Fall of Mann

It seems all too much a matter of uncanny coincidence that Dr. Mann is named the way he is, and the planet he surveyed is an inhospitable ball of ice.

Cooper, the crew, and I have seen beforehand the sheer power of mother nature. It's a power we can never hope to control, a power we have only just begun to understand with our limited knowledge of science. Nature is the hunk of iceberg submerged in a sea of mystery, and we've only just begun to scrape away at the surface. Whenever that iceberg hits us, we can only hold onto the ship for our dear lives and pray that it doesn't sink. We're caught in its throes and at its mercy, and I never felt that more than our harrowing experience at Miller's planet.

However...there's a power even more potent and dangerous than mother nature. Human nature.

Monster tidal waves nearly extinguished the future of humanity at Miller's planet. Mann nearly did the same on his planet.

You're probably wondering what this has to do with the observation I made earlier, about the nature of Dr. Mann and his planet. I'll share with you a bit of my personal life. Unlike my English father, with his mind firmly grounded in scientific rationale, my American mother immersed herself in the liberal arts. She indulged in "flights of fancy," as my father often used to say. I took after him with my interest and subsequent career in the sciences, but my mother, as a professor of English, earnestly tried to fulfill her duty by exposing me to her favorite stories. One of them was Inferno by the medieval Italian poet Dante Alighieri. An epic poem fraught with demons, punished sinners, and hell imagined as a profane solar system...hardly an appropriate tale to read to a little girl, but my mother never fretted over that. To this day I still vividly remember the nights my mother would read to me. The theological and geographical aspects of Dante's poem is up to debate, of course. Medieval cosmology had its theories debunked by our own long ago. I see the story I enjoyed as a child as little more than an entertaining but a fantastical tale, though I admit that there's some truth to it.

Long story short, hell is imagined by Dante as a sort of cosmic sewer, each ring lower and worse than the last. The lowest and worst of them is, contrary to popular belief, not filled with fire and brimstone. It's covered in ice. It's a circle of hell reserved for sinners who commit treachery.

You see where I'm getting at with Mann and his planet? With Dante's poem in mind, it seems suitable that the planet reflects the man who discovered it. Betrayal is cold and merciless, and Dr. Mann left us for dead on that planet of ice.

Part of me is supposed to feel angry for Mann being responsible for the death of Romilly, and the near-death of Cooper. I should feel hurt and betrayed. But as Cooper and I watched the shuttle explode and the Endurance spin out of control, all we could do was sit in wide-eyed, helpless, speechless horror, as we saw with our own eyes how ignorance, arrogance, and selfishness would be the death of us all. Just as it had been for Mann. Deep down in my heart, I wanted him to succeed. I really did. With Plan A out of the question, we placed all of our faith and trust in Plan B. I didn't feel any satisfaction that a liar and a traitor got what he deserved. I mourned for the death of a fellow human being. A human being who succumbed to the whims of his own nature, and had paid the price with his life.

I can't forget how long and how much Mann had wept when he laid eyes on another human face. It was loneliness, and fear of dying alone on that icy world, that compelled him to signal us. His emotions were genuine, but he was also a man on a mission. We were lured into an icy hell, and we didn't know it until too late. With the full awareness of my father's true priorities, Mann tried to accomplish the mission himself. He claimed to be working for the greater good, but all I got out of it was a move of greed and selfishness. I reckoned that he didn't want to be remembered as a man who needed rescuing. He wanted to be the man who would save humanity. In the end, in his ignorance of proper docking procedures and his unwillingness to heed our warnings, he couldn't even save himself. I took this as a dire warning for our future. The last thing I wanted was a second fall of man.

Now, as I plant the seeds of our hope and future on Edmunds' planet, I wonder what path the new age of humanity would follow. Our potential to achieve much, and the chances of abusing it, come with our genetic code. It's only a matter of time. Time...I've heard enough of that word, and how it has distanced us from our loved ones.

I lower my gaze from the incubated colony to the makeshift grave I made for Edmund. A ghost of a sad smile flitted across my face. Earth has always been depicted as a female. Mother Earth. Here, this new world is a male. Edmund's planet provides the ground that would shelter and nurture the seeds I've inseminated onto it. The gender roles have been flipped: I am the female father, and Edmunds is the male mother. A chuckle slipped through my lips at the startling strangeness of it all.

Humans are inherently depraved, but if we've been given a second chance to start over, I believe there's more to us than just how flawed we are. We've seen with Mann how we're capable of treachery. But I've seen with Cooper, and felt in my own heart, that we're capable of love as well.

I'm no god; I'm only human. I didn't create the fertilized eggs; all I did was move them to a better place and plant them there. I can't do anything to change human nature. All I can do is pray. I prayed for rising without the falling.