Tech Growth in Alternate Timelines

Burning BridgeSo, yesterday, I talked about one half of the major argument people make against their being an option for same-sex couples at the start of Fallout 4, namely that with the 1950s aesthetic, the culture wouldn’t allow for it. Having shot that argument down, let’s get to work shooting down the other half of their argument: the story. See, Fallout 4 takes a similar stance to Fallout 3 in the character creation process, but is instead the flip-side of the coin. Instead of being the kid, and your chosen adult look affects how your dad (the major driving force for the main story) will look as in FO3, FO4 has your appearance changes affecting how your son, Shaun, will look in the future.

People who argue that same-sex marriage can’t work argue that since Shaun is your biological son, you can’t be gay. They highlight the little back and forth discussion between the husband and wife that occurs while you’re busy trying to adjust each of their appearances. This discussion is primarily tidbits like “did you get your hair done? I like it,” “Your eyes, that’s what made me say yes when you asked me out,” and “I am looking really good.” However, once in a while, you get comments like “Shaun has your eyes” or “Shaun has my nose.” And thus, their argument continues, since same-sex couples can’t have bio babies, there can’t be a same-sex option because science and the story don’t allow for it.

Now, I can already hear you preparing your replies of “but what about IVF, or the bone marrow transfer thing that’s been in the works the past decade,” but these people have an answer to that: sure, we have those technologies, but not in the Fallout universe, they diverged from us. And that’s true, it did, somewhere between September 1945 (the end of World War II) and 1961 (the first officially confirmed different event from our world). However, what that argument fails to recognize is that human IVF has been around since 1884, over 60 years before the earliest possible split from our timeline. In fact, looking at the same link there, one can see that 1906 was the first successful ovarian transplant as well, even leading to a successful pregnancy.

But that doesn’t explain same-sex reproduction like we;re beginning to see today. Alright, but we can still make arguments that they discovered such research, and likely did it earlier than we did. Those who’ve played Fallout 3 will be familiar with Vault 108, the vault that is full of Gary clones. Now, there were problems with these clones, sure, but not the same problems we have now with our cloning. See, in modern day cloning (which still can’t be done on humans), the clone has a shortened lifespan compared to the parent. The reason for this is that cells only have so long of a lifetime before they break down completely (which is why anyone who manages to live long enough without being killed by something else will eventually end up with cancer and/or Alzheimer’s as their body’s cells fail to reproduce properly). When we take cells from a living organism and use them to create a clone, that clone’s life cycle before cellular degeneration (or complete breakdown) is roughly the same amount of time the parent has left within their own lifetime. This continues on with clones of clones, each one having an increasingly short lifespan to them.

If Fallout had the same cloning issues we have, there wouldn’t be any of the Gary clones in Vault 108. Simply put, they would have reached the end of the original host’s lifespan and all died out. Keep in mind that the bombs fell on October 23, 2077, and the Lone Wanderer first leaves fault 101 on August 17, 2077, just two months and six days short of being 200 years exact.

So why do I bring this up? Because our modern studies into things like bone-marrow being turned into sperm or eggs, allowing for same-sex couples to have babies, comes about because of our knowledge of cloning. Specifically, these advances came about because of stem-cell research. Yes, the timelines diverged, but by 2077, the technology for cloning in the Fallout universe far exceeded our own. So much so that cloning wasn’t even part of the actual experiment that Vault 108 was run through. No, the cloning mishaps came about as a result of the experiment, but were not the actual experiment.

For those not in the know, the Vault-Tec vaults were never intended to save anyone. Vault-Tec (and the government) didn’t believe there would be an actual nuclear war. However, that didn’t stop them from cashing in on public fears (the same as those who sold fallout shelters in the real world during the cold war did) so that they could run social experiments on people in order to see the effects of things such as prolonged isolation or long periods of time without sun and only few people. The reason for this being that they were working with the Enclave on plans to colonize new worlds (or recolonize ours in the event of a massive disaster) and wanted to see what that kind of life would be like on people. This logic can even be seen in the number of the vaults. By the time of the war, the US population was sitting around 400 million people. In order to save that many people, there would need to be 400 thousand vaults (as each vault was built for about 1000 people). However, only 122 vaults were built.

Some Vaults were control vaults, where things were set up to run smoothly and then open after a set period of time. Vault 3 in New Vegas is one such vault (though when they decided to stay in the vault after it unsealed, that ended up causing problems in the long run). Another example that is less tragic is that of Vault 8, which became Vault City by the time you encounter it in Fallout 2. Yet other vaults had set experiments for them. Vault 13, the one your character comes from in the first game, was intended to stay closed for 200 years, but the vault’s water chip failed, forcing the overseer to send your character out. That failure occurred in 2161, less than 100 years after the war. Vault 101 (the one you start out in as the Lone Wanderer in FO3) had the experiment of seeing how people would react when they had an omnipotent, dictatorial leader (the overseer) with no hopes of escape (the vault was never intended to open).

So what was the actual experiment in Vault 108 if not involving cloning? It was to see how people handle a power vacuum. The overseer had been diagnosed with cancer and was expected to die within 40 months. All senior positions were supposed to be assigned by the overseer. The cloning failures came about because the people who were doing the cloning didn’t exactly know what they were doing, which is why the clones became violent in the presence of non-clones. And even after that, the clones (who eventually degenerated to the point of only being able to say one word, “Gary”) were still able to continue the cloning process. Cloning was such a simple matter at that time that it wasn’t even considered worth studying. So whether they got it before or after us, the fact is, the science of cloning had advanced to such a point in the Fallout universe that the advances we’re still working on (such as the aforementioned bone marrow into sperm and eggs) was something they had resolved long before 2077.

And yet, these individuals still argue that the technology wouldn’t exist, because all technological development was directed at the war effort. Okay, good point, except for one thing. The war didn’t last that full 120 years or so from when the timelines broke apart. In fact, there was no war in all of the world for over 100 years. Remember yesterday how I mentioned the resource wars breaking out in 2052? That was the first war after WWII that we know of in the Fallout universe, and in fact, the very opening sequence of FO4 tells us this. Here, take a look at it for yourself. Instead of atomic energy being used for weapons, it was turned to create luxury items, such as fusion powered cars and robot butlers. The very lore itself tells us that not only was there a period of prolonged peace, but that technology developed along paths that were specifically not intended to be used for war.

Okay, so I’ve tackled the issue of the aesthetics, the issue of the lore, and the issue of the technology. How will I address why there should have been a same-sex marriage option at the beginning of the game, and how the arguments against it fail? I guess you’ll just have to come back tomorrow to find out. See you tomorrow folks.

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