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Glen Johnson

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Glen Johnson
Fictional Character
Worldwar
POD: May 30, 1942
Appearance(s): Second Contact
through
Homeward Bound
Type of Appearance: Direct POV
Species: Human
Nationality: United States
Date of Birth: c. 1921
Occupation: Pilot, Astronaut
Spouse: Unnamed ex-wife
Affiliations: United States Air and Space Force

Glen Johnson (b. ca. 1921) served as a United States Marine Corps pilot for over 90 years. Early in his career, he flew Piper cubs against the Race's killercraft, and his final tour of duty ended aboard the FTL starship Commodore Perry. During the 1942 Race invasion, Johnson survived two crash landings, and received substantial burns on his arm during the second one. Thus, for much of his later life, Johnson felt as if he were living on borrowed time.

When the Conquest Fleet invaded Earth, Johnson was training to fly airplanes for the US in World War II. Superior radar technology on the part of the Race allowed them to detect and destroy all but the crudest of military planes, such as the piper cub. These were no match for the Race's killercraft, however, and pilots had an extremely high mortality rate. Johnson was badly wounded on a combat mission and continued to recuperate until after the Peace of Cairo; he believed this saved his life by excusing him from further missions.

Johnson piloted American rockets in Earth orbit in the early 1960s when the Race's Colonization Fleet arrived. He was a witness to the attack on the Fleet by an unknown party. Johnson was horrified by what he saw, knowing that the ships destroyed contained only civilians. He saw the attack as simply murder, regardless of the victims' species. He maintained this belief even after it was learned that the attack was ordered by U. S. President Earl Warren.

He became intrigued by the air of secrecy surrounding a project on the American space station. He made some inquiries into this, and was warned off by General Curtis LeMay. To satisfy his curiosity, he engineered a malfunction on his capsule that forced him to dock with the station--right before it stopped being a station and became the atomic propulsion vessel Lewis and Clark. Thereupon, having sniffed around the United States' most closely guarded secret, he was told he would not be allowed to go back to Earth with what he knew, but was instead conscripted to the crew and was made a pilot of the vessel on its mission to the asteroid belt.

In 1984 Johnson went into cold sleep in preparation for a journey to Home aboard an American starship. He traveled aboard the Admiral Peary with two old friends, Mickey Flynn and Sam Yeager. He was revived for shipturn and was again revived in Home orbit in 2031.

During his time in Home orbit, his skills as a pilot impressed the Race when he took part in a rescue mission to save two Lizards stranded in a shuttle, and the Race asked him to take part in a technological exchange program. When he found that he had inadvertently taken part in a ginger smuggling operation, he refused to take part in further missions without assurances that ginger would not be involved.

Johnson was dismayed when diplomatic relations between the US and the Race broke down, and feared he would be forced to engage the Race's orbital defense ships in combat while firing nuclear missiles at the planet's surface. When the FTL starship Commodore Perry arrived in Home orbit and alleviated the situation, Johnson agreed to retire and return to Earth. Having earned a huge amount of back pay during his time in cold sleep, Johnson, who had spent so much time in zero-G that he could not safely reenter a planet's gravitational field, intended to spend the rest of his life aboard an American space station in Earth orbit. However, a new technique for readjusting weightless bodies to a small degree gravity had been developed. While he still could not survive on Earth, Johnson could endure being on the Moon, whose colonies were a popular tourist attraction. A one night stand with a Cincinnati tourist named Donna convinced him to settle on the Moon.

Literary CommentEdit

Glen Johnson is based upon John H. Glenn, Jr. (1921-2016), the first American to orbit Earth, and the third American in space. Both were Ohio-born pilots in the U.S. Marine Corps who flew combat missions in the 1940s, and subsequently went on to become astronauts. Glenn was alive throughout the publication of Worldwar. Harry Turtledove generally avoids depicting explicitly-named living figures, with the occasional exception such as Harold Stassen in the same series.

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