1. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    What would you call a free-lanced starship commander?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Link the Writer, Jan 24, 2012.

    Yes, this was probably the first thing I should've asked when I first started talking about my sci-fi with Helen Chert.

    I don't want Helen Chert to be part of some military. When I see her, she's more of a free-lanced...something. She doesn't report to an admiralty board or anything like that (I already have a character who does just that.) There's a reason she's exploring the galaxy other than for shits and giggles. She's...just not part of a galactic military.

    Could she be a smuggler? But...that'd be too much like Han Solo.

    Mercenary? That's what I keep thinking she should be. Someone pays her money to do something. However, I thought mercenaries existed only to help out in some conflict.

    I guess it's okay for her to be a mercenary, even though she's not involved in a war.

    This is just so I can get my terms right. God knows I always assign the wrong definition to the wrong word, so I just wanted to be clear on it. =)
     
  2. James Berkley
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    James Berkley Banned

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    corporate Samurai?
    A fixer?
    A ship for hire?
    Private military contractor?
     
  3. Foxe
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    Foxe Active Member

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    A privateer

    maybe a rogue?
     
  4. Pea
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    Pea super pea!

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    cargo transport is usually how the bills get paid, whether legal or smuggling. :)
     
  5. Kallithrix
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    Kallithrix Banned

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    Yep, I think some kind of cargo transporter would probably be most likely - doesn't have to be illegal cargo a la Malcolm Reynolds or Han Solo, but just think of it like being a long distance truck driver in space - she could be employed by a haulage company or be independent (the term is 'freelance', by the way).
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Why not use the Merchant Marine as a model? Or the older trading vessels of men like Marco Polo? These were vessels of exploration, bu with a profit motive.

    You could also look at Andre Norton's Solar Queen novels (Sargasso of Space, Plague Ship), with the Free Traders.

    The commander of such a ship is still called its captain.
     
  7. Kesteven
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    Kesteven Member

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    Sounds about right. Of course, it's your setting, so you could give her whatever title and job description you like. In a universe where independent spaceship owners who'd take on various contracts for money were common, they'd probably have a term for it, although strangely I can't think of one from other fiction, or a naval analogue. In some settings they're just called 'freelancers' or just 'lancers', but that's a bit bland.
     
  8. RusticOnion
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    RusticOnion Contributing Member

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    Perhaps she could be an explorer?
    She could get paid to map out star systems, or study lifeforms in far away and/or dangerous galaxies/star systems?

    Perhaps she could even work for a "Hitch hiker's guide to the galaxy" type deal.
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Paid by whom?

    Star travel has to be expensive in terms of resources. Someone has to have a compelling need for it, or those resourcesw will be diverted to where they are really needed.

    Even research falters unless there is an expectation of material gain somewhere down the line.

    Of course, there can be social motivations like religious fervor, like missionary crusades. But even these tend to seek financial interests to help cover the expense.
     
  10. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I figured she could just be a mercenary. She's paid by someone to do various missions here and there, be it on Earth or on another planet.
     
  11. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Is there any reason why you don't want to use the word that you did use - freelance?

    Mercenary implies military action. Freelance just implies that the person is independent and gets paid. It seems perfect.
     
  12. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Good point. That's even better. A freelance starship captain.
     
  13. Deleth
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    Deleth Member

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    Mercenary works, however if your character does some things that are questionable regarding interstellar laws, you could go with Outlaw as well.
     
  14. TheIllustratedMan
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    TheIllustratedMan Active Member

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    Privateers were basically pirates commissioned by one government to capture another's ships. It's a pretty specific title, so if that's what this captain is doing it fits, otherwise not so much.
    A mercenary is someone who is hired for their combat prowess. It could be a military conflict or an armed guard position. Again, pretty specific.

    It sounds to me like she's a starship captain who accepts odd jobs. That doesn't really constitute a special title, other than maybe Freelancer, but why even bother with it? She's "Cap'n" to her men, and that's what matters.
     
  15. James Berkley
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    James Berkley Banned

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    Maybe take a page from frat terminology and call them an independent
     
  16. jonsnana
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    jonsnana Member

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    Try working it from the other direction. Where did she get her training? Is she ex-military, a passenger liner captain that has gone independent, large corporation disgruntled ex (fired) employee, etc? All of these come with built in attitudes, backgrounds, and relationships that you can use.
     
  17. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Hmmm...The bolded would explain why she's close to a man who is in the military, and explains why she's able to freely move around a military HQ.

    Er...would that work in real life? An ex-military member having the ability to roam freely around military HQ's or bases?
     
  18. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    You could take a cue from current naval terminology - the captain of a small private ship is generally known as a master, and the licence they need to pass is their master's certificate. To be a captain I think you really need to be responsible for a crew as well as a ship.

    As for her role, I quite like Freelancer though it was a computer game with problems. Buccaneer, privateer etc were as has been said, semi official pirates, so unless that's what she is maybe not so much of a good choice. Maybe you could go for something like indie, private contracter, agent (without an agency I assume) or make something up out of initials etc. For example a private captain could become a PC (ok so maybe I'm not so good with these things but you get the idea).

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  19. James Berkley
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    James Berkley Banned

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    not in the current US millitary. though its sciance fiction so yeah. maybe they have an office to help/ give intell to these independant contracters
     
  20. TheIllustratedMan
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    TheIllustratedMan Active Member

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    Just don't destroy the Death Star while they're onboard. :p
     

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