Thursday, June 17, 2010

Criminal Investigation in Off-World Cutures: A Lecture by Carolyn Masters

[Author's note: Carolyn Masters is the main character in my upcoming novel Dark Side of the Moon to be released February 2011. To keep up with Carolyn's life between now and then visit our Facebook Page. ]

"We are pleased to have a Quantico alumna speak to us today. As you have studied in class, Carolyn Masters, former FBI profiler and Michael Cheravik, formerly of the Dallas Police Department, were involved in the first murder investigation on the moon. Carolyn also received special commendation from the FBI for her role in thwarting a terrorist plot against Earth. In addition to her current position as a history professor at Armstrong University, she is on the provisional council overseeing the transition of the moon from an Earth colony to an independent state. Carolyn, the stage is yours."

Carolyn Masters, wearing a tweed suit, moved slowly across the stage of the auditorium-style classroom at the FBI academy. She lifted each foot accompanied by a painful grimace. Staggering the last few steps, she half-sat and half-fell into the wing back chair on stage. It was fitted with a nearly invisible microphone. Nevertheless, she determined to use her own voice to reach the back of the classroom.

"Thank you, Dr. McCready  for that fine introduction.  It is good to be back at Quantico. It is also good to see our next generation of profilers  are eager to know what it is like to pursue a case of violent crime in an off-world setting. Since I am one of only two people who have done so, and the other is on Mars doing something he will probably be extremely vague about when he gets home, I am the one you get.

"I hope you will forgive me for delivering this lecture setting down. I am not used to lecturing in this mode. My students will tell you that I walk all over the classroom. However, even with several weeks of training in the centrifuge gym at Collins, my legs are just not up to Earth normal gravity.

"This brings us to the most notable difference between Earth and the Moon.  And, if you excuse the pun, it is a matter of gravity. Most of you have seen pictures of the underground towns on the moon. They seem so normal. They look as if they were lifted from a Normal Rockwell painting. The designers and system engineers do a marvelous job of recreating an Earthlike environment. However, they cannot manipulate gravity. You weigh one-sixth that of what you weigh on Earth. So, if you can jump a foot here, with the same effort you can jump six feet on the moon.

"So, what does this have to do with criminal investigation? I will not ask for a show of hands, but how many of you would think of fingerprinting the ceiling in a murder investigation? Probably none of you. Mike Cheravik, the lead on this case with twenty years experience as a Dallas police detective and I, with the best training in the FBI, did not think about doing so. However, fingerprints on the ceiling led to our first break in the case.

"How do fingerprints get on the ceiling? Well, if you are not paying attention, you over compensate and the next thing you know you are heading up. To keep from bumping your head, you reach out instinctively. I know, because there are fingerprints on my ceiling. I am thinking of putting Newton's Third Law of Motion on a sampler and hanging it in my living room.

"Culture also plays a part in criminal investigation. No more so than on the moon. While the moon has had bases on it for seventy-five years, the habitats have only become family friendly in the past forty to fifty years. That means we are just now seeing the first generation of young people coming of age who have been born and raised on the moon. While their parents still identify with Earth , this generation identifies as "loonies," their term for a lunar native.

"Many take on lunar inspired names. I have three 'Moonbeams' in one class. "Crater" has become popular with the men. The fact that a lifetime in low-gravity means they cannot stand on earth does not distress them. They celebrate being able to glide around town and to take part in past-times like crater skimming.

"Their parents do not understand this disdain for what they see as their home planet. A cultural generation gap has widened significantly in the past ten years. The Lunar Independence Movement is driven by a youth culture seeing the residents of earth as "leadbottoms." The economic control of The Earth Consortium for Space Development is seen as a de facto form of tyranny . As in this case, this has led some to take violent action.

"One cannot ignore such social forces. They can become motives for all sorts of terrible acts committed by people who consider themselves noble.

"When forming a profile of an off-worlder, do not assume Earth norms. Many of the same factors apply. Others do not. You need to spend time in that culture to understand the psychology behind the actions of the members of that culture. 

"I wish Mike was here. I am mostly an academic. He could fill you in on the details of forensic investigation and basic police work. I was the profiler, but he was the cop which is a role he loves much more than I do.  But I have talked enough. Do you have any questions?

A  man with bushy black hair in his early twenties touched the microphone switch on his chair and raised his hand" Yes, I'm Howard Martinez. I'm doing a paper on criminal manipulation of financial markets. Could you tell us more about economics on the moon?"

"Sure, Howard. The currency is based on the price of a loaf of bread. That is called a "loaf." It is roughly equal to $.2.50 in U.S. currency. A controlled economy does keep inflation in check. We have ten slices to a loaf and ten crumbs to a slice. Most people use pay chips. Rarely does anyone use cash although it is available and is usually used in "unofficial" trade.

"Since lunar goods could not be sold except to EarthCon, there is no above ground export economy to speak of at the moment. This is a sore point with many lunar separatists. It is one that lunar independence will correct. That should also open the door for financial markets similar to the New York Stock Exchange. Whether that is a good thing or a bad one is yet to be seen. Yes, the lady in the back."

A woman about 80 touched her microphone not waiting for recognition."Carolyn, this is Maria Walters. I taught victimology when you were a student here. What can you tell us about Agent Pavlov."

"Much of the incident with Carson Pavlov is still classified. However, his actions, though well intended during The Incident, were inexcusable. I'm sure he will have plenty of time to consider his actions while at the penal mining colony in the asteroid belt. 

"However, without going into detail, I would like to comment on the ethics of law enforcement. If we, as the guardians of the law, fail to obey the law, then are we any better than the people we arrest?  As one famous cartoon from the twentieth century said, "We have met the enemy and he is us.  We have time for one more question."

A woman not more than 18 touched the microphone button and raised her hand. When acknowledged she rose tentatively and kept her head bowed. 

"Tanya Hyoshi, here. You talk about this Mike Cheravik a lot. There's a rumor that he is more than just your partner. Is there any truth to that rumor?" She looked up with a slight grin.

"Okay, look at the time. I really have to go now. It has been great to be back."


Stoney Aphrodite said...

You know, you can find San Francisco criminal attorney here

SherryT said...

So, Terri, is there any truth to that rumor about Carolyn & Mike. I note that Carolyn took pains not to answer.

Interesting, as always! Waiting for the book!


Lin said...

Being Mooned by Terri and her friends from the Moon always makes my day brighter. Thanks Carolyn for brining your Moon operations back down to Earth so we can revel in your Moon lifestyle as we eagerly await more from you Terri and Mike.

Larion aka Larriane Wills said...

looking forward to this one. love sci fi mystery.

Forrest Schultz said...

Makes me look forward to reading the book!


Christopher Hoare said...

Hi Carolyn, really interesting to see SF that's anchored in the social sciences -- politics, economics and culture. A lunar revolution? I expect it's a pipe dream to suppose humans can go anywhere without predation and conflict.

Chris H. author of Rast

gificor said...

This is a great idea. It is an excellent way to generate more interest in your characters and books. Thanks and God bless.

Joseph F.

Terri main said...

Trail Owner. The question, though, is not about whether conflict occurs. It will occur. That is a given. Indeed, lack of conflict can be a big problem. However, it's how conflict is handled that matters. There is a clash of methodology in this story.

I do like writing science fiction that engages the thought processes. And if you ignore the socio-cultural aspects of the future, you end up with Bug Eyed Monsters taking over the earth for no discernible reason.

Anonymous said...

Ms Masters, you've definitely grabbed my interest and attention. I'm looking forward to learning more of your story...and would love to hear more about Mr. Cheravik come February 2011. I'll be waiting. aka Kay Dee

Terri main said...

Okay, some of you would like to know more about Carolyn and Mike. Here's a glimpse. Check out Carolyn's new blog at for a new story from her world.