Dan and Morgan talk Holidays and Celebrations in the far-flung future and their representation (or lack there of) in SciFi.

Listen to “Ep. 8: Holidays” where you get podcasts.




Morgan: Do you remember when, like, we used to be able to call anybody we didn’t like a Nazi? Like a ‘Soup Nazi’ or ‘Grammar Nazi’ or, like, stop being such a ‘Nazi.’ [laughs]

Dan: Or it was like we were so comfortable with the thought that Nazis were gone that we could even—

M: Right!

D: —sell Nazis about certain things. Like, I used to refer to myself as a ‘Grammar Nazi.’ You don’t do that anymore.

M: Yeah.

D: You can’t do that anymore.

M: Because there was no other Nazi. [scoffs]

D: Right. Yeah. We got rid of them because they were… bad. And evil.

M: Yeah. Here we are.

D: It’s one of the most amazing scenes in all of Marvel movies is when Magneto goes all Frank Miller Batman on some Nazis, he tracks them down, there’s a whole scene where… you haven’t even seen this have you? You don’t know what I’m talking about.

M: No.

D: So if you get this, if you, if you’re going to see a single X-Men. X-Man? X-Men.

M: X-Men. 

D: X-Men. X-Men Movie, [Morgan laughs] uh, it should be, I think it’s [X-Men] First Class where you get to see earlier stuff. It’s like a prequel, right?

M: Yeah.

D: And you get to see Magneto, not just as a child, but as a full grown adult in the full bloom of his power and rage. And it’s just Michael Fassbender just being an absolutely terrifying badass in a bar in Argentina and murdering some Nazis.

M: Yes!

D: And it’s awesome.

M: Yeah. Even the villain…

D: It’s so frightening and glorious and righteous.

M: Yeah.

D: And it’s incredible. It’s, there’s so much anger and and satisfaction in his performance. Like, it’s just really, like, this cathartic thing. And it’s in a damn comic book movie. It’s pretty impressive.

M: Yeah. Even the villain in a Marvel movie kills Nazis. [Both laugh] I’m pretty sure Thanos would, like, go out of his way to kill a Nazi.

D: Yeah, we can up the ratio on the Nazi guys. Right.

M: Yeah. [laughs]

D: We can go. Like 90… go, like, all the way up, man. Our goal here today is to talk about holidays and celebrations.

M: Yeah, and…

D: In Science Fiction, now that we’re past the holidays, we can make everyone feel bad about them.

M: Well, you know, I don’t really celebrate holidays anyway.

D: Mmhmm.

M: So, I don’t do anything for my birthday. Any, you know, Christian/Western holidays. So I already don’t care [Dan laughs] unless somebody that I care about wants to do something. I prefer to do nothing.

D: Sure.

M: And like, we don’t celebrate Christmas, we don’t do gifts. We don’t, definitely don’t do Santa. So…

D: Not even not even Evil Santa?

M: No, not even Krampus.

D: Not even Futurama Santa.

M: Robo-Santa?

D: Yeah.

M: Well, that would be a real threat.

D: Maybe you guys will be the reason that we start to associate Santa with evil and punishment exclusively. Violent, evil, punishment.

M: I’ll be more supportive of Krampus taking over the December holiday bracket.

D: Hmm.

M: But yeah, so I already don’t celebrate holidays in general, so they kind of, like, miss me. But yeah, when we’re talking about future holidays, we don’t really see a lot of them in Science  Fiction. 

D: Yeah, it seems like it missed a lot of them.

M: Yeah.

D: A lot of people in SciFi seem to get to just go ‘Holidays? What’s that? That’s not cool.’

M: Yeah. Once we once we started talking about it, we both went like, ‘Huh…’

D: Those don’t have lasers.

M: Where are they? Yeah. So I looked it up and I couldn’t find anything. I couldn’t find any Science Fiction stories that deal with like Christmas in the future. I did find one anthology collection of Jewish Science Fiction writers that talk a little bit about, like, Hanukkah and like but, you know, Judaism is a very old religion, that’s already—

D: Yeah.

M: —like their calendar is different from the Gregorian Calendar. They’ve been like keeping the same system of time longer than Western Civilization has. So of course, they would keep doing that. It’s easy to believe—

D: Right.

M: —that Hanukkah might still exist.

D: Sure. There’s definitely going to be some continuity because we’re not talking about a thousand years in the future. 2000 years in the future, it’s a few hundred years from now.

M: Yeah.

D: There’s definitely still going to be some people celebrating Christmas in some way. Sure. That’s, I think, relatively a given. Maybe that’s why a lot of them have sort of disregarded it. Like they just thought of holidays as these continuous things and it didn’t occur to them. What if they change?

M: Yeah, but for someone like Robert Heinlein, who, like he’s known as the Grand Master of Future Histories, who covers every base possible, [Dan laughs] completely disregards the fact that Christmas might still be celebrated.

D: Right.

M: Or that like a new civil… a new like colony on a distant planet might have their own version of Thanksgiving. Like… [laughing]

D: Yeah, and that your experience notwithstanding, it seems like most human beings like to have general celebrations now and then, you know?

M: Yeah. If not on a holiday then like a feast day.

D: Right.

M: An Independence Day, like, I know in Star Trek, they have Federation Day. Right.

D: Right. There does seem to be some examples that I noticed at least because I didn’t really look at literature, you, you were looking at literature primarily, I think, and there are some things in television shows and such, but they almost all seem to be based on one or two different kinds of thing. Like you were saying, Independence Days of some sort.

M: Yes.

D: Or the exact same holiday that you’re aware of now, but tweaked slightly so that, ‘Oh, it’s like future Thanksgiving.”

M: Yeah.

D: It’s like a fake turkey instead but everything else is the same somehow.

M: Well, like, okay, so consider what is a holiday in the first fucking place, right? These go back to early humans. Easter was a spring, a spring holiday to celebrate like new life.

D: Mmhmm.

M: Every human civilization had some kind of springtime ritual day, feast day. Same for fall, summer—

D: Winter?

M: —and winter.

D: Weird. [laughs]

M: So. Right. So this is just like built in to life on earth. Humanity is that we celebrate the changing of seasons because it was very important to our survival. You had to plant crops at a certain time and you had to harvest them and you had to store them, and like, get ready for winter. And Winter Solstice festivals are always centered around being close to your family, like lighting candles, and staying warm, and eating a lot of food so you can be nice and fat for the winter, [Dan laughs] even to a disgusting degree, like in Scandinavia? But they didn’t have easy access to food storage. So they would like, bury—

D: Yeah, there are a lot of, er, difficult dishes. [laughs] Some cultures…

M: Yeah, especially. Yeah. Specially in Norway. And one of the things they they eat in the winter is, um, buried salmon and it’s like a fermented frozen salmon and they just bury in the snow.

D: Oh God.

M: It’s still traditional Christmas dish. 

D: Yeah. No, they do… Yeah.

M: Like lutefisk or, you know. So yeah, that’s part of human evolution on earth. Is that we’re always going to have some kind of celebration around the changing of seasons, right?

D: Yeah.

M: So the, the idea that moving into the future we might not have like a Christian version of Easter unless you’re Christian, like if you settle a new planet or you live in the Belt or you live on Mars, like, what do you, what purpose do you have for Easter?

D: Right.

M: If you’re not religious?

D: Right.

M: It wouldn’t mean anything to you anymore.

D: Yeah, it would. It’s odd that they seem to think that, well, we’ll just move past that. I don’t think that the idea of the celebrations is inherently tied to… I mean, it is inherently tied to religion now.

M: Right.

D: But the idea that we would want to celebrate is so—

M: Predates religion.

D: —ingrained in us—

M: Yes.

D: —that it’s like it’s not even, it’s just an urge, really. It’s just like this desire to get together and socialize for for one moment and then go back to work if you need to.

M: Birthdays, weddings, funerals. Like we’re always going to need that time to draw together. So that’s a big question, like when do, what do you, what do you do? Like…

D: When do you do that?

M: Because I do think we’re going to move beyond religious holidays.

D: I bet a lot of holidays in The Expanse universe or in a universe like it where it’s like, this, it’s us but later, in the near future—

M: Yeah.

D: —might start to center around things like conjunctions or close passes on orbits and things like that, where it’s not—

M: Oh you mean like…

D: —necessarily mystical or anything, but it’s like what we’re actually like closest to each other right now. So if we like,—

M: Yeah.

D: —see the that moon going through, that’s as close as we ever get. And we’re like celebrating being near our brothers in the Belt, that sort of thing. 

M: You mean like literally the origin of all of our holidays—

D: Well, yeah. But I mean a physical closeness…

M: was like when, Venus was in a certain point in the Eastern sky…

D: But it didn’t mean we were physically closer to other humans. [laughs]

M: No but we still like, ancient men still looked at the stars—

D: But yeah, you’re right. You’re right.

M: —and saw like heroes. And mystical creatures and gods.

D: I mean, that’s what the equinoxes are, is, is the furthest distance of a certain arrangement. 

M: Yeah. And when a certain star was brightest in a certain region, that marked the day that we celebrate something like, so we’re just we’re going to go back to that. I love that. I LOVE it.

D: Or it’s just going to have to be things that are artificially imposed. Like, will it be sort of like, uh, a temporal version of Islam where if you do prayers, you have to point a certain direction?

M: Yeah.

D: Well, is it going to be well, if you celebrate this holiday it has to be at the time that it happens on Earth, even if you’re doing something else.

M: Yeah, fuck that.

D: Like I wonder how much of how much of the diaspora from Earth will cling to that and, and be like, well, Christmas is now even though it’s irrelevant to where they are in the solar system. 

M: Yeah, I think that might actually now that you bring it up, that could end up being a big wedge between humans that leave earth and stay.

D: Mmhmm.

M: Because I mean, look at what we do now. Like if you travel for work, let’s say your you work in a country that doesn’t celebrate Christmas, your family will send you Christmas gifts.

D: Right.

M: And it’s almost like a reminder of what you don’t have now. You don’t have the lights and the celebration. It’s like you’re just trying to adapt to this new life. And then your family is like kind of dragging you back into their petty—

D: Right.

M: —celebrations, and I think that might be one of the things that drives that wedge in the future. Like if we do leave Earth and then your fucking parents are sending you like a little mini Christmas tree [Dan laughs] and a light up Santa Claus, and you’re like, ‘Man, I’m just I’m just worried about how I’m going to shower today,” like—

D: Or you’re—

M: —a space toilet broke.

D: —or you’re on Luna and you’re like, I can see the North Pole from here.

M: Yes.

D: And it’s water, it’s water, guys. We’re post climate change, stop it.

M: Yeah, It’s now all blue. Yeah, blue and brown.

D: I can see it. 

M: Yeah.

D: Right now. [laughs]

M: I think maybe we will move beyond this, like, pettiness and maybe the people, if we get off this planet, maybe that’s why we don’t see a lot of holidays in space. Is because it’s just not that important anymore. It’s kind of a luxury of modern Western civilization that we can even do this at all.

D: Speaking of luxuries, I couldn’t live without the magnificent, luxurious products that are definitely going to be in this ad [Morgan laughs] that you should listen to and and follow click talk to your friends about it. It’s going to change your life, whatever it is.

M: I hope it’s an ad for ointment.[laughs]

D: Go get that ointment.


D: If you sort of held your phone out, or if you’re on a computer you just kind of did a random jostle of your mouse and you’re not sure what podcast you are listening to… This is The Expansing which is the most important fan made podcast about The Expanse, but not really, but mostly about other stuff, but it’s the most important one. And we mentioned that too many times and don’t mention who we are or what it is. So I’m Dan Winburn, this is Morgan Wilson. We did that.

M: Hi.

D: It’s out of the way now and that ad was really amazing right?

M: Yeah.

D: That was! But talking about holidays and time and all those things, I, this one’s a bit of a stretch, no pun intended. [Morgan laughs] But I was thinking the more I thought about it, I was thinking about relativistic problems with holidays or celebrations or any kind of way of marking important events in the passage of time—

M: Yeah.

D: —if you start to get out into the universe at all, at any amount of speed, well, now you’re also talking about slowing down your own actual time passage and speeding up everyone else’s relative to you and missing whole years, decades, maybe, completely. Are you going to celebrate holidays based on your time passing on the ship, or are you going to try and do the calculations to say, okay, in the next 30 minutes, we’re going to have Christmas coming and going for about 3 minutes. [laughs]

M: Yeah.

D: And the day of Christmas will be gone in the space of 3 minutes, and we should go, “Yay, Christmas for this year.”

M: And if we end up going to a place like, so a year on Mercury is 88 Earth Days? A year on Venus is 224.7, so we get closer. And a year on Mars is 320 days. So it’s pretty—

D: Really close. Yeah.

M: —pretty close, but then when you get to Jupiter, a year on Jupiter is 4300 Earth days. So if we do end up making it to a moon of Jupiter, which is pretty likely that—

D: Yeah. That’s one of those places.

M: —if we do go anywhere, that’s one of the destinations. Yeah, that’s 4300 Earth Days [Dan laughs] to make one rotation of the sun, much less the planet.

D: There’s going to be gravitational seasons on moons of Jupiter.

M: Oh, yes.

D: And it’s not going to be like anything we have.

M: And a lot of electromagnetic activity because it’s a gas giant that dominates the sky and the sun’s going to be like a little pin pinprick from there. So. So yeah, maybe that’s the reason we never see these depictions, because it’s just completely impractical to assume that anyone would keep up the artifice. 

D: But I think—

M: They’re celebrating a holiday that has no purpose, function or benefit to your life. 

D: Well, that’s, the thing is…

M: Has—

D: I think that they do have a really important benefit for a lot of people. And I wonder if it will become just hyper regionalized. Hyper—

M: Definitely.

D: —specialized. So like it’s going to be this evolutionary process of different celebrations, different Gods probably is going to happen again.

M: Yeah, it’s going to be like Groundbreaking Day,—

D: Right.

M: —Founding Day, maybe weddings like things like that. Or like…

D: The changing of the tides, meaning the gravitational—

M: Yeah.

D: —heavy duty tides that are going to happen now.

M: We’re literally talking about going back to the foundation of why humans began to celebrate—

D: Mmhmm.

M: —anything consistently. It was to, to go with the passage of the Seasons and the Times. 

D: Right.

M: I think that’s liberating.

D: Mmhmm.

M: I think that’s maybe the only thing that inspires hope in me when we talk about leaving Earth is like, Yeah, we should shake this shit off.

D: It’s not just literally the going. It’s also, well, there’s not really any rules. If you can make it work—

M: Yeah.

D: —you can do something new, you can do something different. That doesn’t seem to be a lot of good depictions in literature. And most of the depictions that you see in movies and TV are either specifically some sort of parade, like you get your Star Wars moments where they just like doing some—

M: Right.

D: —kind of random celebration, but there’s no real reason given. It’s just like, “Yay, we won!” M: Or Futurama Freedom Day. [both laugh]

D: Yeah, Freedom Day is, is fun. But but again, a lot of those are based on just the idea of an Independence Day—

M: Right.

D: —but sort of celebrated the same way we do, or origin days, that sort of thing. A lot of games, though, I think do a better job because they force you to experience things in a different way. And there’s—

M: Oh.

D: —there’s different types of activities that you have to do that aren’t necessarily just, ‘Oh, we’re doing this action thing,’ right?

M: Huh.

D: If you’re, if you’re creating a game with characters that you interact with like aliens you’ve never seen before and you have to go learn about them. In particular, I’m thinking of No Man’s Sky—

M: Yeah.

D: —which is a very open universe game, and that, you have these various alien species that you have to interact with, but you can also have settlements on different worlds.

M: Mmhmm.

D: Any, any planet you come to, you can run a settlement. And in the process of running the settlement, you will make decisions about spending and allocations and things like that. And one of those questions that come up is, the people of the settlement want to have a celebration of the beginning of the Festival of the Winds. [Morgan laughs] It will cost a lot of money, but it has a 90% approval rate. What do you want to do? And it’s like, this is how much this festival is going to cost.

M: Right.

D: You will get literally nothing from it, except if you don’t do it, they’ll be less happy, right? It’s like kind of a Sims sort of situation we’re trying to make.

M: Sounds like a romp, Dan.

D: No, but I’m saying—

M: It sounds exhilarating. [laughs]

D: —it’s, it’s randomized, right?

M: Yeah.

D: It’s like this generated thing that it’s not going to be the same at any settlement. The exact nature of what the celebration is, is not going and it’s not really mentioned just sort of this vague thing that this happens and there’s different ones that pop up.

M: Well, it’s realistic.

D: Yeah. It’s like something you’ve never heard of, but it’s important to them if it makes them happy. ‘Yeah. All right. We’ll pay for it.’ I mean, that’s what—

M: I mean, it’s no secret…

D: —that’s what people do, right? You have a settlement, you have tax money come in. ‘We want to have a party!’ And you go, ‘Okay, we can do that. Let’s party.’ And that’s all it is.

M: It’s no secret that when, when things are especially depressing, and there’s an economic collapse, people spend more on entertainment. They do.

D: Mmhmm.

M: They spend more of their budget going to movies…

D: Because they’re lazy! Right?

M: Well, [laughs].

D: And entitled!

M: Because, because they need it. [Dan laughs] Because they need it when the, when like, you know, when we’re at war, people want to spend more time distracting themselves from it.

D: Wait, so what you’re saying is when people don’t feel as good as they ought to, they like to try and make themselves feel better?

M: This. Yeah. 

D: That’s true.

M: They escape to the comforts of—

D: I don’t get it.

M: —capitalism.

D: What about foods? We don’t get to see a lot of that either. Like so much of—

M: Yeah.

D: —what our cuisine is, like, if you just find cuisine for a lot of people, they’re going to mention stuff that’s associated with their either place of origin or religious traditions of like holidays and celebrations and important times. It’s not necessarily just, ‘Oh, yeah, we like to have a hamburger.’ Well, sure, but we like this particular type of roast meat and this particular type of side dish that’s super popular. That’s a regional food.

M: Yeah. I…

D: And it’s associated with this celebration because that’s when that plant grows, you know? 

M: Right. I, I could name half a dozen Scandinavian dishes that I only make with my family at the holidays. And in fact, to please my mother for Christmas this year, we made Pannukakku together. Just this random Finnish pancake, Pannukakku, pancake. [both laugh] But it’s delicious! And we only make it once a year, you know, like, just…

D: yeah, maybe there will be ‘Kibble’ dishes.

M: And I don’t even celebrate the holiday! That was just to, was just to make my mom happy and like, keep some nostalgia. You know. I still have a Krumkake iron, which was in my family for a couple of generations, and it’s not better than a waffle iron. [Dan laughs] It’s just more sentimental. So, uhh…

D: I find it interesting that they thought to make references to, like, the kids songs in the shows. Like them…

M: Yeah.

D: Matsu and Mariska or whatever the little character’s names are. Because in that book especially, they it’s not just the kid has that on the backpack, right? It’s also them talking among themselves. Like, Do you remember that? You remember that? And then Miller does the thing where he’s like doing the little cartoon voice from when he was a kid.

M: Yeah.

D: They thought to mention those things, but not to mention just general celebration times or holidays.

M: Well, that I thought was really clever. Because they make it clear, without explaining it in explicit detail, that that kid’s show had been around for a very long time—

D: That’s true.

M: —and many, many generations of people saw it as kids and probably the same episodes.

D: It’s like Disney movies. God. Are we still going to be watching the same Disney movies? 

M: Even more extreme, because like where we are today is built on a whole sequence of Sesame Street and a whole seasons and seasons of SpongeBob. So even though, like, my daughter didn’t grow up watching SpongeBob, she’s aware of it,—

D: Mmhmm.

M: —you know, in certain story beats because of pop culture. But if you are on another planet, or you’re in the Belt, and you’re removed from the rest of civilization, you would be discovering it for the first time. You wouldn’t have a history that was building on this kid show. You wouldn’t have generations of children that had already grown up with it.

D: But I also wonder if there’s, might be more stagnation of culture or exploding of culture, because we, just now, this century, for the first time in all of human history and all of the history of life can make a record of something that actually happened. And you can see people as they were, as they spoke, as they thought, like them, expressing themselves philosophically, and it’s really them. It’s a video of them in the exact moment they had those thoughts. I wonder if it’s going to slow down speech changing, like are we going to maintain?

M: Yeah, that’s a good point.

D: Like, now we have we have dialects now that are at least in English, that have exploded. But also everyone still understands Clark Gable. Most people can still understand Shakespeare because we have it written down and we still get exposed to it. So it’s like you get these extra code sequences of I have my new dialects that are like only me and my ten friends understand. That’s how that’s how quickly they change. But also I can read A Tale of Two Cities, and it’s not a problem.

M: Yeah. And the context clues are there, like even there’s a couple of scenes where the Belters are talking in their Creole, but it still kind of sounds like conversation—

D: Right, right.

M: —and you can still kind of figure out what they’re saying because the context, but if you consider art history and artifacts, things that survive—

D: Mmhmm.

M: —long enough for us to even have a record, we’re talking about hundreds of years of portraits of rich people. [Dan laughs] So they’re in their finest clothing.

D: True. Yes. Things were just better back then.

M: The only, the only clothing that survives long enough to even make it to a museum is people’s like literal best.

D: Right.

M: Wedding gowns, your Sunday best, your finest, finest clothing, because everything else would have been worn to the threads—

D: Your dress armor.

M: —and ripped into rags and eventually discarded. And even artifacts like the beautiful pottery that we have and these like gorgeous wine bottles from the Roman… they only survived because they were precious.

D: Right, preserved in some way. They were like set aside. ‘This is a good one.’

M: Yes.

D: ‘I’ll keep this one.’ [Dan chuckles]

M: So any anything that was like, we have no idea what daily life was like unless somebody happened to keep a journal. You’re right. This is the first time that regular people can be performer and consumer endlessly all day, every day.

D: Will someone on Ceres insist on having a Christmas tree because they still watch A Christmas Story every single year with their family as they’ve been doing for two or three hundred years?

M: Yeah, probably!

D: Like, some like—

M: Probably.

D: —unless there’s a disaster in terms of like data storage, which totally could happen. There’s going to be a bazillion records of that same thing.

M: Yes.

D: It’s going to be so hard to lose information in the future unless absolutely everything comes crashing down.

M: Yeah. And—

D: Which might happen. But if it doesn’t, we’ll still have all this stuff.

M: I’m still banking on: ‘All this goes away very, very, immediate future.’ But they’ve already shown in the show that communication is relatively fast.

D: Fast as light.

M: There’s not a lot of delay, right? So…

D: Broadcast speed, you know, how long does it take to get a signal to Mars? Is it like 7 minutes? I mean, it’s going to depend on where you are in the orbit.

M: Okay.

D: Constantly changing like when it’s on the opposite, it’ll be 16 minutes or impossible because the sun’s in the way.

M: Got it. So, so if we’re talking about like social media, I think it’s fair to assume that will be pretty good at it by the time we’re occupying outer space, right? So yeah, we would still have access to everybody all the time if we really wanted it.

D: Even within our lifetimes I’m interested to see what’s going to stick around because we have this sort of modern reflex to preserve everything. But at a certain point that’s going to become prohibitive.

M: Yeah.

D: It’s already getting there. Where my grandfather there, I think I might have a photo of him when he was a child, like one, maybe. And there are probably a few hundred pictures of me as a child.

M: Ah, This sounds very severe to admit, but I am the last of my family, mine, and when my grandmother passed away, I inherited a lot of of her stuff and it’s, it’s our family history. And um, I did throw a lot of stuff away. There’s a lot of stuff that I just didn’t feel… like, it was sentimental to me, but there was no purpose for me to keep or to pass down. And—

D: But society doesn’t do that anymore. Our culture just keeps everything.

M: You don’t get to do that if you’re like, settling Mars! You take what that’s, that’s you’re, the payload. 

D: Yeah.

M: Your suitcase is going to cost you money. Like…

D: And Miller talking about the book being decadent.

M: Yeah.

D: And actually, I don’t think this is in the books at all, but I do like that he grabs this and talking about holidays or celebrations or that human urge. He grabs her bracelet thing. That’s like the key. It’s like a keycard—

M: Yeah.

D: —basically a hidden data storage sort of situation. But that’s not why he wants it. He wants it because it was Julie’s, right? 

M: Yeah.

D: And it’s this small thing, and it’s extremely precious to him. It’s like the only thing that matters to him after a while. And that’s the sort of thing you’ll see. And I feel like there also might be more tokens that people might resort to of, of celebration where you have this hand, this thing you can keep in your hand, or you can strap it to your body and like maybe holidays turn into more sort of symbolic things where you’re like, ‘I have this thing. I think about this person.’

M: Yep.

D: ‘I pray to this guy and say—‘

M: Like how, how…

D: ‘Good, this time of year, well wishes,’ and then move on, you know, like you don’t have time to be decadent. [laughs]

M: Like how Catholics have their patron saints on charms. And…

D: Miller sort of becomes a saint in a way. 

M: Yeah.

D: He’s beatified by the people of the Belt by the end of the story. Really.

M: Good.

D: Like, you get to see him on walls. I mean, even this show, you know, he kind of gets it all because he gets to be the hero. He gets to admit his failings. He gets to—

M: Be right.

D: —go be a space creature. [laughs]

M: Yeah.

D: And to sort of regain control of his, his self. And he has quite an arc, frankly. But just to pull it back a little bit, I’m wondering if we think there’s any real importance to, or connection to what we see astronauts today doing. I feel like that doesn’t even give us any clue at all. Because those are not we haven’t gotten there. [Morgan scoffs] We haven’t gotten to that since the separation. So it’s this is something I think is new territory.

M: Yeah. And I think he did bring up a good point about like how much of the culture will become separated because in The Expanse, the Belters already have their own dialect?

D: Right.

M: And a style, like a style with the tattoos and and the way that they dress and their, their music, you know.

D: Mmhmm.

M: So how how far would that go?

D: In the books, I can’t remember which one it is, but I definitely remember multiple references to like just lots of feeds and different shows, and the editing software and CG software has gotten so advanced that you can really make very good looking stuff. So they really think a lot about like this has to look good to get the message across.

M: Mmhmm.

D: So it kind of taps into the stuff that’s already starting to happen now with things like TikTok or YouTube, where people at home can make things that are extremely well polished. And if you’re dedicated you can actually make something as good or better than people with studios. So there, there’s got to be like shows and dramas and art being created by the Belters that just gets lost in the noise. There’s just so many people now, all of them broadcasting to the whole system that—

M: It’s kind of like now, yeah.

D: —there’s no unity at all about like, what would you do? What would you celebrate at a certain time?

M: Yeah.

D: I feel like it’s just going to splinter.

M: Yeah. And frankly, the kind of people that would originally choose to leave Earth anyway and not take anything with them and start over and really make something that’s brand new, that’s theirs. Why would they hold on to Earth celebrations?

D: They’ll be less sentimental.

M: They would want their own. And…

D: There could be a really great story in there somewhere of someone who’s been raised by a couple of generations of stoic people who were the first people [Morgan laughs] who went out into the solar system and who didn’t really care that much about things like holidays and celebrating anything or even marking passage of things. Right?

M: And their kid comes along and he’s like a poet. [laughs]

D: Yeah, a kid who knows nothing else and just has a natural affinity for art and culture and is very emotional. And, and if the kid’s watching streams from Earth and he starts to think, why don’t we get to do anything fun like that? Like we’re always, ‘I want to go to Tosche Station, get some power converters.’ [laughs]

M: I mean, do you think that people would even have any kind of envy about life on Earth? Really?

D: I don’t know, little kids maybe. Because Earth is always, we’ve been very good at presenting ourselves in a way that looks nice.

M: Yeah.

D: So they sure they’ll make people might talk about, ‘Oh, Earth sucks. And it’s so, people there are unhappy and it’s dirty and blah, blah, blah,’ but then they’re going to see all this, the stuff from the past, all these movies—

M: Yeah.

D: —all these images of ancient civilizations in the ocean and pic, pictures of the beach in there. Like little kids are probably going to see that stuff and think, ‘Oh my God, I wish I could be there. Why can’t I go live there?’ And then that could be where a lot of that resentment comes from.

M: Yeah.

D: It’s like ‘You showed us all the stuff that is from from whence we came, but we can never go back and we can never have it.’

M: See, I feel a little different. I feel like people would see that, and instead of wanting what is already on earth, they would want to make their own version of it. 

D: Yeah.

M: You know, so like the Martians didn’t want to go back to Earth to see an ocean. They wanted an ocean on Mars.

D: True.

M: You know what I mean? So I feel like people would want, like, not to necessarily continue that connection to Earth, but just like, well, if you get it stowed away and we’re going to have our own version of it, which I know you didn’t want to talk about religion in the future, just yet, but…

D: I mean, you have to do a little bit if you’re talking about holidays.

M: Holidays are holy days. And if we do talk about religion, where there are plenty of references to that in Science Fiction. And like…

D: Oh, yeah, absolutely.

M: Yes. So there’s a whole treasure trove of Science Fiction stories that talk about how modern day religions will warp to adjust—

D: mmhmm.

M —to moving through the stars. Heinlein famously hated astrology. [Dan laughs] He thought it was bunk. But yeah, like, how do you have…

D: For our younger viewers, that means, uh, ‘not correct.’

M: He thought it was bullshit, but it’s a good point. If you’re born on Mars, do you like, what do you, you don’t get it to have a sun sign! [both laugh] So does any of that mean anything at all anymore? Like, you’re not a Libra, any more. So like…

D: Well, from what I know about astrology people, I feel like they’re going to be able to duck and weave. They, they’re going to do…

M: They do, they do pretty effectively. In fact, in Stranger in a Strange Land, there is basically astrological consultants [Dan laughs] and he creates this beautiful caricature of this person just desperately trying to make sense of this person. He was born on Mars and like retro actively assigning these planetary influences.

D: Speaking of planetary influences, if you don’t listen to this ad and think, ‘Oh, man, this is exactly the positive spin that I’m getting from Mars this week,’ [Morgan laughs] this is the day for you to listen to this ad and think, Yeah, I am going to seize the day. I am going to buy that ointment.

M: That’s the kind of ointment I like.


D: We’re still talking about holidays a little bit, whether you like it or not. And I might be wrong about this, but the thought itself is a good thought. So even if I’m wrong, whatever. I remember hearing something about Tolkien not really liking certain things like Dune,—

M: Yeah?

D: —even though they were these big world building things similar to what he was doing and that he said something about it, it assuming that humans need less than they do, you know, that his experiences with war especially and his his outlook was more well balanced than what you see in a lot of SciFi and a lot of Fantasy does that better—

M: Mmhmm.

D: —than SciFi does because they think of things like ‘Oh well, we obviously have to have a feast day where we clank our mugs together,’ you know, like have a big party and everybody get drunk because it’s more based on like European mythological folklore and the idea of like getting together in an Ale Hall is like, yeah, of course, obviously people are going to fart and tell jokes and get drunk and like celebrate the gods and blah, blah, blah. Like, that’s part of being a person right? That’s part of being a human being. Like, no one’s going to do very well emotionally if they get none of that release ever.

M: Yeah. Which is….

D: So there are a lot of sci fi universes that seem to disregard that element of, of social interaction that just you got to every once in a while pop that blister and let something out. 

M: Yeah. Which is why I think that we would see a lot more new religion sprung up. We would see cults—

D: Mmhmm.

M: —because, life in space, you’re already fairly isolated. You’re already accustomed to living with less, being less connected to people and sort of like having a grip on your emotions in a way that we don’t really have to right now.

D: Mmhmm.

M: Like we do get the chance to blow off steam if we really want to. We can go and get drunk if we feel like it.

D: Feel the wind on our face now and then.

M: [laughing] Yeah. So if you’re living in space you give up all of those luxuries, you might not even be able, you know, you might not be able to afford to go and get drunk and drink your problems away, not just because of a money issue, but because like it’s a waste of liquid!

D: Right.

M: You can’t afford to like pee that out or like be hungover.

D: There’s something, Dune does that really well.

M: Or lose electrolytes.

D: By the way, Dune does that part very well.

M: Yeah.

D: In terms of treasuring liquid.

M: You might not, you might not be able to lose those electrolytes, you know—

D: Right.

M: —so you don’t even have the luxury of indulging. So you’re talking about people that are this is what cults try to do to their followers.

D: Mmhmm.

M: They go out of their way to put their get their followers into that mental state where they’re controlling their emotions to a degree, where they’re suppressed and they’re more easily led into these beliefs. So like…

D: And that, if sex is such an important influence in those sorts of environments, a lot of the time when—

M: Yeah.

D: —specifically with cults and if you’re in space and can’t go outside and can’t interact with like an animal, can’t do anything that’s like physically pleasurable, really, other than maybe eat or drink. And if you’re in a situation where a powerful personality then starts to use like sex to as a weapon, that’s going to be the only thing in your life that genuinely feels good and they’re the ones giving it to you. So you’re going to be more susceptible to those sorts of manipulations.

M: Or you can’t have sex because there’s not enough people to have sex with and there’s not enough gravity [Dan laughs] and like so you’re forced into a life of austerity. And then here’s an explanation for why that’s actually virtuous. And it’s okay that you’re not having sex because it’s actually part of your salvation.

D: Mmhmm.

M: According to Mr. Charismatic Leader over here. Yeah, there would be so many cults, so many, and they might be harmless, but they would definitely be there.

D: Right. And they’re gonna—

M: And, uh…

D: And one of those things also is, is like continuity and behavioral controls that the holidays make really short work of where it’s like we have to do these things in a certain way at this time of year. And that’s important. If you don’t do it, you’re bad and— 

M: It’s a ritual.

D: —we’ll be mad at you. It’s, you’ve, ritualized that, that alone might be enough to to add a lot of holidays that are not—

M: Yes.

D: —that aren’t extant now like that just we can’t even fathom what are they going to celebrate? Well, maybe it’s the day that you can finally see Titan on the horizon.

M: Yeah.

D: During this pass you know, like that’s an important celebration that when you look out the dome today, you’ll finally see Titan. That sort of thing might be totally intuitive to them.

M: So Mormons have only been around for like just over 100 years, but they’re being presented as like having the money to build this ship and realistically, Scientology has only been around for maybe sixty years, I believe. 40, 50, 50, 60 years. And they have billions of dollars because they’re tax exempt.

D: They’re much more laser focused. [laughs]

M: They have fewer members too.

D: Yeah.

M: And it is an elite group of very wealthy people, and they’ve only been around for 60 years. So, we’re talking 400…

D: Do they celebrate, or do they celebrate L. Ron Hubbard’s death or birthdays or anything like that? Because that’s also something I genuinely…

M: I believe, I believe his birthday. Yes.

D: I could 100% see them, if Scientology is still around in two or 300 years having sanctified his birthday and you have to celebrate it on the day that it occurs on Earth in California. [laughs]

M: Right. [both laugh] Well they have bases built all over that are like for when he resurrects. 

D: Sure.

M: Because they don’t believe he’s dead.

D: No, obviously not.

M: They believe he’s moved beyond his earthly body, but he’s going to come back anyway and that he’ll like see the structure from space.

D: He’s going to come back as a boat.

M: It’s crazy.

D: I Think.

M: I don’t even want to get into that. [Dan laughs] It’s slightly infuriating.

D: You don’t want to put a target on our backs? What?

M: Oh, I’ll. Yes, please. Scientology, come for me. Like, yeah, fuck those people. But Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, you know, I don’t, even like what I don’t know how many people you want to piss off Nation of Islam. I think these are very, very, very contemporary, very new—

D: Mmhmm.

M: —denominations of Christianity that in a short amount of time have splintered and become so dramatically different. So over time…

D: And we forgotten how many sects of Christianity have—

M: Just Christianity.

D: —have already been stamped out.

M: Yes.

D: Because we because there was this sort of overriding single culture that was able to push everything down. But if we spread out and start broadcasting everywhere, no one’s going to be able to maintain that kind of control.

M: And we’re also talking about four or 500 years of what we already have evolved—

D: Yeah.

M: —not to mention what’s going to spring up.

D: Mmhmm.

M: You know, there’s no reason that there couldn’t be. And again, if we do a whole episode about religion, or maybe we’ll just do it now, Stranger in a Strange Land

D: I’m not ready! [both laugh]

M: Stranger in a Strange Land does talk about a religion, that’s brand new, that kind of mirrors Christianity that is sort of about controlling yourself. And if you, if you understand yourself in the world so thoroughly, you can actually control it at an atomic level.

D: Hmm.

M: And it was written on a bet with L. Ron Hubbard. So, you know, I mean if you consider for Alien 3 when she lands on the prison colony planet, it’s all male. 

D: Mmhmm.

M: There’s no women. And because they’re forced into a life of no sex you know, that’s when the crazy religion comes in with the preacher, or the reverend—

D: Mmhmm.

M: —and religion becomes a huge part of their lives, while they’re in prison, because it becomes a way to justify this forced celibacy, you know what I mean?

D: Right.

M: So it’s like denying your baser instincts is actually going to be the key to your salvation. So…

D: Do you think that the Mormons had plans for holiday celebrations on the Nauvoo on the way to the planet?

M: I have literally no idea what Mormons celebrate. 

D: Sure, I…

M: Or a stand for or believe. So.

D: I don’t know. But I’m pretty sure they celebrate holidays of some sort. And I’m wondering, they had to have had plans for keeping everybody sane on that trip.

M: Yeah, maybe. I mean, Seventh Day Adventists or another one where their prophet was a teenage girl who was hit in the head with a rock, do you know what I mean? And she started spouting off some shit and they were like, “That’s our girl.”

D: I mean…

M: And they wrote down everything she said and followed everything she said. And Sabbath is Saturday, and they wash each other’s feet and like, that is so new. That is so recent— 

D: That’s how I fix—

M: —in our history.

D: —that’s how I fix my car whenever I have engines trouble.

M: Just hit it? Is that how you…

D: I find a 17 year old girl and I—

M: Bash her, you brain her.

D: I go: “Hey, what’s that over there?” And I throw a rock at her head. And then I’m like—

M: Yeah.

D: Have you ever worked on a carburetor?

M: Is that how you fixed my headlight?

D: Mmhmm.

M: Yeah, I just there’s, there’s no way we don’t have brand new stuff. And the fact that we don’t see it in literature or, or media, aside from, like, Futurama, like you brought up with the Christmas and Robo-Santa, which is very clever and, and funny, but the fact that…

D: Oh! Actually, I did want to mention before we go there is one that most of the holidays you see in in SciFi tend to be just rip offs of what we already have right but this one in particular, it sort of scratches the same itch as what I was talking about with the video game and it’s from Babylon 5. [laughs]

M: Yeah?

D: I don’t know if you ever spent much time on Babylon 5, but—

M: No.

D: —I did. It doesn’t look as good as it used to. Getting back to it, and this is, it’s called The Celebration of Life. Or it’s it’s basically like a Thanksgiving thing—

M: Uh huh…

D: but it is the Ritual of the Centauri that dates back to the beginning of their republic. And it’s, it’s celebrating that during the War of 20 Million Deaths, the once a year, the Centauri would count how many of them had survived. And as a cultures celebrate their good fortune [laughs] for not being dead yet—

M: Right.

D: —because they’re in the middle of the War of 20 Million Deaths. So they’re like ‘Hey, it’s been a year, how many of us are dead?’

M: [cheerily] ‘Not all of us!’ 

D: ‘Yeah we’re not one of the 20 million yet!’ 

M: ‘And you know what thank you for that.’ Cuz that’s…

D: That is what you should do, SciFi people, like come up with something ridiculous and dark like that and be like, ‘Yeah, we celebrate because 20 million of us died and we, so we started the tradition of checking on who was dead.’

M: ‘But some of us didn’t!’ Yeah, yeah. You know, it’s funny, it’s when we started to talk about it and suddenly noticing a lack—

D: Yeah.

M: —and it’s just…

D: Like, I thought I’d have a bunch of examples to give,—

M: It’s kind of glaringly…

D: —but there’s just not as many as you would think because I was immediately thinking visuals of mostly Star Wars, you know?

M: Yeah. In the fantasy world. Yes.

D: Mmhmm.

M: There’s a lot of fantasy that deals with, like, Santa Claus being a real thing or—

D: Sure.

M: —you know, demons and tying that into holidays because holidays are by nature, fantasy—

D: Right.

M: —based, they’re about spirits and… but in Science Fiction, I’m just really shocked.

D: Yeah. There’s…

M: When we went looking for it. It’s just not there, and…

D: This is a little bit of a stretch because it’s not really, it’s not a holiday, but it is a celebration. Like, if and there’s more of this, I think there are more examples of, say, cultural things like ‘This is what you do on your birthday’. But—

M: Yeah.

D: —they don’t show it necessarily. But they might mention it. But, uh, at least of a cultural tradition that is specifically tied to this one type of celebration of the marriage ceremony for Betazoids—

M: Oh yeah, yeah.

D: —where they are supposed to be naked—

M: Right.

D: —before the universe and, and showing themselves fully. And I really like that!

M: Yeah.

D: And thinking about it now, I’m thinking, man, that episode doesn’t super-duper age well, because it really makes everybody seem like a weird fuckin’ prude, because if you think in the future of all the things that we’ve been talking about on this show, why wouldn’t you be totally fine with that? Because we’re a bunch of animals. And this is would be apparently a very ancient tradition. And it’s…

M: Well, there’s no way of really saying, because 100 years ago, deodorant didn’t exist.

D: True.

M: And people were very comfortable with each other’s body odor and body hair and not bathing and not having toilet paper. So the smells of human organic life were just something that you dealt with and now that we have like mouthwash and cologne, we are so squeamish about body odor and bad breath and stubble, you know, like, or razor rash on your bikini line and everybody gets grossed out by this stuff, maybe in the Federation in the future—

D: Yeah, maybe.

M: —people are more are a little more precious about their nudity.

D: But then they also get a Risa, like, get over yourselves. [laughs]

M: Well, that’s like Vegas, you know, you put it, put your thumb in a stripper’s butthole in Vegas.

D: Oh, and on that note, [both laugh] hey, if you are listening and you’re like, ‘Hey, person who’s got a show and doesn’t know what they’re talking about, there’s this celebration you forgot about!’ By the way, I did not forget the Wookiee’s Life Day. [Morgan laughs] It’s just not worth talking about. Come on.

M: No, Star Wars is Fantasy.

D: Don’t do this to me. It’s, Life Day is not, like that’s a joke. They did that as a joke.

M: Yeah.

D: And then you grabbed it and pretended like it was a real, like, don’t. Let it go. Just don’t. [Morgan laughs] But, if we miss anything big…

M: And Star Wars is Fantasy. For sure.

D: I yeah, we can have that argument. But yes, there are definitely significant… But anyway, moving on, if if you know of anything we missed, tell us!

M: Yeah, please tell us!

D: Follow us on Twitter and go, ‘Hey, jerks, you missed this’ and I’ll talk about it next time or at least mention that. 

M: Yeah. Yeah, I’m genuinely interested to know if there’s anything out there that I missed because like, I’m an avid reader, I just bought like 30 books today. And didn’t even blink.

D: It’s a little challenging to read absolutely everything. So, you know, we’re going to miss stuff now and then.

M: Yeah, but and even the references that I could think of were more religious allegories, but nobody’s really taken it that far and really developed or fleshed out the idea of like what religion, cult, holiday, celebration is going to look like for us when we leave Earth.

D: But if you’re listening and you know of any good books or shows or anything to watch either about a celebration in SciFi or just about like what are human celebrations built on, that might be interesting. I would love to hear about it. I am Dan Winburn in case I didn’t mention before, and this is The Expansing. Follow us on Twitter @theexpansing. Morgan does art.

M: I do.

D: And and yells at people. So.

M: Sometimes.

D: @LuxNovaStudio, look at how we did that.

M: Yes.

D: I did that for you this time. You didn’t have to do it.

M: Thank you. You can find my—

D: Go buy, buy art from her right click and have a tiny version of her art so that you don’t get to enjoy it as much as buying a physical painting. [Morgan giggles] Or you could give her some money like a cool person and have a real painting. That’s a thing. 

M: You guys have some real artwork.

D: I recommended it. I do have some real artwork, some of which was made for me, some of which I bought. Only very small amount of which I bought. I don’t actually have any money. I just know poor artists. [snickers]

M: They were desperate for approval. So follow me and like me.

D: God, please do. [Morgan laughs] Bye!

M: Bye.