The Colony Governor

Name: Gov. Lola Leydrew

Position: Outgoing governor of the Mars Colony.

All Lola ever wanted to do was what she was told.

She’s never really been cut out for command. She feels safest in the shadow of those more— assertive than she is, comes into her own when bending to the firm will of some superior. This has been true as long as she can remember— but the will she enjoyed bending to the most, across all those many years, was the will of Elspeth Fiscort.

Unfortunately, the Peter Principle holds as true today as it did when first formulated over a hundred years ago; Lola’s competence in subordinate roles led inevitably to promotion into other jobs with ever-greater responsibility. It didn’t matter that she never wanted promotion— her lack of ambition only put her closer to the front of the line. No one likes an overachiever. No one likes having to keep a constant eye on some hypercompetent up-and-comer with their eye on your corner office. This is what made Lola so endlessly promotable; she wasn’t after anyone’s job. She was no threat. And not incidentally, she had become a bit of an embarrassment to Elspeth Fiscort, who no longer found Lola’s compulsive boot-licking quite so diverting as she once had.

And so Lola’s ongoing, unwanted ascension took her all the way to the governorship of Mars: a post in which, for once, she could take refuge in no one’s shadow. Suddenly her bosses were three hundred million kilometers away; her subordinates were right outside her office door. And the same temperament that ensured Lady Lola was no great threat also ensured that she was no great leader either.

Things started falling apart almost from the day she arrived.

It’s been a couple of years now. Morale is at an all-time low. Health problems brought on by weak gravity and hard radiation are rampant. SADS is ubiquitous thanks to the dimness of the Martian sun. Ongoing glitches in closed-loop ecosystems have resulted in chronic food shortages. Plants and animals break down with alarming regularity, twisted by tumors and mutations; regular shipments of replacement biomass from Earth are all that keep the nascent ecosystem from complete collapse.  And to top it all off, the discovery of the Vastitas Pyramid, which should have turned everything around— Proof of Extraterrestrial Intelligence! Funding and Glory!— has done little but redirect a big chunk of the colonial budget over to a bunch of Johnny-come-latelies who’ve pretty much hijacked the whole Martian agenda.

By now, even the bosses back on Earth have figured it out: Lola just isn’t up for the job. Her replacement is en route even now, and will be arriving by month’s end.

Lola’s replacement is Elspeth Fiscort.

It’s not the worst possible resolution. Lola isn’t averse to taking orders again, to shrinking once more into Fiscort’s all-encompassing shadow. If she were just a little more self-aware, she might even wonder how many of the mishaps that occurred on her watch could be attributed to subconscious self-sabotage…

Picture: Kim Holm