in a much stronger strategic position, there is hope despite the losses and sacrifices.

Although sometimes perceived as a cliffhanger, this was the ending the producers chose when it was evident that the show was about to be cancelled. Even with this ending, the producers still planned a possible continuation in a second season, with T. C. McQueen returning to Earth to treat his injuries, possibly given an AI prosthetic leg, and the Wild Cards receiving a new female commanding officer.[31] [32]

ReferencesEdit

  1. Never No More
  2. The Angriest Angel
  3. Hostile Visit
  4. Who Monitors the Birds?
  5. Stardust
  6. The Farthest Man from Home
  7. Pilot
  8. ...Tell Our Moms We Done Our Best
  9. Mutiny
  10. Pilot
  11. Eyes
  12. Mutiny
  13. Dear Earth
  14. Who Monitors the Birds?
  15. Eyes
  16. Stay with the Dead
  17. The Dark Side of the Sun
  18. The Dark Side of the Sun
  19. Pearly
  20. Choice or Chance
  21. Choice or Chance
  22. Pearly
  23. Pilot
  24. Toy Soldiers
  25. ...Tell Our Moms We Done Our Best
  26. Eyes
  27. The Farthest Man from Home
  28. The Angriest Angel
  29. Eyes
  30. ...Tell Our Moms We Done Our Best
  31. Scifi.com Interview with Glen Morgan & James Wong. January 27, 1998. Transcript available here [1] via the Internet Archive
  32. Scifi.com interview with James Morrison. Transcript available here [2] via the Internet Archive

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