Argonauts

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Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Argonauts
The Argonauts are an interesting faction, yet there doesn't seem to be much written on them. They broke away decades before the Fall from the hypercorps, suggesting that they are/were a major faction (or they became that since they were predominantly in space and hence survived well). Anybody have a good take on what they "really" are?
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Epsilon Fork Epsilon Fork's picture
Re: Argonauts
The JASONs.
Axel the Chimeric Axel the Chimeric's picture
Re: Argonauts
I have this image in my head that the Argonauts are people who have looked at science, through the ages, and seen how long it's been in the hands of governments and industries, both of which have used and misused it to their own ends. Then, as they looked at this, saw the world collapsing, old power groups splintering, and realized they had an opportunity. They saw a chance to slip the leash, and they took it. Technology finally allows for independent living, free from all others, and, with it, independent science. The Argonauts are members of that tradition extending back to men like Darwin or Huygens, who explored and performed science without needing large amounts of funding or backing behind them. They are Open Source scientists. Argonauts are frontier scientists, who combine in equal parts derring-do and scientific rigor. They perform experiments without boundries for concerns like profit or fear of losing their position (though they may be cautious to avoid losing Rep on touchy subjects). Every Argonaut can and must be as comfortable in the lab as they are in the field. An Argonaut is the guy who, when you face charging xenofauna, leaps from behind, declares that he is about to perform science, and then wrestles the beast to the ground, implants it with a tracking chip, and sends it on its way. An Argonaut is the woman who decides to test the limits to current gen self-replicating nanotech by finding a moonlet and grey-gooing it. An Argonaut is the uplifted chimpanzee who, to better understand the routes pathogens take and ways to combat them, regularly injects themselves with both deadly bacterium and new, untested medichines, to see which will win. Argonauts are badasses in labcoats.
Extrasolar Angel Extrasolar Angel's picture
Re: Argonauts
The part of military-industrial-research complex that broke off from corps and gov's and wants to start with a clean state in outer space. They are probably involved in some behind-the-shadows politics and actions that shape the future of humanity and Sol System-being rivals of Project Ozma. Interestingly there is mention in the core book of medeans-a paramilitary wing of Argonauts. Both Project Ozma and Argonauts remind me(only slightly regarding the tone of adventures) of Project Black Book and AEGIS from Conspiracy X and their rivalry and different take on aliens and advanced technology. I hope we will see in the future something like Player's Guide to EP-where different campaigns and factions besides Firewall will be covered(Medeans, Project Ozma, Jovian Intelligence and others)-or that such idea will be covered in supplements(for example book on X-threats could cover Project Ozma fighting against them).
[I]Raise your hands to the sky and break the chains. With transhumanism we can smash the matriarchy together.[/i]
Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Argonauts
(while certainly the Jasons are mentioned in the background, it doesn't say much about what the Argonauts *are* - they are hardly thousands of independent government advisers who just happen to have space habitats) OK, building on Axel's idea, what about this: the Argonauts is an older branch of the opposition to the hypercorps/governments. Just as today in the real world we are seeing the old left getting ossified and some signs that a left 2.0 (think Boing Boing, fabbing, whuffie, infosocialism etc - basically the stuff the EP autonomists are built from) is emerging, in BF 40 the Argonauts are the parents to the autonomists. The early space colonists had to be independent, extremely educated and skilled, and able to operate without direct oversight. They were naturally culturally tied into the intellectual networks on Earth, although at a distance. During this era (BF 50 or so) there was increasing resistance to the emerging megacorps and the political systems on Earth, plus a strong emphasis on science and engineering (everything from space to fusion to AI to implants). This meant that the sciences were an area where mildly dissident people could get away with their views: they were too valuable to oppress (besides, oppressed minds are uncreative and lazy minds). A bit like scientists in the Soviet Union. Then came the revolutions and unrest of BF 40. Governments began to fall, outposts began to declare independence. Here clearly the argonauts took side and actually became a movement, and not just some grumbling among the back room boys:
"EP p. 33" wrote:
Even numerous scientists and engineers, who had previously worked as pawns in corporate expansions, adopted a technoprogressive stance. That’s how the argonauts were born, you know, taking their name from a previous group of scientists who advised the US government and Pentagon on science and policy called the Jasons. Faced with reprisals from their corporate masters, a number of argonauts defected from the hypercorps, in some cases taking key resources and research with them, while others went underground.
Now, that was 40 years ago. So in EP, the Argonauts are very much the 1968 rebels - the successful rebels of a previous generation, now long since turned into an establishment of their own. I can imagine that many of the initially argonaut habitats have long since become other kinds of factions. Some evolved into/were taken over by other autonomist groups, others regularized into normal habitats. The remaining 'pure' argonauts are a bit like the Third Socialist International - an alliance of fractious and increasingly oldfashioned groups with some common agendas. Maybe there is an inner circle and medeans keeping habitats in line, maybe that is just an old anti-argonaut conspiracy theory from the 40's. Axel's description is what the Argonauts want to be. A myth just like the fair-minded prole of socialism or the enlightened and compassionate bureaucrat of social democracy. And just like the others there exist a few. There are indeed some badasses in labcoats, despite the average Gerlach inhabitant being more of a ditch-digger of data, tiredly trying to make sense of epidemological surveys from his office or trying to get the APIs for egocasting to work with yet another broken data format. Doing self experimentation?! Sure, but the institute ethical review board must get the paperwork, otherwise you won't get the grants for your rent. No wonder there is a long queue for gatecrashing. Even dying on an alien planet is better than yet another work safety course on self-replicating devices. My point is that the argonauts are a bit of an ideology (the social democracy to the autonomists' socialism, say), a social system (I would imagine a "lightweight" government like in much academia - there might be plenty of administration, but it largely stays out of everyday life, dominating other crucial areas) and a social movement (imagine the current Arab spring, 40 years old).
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Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Argonauts
It is interesting to consider what the possibly mythical "inner circle" and medeans are up to. They have been around longer than project Ozma and Firewall. They are able to hide an entire habitat... or convince the whole system that they have done it. In fact, considering the description of how Ozma formed it seems almost impossible for them not to have argonaut infiltrators... which suggests the intriguing possibility that the Argonauts at the highest level are in on whatever conspiracy Ozma is doing. Similarly the background of Firewall seems to fit with it partially coming from activities (like the Singularity Foundation) that were within the stream of the argonauts. Perhaps not argonaut-run, but argonaut-affiliated. Firewall might even originally have been a runaway faction of the argonauts. And, if you want to be really paranoid (or just have an anti-argonaut theory), maybe their breakaway in BF 40 was done in concert with the hypercorps. That revolution cascade gave the previous generation of hypercorps their chance. What if some of the hypercorp people helped the argonauts break free, knowing this would undermine the governments and megacorps holding the world back? A bit of revolution in the outer parts of the system would tie up the space megacorps just at the time when the emerging hypercorps needed to get a firm grip on the inner system. The alliance might not have lasted, but some gerontocrats and senior argonauts remember. In fact, the more I think of it, the BF 40 revolution was a kind of rehearsal for the Fall. While the Fall was much worse, the ideas of how to break free from a crashing Earth, the challenges for newly independent habitats and hypercorps, even some of the faction-building had been demonstrated by the previous generation. I bet the Titanian Commonwealth patterned themselves on the original argonauts (with, in their opinion, improvements). Just as Direct Action may have done.
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Axel the Chimeric Axel the Chimeric's picture
Re: Argonauts
I do admit, I like the Argonauts having splintered a bit at their core, but I imagine the face of the organization is fairly unified. I also imagine Argonauts found outside of central research labs, such as Argonaut habs and various universities, are more the type who fit the badass-in-a-labcoat stereotype; they're the ones who reject the stifling bureaucracy that inevitably forms as organizations grow fat and complacent. The Argonauts as a whole are a large alliance of academics, all of whom have to be at least a little self-interested and desire to cut away from the restrictions of governments and hypercorps. They're not all angels. While they all most definitely have an interest in science, anyone who's been remotely close to academia knows how utterly vicious it can be (especially in things like psychology, ugh). Most of an Argonaut's life is either spent, therefore, in one of three places: 1. They're a sympathizer. These types work normal academic jobs and are to Argonauts what someone who reads a newspaper and votes in favour of Barsoomian causes is to the Barsoomians: Sympathetic but likely seen as a poseur by insiders. 2. They're an insider. These types spend their lives at Argonaut outposts, be they on a planet or in space, doing research or otherwise contributing to the cause. If they're high up the chain, they'll be opinionated and detatched from the system at large because they've been insulated for likely decades within Argonaut compounds. If they're lower down, they're likely in it to try and break free, and probably jockeying for what position there is to be had, or else they're likely rather unknown, apathetic, or disillusioned. 3. They're on the road. They saw the academic climate, said "Fuck that noise", but didn't separate themselves entirely. They've gone off to do their own experiments, perhaps only coming back to get funding (if they've not secured it on their own or are independent), or to present their findings in their latest experiments. It's also important to remember that Argonauts are not just researchers but technologists and part of a huge underground open source movement, which means that for every Argonaut spending time in a lab and carefully testing drug doses on simulated neurons, there's one (likely far more) developing new technology from the findings, distributing propaganda, subverting security nets, spamming open source blueprints, or pursuing similar activities. In many ways, I can see the Argonauts as almost comically inept in organization, now that I think about it...
Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Argonauts
They sound a lot like the University fraction in Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri. :-) I think the real problem is that the argonauts went from being a movement to becoming societies - somebody has the clean the floors, update software and recycle the garbage. Sure, if you don't like the environment you can always migrate, and doing support jobs at Gerlach may pay your bills. But there is still the problem of holding together a community in a tincan surrounded by vacuum. I suspect that the incompetence at organization is not complete, since then they would not have lasted for 40-50 years (but quite a lot of habitats might be ex-argonauts that got reorganized in new ways by other fractions). Rather, it is chaotic enough to give them some resilience. Formal attacks can be dodged simply by ignoring them or forking the administration ("Sir, we did take over Journal of Open Nanomanufacturing, but now the editorial board has quit and started The Open Nanomanufacturing Journal!"). Yet this mess has some patterns of organisation that allows them to function in the unforgiving environment of space. It can't just be ideological zeal (doesn't last long when debating whose turn it is to clean the coolant manifolds) or reputation economics (the argonauts were likely early adopters and innovators, but when they got started the rep system was likely nonexistent).
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Demonseed Elite Demonseed Elite's picture
Re: Argonauts
Arenamontanus wrote:
Now, that was 40 years ago. So in EP, the Argonauts are very much the 1968 rebels - the successful rebels of a previous generation, now long since turned into an establishment of their own. I can imagine that many of the initially argonaut habitats have long since become other kinds of factions. Some evolved into/were taken over by other autonomist groups, others regularized into normal habitats. The remaining 'pure' argonauts are a bit like the Third Socialist International - an alliance of fractious and increasingly oldfashioned groups with some common agendas. Maybe there is an inner circle and medeans keeping habitats in line, maybe that is just an old anti-argonaut conspiracy theory from the 40's.
This is roughly how I see the Argonauts. Once a rebellious social movement that over time has become a loose organization of idealist factions, possibly influenced or loosely held in line by a powerful inner circle. Academics and Open Source Movement folks are not known for their centralized control, so I have trouble imagining the Argonauts retaining a powerful internal organization so long after their initial techno-progressive uprising.
"It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards." --The White Queen, [i]Through The Looking-Glass[/i] [img]https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/_zGgz13n3uzE/TWWPdvGig-I/AAAAAAAACI8/y...