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Author Topic: Character Study of the Week: Jonathan Cameron  (Read 2084 times)


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Character Study of the Week: Jonathan Cameron
« on: 27 November 2016, 12:28:55 »
Character Study of the Week: Jonathan Cameron
Who: Jonathan Cameron
What: First Lord of the Star League
When: 2660 - 2738
Weapon of Choice: Science

Any line of leadership has ebbs and flows, zeniths and nadirs, geniuses and idiots. It’s an inevitability because there is, realistically, no way to filter out every future bad decision or bit of wrong headed thinking, and any sort of hereditary system makes it that much easier for bad eggs to attain powerful positions by dint of nothing more than birth and surname, which is one reason why so many science fiction settings like BattleTech feature monarchies, empires or other sorts of dictatorships.

It makes things interesting.

Jonathan Cameron is this for the Star League. Fourth in a line of unbroken Cameron rulers he attains the throne because his sister Jocasta seeks to live a life of spirituality and solitude despite clearly being better suited to the role.

And by all accounts initially Jonathan wasn’t that bad, except, well, he kind of went crazy. Or had prophetic visions, depending on your point of view, but at the time that was the minority opinion because even in fictional settings that allow for genuine prophecy there are always doubters and interpretation based loopholes, moreso in this instance.

And this wasn’t just prophecy, this was a plague of visions of horror and ruin befalling the Terran Hegemony to the point where Jonathan ordered massive funding for the SLDF and any R&D into building more and stronger defences, ultimately bringing about the infamous SDS systems that included drone warships.

All very impressive, unfortunately on other topics, pointedly the Davion Succession crisis spawned by, and let’s be honest here, opportunistic Kuritians, Jonathan was very indecisive, resulting in a war, the death of a First Prince and an attempted mutiny led by his own SLDF Commanding General.

This last act technically succeded, since it was aimed at removing Jonathan in favour of Jocasta. While General Fredasa wound up executed for his efforts Jocasta took control in all but name while Jonathan spent the rest of his life in a well-appointed padded room.

Every source says he was crazy and everything backs this assertion up.

However crazy is not the same as ineffective. It’s just how effective Jonathan Cameron’s efforts were and how they were applied that were disasterous.

Arguably his visions came true with the Amaris Coup and the very defences he ordered created played a key role in it’s success. What he ordered build was horribly effective in the hands of those he sought to stop.

Irony like this is not limited to fiction, but in this instance it serves the plot and shows just what Jonathan Cameron’s role in the setting is.

Inarrguably it’s to help set up the Star League’s fall, in a lot of ways, which is why I skipped Michael Cameron and went straight to Jonathan. Odds are Michael did do some very important things, but like his father Nicholas none of them were huge benchmarks for the setting aside from continuation of rule. Jonathan had an unfortunate impact.

The big and obvious way is all the technology, SDS and other defences he ordered built that would very quickly be turned against the SLDF by Amaris. Realistically these were the force multipliers that allowed an army a fraction of the size of the SLDF to slow down and nearly hold back and soon gut the single most massive military force in human existence.

It was a necessary plot device to give Amaris a realistic chance, no amount of hidden divisions could have achieved the same result because building an army of equivalent or even competitive size would have taken too many resources not to be noticed.

The other major way is by weakening the Cameron brand and influence, allowing other House Lords to persue their agendas.

Don’t get me wrong, House Lords will do that, but Jonathan Cameron’s inactions had even supporters of the League wonder if they really needed it, and naturally take steps to act without it when Jonathan proved that without someone strong at the helm the Star League wasn’t worth much more than the paper their ancestors signed.

While the Star League was certainly monolithic in term of beuracracy it was still made of multiple constituent parts, and when they started to loosen and pull away it weakened everything making the fall out from the war all the worse.

Like many poor monarchs through history Jonathan Cameron proved that the crown that didn’t govern was just a fancy hat, and that much could be achieved without it. The logical leap after that is to wonder if the crown and head underneath is really needed at all.

And this is just at the Council Lord level, the general public would pick up on this sort of thing as well and slowly but surely public opinion would turn against the Camerons. We can see this in Simon’s last efforts to rebuild public relations (which did look promising up until his death), and the final downturn under Richard.

Say what you will about the little brat it was built upon what his grandfather began.

Does this mean that all Jonathan achieved was ultimately the doom of the Star League?

From a reader’s perspective, and in-setting hindsight (and all hindsight is perfect of course), yes.

From a setting perspective there had to be something, a crux of sorts, to make the Amaris takeover militarily feasible. Socially and politically that happened under Richard, though because of the nature of such things the seeds of the Star League’s end was in it’s beginning, and quite frankly a considerable number of other places along the way, including Jonathan’s actions and inactions.

Thus Jonathan builds the tools of his own prophecy of doom.

From an in-setting “contemporary” perspective it makes a certain sense, fortifications imply security, though as General Fredasa’s actions prove not everyone thought so. But again, keeping the view contemporary, how was anyone to know better?

Could Amaris have launched his coup without the SDS’? Technically yes, his gains would have been far sooner lost though. The drone warships in particular slowed down Kerensky and killed a sizable portion of the SLDF.

But something else would have been found. Jonathan, crazy, prophetic, paranoid, provides the means. He is a useful plot device.

Which means that of the First Lords thus far three have not been actual characters and a fourth doesn’t rate a mention.

But as I keep saying, characters as plot devices are still serving a vital purpose in moving and maintaining the setting. If not Jonathan then someone else, if not a massive ramping up of defences then something else. Better to tie this into one neat package, particularly if it can be one that comes across as eerily correct.


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Re: Character Study of the Week: Jonathan Cameron
« Reply #1 on: 27 November 2016, 14:48:56 »
I never leave home without my plot devices.. Thanks for the article!
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Re: Character Study of the Week: Jonathan Cameron
« Reply #2 on: 29 November 2016, 17:53:04 »
Interesting that idea that Jonathan created a self-fulfilling prophecy. I never thought of it that way before, just that it was kind of meta thing.

Interesting read, thanks for the article.
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