Freefall

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From left to right: Florence, Sam, and Helix, crew of the Savage Chicken.

Freefall is a long-running webcomic (nearly 2600 strips as of January 2015) by Mark Stanley. It's also a straight-up Long Runner, having passed the decade mark in 2008.[1] Starting with the April 19, 2006 strip it's been colored mostly by colorist George Peterson. Set on a planet in the early stages of terraforming, the strip deals with the antics of alien spaceship "captain" Sam Starfall, his robot friend Helix, and their Bowman's Wolf engineer Florence Ambrose.

One of the last words one would use to describe Sam is "trustworthy". He's not always the brightest and is a petty crook (at least by human standards). It's a wonder he hasn't gotten himself killed yet, although the local police may have something to do with this. He can be summed up as "a larcenous squid in an environment suit."

Helix has the mind of a child, and were he human, a weak stomach. He's described by Florence in one strip as being "one of those robots who faints at the sight of battery acid."

Florence, an anthropomorphic genetically-engineered red wolf, is easily the most intelligent member of the entire cast (not just the main characters) and the Trope Namer for My Instincts Are Showing.

For a humorous comic, Freefall actually packs a lot of real-world science into its science-fiction setting. Most of it is pretty accurate, especially regarding space travel and physics—the author often likes to show his work.

Freefall has a WikiFur article, after The Other Wiki removed its entry due to lack of notability under Wikipedia guidelines.


Tropes used in Freefall include:

Sam: Any time spacefaring aliens make it to Earth, the cows get them!

"DOGGY!"

    • Max Post has an arrest warrant put out for him for hacking, unauthorized access to robotic operating systems, and jailbreaking a PS3.
    • Strangely averted here, with a baker listing insane theories of the possible danger of money offered by Sam. The unremarkable one is in the middle instead of at the end.

"It's counterfeit! It's been licked by a cat! It's radioactive!"

Blunt: "I have looked. The blue screen of death. In the eye. And forced it to reboot."

Sam Starfall: Quick! Where's the nearest concentration of valuables that would easily fit into a pocket?
Varroa Jacobsoni: Pharmaceutical storage on the second floor.
Sam: I'll search there. You go that way!

Florence: He DEFINITELY should not sparkle.
Winston: Look at Vlad the Impaler. He was a monster in his time too. But given time and distance, look what happened to him.

  • Blue and Orange Morality:
    • Sam claims that kleptomania is a virtue among his people. That said, even among his people Sam is capable of getting into trouble. Witness that the reason he snuck onto a human ship: the royal family was after him due to a Noodle Incident involving a zeppelin, a loop-the-loop, and a lot of pudding.
    • Florence, being a wolf, occasionally comes into this.

Winston: It's creepy.
Florence: Creepy? This is twilight. Magic hour. Prime hunting time.
Winston: I suppose creepiness depends a lot of whether you're predator or prey.
Florence: Come on! There's a shortcut through a shadowy alley up here!

  • Body Backup Drive: Discussed and deconstructed in relation to robots' minds. They can be backed up and downloaded into another body, but the main characters meet two robots who chose not to be backed up because from their perspective they're just as dead either way.
  • Bothering by the Book:
    • This strip explains why Florence isn't necessarily bound to follow every single directive given to her:

Florence: The surest way to cause your supervisor to fail is to follow his every order without question.

Benny: Engines, check. Red and green blinky lights, check.
Plane dips alarmingly close to airstrip
Benny: Passengers (Winston and Florence, formerly engaged in a Sleep Cute) returned to the full upright position, check.

Mr. Kornada: A.I.s have numbers, not names.
Receptionist (thinking): When they bring in donuts, they have names.

  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: The Dangerous And Very Expensive drive is only used for very important people and cargoes, though it's also the only means of sending messages to another system anytime fast. Large payloads like colony ships have to be sent slower than light.
  • Fatal Family Photo: Played more for laughs in this strip. In this case, however, the victim isn't dead.
  • Finger in the Mail: Parodied when Helix is kidnapped, in the version of the comic that appeared in a Furry Fandom magazine prior to the webcomic. Since he's a robot, his compatriots just reassemble him as the parts arrive in the mail. The last thing to arrive is his head.

Helix: "Hey! I've been rescued!"
Sam: "We are not dealing with a criminal mastermind here."

Sam: So what you're saying is that in two or three days, I'm going to have a highly intelligent, fast moving, starving, carnivorous alien life form on my ship.
Winston: Yep. Wolves are also most active at dawn and dusk, so this will probably happen while you're asleep.

Sam: Bad program needs to be stopped. Don't mention it near anything electronic.
Florence: That's it.
Sam: Then let's go! Adventure calls and we must answer!

Sam: Never ask for permission. Put your superiors in a position where you automatically have permission unless they actively take steps to stop you. Or as I like to call it, "putting human inertia to work".

Sam: I feel the need.
Helix: For speed?
Sam: No, it's more like the need for clean underwear.

Blunt: Some months back. A robot named Qwerty. Wrote the first. Of his epic. Rap yodeling. Operas. It is then. I knew. Conflict between the two. Was inevitable.

Florence: Have you met Mr. Kornada?
Raibert: Yes. Hmm. Yes. It is possible that we have a problem here.

Sam: Why, thank you. But right now, I need to duck.

Sawtooth: Sam, you're a scoundrel, but you've always been a predictable scoundrel. Please, tell me you didn't do these things!

Helix: A pressure cooker works by applying pressure and heat for a long time. My way does the same in an instant.
Florence: That sounds almost as you're trying to cook using explosives.

Sam: Being honest is more fun than I thought.

Dr. Mer: Ms. Ambrose. Direct order. Puppy dog eyes now. End order.

"You're a gravitational engineer. You arrived on the Asimov. And you work for Sam Starfall."
"That's amazing."
"Simple deduction, actually."
"No. It's amazing that you figured out I work for Sam and you haven't asked me to leave."

Sam: You're opening the cargo bay door! Stop! Close door!
Ship: I'm afraid I can't do that, Sam.

Edge: Who wrote this note, H.P. Lovecraft?

There's a funny thing that happens when you know the correct answer. It throws you when you get a different answer that's not wrong.

- (Transponder <off>)
- Hey! He vanished!

Winston: I don't believe it. It really was a werewolf. Okay, doc. Think. What's the first thing people in horror movies do when a werewolf shows up?
Winston (thinking -- and facepalming): Why, the same thing I did. They run off and leave the door open so the monster can enter the house.

(Fortunately for Winston, he's actually a character in a science fiction story.)

Deputy Mayor: Our non-human population consists of one person. Sam. Do we really need an entire police force for one larcenous squid?
Police Robot: Sir, I believe if you look past the obvious answer, you'll see one that's even more obvious.

  1. Taken Up to Eleven when the strip for 11 July 2016 announced the completion of Chapter 1.
  2. After the default search assistant in Microsoft Office