Chapter 4, Page 47

What have you done for anyone lately Mr. Judgey McJudgerson

Hope my fellow US folks had a nice Thanksgiving this year. 2017 has felt like such a shitshow but through it all, you guys have been a joy and a hilight of my life. I truly appreciate all of your readership, your comments and insights, even your crits… you’ve all been my little oasis in a desert of stress so: my most sincere thanks to you <3

And now, we’re headed into dat gifty time of the year. And actually, the first year I’ve ever even had physical products to sell, so I guess it’s my first sale too~

Comics, pin sets and digital media are now on sale at my Gumroad store! I suppose this is the lowest price any of my stuff has been all year, other than you coming to my house and stealing books out of my garage (aaa). Also listed, my first and last commission slots of the year… Just enter the code “happycrawlidays” at checkout to nab the discount! Pretty sweet. And if you’re a $2+ Patron, you can grab an additional 20% coupon too. Sale goes until Dec 1~

And, if you want advance notice for sales in the future, here’s a general news email list to take advantage of… I think I’ve only used it 2x this year so no worries about spam. Now I’ve got to go look at what all my friends are selling today, haha, it’s a good time of the year to support fellow artists!


  • Max

    Ah, the good old “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” fallacy, completely ignoring that the “others” are basically guaranteed to prefer something completely different being done unto them, if only you’d bother to ask…

    • Inwoods

      Biblically speaking, I’ve always found the passage where Jesus asks the blind man “what do you want me to do for you?” both touching and really really funny at the same time.

      Even when the right thing is obvious, it’s always good to check.

      • Artie O'Dactyl

        That reminds me of the old joke about Jesus walking into a bar. The bar patrons buy him drinks, and one by one he cures them of their diseases and infirmities … until he comes to that one guy who says, “Aw, HELL no! Don’t touch me! I’m on disability!”

        • Zeph

          There’s a gag is Lamb by Christopher Moore that’s pretty similar. Jesus is walking around when some blind men approach him and ask for healing. He does, and they’re both really disappointed by how boring and brown everything is.

          ‘You’re in the middle of one of the driest climates this side of the country. We’re bordering a desert. Of course everything is brown.’

          ‘Oh. Well. Thanks anyway. I guess you tried.’

    • BigDogLittleCat

      Which is no doubt why other religions state the rule as “don’t do to others what you don’t want done to you.”

      I’ve never heard why or how the rule got changed in christianity.

      • BlueSaved

        Well, you could interpret the Christian version as having the same meaning. If you wouldn’t want kindness imposed on you, don’t impose it on others. If you wouldn’t want someone to assume you need charity, don’t assume that of others. If you would want someone to ask questions to understand you and your situation, then do the same for them, etc.

      • David

        “don’t do to others what you don’t want done to you.”

        Don’t rob, murder, etc others, don’t do crimes against them is thrust.

        While do to others the thrust is more of a help each other out.

        One example of difference is “good samaritan” story, see a man on side of road beat up by robbers. By the first rule, ok to just walk by and ignore him because doing nothing to him is ok.

    • DrSpleen

      A fallacy? Maybe if you choose interpret it super literally. I’ve always interpreted as meaning “try to be nice to other people” or alternatively “don’t be a dick”. Of course a person’s personal preferences have to be considered, hence “do unto you.”- would you have someone do something unto you if you didn’t want it? Of course not (with exceptions of course).

      • dreampiper

        It isn’t supposed to be extraordinarily literal. The meaning is to simply be empathetic and to be thoughtful towards, as well as how we treat them.

        So instead of being judgmental, oblivious or hurtful towards others, we consider what it would be to be switched in their position and if we would want to be treated in that way.

    • David

      Matter of interpretation, you want others to do for you what you WANT rather than force you to do what they want , so you also should do what others WANT.

  • Luces

    Funny,all those celebrated explorers.. did non of them left children at home? Or, as a turnaround, would Bex be a better mother just because she would theoretically near them?

    • CharlesW81

      Well… To be fair she’s more than an explorer who’s going to return with the findings of her discoveries.

      She’s “First Wave” which means she’s a PERMANENT colonist.

      Now, MAYBE her family is going to follow her out there. But that depends if the idea of colonisation is in the sense of a population born and raised on Mars to continue work there, or a permanent staff to continue operations and exploration for the remainder of their life.

    • bellsnwhistles

      Completely valid point. I had a Bex moment when I was a teenager – realising that if I lived the way a society prescribed, a disproportionately large portion of *my* life was going to be sacrificed to beginning someone else’s. I would get less than 10 years of adulthood before that happened, and then I would be old, and then I would die. The time I’d spent being a minor would be longer than the time I would have to really live. I decided not to have kids for other reasons in the end, which has freed me from thinking about it, but at the time I was FILLED with rage and betrayal. Bex’s struggle is real and in a way I respect her for choosing to live and not just reproduce. Death’s a long time.

      • ProphetZarquon

        I just want to take this opportunity to say thanks to everyone who’s made a conscious decision not to have a kid.

        If raising a child can be considered a noble act (I think so), adoption is undoubtedly the ethically superior option.

        Not reproducing conserves more resources than almost anything else you can do in life… Leaves more free to be awesome, too.

        • J.A Kooistra

          But it seems a bit scary, in my opinion, that only thinking people seem to choose to not have kids.

          • scarecrowd

            Ordinary common sense is affordable only for those who also can afford:
            – education,
            – welfare,
            – birth comtrol,
            – intellectual, physical, financial etc. independence on “what will tribe members say about me (and do to me)”.

            Thus, people who lack welfare and basic knowledge (of birth control in particular) have as well LITTLE chance to actually live their own lines rather than “what will people say” guidelines.

            What I mean is, not “dumb ones do reproduce”, really; BOTH high birth rate AND low welfare stem from ONE root worldwide. That’s more like “A causes B and C” than “B causes C”. If you are a woman and you live under physical control of your parents and then they transfer you to your husband who dgaf if you want to have children at all, how are you gonna avoid pregnancy? Are you serious about leaving the house you’re not allowed to leave, going to pharmacy where everyone knows you (and no one affords you leaving the house alone) and spending money you don’t have? Even in less extremal causes, the alternative to heterosexual marriage and birth giving is often becoming a pariah (with _no_ resources of your own since no one ever wanted you to have them). And no one in your life sorta asked if you wanted any of this, they always “know better” what you _should_ want. It may take years for a person to get the very idea they themselves may want something, and then it may take years to find out what they want. Of course there is some freedom of choice. Sorta there are three arseholes while some of them are wider, others are deeper, and some are quite nearby though you don’t see them and no one ever told you they were there waiting.

            And, alongside with patriarchial moods recovering in my country, women who were born and brought up during really hard years often choose not to reproduce. They definitely saw how exactly their mothers managed their life and parenting while the country crushed. Those who’d want their children to live like that are actually rather few! Also there was no such a fuss about childbirth earlier, so we probably had some time to get some brainz of our own.

        • Aldhes

          I’m not qualified to discuss this in much if any depth, but my understanding is that there can be ethical issues with adoption as well. I’m not saying it’s wrong to adopt, just that it’s not necessarily an easy, simple, or unproblematic alternative to having and raising biological children. Decisions about things like this are very personal!

  • Spark

    Message? When did he send her a message?

    • Lost Yooper

      I think she was referring to the message he tried to send to the buoy right after he got out of the water on the beach, right before he threw his transmitter watch in the water.

      • David

        So she received that message? I’m not sure how that would work. Did he even finish sending it?

        • JJ

          That transmitter must have been waterproof, since it still worked after the dunk. So maybe it transmitted after Mike threw it in the ocean?

      • Spark

        I thought the transmission had failed, and he tossed the thing before saying to try again?

        • Roo

          I recall the transmitter device asking Mike if he wanted to try to resend his message and he said ‘Yes,’ sort of automatically before yelling at it and throwing it into the water. I always kind of figured that there was a chance it did just what he said before he cast it aside. Looks like Bex did get the message. I wonder how she felt when she heard that…

  • Lilian

    I’ll be honest. Bex’s decision to leave her young family for Mars turns me off. And I’ll be more honest and say that I think I’m more affected by the fact that she made that choice as a mother instead of a father.

    Not that I wouldn’t have concerns about a father leaving a family for Mars. In fact, I’d argue that it’s something that could be very unfair to the wife and have negative affects on the children – particularly sons. I’d also expect some of that affect to vary depending on the individual child and his or her age.

    Similar concerns are raised when the sexes are swapped, but I think it evokes a more visceral reaction from me when it’s the mother. It’s an interesting thing to explore… provided those involved in the discussion are willing to lay aside ideological preferences and just talk.

    Given Mike’s history, I can’t blame him for his reaction to Bex. Having unresolved childhood wounds could make this sort of thing really raw and painful to deal with in a constructive fashion.

    BUT that doesn’t give him a license to attack her. But being on the attack seems to be a theme for Mike. He’s intelligent, intense, and exquisitely sensitive – all great traits – but he has yet to master effective methods of responding to fear/anxiety/pain/threats/general-negative-emotions. He’s constantly lashing out, driving people away and furthering his own isolation. Great character. I like him. But he’s a pain.

    I’ll continue the rambling comment and say that I respect and appreciate Bex’s straightforwardness here. She straight-up owns the fact that she abandoned her children. No dodging. No defending. Just “I did.”

    Sitting here thinking about it, I both identify with and appreciate this about Bex. A lot. Throughout the story she has been very open about herself, her actions, and her motivations. She makes no apologies, yet owns the reality of her choices. I may be wrong, but I get the impression that Bex made the decision to live on Mars with deliberation… and clear, respectful communication with her husband(?) and sons. Her clarity of thought, “what you see is what you get” approach to others, and strong sense of self are great contrasts to Mike, and things I appreciate. I really value honesty, and Bex has it nailed.

    This became a rambling comment. Hope you like.

    • Lee

      You feel that way because in every society under the sun, women are expected to be more nurturing and “connected” to their children than men.
      Consequently, you don’t feel as strongly about men being the absent parent because they’re not expected to be as connected.

      Lots of people have that visceral reaction you do. How could a mother possibly not love her children? How could she abandon them? She carried them for nine months, nursed them, then took off? Why the investment if she’s just going to leave?

      The answer is simple: for the same reasons a man would, because women are people are people are flawed.

      Motherhood has always been put on a pedestal its never really deserved to be on – a woman’s *super special, divine duty* is to be a mother, mothers are so self-sacrificial, blah blah yadda yadda etc. – and for this reason a lot of women are pushed and pressured into being mothers when they shouldn’t be. Like Bex.

      IMO, Bex shouldn’t have ever been a mother. Pregnancy’s a storm of hormones and emotions, but I prefer to believe people when they say “I can’t do this” during their pregnancy, more than once (see Interlude 3). Her husband assured her she’d be a great mother because she was great at everything else, then she wasn’t, because she can’t actually be great at everything. She’s human, and motherhood happens to be one of the things she isn’t good at. It’s the person, not the gender, that dictates who would be a good and bad parent.

      Bex had a very valid, very real fear of losing her identity and just becoming A Mom. It’s possible that she took this expedition to put a lot of distance (literally!) between herself and the title, so she stops being A Mom and goes back to being A Doctor, as she’d like. Should she have done it? No. You should at least own up to your mistakes, whether they’re minor or… well, minors. But she had a reason, and men have their reasons all the time.

      • evileeyore

        Exactly Lee. Nailed every point.

      • bellsnwhistles

        God I love this comic for opening up these themes. Thanks for your comment, interesting points!

      • David

        A woman has breasts so she historically has to be the one with the younger kids all the time, while in some societies the men had to go on hunting expeditions, wars, mining, etc and sent support home.

        I see situations where when mom and dad don’t get along, the mom wants the kids completely and wants the dad to pay child support but not have kids at all.

        Some men might prefer to stay at home all the time, and get child support from mom but that isn’t an option for them.

        Some men might prefer option of getting a rich doctor wife to go to work and pay all the bills and all they have to do is look pretty to win over a wife, then look after kids with help of a nanny who does much of work which is the dream of some women but mostly unattainable by guys.

        • David

          In my country men are about 3 times more likely to be homeless. We commonly have political platform to provide more homeless shelters and housing for women and kids (with no mention of men) but impossible to see same of homeless shelters for “men” or “for men and kids” without any mention of women.

          In my country men are several times more likely to commit suicide but a news story that covers a person who committed suicide in a sympathetic light, eg “was bullied”, etc is much more likely to be about a woman.

          By statistics men and women have similar averages, but men have much more standard deviation… men are more likely to be both at bottom and top of math class, etc. Women get “help” currently to compete at top, but men rarely get similar help to get out of bottom.

          (In business for example there are fair number of women now who have had leadership position in a big company but you’ll be hard pressed to find one in a company where sales have increased more than average or inflation with her at head, from my search of 10+ so far only current head of AMD may have succeeded, while fair number have had disasters as head of company after getting job seemingly mainly because they were female)

          • David

            I suspect men have edge on top of statistics partially because hundreds of years of selective breeding… you can breed a dog to be a fighter or a shephard, a smart breed that is easy to train, an independent smart breed that is good at protecting a herd without any human instruction… Men are more likely to be allowed and rewarded for working 60 hour days to become extreme success and then at age 50+ get much younger wife and have kids, doesn’t work so well for a woman.

            In same way after hundreds of years of looking after kids, women have easier time to make sure everything is clean, baby is fed, etc.

            If you want everything to be equal then the inputs that shape people need to be equal.

          • Astronaut

            You are displaying a very shallow knowledge of genetics and I feel you are just letting it justify your biases. That’s not how any of it works, not genetics, not science.

      • Sheridan

        > but I prefer to believe people when they say “I can’t do this” during their pregnancy, more than once (see Interlude 3). Her husband assured her she’d be a great mother because she was great at everything else, then she wasn’t, because she can’t actually be great at everything. She’s human, and motherhood happens to be one of the things she isn’t good at. It’s the person, not the gender, that dictates who would be a good and bad parent.

        One of the things I’ve said to people who tell me “You’d make a great father” is “But what if I’m not? Can I give the kid back? How much is return postage?”. No one ever seems to have an answer to that except “oh, don’t be silly”.
        The undercurrent is that ‘You’ll be a great parent whether you like it or not, buddy’.

    • Abyss

      Mmmm, nah. See, you lost me the moment you started saying a mother is worse than a father leaving than just A Parent Leaving, and that it’s ‘worse for a son’ if the father leaves. Nope, no, get out with your gender heteronormativity.

      Maybe instead imagine that all genders of child can be raised by any parent (unless you think two lesbians are in any way less fit to be a parent for a son than any other couple), that the sudden loss of any parent is tragic/traumatic for childhood, and that if you think mothers have some higher importance as parents then maybe fathers need to have more responsibility in your eyes.

      • Kell

        I completely agree in some respects, but there is one aspect you may be forgetting. If a social construct exists that says mom is more important, then the child may feel more abandoned by the “rare” mom abandonment than the “common” dad abandonment. How the child feels about the abandonment is an important aspect, and society can inform them of which is “worse”.

        Studies do pretty consistently show two parents are important, the sex of said parents is not.

    • Lauren

      Re: gender, I think I’d go so far as to say Bex wouldn’t be as effective as a character if she was male. Everyone reading has definitely been exposed to the deadbeat dad stereotype and have a pre-packaged revulsion to go along with it; but few have seen the female version enough times that they have the same reaction. It gives you more time to get to know her before making a judgement.

      I can’t bring myself to hate Bex even though I don’t like what she did. But had she been a man and a father, with the exact same dialogue and everything? I would probably just totally hate reading about him. Get off the stage. Get back to Mike and Kalla and don’t stray again. It’s a weird feeling because the thing I want most presently in this comic is more Bex.

    • DrSpleen

      I totally see where your coming from. And I don’t think your feelings about her being a mother abandoning a child are invalid. While its just as wrong for a mother to abandon her children as it is for a father to do so, I think its normal to have a more extreme emotional reaction to a mother doing so. After all, mothers are the ones that carry their children to term, breastfeed them, and in doing so there’s a strong association between childcare and motherhood. The idea of a mother leaving her children thus leaves a more bitter taste in my mouth- despite me recognizing its no worse than a father doing so.

      I do feel that this isn’t quite so bad a thing in Bex’s case though, as she didn’t “abandon” her family in the traditional sense; she left them to fulfill a purpose, with (I would imagine) their knowledge that she’d do so.

  • Fawnet

    I shouldn’t be surprised, I guess. Way back in the beginning, Mike expressed that Bex leaving her children behind was a Bad Thing. It’s just, I thought that when they met up again, Mike would lay into her about killing Kallakore. Not this.

    At a guess, I’d say her career choice is bothering Mike for huge personal reasons (Is there something in particular that I should remember? Time for a reread!). I’m sure Bex’s kids miss her, but if I remember right they were big fans of the Mars project and they may think that Mom is doing something unbelievably cool.

    • Pylgrim

      I imagine that he blames the lack of a father at his household for allowing an ill-intending adult to usurp the parent male role in order to abuse him sexually.

      • Marion

        Also, the sexual abuse happened *right under his mother’s nose* and she didn’t notice it. His mother’s… neglect?.. hurts probably more than the abuse, because you expect predators to prey on the young and vulnerable, but you expect a parent to protect you from predators.

  • Jadeity

    Our fungus hobo is coming off as very calm and deliberate. Whereas Bex is doing what I do when faced with people who won’t seem to help themselves — exploding and lashing right back out.

    They need to trade some of those emotions out. Fungus hobo needs some of that angry drive to keep pushing forward and being alive. Bex needs some of that cold chill. Also, I need a codename for Bex. Mars Mom?

    • AGV

      Cricket Mom?
      This looks like a roster of nicknames for a Steven Universe character

  • Bottas Heimfe

    i don’t know about anyone else, but if my mother was a scientist sent to a research facility on MARS i would be awfully proud of her.

  • Ben

    Quite a few explorers, Scott and Mallory come to mind, abandoned wives and children to explore – but they INTENDED to come back….

    Then again, considering the number of people who abandon their spouses and families for reasons that amount to selfishness, weakness or some combination of the two, at least Bex isn’t doing THAT

  • David

    Mike has a serious case of toasterface, while Bex merely has a case of acne.

  • Jonas

    Bex kills every sentient being she comes across because it MIGHT be dangerous. That’s exactly the kind of behaviour that is a problem in humans and is partly the reason why we’re fucking everything up so badly. Bex is egocentric and driven by fear. Apparently that doesn’t matter. What has Michael done for anybody? Not killing everyone he comes across, for instance. Established positive, peaceful contact with alien life forms.

    I guess Bex would like to mold her environment to fit her taste, instead of adapting herself to the environment. A few corpses left by the wayside, who cares…

    • KD

      She DID say that everything in the Mare had attacked her since she arrived. It’s likely that the Mare’s immune system identified her as a threat and tried to remove her, only adjusting to realize that she was sentient later (possibly after whatever parasite/sybiote she picked up that allows her to understand Mare constructs). So from her perspective, she was surviving in a clearly hostile environment rather than just killing everything she runs into in CASE it’s dangerous.

    • BigDogLittleCat

      Your first sentence is simply wrong.
      She didn’t kill both the worm people, and the one who was killed was killed because it ignored her warnings and kept coming after her, after she warned it to stop and that she’d set up defenses. She had good reason to think the worm people were dangerous: they explicitly were trying to obtain a body part from her! They *told* her they wanted a sample of her body! That’s a pretty d@mn threating thing to say to any one. If the worm person had not kept trying to collect part of Bex’s body, it would still be alive.

      She didn’t kill Kalla because she thought Kalla might be dangerous. She killed Kalla because she needed food. Moreover, she didn’t know Kalla is sentient, so even if she did think Kalla was dangerous, your statement is wrong.

  • Janet

    Wow, cold Jonas. But these are both great characters, giving us all a chance to explore these complex perceptions.

    One point that’s been nagging me, as a woman who has deliberately put aside career ambitions to focus on motherhood ambitions: There’s a strange societal pressure that we fertile females labor under. On the one hand, motherhood is glorified and respected. It’s not weird to love your own mother, and appreciate her sacrifice. But on the other hand, there’s a very strong cultural undercurrent of suggestion running through a young woman’s life that if she gets knocked up, she has ruined her life. She will be just another breeder, because any personal ambition will be subsumed by this, her crowning mistake.

    It’s meant to be a deterrent to teenage pregnancy, but all this social programming does not simply go away because you get married. There’s always that nagging idea that the decision to have children is a form of identity suicide. Bex made the choice to be have children, and then broke under the pressure of trying to be both a career woman and a mother, a desire which has no structural support in our society.

    I feel like this problem is made worse by age segregation. As a protected class, children are largely unwelcome in the adult world. Even if children aren’t explicitly forbidden, their presence in many places is resented and discouraged. Guide dogs are less restricted in their access to professional spaces. Non-parents can successfully avoid the perceived annoyance of young children in their daily life, just by choice of venue. New parents return to the old restrictions that all minors labor under. Being an actively involved mother or father is a serious handicap to any non-youth oriented identity.

    One thing I adored about Star Trek TNG, for all its rosiness, is the fairytale idea that the Enterprise is a place where families dwell. It is a dangerous and exciting career choice to be on that starship, but it is not a sterile choice. The family comes with you as you explore the final frontier; you can have your happily- ever-after and live it too (in space!).

    So I love Bex, and her beautiful mistake. I only wish she had a world that understood her needs as well as those of her children. Same for Mike. His needs are finally being met by this strange new world he’s exploring. Or are they?

    • BigDogLittleCat


      For most of human history women have not been allowed to be anything but wife and mother. We are fighting this very battle today, as cultures struggle to keep women “in their place.”

      Ironically, the glorification of motherhood is a fairly recent cultural development… to keep women in their place. The cult of motherhood coincides with women’s fight for equality: it’s a cultural construct designed to gild the cage.
      Go back more than a few hundred years and you won’t find it.
      You’ll also find men had all rights to the children. No matter what, the father got the children. But right about the time laws began changing to allow women to own property, to divorce, to make their own decisions, then cultural perception changed to ‘children cannot be separated their mother,’ oh noes! Effectively shifting the economic burden entirely onto the mother.

      We’re still dealing with the cultural fall-out of the Industrial Revolution. No reason to think it will all be sorted out come Bex’s time.

    • Lilian

      I like this comment.

    • bellsnwhistles

      This is a fantastic comment!

    • Ben

      You are missing a key point.

      There are no social or cultural taboos against teenage pregnancy, per se. Teenage pregnancy, childbirth and marriage are common in many cultures. There ARE, however, strong taboos against producing children you can’t support and raise within the culture.

      The “single parent family” is a concept entirely confined to Western, liberal-left cultures and by no means universal amongst THEM.

  • BigDogLittleCat

    I am surprised Bex admitted she “abandoned” her children, because I don’t see that she has.
    Yes, apparently she came to Mars not intending to return, but she can still maintain her relationship with them via whatever they’re using for Skype, etc.
    The fact that she’s not in the same physical location as them means she can’t do certain things with them, but she’s clearly meaning to remain in their lives, if not in their physical presense.

    Moreover, she might be a *better* mother on Mars than she would be on Earth. As Lee says above, Bex seems to not be cut out to be a mother, and had she remained on Earth, the restraints on her life and loss of self could have made her very unhappy and potentially push her to the extreme of feeling resentful.
    My guess is that had Bex stayed on Earth and tried to be a “good mother” her children would have suffered from being raised by two unhappy people in an increasingly unhappy marriage.
    Bex’s going to Mars was not abandonment by just disappearing. She and her husband no doubt talked and talked and talked, and reached the agreement that her going to Mars was the best choice. It would have been great if Bex could have been superwoman and done it all, but given that she couldn’t, they probably recognized that if she stayed, they’d both be unhappy and the children would suffer, and they’d probably end up divorced anyhow.
    The kids will do better with a happy mother on Mars than a depressed, angry, and frustrated mother on Earth.
    That doesn’t mean they won’t miss her and she won’t miss them, but she hasn’t abandoned them.

    Bex seems to suffer from Skyler White Syndrome: fans give her sh!t even though everything she’s done makes perfect sense and her emotions are perfectly reasonable, but she gets cut no slack because she’s not “likeable” in opposition to a male character the fans sympathize with.

    • RedDwarfIV

      Also worth noting that as one of the earliest astronauts on Mars, and a colonist, she’s probably being paid buckets to work there. Robert Zubrin noted this in his book How To Live On Mars. When labour is scarce, its worth a lot.

      Since she’s on Mars she has nothing to buy with that money, so it may well be that she’s using it to provide for her family. She may not be present to look after her kids in person, but she can afford to have them looked after and given the best education.

    • Android 21 3/7

      Actually, we don’t have THAT much insight into Bex’s life before her arrival on Mars. We shouldn’t assume. The most we got was that one moment with her husband before her first child was born. In that moment, he lost patience with her and said the wrong thing, but quickly apologized. He was trying to be supportive and understanding, but we only got a single glimpse. While I won’t doubt that they talked and talked about this, what proof do we really have that they came to a mutual agreement and understanding? How do we know that they didn’t descend into heated arguments? Resentment? Divorce? I imagine from Earth to Mars is a long trip and if it did end ugly, Bex would have had enough time to at least compartmentalize her emotions in anticipation for the exciting opportunity that awaited her.

      Don’t get me wrong. I’m hoping Bex and her husband came to a mutual agreement about the Mars trip. I’m hoping she was intending to have tons and tons of calls to her sons. But we don’t really have as intimate a view into her head as we had with Mike. Mike had Kallakore to talk to, with whom he was willing to open up and befriend. We got a clear view of his stance and feelings on things, as well as his goals. We don’t quite have that with Bex. Sure, she had ThrEVI and the worm ants to talk to, but she didn’t exactly trust any of them. The worm ants only just learned which “language setting” they were to use and opened up dialogue with “Please peacefully give us some of your brain fluid!” And ThrEVI has the mind of a child by design. Despite her motherhood, Bex does not strike me as entirely comfortable around children, seems the type to keep her emotions locked up inside, and people generally do not make a habit of crying in front of children anyway. We do not know what she’s thinking at any given moment beyond “I need to survive” or “I need to get out”. We do not see her thinking or talking about her children. Doesn’t mean she isn’t, but doesn’t mean she is either. There really is much we don’t know about her relationship with her family on Earth.

      Again, I’m not condemning or even assuming the worst out of Bex. Given how this series has been so far, I’m trying my hardest not to assume anything at all! Both Mike and Bex are complicated, flawed people. Neither is completely righteous nor completely vile. I’m just saying, we really shouldn’t make any assumptions about them until we are actually shown enough evidence to back it up.

      • Lilian

        Well put.

      • BigDogLittleCat

        All very valid points. We do not know for sure.

        I actually was basing my opinion about Bex on her first conversation with Mike, when she talked about her children as if she were going to remain active in their lives, and her photos of the boys with their father, as I assume she would not have photos of their father if they were on the outs, which photos I would swear we saw but which I cannot now find, so I appear to be misremembering or hallucinating, in any event all my comments about Bex should be accompanied by a grain of salt.

        Although my point still stands that she might be a better mother on Mars than she would be on Earth.

    • Ben

      … which is why we get so little detail about Bex’s family. Her husband, in particular, appears to have been put in the position of making great sacrifices for her ambitions. In all probability he will divorce her and remarry, or at least form another relationship, and who could blame him?

      That’s the problem with making life decisions for reasons of ambition or ideology; they tend to involve aspects which don’t work so well for others who are affected by them.

    • CJG

      This is what I am heading towards. Nobody (I hope!) would suggest that a mother who put up her children for adoption was abandoning them. I wonder if she was just straight up a shitty mom. Not necessiarily abusive, but just no good at it. Yeah, maybe Dad will remarry and the boys will have an Earth mom and a space mom.

      The one bit that confuses me is that she has two kids. If she was so freaked out by her first, why the second?

      • ErictheTolle

        I know of a couple women who’ve gone the “Things aren’t going so well- I know, I’ll have a second kid.” route. For some strange reason, it doesn’t make things better.

        • Android 21 3/7

          I’m more inclined to think that both children unplanned.

          • CJG

            Bex is a biologist with access to future-birth control. If she has 2 unplanned pregnancies, there’s no hope for any of us!

  • The Wing

    Does it really matter that much who likes what character? I feel like this is being made into an issue of ‘the woman can do whatever she wants and everyone has to be OK with that’. And in extension, this is becoming a problem of ‘the characters are fine – it’s YOU who is the problem!’.

    Everyone wants the freedom to do whatever they want at the expense of someone else’s freedom. These people want everyone to change how they think about women; those people want everyone to understand that no mother should ever leave their child.

    – Bex’s behaviour would be acceptable if she was a man because men are strong and aren’t as closely bonded to their families.
    – Bex would just be a typical deplorable deadbeat dad if she was a man because men should be as reliable a fact for their families as a woman.
    – My opinion of Bex would be the same if she was a man.

    – Mike’s behaviour would be understandable if he was a woman because women are emotionally vulnerable.
    – Mike would just be a typical woman who couldn’t handle the pressure, couldn’t take care of herself and couldn’t do what was necessary to survive.
    – My opinion of Mike would be the same if he was a woman.

    Nobody’s right in this situation. We’re all just spitting out opinions. This has become about each other and not the characters. Can we all just agree that both characters are stupid, irrational, unjustifiable and undeniably human?

    • Indedipal

      …and entirely fictional.

      • The Wing

        That too! I didn’t want to risk the vehement protestation that people like them exist in the real world.

    • Lilian

      I could agree to that.

    • bellsnwhistles

      There are some angry people but mostly I’m really impressed and happy to see these conversations. Let them flourish, don’t shut them down!

  • Leon

    It’s Mr. Judgey McJudgeface actually.

    • BigDogLittleCat

      That’s for professional interactions. For personal use, he prefers McToasterface.

  • Belen

    I think a lot of people who comment, as well as the author, don’t have kids. I think it’s tragic but having a mother astronaut is cool. They’re older, they have a loving dad.

    She should have waited till they were off to college ideally, but hopefully they’re proud of their mom instead of resentful like younger kids might be. There are much worse parents out there.

    However while I get that she has doubts she’s kinda crazy. The hardest part is pregnancy and the baby years. After that kids are flexible and careers and a life are much more compatible with parenting. You no longer feel as trapped. So Bex is crazy extreme. The American cultural perception is that you sign your life and identity, especially if you’re female, over in service of kids permanently and completely. But that’s not reality nor is it healthy to treat that as a societal requirement.

    • Lilian

      I also like this comment.

    • CJG

      Agreed. My boys are still young, but have been in daycare since they were 3mos old. I work as a scientist and the eldest is very happy to inform anyone in passing that “mommy knows everything cause she’s a scientist”.

      There is a heavy hand given to the idea of “think of the children!” When you are a parent, but truthfully, I can give you perfect reasons why I still work full time, and I’m sure someone who homeschools their kids can come up with totally different perfect reasons!

      Tolstoy was wrong, happy families are all different in their own way. The idea that there is a single path there is foolhardy.

    • Android 21 3/7

      Actually, I can’t help but wonder just how much culture will have an effect on this story. You say the American culture perception is for the woman to give up life and identity to the children, but I don’t think that’s not really true anymore. Otherwise, the working mother wouldn’t be so ubiquitous and accepted. But how true is that for Nigerian or Yoruba culture? I really don’t know. And given this is takes place in the future, how would the culture and history be changed by the flow of time? Did Bex and her husband grow up in a country of enlightenment and peace or in a country torn by war, dictatorship, and corruption? A quick wiki suggests that Nigeria is doing quite well with democracy so far, but there’s no reason that can’t change in a speculative sci-fi setting. And even if Nigeria is still a peaceful democratic country in this setting with increasing quality of life and education, the cultural thinking can be slow to catch up with it. Consider how long ago women were allowed to vote in America. It wasn’t suddenly just, bam, women and men are 100% equal now. Even today, women are fighting and struggling for full equality. Such drastic cultural change is a slow, gradual process, with each generation learning and changing based on the foundation of the past. So while I agree that Bex really should have found some form of compromise (like temporary colonist or earth-based NASA cricket farmer consultant/researcher), if she had been heavily pressured by her parents to become a mother and homemaker and was raised(programmed) to believe there was no middle ground because the middle ground would ruin her children anyway, I can see how she’d make that mistake. If she was going to ruin her children just by being a working mother, she may as well go all the way and devote herself solely to working.

      The reason why I say this is because Der-shing had mentioned discussing the culture at length with Nigerian women as she wrote this. Maybe she did it only in hopes of avoiding offending people, but given her new Alloy project, I am convinced that the culture Bex was raised in is going to play some part in the explanations here. I was born and raised in America and my mother is very Americanized and relatively unaffected by cultural fossilization because her work has her return to Korea a couple of times a year. I don’t speak the language, watch the dramas, or listen to the music, but aspects of my parents’ homeland still ended up ingrained into me. It ranges from the minor things like never wearing shoes inside the house to the potential minefield of guests doing housework. Growing up, I had seen Mom engage with a strange duel with her Korean house guests. Didn’t understand a word they said, but the body language was enough to understand that the guests wanted to help Mom cook and do dishes and she would argue against it. In the end, I think they both did it (insisting the other go relax all the while!) and while I didn’t understand the logic of it, I just accepted that as normal and something that was apparently just good manners and expected. Now that I’m older and I have non-Asian guests over, when they offer to help, I go “No no, it’s okay, I’ll do it” because that was just the expectation I was raised with. Rather than it being polite for the guest to offer in the first place and polite to acquiesce to the host’s wishes, my mind tells me it’s RUDE for the host to accept right off the bat, but it’s also RUDE for the guest not to insist. So you can imagine my shock and resentment when my non-Asian guests would go “okay”, hop the couch, and pull out their phones… I know the logic behind such a response, but the cultural standard ingrained into me is quite strong and I can’t help it. To this day, I still find myself doing it every time, knowing what will happen and getting sour about it. I, er, went on a lengthy tangent there, but I hope it illustrated my line of thinking. Cultural expectations are hard to shake, even when you know that you probably should.

      • ErictheTolle

        Interesting comment on Nigerian and Yoruba culture. Based on my quick reading, Bex’s marriage seemed oddly nuclear, and there’s other elements that seem at odd with the published accounts of Yoruba marriage practices- though Der-shing may have more nuanced information.

        Bex’s actions seem very much at odds with my (admittedly shallow) readings of traditional culture. If anything it would seem to be a bigger deal than in the US…which really makes me curious about Der-shing’s thoughts on the intersections of culture and individuality. Culture of course informs actions, not necessarily dictates them.

        • shingworks

          I tried to do a mix of what I’d consider to be a modern/ futuristic successful Nigerian/ Christian woman and someone who has some traditional/ Yoruba values as well. I interviewed several Nigerian women their thoughts on a woman’s place in culture as it related to some subjects in the comic and how they think things are changing and where trends are headed. Overall, I don’t think anything I do or say matters. Feel free to interpret Bex as an interesting individual and not as a Nigerian (as much as Michael is just a guy and not necessarily a stand-in for all Americans); after all my research I realized there’s no way for me to write that culture in a wholly authentic way, so I decided to do my best but not to pretend like I’m able to deliver something I can fully defend against criticism. Lots of great Nigerian sci-fi authors out there nowadays (I didn’t do my due diligence in that regard before I started MI), so defs hit up those writers, esp female, for their perspective and feel free to dismiss mine.

  • CharlesW81

    Is it just me, or do those spots on Bex’s face look like they might be the beginnings of “infection” (symbiotic, martian relationship) rather than spots of sweat, etc?

    She’s worked hard to avoid it but has since had two dips in the unboiled water without protection.

    • Indedipal

      She’s had the protofriends ever since Kallacore hero-snatched her out of the air, under the waterfall (after the wormfriends dropped her).

  • Bethany

    How long have they been down there? It seems like it takes guys weeks to grow a beard like that, though Michael did have a head start.

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