Ooh! – cetaceans, space travel and specism in Blue Planet

The Ocean over heaven! is a fusion torchship running the wormhole route between the Sol and Lambda Serpentis systems and ferrying the usual mix of passengers, industrial equipment and Long John xenosilicates as well as other assorted cargo. What makes the Ooh! different from other torchships is its crew – the ship is almost exclusively manned and operated by cetaceans.

Three dolphins, Skip-Jack, Green Lobster and Stars Outside (who insists on being called “Igor the Terrifying” by non-cetaceans), form the permanent core of the Ooh!’s flight crew. A fourth position is usually filled by a non-cetacean, whose primary responsibilities are maintenance and – if necessary – damage control and repairs in “dry” areas of the vessel.

Other than the dolphin trio, this last crew member is anything but permanent with most quitting after only one trip and this has started to give the Ooh! and her crew a bad name. Deservedly so, if one gives credit to the stories told by the ex-crew members.

Cetaceans and non-cetaceans working together is generally accepted to pose certain challenges, more often than not simply due to the vastly different physiology, at other times also due to cultural and social issues (cetaceans’ seemingly casual attitude towards sex and their attributed incliniation towards pranking being often cited by non-cetaceans), but the situation on board the Ooh! reportedly goes far beyond that. Perhaps it is the specific environment with its combination of the year-long isolation surrounded by the vacuum of space, the main habitat being adapted to cetacean use – leaving even less living space than already normal on such flights, and the simple fact that the usual demographics are reversed with the non-cetaceans suddenly finding themselves as a minority (of one) in a world dominated by a cetacean majority (that doubles as a firmly entrenched social unit to which the non-cetacean would most likely remain an outsider even under different circumstances), that leads to baseline humans and genetic redesigns reacting so poorly to what might be considered more examples of cetacean “pranking”, perhaps the same factors engender a more pronounced edge to the cetaceans’ behaviour without any actual malignance or hostility intended – or perhaps the Ooh!’s crew actually are a group of cetacean racists with deeply held grudges, prejudices and feelings of superiority towards non-cetaceans.

The reported incidents include condescending comments regarding the non-cetacean’s three-dimensional orientational abilities often clad in excusing alleged underperformance of the crew member (“it’s okay, we understand you are not as good at this”), not using Interspec in communication in the presence of the non-cetacean including the refusal to switch to the common language even after being asked to do so, racial slurs such as “chimp” and “monkey-boy” when addressing the non-cetacean crew member, attaching a label reading “food locker” to the non-cetacean emergency cryo-chamber and other threatening behaviour (including physical threats in at least one case), as well as several incidents which have been variously described as racist, sexual harassment or both.

Despite this, the Ooh! still manages to attract new non-cetacean crew for its trips.

Note: After some debate, we decided not to provide character profiles for Skip-Jack, Green Lobster and Stars Outside to maintain the ambiguity about the Ooh!’s crew actual characters and motives.

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