Monday, September 5, 2011

Time out of Place - Afterword


Everyone is a critic. You have to be to survive as the ability to render critical judgment enables you to make choices in your daily life. Without the ability to weight factors and prioritize decisions then all decisions become equal including your view of your own continued existence.

Everyday critical judgment cannot be suspended totally when reading or watching or experience fictional settings and characters as those must 'hang together' in a coherent framework that offers continuity of subject, object, and activities of subjects upon objects. When, as one who experiences fiction, you see this disjointed to a minor degree that is taken as 'artistic license': the rendering of minor non-coherent actions, objects or continuity to heighten an effect or make a point. When larger topics within a realm of fiction become highly disjointed then our necessary suspension of disbelief fades as a jarring experience places the entire narrative, characters, activities, objects and objectives into doubt.

I've had criticisms of both the Terminator (the first three films for me) and Batman Universes (the latter in multiple forms from its early comics renditions in the 1930's to my experience of the comics circa the mid-1990's and films of the 1980's and early 2000's), and yet my enjoyment of them is such that, to a point, the necessary suspension of disbelief can generally be sustained through multiple renditions by different artists, writers, screenplay adaptations, sketchers, inkers, color artists, etc. Even with such enjoyment I had problems with much of the Terminator works and those problems are less in storyline and more in basic physics, and those problems are not just engendered in that film and story area, but throughout much of science fiction and fantasy, literary, theatrical, televised and film based. Artistic license goes a long way, yes, but even on some of the oldest works there are hard problems with well known physical relations that have been understood for a long, long time. And then there is time itself...

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Physics based criticism can be generally broken into two categories: the known physics and the speculative physics. The known portion are the things we know about everyday relationships of mass, density, velocity, the effects of gravity, etc. The speculative fits into that realm of extending the known area into the unknown, and recognizing that the known which holds true in all other cases has a very high probability of continuing to hold true as we apply work to it. Thus Newton's Laws of Motion still serve at the relatively low-end and everyday realm of motion, and only falls apart with Relativity at the higher end of velocities for particles. Newton is not wrong, thereby, but is now a limited sub-set of the Einsteinian super-set of Relativity. Science needs to explain prior readings and observations when formulating new theoretical underpinnings to describe new phenomena, and separate areas can be brought together under new theory (ex. electricity and magnetism as aspects of electromagnetism). If the fictional realms are based on generally known and observable effects (and most are as they have a high degree of familiarity with our world type and require little background) then the generally known rules of physics, chemistry, etc. hold true even if you add in a layer of 'magic' or other set of forces (ex. Fred Saberhagen's Empire of the East to Swords master storyline universe).

In the Batman realm I have little to quibble with, save some of the very outlandish machines that were made as part of the explosion of 'Bat' devices in the 1950's to 1970's. Recent films have calmed that down and the general character has proven very durable for re-casting from decade to decade, era to era, and rendition to rendition as the basic underpinnings of both the character and the emotional impact of his young life give a firm foundation for that re-casting. While much of the gadgetry started out as dubious in nomenclature, its functions, even in the gadget profligate eras, remained well founded and 'cutting edge'. The nature of a 'playboy industrialist' or jet-setting corporate owner that actually knows much of the everyday workings and uses of that corporation in detail, however, requires that those writing for that character actually understand those details to a fair degree for presentation of them. Thus while the criticism of the physics for the Batman continuum from me is minor, the actual running of a corporation, keeping to the background of the character, and then having useful items that are relatively original that any era-related Batman could have becomes a hard thing to do. When you stumble across items that any Batman of any era could (and arguably should) have, that is something else, again, especially when it relates to the very industrial works he is supposed to know a few things about.

Thus this set of criticisms leading to this story are of different kind for each universe: physics and use thereof in the Terminator continuum; and technology and the ethical role of a corporate leader with the given background in the Batman continuum.

Finally there is setting, and much is set into stone by the two continua if one wishes to meld them together. The melding of time lines is done via physics and the extension of quantum physics to time travel. This is not new in science fiction, with the Para-Time stories by H. Beam Piper serving as an early foundation as to one conception of what that would mean for approaching time travel. Keith Laumer, Gordon R. Dickson, Poul Anderson and Larry Niven (amongst many writers) would write stories utilizing aspects of quantum time travel, as would Robert Heinlein trying to coordinate his later works with his earlier works, and as much of this was written before the 1980's (note that Piper's work were in the 1950's) the concept of 'time as a stream' was already being seen as falling apart due to Heisenberg and the necessities of keeping Indeterminacy as a known and well understood (if less well liked) part of physics.

This plays a key role in the final setting as it must have continua elements to allow for the probability of future time travel in it, but precludes the sequence of events that brought it about for any given time traveler. Because of that preclusion the universe you go back to in time will have significant variations from the one you came from and know so as to void out your knowledge and create the indeterminate state for that universe once more. The future you came from disappears into possible universe paths but no path from where you start will get to that exact, same set of situations as you knew them. In a very real way you cannot go home again and this is a one-way mission to a different time sequencing that has you in it, but creates a situation in which what you know of it isn't valuable to you: the act of observing coalesces the results to ones that you cannot predict, just like in any other observation of quantum states.


As a writer this is far too open to abuse, due to the number of 'extra things' a writer can have happen to do this, and such abuse must be dealt with on a cross-over story so as to reconcile the characters you wish to bring together into a new time sequence that is unlike other time sequences, as the act of observation (or writing) creates a brand new alternative. That said it is of little good if you create characters in name only with no attachment to the given archetype you wish to join up with another archetypal character. This requires adjusting the target time sequence to be outside of other known variations and yet still have a recognizable character setting and background. Further that time sequence must now include the possibility for the time traveler's time sequence, but be varied from it so as to leave much of it as potential and, therefore, possible, but not in the way the traveler remembers. Generally this coalesces around some small but vital incident that changes the course of the traveler's target time frame so as to void out much of his knowledge.

In this story a small but pivotal event changed the time sequence prior to arrival of the time travelers that fundamentally altered the industrial landscape that would allow Terminators (and Skynet) to be built: the killing of Bruce's parents when he was four. As the time travelers did not have exacting knowledge of the industrial landscape of the US in the 1970's – 80's, an incident prior to that time that shifts their destination frame so as to preclude Terminators being built at the given time of the original movie is sufficient to remove their certainty, remove the immediate capability to create Terminators and, as a side-benefit, creates not only a capable industrialist but a costumed hero (unknown in the Traveler's time sequence).

The corollary is not necessarily true: that the survival of one or both parents creates the Terminator time sequence. It is necessary for that time sequence but not sufficient to create those outcomes. To remove certainty requires removing a necessary factor with the least disturbance to the existing time sequence and then adjust in the new target time sequence. This requires all of those characters from the original time sequence to be adjusted from their norms or archetypes to compensate for the new series of events. Part of the choosing of a Batman target time line is that the hero is personal as of type, hard working and intelligent as of nature, and very capable when necessity places him in the proximity to his parents when they are killed. As he arises in years and in his perception of personal responsibility he takes up more burden and, by doing so, acts in a positive way to change his own destiny without any super-powers at all (which often need so many particulars to have happen as to have them voided by new time sequencing so that characters either have no powers, reduced powers, different powers or are not around at all). Working out the hows and whys and follow-ons of the changes in events can only start once a plausible time sequence is created that is different from known ones and has the possibility or potential to create the one from which a time traveler came.

The setting of 1984 (very Orwellian) for the original Terminator film puts it 5 years before the Batman re-start of the franchise. That film had a number of relatively implausible gadgets and capabilities, although has the one spark necessary to get one rolling for creating a proper time-period character when the Nicholson Joker asks: 'Where does he get those toys?' The answer must be Wayne Corporation. Bruce Wayne is a multi-talented individual, without any doubt, and capable of creating many interesting devices on his own. He also has a day job: Bruce Wayne who is head of Wayne Corporation. Rarely do we get to see Bruce Wayne, CEO and majority shareholder of Wayne Corporation, although the recent films do a much, much better job and firmly grounding him in both worlds of corporations and crime fighter and they serve as a template for how to examine such a man doing that work.

By putting the story in the beginning of the economic recovery post-Rust Belt America, and Bruce Wayne in his late 20's that pushes the slaying of his parents back to the late 1950's or early 1960's (approximately 1958 to 1962). His father, generally seen as a middle-aged gentleman and doctor would only be able to start his family after he had been through medical school (about age 26) and any intern work (approximately 27-28), add in four years for Bruce and you get 32 or so, which is not old enough. There are two events in the recent past that would change that age: the Great Depression and WWII. By establishing Thomas Wayne as having a practice before the war getting him to that age circa 1942 but with no family, he undergoes de-mobilization in 1946 and is approximately 36 then and by 1959 he is 49. This then creates the opportunity to have Thomas Wayne to have used his income as a doctor to invest in a few companies he knew about before the war, return to them after the war and truly start up Wayne Medical and Industrial and then Wayne Manufacturing by repurposing ailing companies from his investments in companies doing well.

A man having made some wise investments in bad times prior to a war finds some of them doing extremely well, others on the ropes leaving him in a position to acquire them and start building his own manufacturing base to meet the needs of post-War America. He post-pones a family after he has married a woman nearly a decade his junior, which then gets Bruce Wayne to the current time sequence age. That then completes the plausibility aspect of Bruce Wayne, CEO, still allows for the rise of the Batman, and, through those series of events, nullifies out the knowledge of the two time travelers in regards to which industries lead to the Terminator and Skynet technologies. This creates a plausible background story that fits the sequencing of events and provide continuity of characterization and what they are doing circa 1984.

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As CEO Bruce Wayne had to go through proxies (not just Alfred but other trusted holders of Wayne Enterprises stock who knew Thomas and Martha Wayne) which would allow the company to stay above water while Bruce was mostly absent from the scene. After age 18 he starts to come into direct control of the family stock and starts buying out some of the proxies behind the scenes until he can amass back the majority of shares and move from Board Member to Chairman of the Board and finally to majority Owner, CEO and Chairman of the Board.

During the years leading up to coming into control of the entire corporation, Bruce made note of who was doing what, who had which skeletons, who he could trust and who had to go when he finally owned the place. His conception of a corporation went beyond the then current Conglomerate organization (having many unrelated parts with a connecting management team) and towards one of cross-functionality that relied upon in-house specialties to build new capability. Many small and start-up organizations got acquired over those years, as well as some that were established but feeling the first pinch of the Rust Belt. By expanding out of the Rust Belt, Wayne Enterprises would survive it and morph into post-heavy industry ready for the future. The man behind that was Bruce Wayne.

Bruce, heading into upper management, remembered how his father ran the much smaller organization. As a man relatively unskilled in heavy industry, Thomas Wayne would come to rely on the skills of those organizations and not be a denizen of the office suite, but the walking observer who put his medical observation skills to use to try and diagnose what was going on in his own company. Just one or two walking around tours with his father at age four would cement that in Bruce's mind and allow him to then apply it to a much larger company. This personal style of involvement is a tough one to do and was just a much a challenge to Bruce's ability to observe and correlate facts as was any criminal he went after.

He also realized he could not build everything by hand, and that a company geared more towards the bleeding edge, the expanding edge of technology that worked across domains meant that many useful items would be created that could be re-purposed to his other pursuits. And as he did not want to take any one else's limelight, having far more than he really wanted of his own, he learned the benefit of letting the stars in Wayne Corporation shine, often very brightly. The work ethic and ethical character of his being makes Wayne Corporation one of those unique institutions that isn't the largest, nor the strongest in the country, yet is very nimble and always in pursuit of excellence which gains respect and admiration which can be just as valuable when approaching a problem. The original goal of getting a company to run itself soon turns into an interesting job, in its own right, and this version of Bruce Wayne reflects that.

This fits the time sequencing of events after his parents were murdered and creates a valuable corporate set-up in which ethical behavior and excellence of skill are the touchstones of success. These are reflections of Bruce Wayne writ large, just as the Batman is a reflection writ small. As a writer it is hard to know which is more important: the large writing most ignore, or the small writing that gets the most concentration. By having the story sequence start with Wayne security, Bruce must play to that system he set up to ensure the everyday security of his employees and when he suspects it goes beyond what normal routes can do, he utilizes the larger skill set of his corporation. By doing so he must limit his night-time behavior so as to remain in-town and in vital touch with those given the responsibility to protect Sarah Connor. These are trade-offs not normally approached in most depictions of Bruce Wayne, and yet must be there as he is the CEO of Wayne Corporation. This limitation drives the storyline towards certain channels that are not standard Batman-typical ones.

Thus the lesson is: limitations and trade-offs made by characters and demanded by physics drive story lines naturally, and require no amending or fixing to get to a predetermined outcome as they dictate the outcome on their own. In not aiming to make any particular sort of story, the story that results from the natural confluence of actors, objects and actions then proceeds in ways that are often overlooked in objective driven story lines. The use of 'artistic license' to break that continuity then breaks the sustainability of disbelief, and if that is done too often the disbelief comes to the forefront on its own.

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Any object with mass that has a definite boundary has surface area. Thus, when mass is applied within that boundary the result is density per unit volume. This is true because of math and the relationship of the surface of a sphere to its diameter, it is nothing special, nothing extra-ordinary and you deal with it every day of your life. If you think of a cube (6 sided polyhedron of equal length sides at right angles to each other) then at a side length of 1 you get each face being 1 square unit, thus the entire surface area is 6 square units, and its volume is 1 cubic unit. If you double the size length you get a surface area of 24 square units and a volume of 8 square units: the surface area goes up as a square factor of size and the volume as a cube factor. This works for spheres or any other geometric shape, although there will be variations due to configuration. Now if you go to a length of 0.5 units you get a surface are of 3 square units and a volume of 0.125 cubic units. Thus, in general you can say that as size increases, the surface are increases to the square of the increase and the volume to the cube of the increase. So at a length of, oh, 4 units you get a surface area of 84 square units and a volume of 64 cubic units. From that the larger you go up in size the faster volume increases as compared to surface area, and when you go down in size the volume decreases far faster than the surface area. Hummingbirds need to eat their weight in food daily to survive while a hawk may need that every 2-3 days and an ostrich every 4-5 days. The more energy you put into something at a smaller size, the faster it radiates away as its surface area is higher to its volume in proportion to its size. Huge dinosaurs above 10 tons may only have needed to eat their mass in food (the digestible portion, at least) every few weeks although that can take almost that long to find it or eat continuously of low nutrient mass.

This concept is known as the Square-Cubed Law and it is based on size, density and surface area proportions. It is independent of almost every depiction in fiction and even writers of factual material can overlook this when trying to think through historical events.

When you put a mass of a given density to this rule, you get larger masses retaining heat longer than smaller masses of the same density: surface area changes cooling rates when density is constant. You are relatively low density, and where water is 1 gram/cc so are you +/- 5%. With a bit lower density you float on water. In general a higher density material tends to retain heat better than a lower density one at the same size.

A Terminator having a steel mass skeleton, even when conforming to the same proportions and cavity spaces as a human, is replacing low density calcium with high density iron and other metals. Thus Terminators do not float in water. Also they retain heat at a higher rate when they are active as their density increases heat retention. They also have higher mechanical mass to move around, requiring more energy to do so. This proves to be an interesting artifact that 'artistic license' cannot cover, and actually makes Terminators with flesh-like covering a bit of a problem: they are very hot when they are active, even just walking around. This isn't due to: their power source, friction (per se), inefficient electrical motors, or anything other than their high mass needing to be in motion generating up heat as a waste by-product of their internal systems. You are well suited to a human sized and proportioned frame with a density near that of water and Terminators are not unless they have a lot of surface area for cooling or some other way to change their overall density and energy use.

This is a major criticism of Terminators, and even with the best of cooling substrates, they give off a lot of heat when in motion. If those are covered by a general flesh-density material, they have a problem of requiring something beyond surface area to cool them (which humans do through sweat). Their interior skeletal parts now have a low density water jacket around them to help prevent heat loss. There is no magic substance that will change this: Terminators, as given, weigh a lot, thus requiring a lot of energy due to limited fulcrums from human-sized frames, thus acquiring waste heat from energy expenditure to get that motion.

All the combat Terminators with exterior skeletons only, have lots of surface area due to the separation of things like ribs and between bone-equivalent structures which is in line with good design practice. Cover them in a flesh density substance and the question of when that cooks off is non-trivial. How Terminators manage their heat system is not a minor consideration, and no matter how high tech you get, getting rid of the waste heat becomes a paramount factor in designing anything. Consider that the computer this story was made on has an active heat sink with fan to get rid of heat for a tiny processor which puts out about 60 Watts starting at something smaller than a postage stamp. Now scale that up to a 3d processor in a Terminator running much, much faster and you begin to get the large scale implications of having an insulation layer that tends to reduce surface area and retain heat.

This applies to the rest of its body, too, not just the processors and the system would have the same problem with a remote control unit just with excess body heat even if it had no processors on-board. You, by being biological and having a low density brain that depends on distributed effects (both electrical and chemical) can get enormous throughput even if you have a relatively slow processing speed. You also have a surface area to mass ratio that helps to remove waste heat which is not primarily generated in one spot but has processing capacity throughout your body. The activity of a Terminator if it wishes to retain its external package must be limited in extent and amount. While the slow, often lumbering gait of a Terminator is appropriate for that, the amount of heat generated per given surface area is very, very high.

When I see any presentation in science fiction or fantasy about animals, machines or just stationary objects with functions that utilize energy, the Square-Cubed Law comes into play. It functions from sauropods to star ships, and minor 'artistic license' can be forgiven, but ignoring it totally cannot as it breaks apart the willing suspension of disbelief at a fundamental level. As a limitation it can be a very effective driver of events, and yet it is rarely utilized as it does require changes to plot, character viewpoint and having to adapt a given scenario to actual real world considerations.

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Some items in the story are seen in fictional depictions of Batman: the drag lines, rope, the capability to send a ground vehicle to a pre-set destination (itself a dodgy question unless one is using the Old Gotham Subway, and then it is a 'no-brainer') and any comms equipment used for this particular era. Modern Batarangs of the sharpened, shuriken sort are used as more appropriate than the whirling Australian sort.

Some items are adapted from other presentations and scaled back to prior generations of technology. The rheofabric cape of the most recent film incarnation of the character wouldn't be possible, but a rheoplastic one with set functions and high ductility would be. The polyweave fabric would, to the era of this story would be possible even with early generations of Nomex and Kevlar fibers. The motorcycle is an adaptation of prior mid-1970's to early 1980's presentations of same.

Brand new equipment, not depicted (at least to my knowledge and reading of the character) elsewhere is a long list.

Thermite. This is a simple reaction of iron oxide (rust) and aluminum that starts at a relatively high temperature, which can be gained by sparks from metal. It was discovered in the late 19th century and used for welding of train rails, and this item is appropriate to any Batman of any era from the 1890's onwards. It is not an explosive but a very vigorous exothermic reaction that nothing can stop until it is finished. It is accidentally created in workshops where someone has spent time grinding rust off of iron or steel and then needs to grind or polish aluminum on a grinding wheel. When it is very fine grained the reaction is easier to start, and when you get to powdered form you have a very efficient reaction going on. Add in some thin strips of magnesium to help spread the reaction faster, plus a self-contained sparking device and you have a very utilitarian device supplied for anti-material work to military organizations across the globe. Simple to use, safe to carry even in extreme conditions, and very effective. Why hasn't any Batman who supposedly knows industry actually utilized this from the 1930's onwards? This I consider a must for any Batman of the modern age, and there are no end of foes, situations and events that could be altered to more suitable outcomes with just a single, small (pen sized) thermite device.

Acids. I am sure I've seen an acid depicted once or twice in the Batman's arsenal, but he rarely uses them. Bruce Wayne runs an industrial powerhouse of a corporation and acids are used in many areas from cloth manufacturing to cleaning metals to creating other reagents for other purposes. This story proposes three of the nastiest as a real arsenal against a foe that has little else that can stop it, and they are, each of them, very effective, with HF being the worst of the three presented. The danger of carrying these is recognized by the characters who know about it, and long term carry use will require better packaging and smaller quantities, not relegation to the 'have but never use' category. The man behind the mask is supposed to be used to the idea of running a company that uses this stuff and knows how to handle it, so where is it?

The Bat Suit. The concept of using small, overlapping plates for protection is known as 'scale armor' and goes back to the Bronze Age as a concept. The firing of small ballistics plates was just coming into the realm of the possible at the early 1980's. Add those to Kevlar (or polyweave) and you get protection from some pretty nasty hand weapons, shrapnel and other oddments. The outer portion of the suit is backed by a self-powering rheological fluid that uses a piezoelectric effect to change its viscosity so that when an outer plate is hit the piezoelectric current stiffens the fluid in the cell backing the plate, putting in another layer of protection and helping to distribute impact momentum. A hard punch across a number of plates will activate a number of cells which increases resistance to the incoming blow. Firearms at the small bore to pistol range of things may fracture an outer plate, thus expending much energy, and anything getting past the ballistics cloth then has a relatively solid rheofluid to try and get through. Those are all known technologies to the era, just put together in a very different way for this story. Added into the 'gee-whiz' factor is to put a slight curvature on the individual plates with a tiny resonator and feedback to the underlying cell so one can get a primitive form of full body echo location. This was first proposed in the early 1980's if memory serves, and perhaps back to the late 1970's. The 'stealth skin' is a single weave, water repellent fabric that is lightweight, probably in the 90 to 100 denier range, seen on tent rain flies. Only a cross-working corporation could yield this, otherwise you get stuck with the hard shell or plate and polyweave designs normally seen in the films and in a few of the comics, when it wasn't just cloth over a single plate. When combined they give this Batman a unique 'cutting edge' suit and set of capabilities that are era appropriate (and in some ways better than most of the modern depictions).

The Cowl. The basic Greek Bronze Age helmet with full ear openings proves to be a very convenient design type that allows for the placement of other functions into the head area without changing comfort level. A press-to-place nose piece against air contamination is a simple system to add in. A set of acoustic pieces for the ear that depend on geometry of a changing parabola to concentrate or deaden sound makes for an effective speculative set of ear pieces that give a bat-like appearance and great functionality without any electronics involved. Throw in some ballistics plating and polyweave with a thin plastic outer shell to hold it all in place and you have a unique cowl to go with the rest of the outfit.

The Long Sword. This is an adaptation of a 1960's supersonic test jet updated by Wayne Aerospace for the late 1970's to early 1980's technology so it has an added air breather engine. Its 01 designation makes it the first 'project jet' for that group. Happy times at Mach 3+ are had by few. Not a 'Bat' designation as it is too expensive to fit in a rich man's budget. Even a very rich man's budget.

Batmobile. The conceptual design is based on a tri-star drive vehicle adapted to an existing US Army specification that actually did go out on a sole-source contract to West Germany. Wayne convinced them that a competitive contract (even one they had no chance in winning) would be a better route and only Ford would be able to get something else up in time for it. The West Germans 'won' by specifications, and in this universe the Wayne team would be considered 'winners' to have a better all-around vehicle design concept. Beyond the described parts of the vehicle, the faceted armor has the one benefit of being able to deflect radar: it blows through speed traps giving no reading at all. Lots of fun was spent chasing down Japanese high efficiency diesel engines and a US maker of sound baffling systems for diesel engines. Thus this is a single engine drive vehicle and made for multiple environments, including ones of poison gas or biological airborne attacks via microbes. Added to this are high density plastic drop down rail guides for running on railroad and subway tracks. Some higher sulfur fuels are also used, giving it a distinctive smell as it races past a given point. Plus IR headlamps as part of a dual system of headlamps.

Modular Carrying System. The US Army was still using the All-purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment (ALICE) system through to this era and the next system of Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment (MOLLE) was just starting to hit the test areas. Wayne corporation was doing its best to adapt between the two and created clips that allow ALICE pouches to be attached to MOLLE systems and MOLLE attachments to fit on ALICE systems. I would speculate that their security systems group decided that the new attachment, itself, was useful for police departments and modularized the existing ALICE clamshells and soft pouches to that for an easy clip-on and secure carrying system. Add in a few bells and whistles and you have costume appropriate belts, loops, and attachment points suitable for putting on boots, drop down leg platforms, belts, wrist guards, arm bands... really a modular system spreads weight around and allows for position specific items to be at the ready at a given body position. Plus it will take battery packs very easily. The other system seen is a modular tray system for tools and general storage, which is just an adaptation of standard shop drawers seen in mechanic's garages the world over. If it works with no modifications: use it.

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The Terminator in its given first movie timeline has some serious flaws as a conception. This is a twin part problem, the easiest of which to address is the actual hardware and software of the machine, itself: the basis for it didn't exist in 1984. Ditto the hardware.

Consider modern micro-electronics of the silicon micro-chip. It's predecessor was the 'integrated circuit' which packed a number of transistorized components together into a small plastic block with metal leads to it. Transistor density was in the handful per square centimeter, and the micro-chip, invented for computer memory, would go to tens of transistors in that same space. The IC came about in the early 1960's after the transistor was first utilized for electronics in the mid- to late-1950's. They had a packing density per square centimeter of, approximately, one. Mr. Moore at Fairchild Electronics noted this rise in density and proposed that every 18 to 24 months chip density per given area would double. In theory we are running to the limits of physics on that in the next 4-6 years, if not less. By 1984 a Cray Supercomputer was a huge, room-sized beast... if your room happened to be your entire house... with dedicated cooling systems and such. The micro-chip was being seen in Apple iis, IBM PCs and Commodore 64s and their big application was the spreadsheet. Gordon Moore's Law held up very well to that point and by 1997 you could project about where processing would be: super fast chips at many megahertz, memory in the megabyte size and hard drives that would hold a gigabyte!


The basis for a Terminator, it is not.

Now, lets say that Mr. Dyson creates a brand-spanking new computer architecture requiring a brand new way to program it as none of the current programming languages will work on it... in 1984. This is being kind, mind you.

Here is the proposal you are asked to swallow: that between 1984 and 1997 this technology will become reliable enough, hardened enough, flexible enough and available in enough quantities to make early version Terminators. With a form of artificial intelligence programming that is, likewise, known, reliable, has a good cadre of programmers, is able to debug and otherwise ID glitches in code, and so on.

You might swallow that. Maybe if you have a large canister of salt.

Now do all of that to military specifications.

Military specifications require a known base of technology that can be described: one that is reliable, capable and has known and definable capability to it. Those specifications can take years to draft.

So lets be kind on Cyber Dyne and say it gets everything absolutely right the first time!

Now is CDS a 'large company' of over 500 employees or a 'small company' under that size? This matters as it places it in both market size and ability to get federal contracts easily. A large company needs to establish market presence and have a division or section devoted to federal contracts (as done by Boeing, GM, Ford, McDonnell-Douglas, etc.) so that it can rely upon the manufacturing portions of the rest of the company to work on specifics for federal contracts. The benefits of this are many: ability to compete in the federal marketplace, ability to get long-range major contracts, and general ability to have an established presence which makes for sustainability which is a consideration in DoD contracts.

What are the downsides of being a big company? They are obvious: they aren't nimble in the marketplace, their time to adopt new technology is low, their very overhead makes them unwilling to do many 'proof of concept' pieces save where they are mandated by their contracts.

CDS is not a large company as seen in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. It exists in one building that could more than easily house administration, research, development, marketing, etc. for a small company. The 'feel' for the layout of the upper floor lab gets you less than 20 individuals for that lab, and there is more than one floor of lab space. While that lab takes up less than 25% of the floor space and the building is approximately 8 floors, that makes one lab of that size get 1/32 of the floor space, and if you include a maximum of four labs (coding, materials, research and testing) you have one floor equivalent taken up in labs. Or 1/8 of the company is devoted to R&D. The rest of the company is further development beyond prototypes and technology, marketing, sales, contracts/legal, HR, and general administration. As R&D typically makes up a tiny fraction of a large company, but up to 20% of a small firm devoted to research, you get 100 people working on pure research to testing, then another 200 to prototyping/design work (engineering is more difficult than R&D) with lab and test space to match, so 3/8 of the building space is devoted to all R&D to prototype stages, with 300 people involved in that activity, alone, and the other 200 taking up all other functions and this gets a maximum employment range. Out of that 300 devoted up to prototypes is included the staff overhead any staff necessary to keep things going and a few admin types of the 'project manager' sort. R&D, broken into pure research, research to test, then to larger scale test, then to proof of concept test are all known stages in the R&D cycle and CDS seems scaled to that, which makes it a sub-contractor in a larger project and will, itself, sub-contract some specialized work out. Thus the likelihood that CDS actually will RUN a Terminator contract is small: they don't have the specialty metals production group and production group necessary to do that especially if they had been working purely in the computational realm as indicated by the story line. And if they did try to go it alone they would compete with GM, Boeing, Ford, M-D, and a number of other companies already geared to that work area. That is a relatively restricted work-space for federal contracts and the question of a CDS competing with, say, a contract run by Ford and IBM for Terminators becomes doubtful especially as the technology would have to be wide-spread enough to allow DoD to contract for it. Working under a larger firm, however, leaves lots of space for a technology oriented R&D firm.

The most probable path is CDS as small business that is technology oriented that is working with a larger firm to do the contract overhead and integration parts of the Terminator program.

Apple started as a small business! And the time from Apple I to the Macintosh? 8 years. Apple did not create the chips, computer housing, power supplies, and much else that went into those computers and, during that 8 year span, remained a small business for much of it. With the Macintosh they went to more proprietary hardware designs and plateaued out for nearly a decade after getting to its niche market platform. They would only break out of that niche market starting in the late 1990's, and then not in computers as desktop devices, but in portable electronics.

Microsoft went from small business selling a BASIC clone to big business able to dominate the market in just 11 years! They also remained a software-only business for much of that time, selling licenses to operating systems and then selling their own in-house software packages. Microsoft operating systems would dominate the marketplace for decades (and still does so as a majority player). By 1984 they had still not moved to their new digs in Redmond, WA, but were becoming a major player in PC operating systems.

Intel Corporation was founded in 1968 with people who abandoned Fairchild. They would stop being a small business in the early 1970's and embark upon their first CPU designs for generic processors in 1972. With their first successful design from a calculator contract they would then get a derivative and more capable processor up and selling so that when IBM spun up Project Chess and they needed a low cost CPU, the Intel design would beat out the Motorola chip line (used by Apple) circa 1980-82. Only the move to the 286 then 386/486 and multiple clone makers would allow Intel to become a market player and dominate the PC marketplace. That took 14 years.

CDS between having zero Terminator/Skynet technology in 1984 has to go to a general complete suite of technology delivered, on spec, on contract, to Mil Spec in 13 years. Intel didn't do that by 1984 for a full blown computer system. After that it would, however, with the design and production of computers done by an integrator for the DoD for the Defense Mapping Agency. Those systems were starting to be delivered in the 1990's (1991-1997, right in the Terminator time frame!). They were powerful computers by 1984 standards, but when delivered they were lagging behind the 486 and early Pentium designs, and cost about 1,000 times as much as those designs, but with far less in the way of processing power, memory and storage.

Why? The DoD design process in the 1980's mandated a long lead-time and delivery time. From initial DoD request of any major system in the 1980's, the process used was one of the best at that period, which mandated a 'proof of concept' up front, then initial production design in two years, then an integrated design test in two years after that... notice that this has not delivered one product at this point? Given the POC is two years, production design is two years, integration design is two years, you then have the first factory floor test and acceptance happening in: 1990. The amount of code necessarily created bugs... lots of bugs. Parts of the Defense Mapping System went through multiple bug-iterations and required its own tracking system that was computerized as the volume of bugs and integration problems skyrocketed. Parts of the integrated design concept were broken down into modularized pieces for dedicated tasks and 'delivered early' in the 1990-1994 time frame, a decade after first description of the system was accepted. By 1997 the entire system, outside of those carve-outs, was delivered.

They had the Y2K bug, and some parts were delivered in 1999...

To get a Terminator by 1997 you had to describe it in 1984 and have an absolutely flawless execution to delivery from theoretical CPU, power supplies, metallic framework, etc.

For untested, new technology that was not even on the drawing boards in 1984.

The Defense Mapping System was a nightmare that is only overshadowed by the US Navy's problems with ship building and changing specifications. The DoD procurement process was not a good one in many areas.

Now consider something like the F-14, which started back in 1968 and saw its first 'fly off' in 1970. It didn't have many processors on-board, and not much in the way of computerized equipment as a proposed product. In four years it went from proposal to test fly off to finalized design in 1972. The F-14A upgrades and general re-design on the same airframe happened in 1987 and it put in nearly 10x the processors to work with all the new missiles, equipment, components, electronic counter-measures, etc. A Terminator taken along this sort of time line, with known components (a lot of technology in the F-14 had previously been seen in the F-111, including the 'swing wing' idea) is a mere 4 years to get you only a couple of well known processing systems (avionics) that had also flown previously. The nature of air war had changed, however, during the Cold War from Vietnam to the early 1980's and the F-14 was upgraded, adapted, and had a lot of cyber technology put in it so that while the basic airframe remained the same, the entire system became much more complex and capable. Unfortunately a Terminator doesn't have this basis to start with, otherwise we would have seen relatively sophisticated AI and micro-machines in the 1970's which is not depicted in any of the films nor talked about as this would be a revolution in equipment capability.

The Terminator time line had problems even when it was presented and while the compelling story line and nature of a Terminator make for arm rest gripping entertainment, it had little basis in the existing technology to put something relatively sophisticated like first generation Terminators into being by 1997. Another movie of that era, Blue Thunder, showed already working technology all put into one helicopter to create a novel design that required only fitting the components together. Blue Thunder felt like the immediate future as it was the immediate future and if you ever looked at some of the fly-off alternatives to the AH-64 Apache when one of the alternatives featured a single main gun and not missiles: you got an idea of what an amalgam of the a chain gun with advanced electronics was like by watching a movie.

The problem is that if you started the design process for a Blue Thunder type helicopter 13 years previously you would have had the electronics and avionics of 13 years previously when it was delivered. The F-14, when originally delivered, outside of its basics performance characteristics for flight, had very few similarities to the F-14A that would come out in 15 years, with additions built for that platform. A Terminator coming out in 1997, even just the very basic ones, needed the processors, metallurgy, machining, actuators, sensors, etc. in 1984, along with the control software as a design concept that was an extension of then available software.

None of that was available in 1984 to create a design for a system deliverable in 13 years as a basis for a Terminator from 2029.

Thus the incredulous nature of the Wayne Corporation experts on the feasibility of doing anything like a first generation Terminator by 1997. Something like the very earliest Terminator types (seen in the third film) might be possible in 2029, if the entire continuity of engineering, theoretical work, and advancement of computer programming kept at its then steady pace which was recognized as increasing steadily so that the rate of change increased over time. And in a time line ravaged by Skynet? Without the creative process of being able to pack more capability into smaller space, design new materials, test them, and then implement them, Skynet is faced with a relatively stable technological base that it can maintain and only do some minor improvements to.

CDS is a company that would have to invent so many brand-new technologies, not even on the drawing boards or even in areas of ready speculation in 1984, that the possibility of a Skynet and Terminator system type coming about by 1997 requires a major suspension of disbelief as nothing similar has happened in modern times. By 2029 the basics might be possible, maybe, but an actual Terminator with infiltration package? We are starting to get the very ground floor on some of the biological components within the last few years, and the major metallurgy, too. The mini-nuclear reactor still seems like that elusive dream, as does the processing capability for a Terminator. The programming will arrive in a crude form at some point in time, but we have varied from the original paths of AI development seen in the 1980's to new ones that are aiming for different goals and results via means not yet thought of for programming then.

All of these problems are taken as a 'given' impossibility set due to the nature of the cross-over story, but remain hurdles to deal with when putting a story together using the Terminator universe.

* * *


What would not change for the Terminator is the human character of its programmers and their directives. The directives are driven by Mil Spec requirements and the contract to deliver a given, stated set of capabilities with a required list of functions for them. I cannot picture any military system requirement not putting in necessary command authorization channels for a cognitive construct like a Terminator. Skynet, on the other hand, may not have been conceived as having cognitive ability and so does not have those requirements, thus making it easier to deliver. As I expect contracts from the military to have requirements in them, often directly going to manuals and organization systems along with stocking systems, all of that is included in the combat adjunct known as a Terminator.

What is not generally covered is that since the dawn of having any excess memory and execution time for a computer system available, programmers have stuck in extraneous pieces of code, even on military projects. An 'Easter Egg' is a part of a program that can only be accessed by doing certain things within the program itself that are often not obvious. Go to a certain cell in a spreadsheet, put in a command and you get a flight simulator program embedded inside the spreadsheet. Most 'Easter Eggs' are benign and offer a small reward for going over a program so thoroughly that you discover the way to it. The CDS programmers would have that as part of their background as programmers: it is cultural.

They would also have concerns about their systems being compromised beyond what their cognitive and defensive codes can deal with and possibly even having their facilities taken over. Thus comes the power system repair program made to activate only when a Terminator has been so badly damaged that only the minimal execution space in the power system is active. We have seen evidence of this in the first two films, and normally it is just a way for the cognitive programming to become active again as it has left a series of pointers to its situation in its execution space for a repair program to find. It is a benign program, made to restore function to damaged Terminators and allow them to do some expedient field repairs and replace compromised code. It also runs the nuclear power system, and so is expedient to keep some back-up processing capability there in case of problems. This may or may not have been a part of the original contract requirements, but it would assuredly come up in design team and programmer meetings and become a side-topic as the possible penetration of Terminator code by a malign system that couldn't be handled by the cognitive or other defensive codes would require one, last system to be able to get at a Terminator from read-only stored routines. Like all 'Easter Eggs' it is well hidden, hard to find, and you don't save much when you try to remove it. Thus it is something well within social and expected contract norms for any proposed CDS group of programmers.

* * *


Each of the points I bring up are relatively easy to understand, and yet when talking about them with others I get the rejoinder that: 'Well, yes, but in the larger story they don't really matter.'

The easy statement of what a problem is and why it matters can be technical, dry and seem distant from a good and ripping yarn. The persuasive story line drives against external criticism by offering an internal story that must retain some essence of plausibility while being entertaining. If you have ever watched a movie and, mid-way through it, you have suddenly lost your disbelief of it due to the course of events, then you have experienced when the plausible becomes implausible and the necessary actions to drive the plot become detached from your willing acceptance as an unacceptable assertion via the story line has been made. Some stories are just poorly written, others require a sequencing of events that go beyond plausibility, and other times the early 'artistic license' gets revoked by breaking the artistry of the original license. I have had that happen sitting in a theater or at home, watching a film, enjoying it and then, suddenly, I stop enjoying it and realize that something is just not right with the story line, the characters, the setting... something is wrong.

The other side of that is actually enjoying a film the whole way through, watching it a few times, retaining the enjoyment, and then giving a 'what if...?' thought to the plot, characters, events and story that then leads to the realization that there are unsustainable elements that have been well papered over, but that reveal themselves upon reflection. I've had this experience, too, especially when writing genre fiction within known universes or with known characters.

When I was younger I ran role-playing games and I did not act as a Game Master but more as a moderator for interaction between the player characters and the rest of the world they were in. I had to have a world-view that included many aspects of those worlds so as to be able to get reasonable responses from that world for player activity. Players did not act in a vacuum, just as you do not live your life that way, and so I gained the ability to create a quick sketch of non-player character background based on the world, what they would know of it, how they responded to it, and then adding in some variables for personality, outlook, and so on. That was done on the fly. I found that having a good continuity and understanding the history (immediate, intermediate, old, and ancient) allowed me to run very rich environments with individuals, organizations and notable others that were driven by a variety of venues from across the spectrum of history. It didn't matter if I was running a science fiction world, a gothic horror by gaslight world, an epic fantasy world or a comic book super-hero world: the concept of individuals fitting to their environment and that environment having a much longer history than that of any character (player or non-player) brought an understanding of just how such highly derivative societies can function and why they end up with the events they end up with.

A 'scenario' is a starting set of requirements with some end goals: often the end goals are not even contingent upon the starting requirements or they may be so juxtaposed so that actually getting to an end goal does not satisfy the starting requirement set. Once players got used to that, then they started to live with their characters and understand their own goals and objectives were as important as that for any for a group, and that often broke down groups to scattered individuals each seeking time to 'do their own thing'. Having ten people over for gaming and they are divided into six sub-groups or solo experiences meant that they all ran simultaneously at disparate locations, events and met with different people. In leading their lives the world changed due to their actions (for good and ill) and the results and how they were viewed might vary wildly from why they were done.

I ran worlds, not scenarios. And I couldn't tell you what was going to happen next as I didn't know: actions and interactions guided the course of events, and how they played out varied based on who is doing what and why.

That is how I wrote this story. I set up the beginning of it, examined some of the cross-over implications on the fly, and wrote it as it came. I did not have a preset destination in mind: there was no 'perfect' way to end this story and it would tell me when it was ended. The characters are thinking as they go as I am thinking as they go, and can't tell you what they would come up with, save in general, hand-waving ways until they had done them. Then the internals of a character told me why they had taken that action... just like in the worlds I ran.

I didn't really want a multi-crossover story, and yet the character of Sgt. Rock came across as a good one with the even better justification of having known Thomas Wayne in WWII as they were 'of an age'. I don't play up his war experiences, because I've found many veterans reticent to talk about them in their own lives to the point where that is the norm. It would take the urging of his friends and wife for him to write about those experiences, and he most likely donates all the proceeds to a veteran's organization as he wouldn't want to make money off of those he knew and cared for, now dead. With his children grown, his wife dead, and now her cat finally passing on, Sgt. Rock came to be the quintessential family friend who asks no favors, appreciates the fealty of those who care about him and will make his own way in life, unwilling to ask favors of anyone. He makes a fascinating counter-point to Bruce Wayne's life and we see that the respect is mutual, long past the early help after Bruce's parents were killed.

Vivian Rose has been re-purposed by other writers and has no real set role in the Batman Canon, so I brought her down to just a bit younger than Bruce and gave her an entirely different life than has been shown elsewhere, to my knowledge. Once I started writing scenes with her, the scenes just wrote themselves. It is hard to describe, but there is a force to her personality that goes beyond the brash, take-no-prisoners devil-take-the-hindmost attitude she displays. I didn't think she would show up after the Long Sword scenes... little did I know. It is very possible that, after Bruce Wayne, she may be the most recognized person by the personnel at Wayne Corporation, and yet completely unknown outside of it.

For Alfred and Lucius, I just give a very light treatment to their characters to adjust them for the time period. It is amazing how long the Batman Canon did without Lucius Fox, and now he has become an indispensable part of those in and around Bruce Wayne. Alfred gets some hints of his time working to keep Wayne Enterprises together, and I don't talk about his wartime experiences as I have enough characters for that as it is.

Sarah Connor proved to be a problem because her time line has shifted over three films: her birthday and age continue to float as the movies get made. There is no way to reconcile her age changes because of that, thus the starting age in the first film is used as it is the closest to the 'authentic' Sarah Connor as you can get. Save that she is a bit too old for the life she is leading just by a year or two. That spoke to me of having gone to college, gotten one degree that would dead-end her, and then heading for a second degree that would offer an opportunity at an actual decent job. In this cross-over universe, Wayne Corporation spreads out looking for talent and a job fair and quick interview by Lucius would spot the personal ethic of hard work and willingness to learn that typifies Wayne employees. That, to me, is a natural outgrowth of Sarah Connor who would be more than willing to work for a unique company that, itself, is willing to help her achieve a good life. In case it was missed in the original film, Sarah Connor's life was highly delimited for her age and she was working to make ends meet in pursuit of something a bit better. That chance attendance at a job fair (perhaps one in a long, long line of same) would allow one of the foremost talent scouts from mid-level management to find some hand picked talent for a new division that was being stood up. That satisfies continuity of this cross-over universe based on past events and observed, and known quantities from the films.

Fleshing out Kyle Reese is mandatory as his easy and compelling mission takes some hard turns that he must recover from. The past he winds up in is not what he was told, Sarah Connor is not where she should be, and when he finds out that she is across the country, his entire reason for being there drops out from under him. There are very few places one can seek some private time in the LA basin area outside of parks, libraries and some shopping venues. To get quiet time creates a very limited list and Kyle would want to stay close to the last known piece of what he was told just in case he was misreading things. One of the few places that is almost instantly assured is a chapel, mission or church, in which the doors are open for the laity to quietly worship in such sanctuaries. Kyle would recognize the function even if there is not much in the way of organized religion, he would assuredly of heard of such things from humanity's past. Being a proud combat leader his first reaction is not to ask for help, and yet he will want to place himself into a position where he might be able to get help. That may not be a conscious decision on his part, and finding a quiet place to gather his thoughts would be primary. Libraries offer that on a limited basis, while religious institutions of worship offer them on a much wider basis for the public.

I have a personal stable of characters from my days of running gaming worlds: a few people who just show up now and again or who had such an interesting perspective that I stuck to them. One of those is Loren Seifert, who showed up when I was running a short Dr. Who campaign and she became the matter-of-fact woman able to keep down her Time Lord's flighty characteristics. She shows up as the competent, capable and relatively low-key Mistress of the Range for Wayne Corporation and the person to make sure anyone needing firearms training on the down-and-dirty side gets it ASAP.

What I did do is try to make a story in which all the characters act in a competent fashion so that the story isn't driven by incompetence... professionals act in a professional fashion and utilize their professional skills. I'm not expecting a character to do otherwise, save if that is driven by other requirements. Those characters that are not in the direct spotlight still behave that way because they are professionals. Even the criminals, although allowances are made for lifestyle driven choices in those cases. Actually the criminals were an interesting set of characters to write about at the individual level, and you get a glimpse of the crime scene in Gotham through who they are and how they act. I give the secondary characters what time I can, but many are just walk-ons that have a very brief character background in my head that isn't worth putting down.

Finally there is Gotham City.

* * *


I put it at a real place that could have served as a Colonial era port that, like New York City, would have seen its islands expand some through building and refuse. It becomes a major part of the early industrial sector of the US and then falls on hard times as heavy industrial needs shift from the smaller venues of the Northeast. It has traveled around as a place in the Batman Canon due to multiple writers and their vagaries, so putting it someplace substantial that gives a geographic placement then lets that place be built up with a definable history and then use some of the more general actions of industry and demographic changes seen over the decades to fill it out. By situating it you get a real place taking part in actual history and reflecting that.

Yet when you fill out the history of what a city at that place would be you start to get a different place that is not, exactly, like any other Gotham City that is presented in the Canon. Gotham has always had elements of the supernatural in its gargoyles and architecture, and I keep much of that, run it through the post-industrial wash cycle and stir in a bit more gothic to Gotham in the way of happenings, even while some of the architecture gets knocked down for the inter-connector and modern freeways. When I saw that some cities had, actually, built new roadways over old covering the older roads over one or two stories up so as to economize and modernize their road structures, I knew that Gotham had that, too. It is a place of the Underworld both criminal and gothic, as well as just plain, old underground and it has a life of its own even if we can't recognize it. For the place does have a spirit that lives, and ancient history to go with it. And to my knowledge no one else gives you Ghost Trains that never do get to their stations down yonder. Just a slight chill of the supernatural to offset all that high tech, and yet they work together in many ways.

Gotham city, thus, has the old hillsides on the mainland side north of the islands, islands that were more properly North and South Gotham Islands during the colonial period but, like Manhattan Island, have build out and been slightly uplifted due to isostatic rebound from the glacial period. Thus Bank Avenue once upon a time was on the actual Bank of the South Gotham River, but changes over time and landscaping meant the street had to be leveled over and it went into the Underground. The old street layouts from the mid-19th century no longer fit, exactly, on the modern layout due to channelization of the rivers and the silting up of the harbor fronts, North and South. Early 19th century Gotham City saw the North Island flourish as it was part of the early mill period in the region. Then South Gotham's ports tended to overshadow the early industry and new industry in iron and steel plants, then chemical plants utilized the fresh water from the river just before it got to the sea. And Gotham expanded greatly with the rich people of that era moving further into the Gotham Hills inland, just enough to mask out the industries on the river waterfront and yet have easy access to the city. Any Yacht Club would have moved to North Gotham Island as it would have the cleanest water from the Northern Branch of the Gotham River, and be very fast to get to and avoid the actual downtown areas.

During the Great Depression Gotham City fell on relative hard times as its steel works went idle, as did its shipyards, and early chemical plants. While WWII would lift America out of the Great Depression, Gotham only saw some upticks in the economy, mostly in shipping as an easy alternative to the deeper water ports close to New Jersey. For awhile the oil industry took hold to put up refineries and sell refined products in the Northeastern US. The mixture of new and old plants wouldn't last as the size of the tankers got too big for the now silting harbor, and only those willing to put out specialty products and use small tenders could keep going. As environmental regulations went in, many of the old plants went under, and their employment went with them. This would leave the manufacturing firms as the major employers for Gotham City and many of those disappeared into other companies and had plants shut down or 're-sized' for production of niche products. The older line general manufacturing companies either moved out or disappeared off the landscape into larger firms, leaving Wayne Enterprises as one of the few places that continued on in the old tradition of family run companies dedicated to manufacturing.

For industrial innovation Gotham City never ranked high up in the US, save for the earliest Antebellum era for the mills. One or two historic mills are now used as museums, the others have long since been torn down or reconverted into other uses, mainly in the Theater District close to the Mid-Gotham Riverway. The mills on the other side were used for flop houses for decades and then converted into the Hotel District, with nearly all of them torn down and only some rusted waterfront tracks marking where there had once been textile and paper mills. The rail era was the next boom time for industry in Gotham, and churning out locomotives and rail iron set it into the landscape of the Northeast. By the end of the 19th century Gotham City would produce steamships, tugs and other small to moderate sized shipping vessels as well as have a custom motor yacht business that still has a firm or two just to the north side of the North Gotham River. The rail and sea business changed in the early 20th century and Gotham could no longer keep up with ocean going vessel production save at its shipyards, and when those went idle they were never to be restarted. As diesel engines appeared in locomotives Gotham industry adapted to that with specialized engine and fabrication plants, as well as switching yard to supplement NYC needs and those of the coastal Northeast short of Boston.

Just before the 1929 Crash, Gotham City housed some small aircraft manufacturing plants, but those would never set it into the ranks of Los Angeles, Seattle or even, in that era, Buffalo or Saratoga. Small aircraft production did continue, even after the Crash for local enthusiasts and for some of the new commercial firms set up for airmail. WWII would expand on that base, to a degree, and export fighter aircraft would come from Gotham destined for Great Britain and the USSR during the war. Gotham was passed over for Liberty Ship production, but saw a minor revival of steel works for artillery and rifle production. Those living in the city saw some retention of those industries, put to normal goods production, and it is those that would benefit Thomas Wayne upon his returning home.

Suburbia, what there was of it, had to move beyond the Old Money Ring of estates and mansions from the original city boom times. Some expanded into the north's landside, as well, although that was never considered prime territory due to easterly winds coming from the various riverside plants. As the industrial base declined and families that had once owned businesses fell on hard times, their estates began to disappear and were sub-divided into the next group of suburban areas with just slightly larger lots than the immediate post-war housing tracts, which became an upscale set of districts that enjoyed closer proximity to the city environs but were separated from them via the hillsides. When the first Interstate connectors went through to Gotham City in the early 1960's, these homes at first dropped in value due to fears of traffic congestion.

The State Highway Department that did such a fine job with Robert Moses in New York City did an awful job for Gotham City and no clear set of connecting highways to New York City and Bludhaven were ever properly developed. Residents wouldn't pay tolls for a thruway and the State had problems justifying the initial expansion to the smaller, and rougher, Bludhaven that the New York City Council would much rather keep out of easy reach. Between the Cities of New York, Gotham and Bludhaven, the Counties involved, the State, the federal government and the wants of Connecticut for a direct route to New York City the jumble of land rights, right-of-ways and zoning all worked to thwart any sort of comprehensive roadway system plan. Half-formed plans that had initial right-of-ways were started and then stopped as they lost rights or land use got tangled up in court cases. Only the North Gotham Island Connector to the Interstate System went smoothly as it would service the landed money areas that would enjoy easier access to the venues in Gotham that attracted them.

Rail service to Gotham City had started with a Gotham-New York line that ran along the coast from downtown New York City then along the north shore of Long Island Sound to Bludhaven, Gotham, Arkham, Hartford, Providence and Boston. That was an industrial rail line that had passenger service on it and a minor switch yard near the old Stalar Combine facility had a bridge to South Gotham Island along its waterfront to not only the old downtown Gotham Central Station but to the waterfronts via another switching yard and bridge. That late 19th century rail line soon proved to be less than profitable and it was re-organized in the 1920's along with the original Gotham Subway so as to re-route the rail traffic to a new line just south of the Yacht club that went along the North Island and to another switching yard for the viable parts of the industries along the shore and then north to main rail yards that were put down to handle higher traffic loads. For a few short years Gotham City had passenger rail service, mixed above ground and underground subway service and tram services along the old shoreline route for holiday traffic. If the 1830's to 1870's were a Golden Age of Railroads for Gotham City then the span from 1921 to 1929 was its Silver Age, and after 1929 it would only see some utilization near its old amounts in the 1950's.

For a moderate-sized city in the Northeast the benefits of being near both the major cities of New York City and Boston plus within a stone's throw of Hartford, CT put Gotham City into a prime location that should yield more in the way of economic capacity. Although its shipping business was once a major employer, the larger ports in and around NYC to supply the city by-passed Gotham and left it with a tighter regional market that was slowly encroached upon by the larger harbors in and around NYC. The rise of industrial capacity in NJ meant more room for industries to expand and utilize the more direct rail and sea routes afforded by the Jersey shore. Boston's huge harbor would be utilized to supply it and that would negatively impact shipping at Gotham, also. With the modernization of railroads and the shift to larger trains and the need for larger switching yards, Gotham loses out, again, due to limitations on the landward portions of the city and its hills. The areas best suited for switching yards were readily used up in the Golden Age and when the Silver Age arrived Gotham could not expand to be a hub for the Northeastern US. Air transport, done at Gotham Airport in some of the last available open land to the north of the city means that it is not well situated to be close to NYC as an overflow destination and its only bonus is wartime expansion and connection via roadways that would be upgraded to interstate connections and give it a steady flow of regional and local travelers to the central parts of New England. That means that very few of those going through Gotham Airport actually stay in Gotham City, proper.

The electronics industry started as an adjunct to the metal working and chemical industries in Gotham during the 1930's, along with glass making. That era of the vacuum tube allowed Gotham to supply other electronics companies with components all the way into the 1960's, and the Radio Row of NYC was a prime recipient of those parts and components. With the advent of the transistor, however, these firms either closed up shop or converted to circuit board design and for other companies. These are not concentrated anywhere, and small 3-4 story warehouses or old industrial buildings that once housed other industries (such as knitting factories or sweatshops from the turn of the century) now hold these specialized firms. Wayne Enterprises has taken over one or two of them over the years to supply its in-house needs as well as produce spare parts, which has sustained that tiny segment of employment in Gotham that is dedicated to electronics.

Part of the storyline points to the change that will come about with Wayne Corporation opening up a Youth Training Center of Excellence via its charitable arm: the advent of a full-blown computer component and automated machine development system outside of its Florida shop that does much work with automated machine production already. Adding computer power to other devices was already starting in the early 1980's and would continue apace after that. Something like this would have been coming to the Wayne Corporation drawing boards as moving beyond automated industrial equipment would give Wayne Corporation to expand into more business and consumer venues. Add to that the interior cross-teaming system that has been put in place and Wayne Corporation can flex its skilled personnel into new markets as they appear if not create a few of their own. To do that, however, Bruce Wayne would want more local talent and to help pull the city away from its older industrial roots and start morphing it into a modern industrial city that works and niche and specialized components that are utilized in many areas. That early electronics boom in the vacuum tube era showed that this is a lucrative way forward if you can adjust to changing technologies and be willing to adopt new ones as they come along. That is a very good fit for Wayne Corporation and it will play a key role in Gotham City's future to migrate its economy from Rust Belt to Post-Industrial and cybernetics. Part of this will be backing training and class work in computers, not just in the engineering and design realms, but in the coding and use realms, as well. Gotham will join in with the other Silicon venues (Silicon Valley, Silicon Alley, etc.) and, by doing so, just might afford a company or two an enticement to pull down some of the older chemical plants, now decades abandoned, and create newer facilities that can be easily supplied with cheap and low mass parts from the harbor and rail lines readily available for the city.

Gotham City has always had an eclectic mix of backgrounds of the people who live in it, beyond the early Dutch settlers, then reinforced by English, Polish, German, Italian...that ethnic melting pot brought with it a variety of skills and industries that all have some continued placement in and around the Islands. No single industry dominates Gotham City: it is not foremost in clothing, steel, aluminum, electronics, engine components, aircraft components, it has no single thing that makes it tick as a City. The people in it do what they need to so as to keep income flowing and lead a decent life. While there is crime on the streets of Gotham City, those criminal groups also recognize that they are, fundamentally, a service sector and if the civilian realm declines more then so will they. The 'street codes' between criminal organizations puts some distance between crime and the ordinary citizen: it is bad for business if you don't do that and most of the criminals have come from the working class background that is Gotham City and know what happens when the Mafia, Operations and Organizations let things spill over.

They got the Batman.

And now the Underworld stirs.

Ancient Gotham speaks and it has an avatar of flesh who wears mask, cloak and cowl, and he is coming to take back the night as the only horror allowed is not that from fear of crime. It is the fear of the night returning and even the darkness of crime cannot blot out the black of that abyss.

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