Criticisms of the Shivan Manifesto
From FreeSpace Wiki
The Shivan Manifesto is an article that has occasionally, been cited as an accurate view of the nature and motivations of the Shivans in FreeSpace and FreeSpace 2. The following is a list of problems with that theory.
- Assumes that the Shivan body was designed to operate in space from scratch; when it is equally likely the Shivans evolved upon a planet and modified themselves over a long time to their current physical state; i.e. 'evolving' through need or desire to a non-planetary race
- Omits details of Bosch's reasoning for contacting the Shivans; namely his contact with GTI research (fighting the Silent Threat rebellion) and specifically information arising from GTI interaction with live Shivan captives.
- Highly assumptative of first contact between Bosch and the Shivans; namely assumes that a communication (enough to convince Bosch of a 'tentative alliance') somehow occurred with a translation error that allowed a conversation to appear perfectly logical to both sides, yet carry an entirely different and consistent meaning. This type of consistency of meaning is incredibly unlikely for a translation; moreover it fails to explain how the Shivans knew the precise arrangements of the docking and how to identify command crew upon the Iceni.
- Assumes the Shivans attempted to rescue prisoners of war as a motivation for boarding the Iceni. This has never occured in FreeSpace history; the only known example of Shivans journeying to captured Shivan specimens resulted in the destruction of the SC Taranis and Tombaugh station - i.e. killing the captured Shivans rather than attempting rescue.
- Over-emphasises Bosch's 'love of humanity' comment; assumes Bosch would not want the Shivans to kill the Iceni crew, yet this is the same Bosch as masterminded a rebellion costing thousands of lives; and all this for a diversion.
- Assumes the size and nature of the ETAK device; and whether or not it was reproduceable by the (highly-advanced) Shivans. Presumes manual communication is impossible, even though this would be a circumstance anticipated by Bosch if he was to meet the Shivans face-to-face (so to speak). Also makes a false comparison between 1940's computers and the ETAK device; namely that in the FS2 universe it would be impossible to make a portable prototype, despite the centuries in the future this represents (also, it has been suggested by Volition employees that nanotechnology is possible in FS era, and thus so would be extreme miniturisation). Additionally, this assumes ETAK is a primarily physical device, rather than a software program driving existing technology.
- Error in that it assumes Bosch's logs, data, etc are only kept on his laptop (referring to the ability to rebuild ETAK) rather than copied across multiple ship based databanks or even solid media.
- Assumes the Shivan attitude towards humanity; whilst referencing the violent contact in FS1, it completely omits the key difference in the 'Iceni incident' - namely that communication was made. Bosch explicitly mentions that an era of 'tragic misunderstanding' is over; implying a change in the Shivans expressed attitude.
- Assumes the Shivans have shunned diplomacy, without considering that it may not be a natural part of their psychological makeup (i.e. that any 'normal' race would automatically wish first contact and peace, rather than attack).
- Suggests the Shivans are energy-based lifeforms inhabiting an artificial body (although not explaining how and why this body was constructed); thus any conclusions based upon this are open to question. Moreso, begs the question as to why a race with no interest in planetary inhabitation (effectively confined to their ships) needs individual bodies.
- Issue over the 'immediacy' negating the theory of Shivans as created cyborgs (assuming created by another race rather than themselves); namely this is no reason why the Shivans cannot be ancient, given their know 8,000-year history and the FS2 suggestion their attacks through space are cyclical (it would take a very long time to travel an entire galaxy; it's not inconceivable for the FS1 and FS2 fleets to be actually part of the same force, and seperated by 32 years as a result of sheer distance to travel).
- The Shivans do not disregard planets entirely; they have destroyed at least 3 (Altair, the Ancients' homeworld and Vasuda Prime). Also, they do not disregard technology; for example, they attacked the convoys carrying shield prototypes in FS1 (alongside other examples). Though this is not conclusive proof (Shivans will attack any non-Shivan ship) it is evident that the Shivans do attack targets of strategic value (Vasuda Prime, Earth, Altair).
- Subspace damage being incurred by travel is, of course, a complete guess. As is - more importantly - that the Shivans have drives that do not damage subspace, and yet the GTVA has not identified what would surely be fundamental differences in ship design as a result of their study of captured Shivan vessels.
- Virtually all of the subspace damage/repair physics is assumed guesswork, and is not supported by anything in FS1 or 2. From what is evident from the games, subspace only functions to travel from one specific system to another, and is only usable in these narrow tunnels.
- Assumes the Shivans must have a base, with no evidence(in FS1/2) to support this.
- Assumption of the reasons why the GTVA does not wish to use main beam cannon upon the Knossos leaves other opportunities; for example that it may be too slow (strategic) to destroy such a strong construction, or that there may be problems if the entire structure is not destroyed simultaneously (scientific).
- Fails to explain how the Shivans could not activate or understand (the purpose of) Knossos portals, whilst stating the Shivans have an inherent and unparalleled knowledge of subspace. It seems highly unlikely a race formed of subspace wouldn't be able to understand exactly what a subspace-affecting device was doing.
- Assumes the Shivans failed in FS1 (we don't know if their priority is xenocide, if the FS2 fleet was a continuation of that attack, or if FreeSpace 3 would see the Shivans resume their attack. Moreso, we don't know if Bosch changed the Shivans' plans in FS2 from being of destroying the GTVA to something else; also, the Shivans effectively neutralised both homeworlds of their enemies, therefore it must be a success).
- Assumes that the Shivans attack races for using subspace, rather than for fighting with each other (a key point of the previously referenced FS1 monologues was that the Ancients were being punished for their subjugation of other races).
- Assumes the Shivans did not try and stop the GTVA destroying the nodes from Capella to Vega and Epsilon Pegasi; the mission briefings and dialogues describe heavy attacks on both these nodes from 'conventional' (non-juggernaut) forces. It's not inconceivable that these attacks were intended to both create a defensive screen for the Sathani and also to allow a system hopping plan of extermination, destroying every star in every GTVA system in a calculated and complete genocide.
- Assumes the Sathani cannot make an inter-system jump from Capella - although we know the Shivans could use unstable nodes that were not marked as stable to the GTVA, and that intra-system jumps are near instant, making it possible (if unlikely) the entire fleet could not escape through one or more unstable nodes.
- Massively assumptative over the purpose of Shivan Comm Nodes. Especially given that 'Comm Node' is a fairly descriptive term in itself. Also assumes some linkage between the Shivan Sathanas traffic and the destruction of these devices - this is somewhat nonsensical, particularly given that the Lion's Den mission made no assumption these devices would be destroyed (i.e. this buildup would occur in-game regardless of whether any Comm Nodes were destroyed). This would also not be an explanation of the increased juggernaut fleet, given the Shivans already had massive superiority within all access points to that region of space; especially not if we consider that 80 Sathani might just have been needed for the Capellan star (especially given that is where they were deployed, rather than in defensive positions around comm node locations).
- Assumes that the Shivans could never have lost a Sathanas-type vessel before; it's arguable that they (given the 80+ in reserve) could have seen that loss as acceptable - in deploying it they destroyed a number of significant GTVA blockade forces, and also exposed the GTVA's tactics for attacking such a vessel. It's worth noting that the 2nd time the Colossus encountered a Sathanas, its fighterbays had been destroyed; indicating the Shivans knew the key to a victory was to stop GTVA bomber attacks.
- Assumes that the Shivans believed the GTVA had multiple (many) Colossi, and that Shivans did not have a comparably large force. This is likely to be wrong for several reasons. Firstly, the Shivans would likely have had intelligence upon the GTVA capabilities from the Great War, and thus would know the GTVA did not have the technology or resource levels for such rapid advancement and development. Also, the Shivans would have had the considerable intelligence source of Bosch, an admiral prior to rebellion. Also, this is tied with an assumption that the Shivans are technologically stagnant - there is more evidence to contradict than support this, given the Shivans aquisition of beams (for all capships), flak, et al. It also assumes the Shivans would not anticipate GTVA technological advancement, despite having seen the GTVA taking massive strides (sensor, shield, weapons, subspace technology all spring to mind) during the relatively short Great War.
- Assumes the Shivans would retreat from a large GTVA force rather than engage; especially given the previous attribution of the Shivans to be xenocidal and determined to 'defend' subspace. This would imply the Shivans are in fact just bullies, who run from any larger force rather than 'defend subspace'; assumes that leaving the GTVA to rebuild would be preferable for a race whose fight is for survival.
- Also assumes the Shivans would be somewhat stupid, in that it should be blatantly obvious the GTVA would not withold such a large and war-winning force, especially when taking heavy losses in Capella. Any simple tactician would know it is nonsensical to sacrifice lives and territory if you have a war-winning advantage. This reasoning requires a high level of naivety from the Shivans.
- Assumes that the Shivans destroyed Capella to create an extremely large (physical dimensions) jump node, rather than the (Petrarch suggested) long distance node. This does not explain why the Shivans would sacrifice so many ships; effectively their entire non-Sathani fleet, as well as a number of the juggernauts. It's one thing to retreat - it's another to do so in a manner that loses a massive force, especially when you have a clear escape route (Gamma Draconis)
- Largely relies upon the assumption of a Shivan hive mind and fight or flight response to justify retreat, where the 'flight' instinct is caused by irrational and unsupported fear. There is no evidence to suggest the Shivans think in this manner.
- Evidence of Shivan retreat is flawed; in all cited cases, the 'retreat' can be justified as simple tactics rather than the characterised 'fight or flight' response; a cruiser requiring resupply, a cruiser group attempting to combine forces with another, a destroyer protecting the weak rear of the first Sathanas. None of these are also equatable to a full-scale retreat, being individual movements within a large scale offensive.
- Assumes the Shivans, a race with ability to build at least 80 juggernauts, would consider the (arbitrarily calculated) 2.6m casualties figure as being significant.
- The Colossus' movements themself shows the Shivans would not assume a vast Colossus fleet was inbound but merely taking their time; there is more than sufficient time for a large force of that size to travel to the Capella, etc systems in time to engage the Shivans - the Colossus manages it in spite of also having to fight the last dregs of the NTF. Also, the citing of capital ship movement time fails to consider intra-system jumping (instanteous). Also, it fails to consider that the Shivans might be able to detect GTVA subspace drives and thus ships - something made only more likely if we accept the notion of Shivans as literal subspace beings.
- Assumes the Shivans would be concerned about the time period for destroying all GTVA stars; this is a species which has seemingly waited for 8,000 years. This is also a species which, based on the Manifesto, would now view the GTVA as their number-one enemy.
- By this stage of the Manifesto, there is no consideration of Bosch - one of the most important characters of the game storyline who provides much of the exposition - is ignored, largely because some of his statements would contradict the Manifesto's assumptions.
- Mentions the GTVA studying Shivan comms systems - but the GTVA has never (as far as is stated) studied a communications 'nexus', only ship level systems.
- Describes the Lion's Den system as 'highly defended'. However, if this system was a staging post for the attacks upon GTVA space, it would naturally be full of capital ships arriving, departing, or being supplied and maintained for launching attacks; just think of any marshalling point for a modern day invasion or attack.
- Assumes subspace energy is unstable; this is (admittedly arguably) unsupported by FS, which only mentions subspace nodes (points - in realspace - where the fabric of subspace is strong enough to support travel) as being unstable.
- Assumes the Shivans need comm nodes as life support systems, yet fails to mention why they have not been seen before in FS1 or FS2 (particularly the former). The device is probably just a massive sensor array, not some outlandish life support system.
- Assumes that the Capellan supernova does not damage subspace but all other novas would, as an explanation of why Capella was 'chosen'.
- Unfounded assumption of living or grown Shivan vessels; this is not supported by any of the tech statements in FS1 or FS2 (particularly relating to retrofitted Shivan fighters). Additionally, the dexterity of the Sathani arms in the FS2 end cutscene is scarcely unusual or inexplicable for a purely constructed vessel - consider an F-14s swing wings and add a few centuries (or millenia) of mechanical engineering. A minor issue is the use of metallic 'grating' type textures in the Hallfight cutscene from FS1 - whilst this would not rule out 'grown' technology, it is not visually indicative of it in the way you would expect it (a visual indicator of Shivan technology) to be.
- Describes the Shivans as a purely energy-based lifeform inhabiting physical bodies temporarily simply to move in realspace, than describes them as retreating to a physical station, in subspace, with their ships. Why would the Shivans not move about in their natural energy form? Also, the concept of a subspace 'hub' is unsupported by any evidence from Freespace.
- Describes the Shivans as being affected (in jump position) by subspace forces - but the Shivans should surely be able to counteract this, given their stated ability with subspace, their long term usage of it, and that they are stated as being effectively 'part' of it.
- States it is established that Shivan traffic is proportional to species subspace traffic - this is in no way established. Especially as there is no exemplar for any level of subspace traffic from the Shivans, let alone what the variances in the levels of Ancients, Terran and Vasudan traffic have been over the past 8000 years; this is purely stated (as unsupported fact) in order to justify a similarly unevidenced assumption of how Shivans can perceive locations in space.
- Assumes Shivans cannot transmit messages in long distance; namely that the Lucifer was unable to communicate with 'home'. This is wholly unsubstantiated and based on a number of assumptions - that the Lucifer had time to ask for assistance, that the Sathanas fleet was retreating in FS2, that no reinforcements were sent after the Lucifer was destroyed, etc. This also misses the possibility to suggest a use for Shivan Comm Nodes - i.e. that type of ultra-long distance or inter-spatial communications.
- Assumes the Shivans had only one point of entry into GTVA space in FS2; misses out the fact that the first 'move' made is by the entry of the Trinity into the nebula, and that there is no evidence of a Shivan attack from that point prior. This is supported by the simple time it took to assemble the Sathani fleet in the nebula - and also that the GTVA were allowed to launch probing sorties.
- Assigns a strange arbitrary value for the age of subspace. Subspace is described as an alternate plain of existence; as such, it would have came into existence at the point of the big bang (i.e. with all existence) rather than xx billion years after.
- Describes planets, stars, etc as not existing in subspace - but these objects all generate gravity fields, and we know that gravity affects subspace, hence surely there are perceptible?
- Describes the Shivans as manipulating matter - but fails to explain how this can mesh with the previous description of their perception as being only upon the level of subspace rather than physical object. Also fails to explain why the Shivans would evolve in the subspace dimension and yet develop an ability to perceive matter - essentially, this portion of the Manifesto assumes essentially human characteristics of investigation and understanding, but places them within the context of a wholly alien environment (one where normal relativistic physics do not even exist) and upon an alien immeasurably different from any real-space type life.
- Assumes all subspace travel is harmful, except Shivan. This is despite failing to define exactly what is special about Shivan subspace travel, beyond its creator. Nor does it explain why the Shivans would not offer 'safe' travel to other races; especially given an implication they have the best subspace engines (technically, n-dimension oscillation devices to facilitate entry to subspace apertures)
- Another issue of living ships is that there is no explanation why these ships would be alive - could the non-corporeal Shivans harness an evolved living (space faring) animal? If not, how else could they acquire such a technology - given that they are as far physically and scientifically removed ('born' from non-relativistic space) from normalspace life as possible (i.e. not genetic engineering - I would doubt an energy race has genes in any way equivalent to normalspace biological animals).
- Opts to dismiss the FS2 box text on very spurious grounds; namely by assuming a Shivan scout force (the Lucifer fleet) would be small, yet not considering what 'small' constitutes for a race as powerful as the Shivans. This also omits the concept of a scout force that is also permitted to attack an enemy when it has superior forces. For example, Force Recon forces perform both recon operations and destruction of key enemy installations; it's perfectly plausible the Lucifer fleet was tasked to identify a target, and then perform various combat actions (depending on the scale of threat posed by said target) intended to weaken or even defeat the enemy whilst a larger force was enroute (for example, the FS2 Shivan fleet; perhaps delayed by distance or caught behind an unexpected Knossos).
- Assumes that the GTVA has never researched Shivan engines, simply by dint of engine glow colours in one mission.
- Assumes the GTVA has not had success integrating Shivan and Terran-Vasudan technology; however, the Hades had (if fully operational) Shivan weaponry equivalent to the Lucifer (the exact text describes a defense system; this is in the Silent Threat debriefings). It's also possible technological issues are simply down to lack of suitable raw materials.
- Incorrect summation of Bosch's motives for the NTF Rebellion; in actuality (as described in the game) Bosch's fighting the GTI in the Hades rebellion led him to some (unknown) revelation regarding the fate of humanity and the motives of the Shivans - the NTF Rebellion was started in order to provide a diversion, allowing Bosch to plunder Ancient ruins in Vasudan systems (presumably to discover the location of the Knossos and its activation methods). This may be an accidental omission, but it's fitting with the Manifesto's general ignoring of the role and importance of Bosch within the FS2 storyline.