The Vers Revolution as not seen from Earth; Backdrop | Aldnoah.Zero 01
Aldnoah.Zero leaves two major setup-points dangling in its premiere. The first is the question of what Aldnoah really is, and for now I’m not going to touch this, and assume very simply, that it is an energy source of some kind, plus-minus lots of other, useful knowledge. The second, however, is the origin story of the Vers Empire – that of how the Vers Empire was birthed, and its highly radical belief-system formed, and that’s what the whole post is going to be about. I’m not going to pretend this is anything other than speculation, though, nor that my analysis is in any way exhaustive or perfect.
Yeah, this is going to take more than one post.
Lets first start with the pedantic tradition of first listing down the hard facts. The Empire styles itself an empire, and have a dynastic monarchy in place, complete with a system of Knighthood, which works in the traditional knighthood way; the king gives you your land, which in this case, would be a share of Aldnoah and a landing-castle, and tells you to do their bidding, and all authority and ownership thus ultimately lies in the Emperor’s hands. The Hypergate to Mars was discovered in 1972, Heaven’s Fall happened in 1999, which is 27 years from the discovery of the hypergate, and the premiere takes place 15 years later, in 2014.
It then took 27 years for the Martian populace, which should reasonably be much, much smaller than that of Earth, to undergo the radical change in ideological standpoint that they take, from the heavily antiauthoritarian and energetically democratic form it took in the Cold War, to what is almost the exact opposite in the Vers Empire.
Apollo 17 landed on the moon in the middle of the Cold War, and is historically the latest Moon Landing; this marks the point where the Aldnoah.Zero world begins to deviate from ours, though not by very much. I don’t think the Soviets ever managed to land a man on the moon (though my memory is hazy), and their manned moon programs were cancelled in around 1964-66 on grounds of it being a bit useless, bloody expensive, and the N-1 rocket they used failing.
That said, if a giant hypergate was discovered in 1972, around 8 years after the cancellation of the Soviet manned lunar programme, the Soviets would obviously scramble their resources to get their shit together, but with 8 years of lagging behind, they would, by then, probably not have made it in time to contest US lunarspace control. I doubt Aldnoah.Zero intends to rewrite the history books that meticulously, so I’m going to proceed on the assumption that the US won the race to the hypergate, and managed to monopolize passage through it. This means that the people who initially go through to Mars are US astronauts, technicians, engineers, scientists, and so on. This is a community of intellectuals, almost one and all American, one and all put through heavy training and selection, and are also among the best of university graduates. No doubt there is a sense of being the chosen few mixed among the feeling of being the vanguard for humanity.
Note also that there is an undercurrent of conceit in the space programme itself. Consider Neil Armstrong’s famous statement: “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. The space race ‘victory’ was largely an American enterprise, in a world very cleanly divided on what is in its best interests, with the communist bloc disagreeing with the very fundamentals of the Allies’ society and vice versa, yet the quote doesn’t go “one giant leap for America”, or “one giant leap for the Allies”, but all of mankind. Nevermind the fact that Ghana or Egypt don’t gain squat from the US space programme, and in fact, will later stand to lose when their satellites start taking snapshots. This conceit is not a beginning, but a reflection of the supranational mentality that prevailed in that era, and still does, to a degree, in the First World today.
This is relevant because the UE, our blanket supranational union du jour already had its ideological climate set before the Martian colonization began, and the Empire began to take ideological and material form. In the real world, global supranationalism never took hold because the UN was, and is, simply a forum largely devoid of an independent structure and military might, but we do have the EU and NATO. Is it entirely coincidence that the supranational union in Aldnoah.Zero is named the UE, just EU spelled backwards? I’m going to assume it is, but it’s something to keep an eye on.
Now, in that stage, space travel is still largely dickfighting; it has infinite potential but not the material benefits of investing in battleships. With the Moongate operational, it should indeed seem like humanity’s conquest of space is unstoppable, or at least certainly going way better than expected. In the beginning, space travel should very much hold the ‘pioneer’ appeal to the people actually going into the US space programme. The one small step turns out to be two, three, a hundred million kilometres worth of steps for man; how many steps does that make for mankind? We don’t know how long it took for the terraforming proper of Mars to begin, so I’ll give it a margin of 3 to 4 years. That’s actually a spectacularly short time for anything to go down, but with the money pouring in, and everybody fresh off the high of going to frickin’ Mars, it should be fair to say that the programme accelerated fast enough for it to take only that many years.
Initial life on Mars should be hard. Mars has polar ice caps, and so there’s water, but I can’t imagine it having very much arable land, so some major terraforming had to go down for food production to get going. The atmosphere of Mars is thin, so air, and UV radiation are problems, which means initial martian settlements were basically buildings or “bubble colonies” like the lunar one from Planetes. Communication with Earth should face problems of lag; Mars averages 225 million km from earth, so a light-speed data packet would average 750s(12.5 min) of lag, and roughly double that at the point of maximum distance.
The question then is, how did a Martian civilization become, materially speaking, independent? A polity that is entirely dependant on its organizational backing from back on Earth for much of its food, air, all of its technology, and consists entirely of dedicated professionals and military/navy officers is well and truly a colony; it cannot survive without connection with the Earth through a metaphorical umbilical. The answer to this must lie either in the resources found on Mars and amount of terraforming that went down, or in Aldnoah, and since we do not know what it is, the answer to this question will have to wait. We can deduce, however, that it will need to be more than just weaponry; you cannot build a country on force of arms.
What about intangible independence? The community of individuals on Mars had to first start identifying as Martians for them to then claim ownership of all Martian technology. The claim they lay is huge: it spans all technology on an entire planet, and it flies in the face of the powerful American claim to ownership of Martian soil. The timeline must go like this:
Colonization -> Generations of civilians spend their whole lives in Mars, and form a sense of distinctly Martian identity -> Martians secede from the US & Aldnoah is discovered(in any order) -> The Vers Empire cuts itself off -> Heaven’s Fall
I think I’m going to call in quits here till later episodes dish out more information; we have nothing on the psyche of the first Versians.
As a final thought: Slayne has never been to Earth, has he?