The Strange Stars setting I’ve been working is on is a combination of several different things I like in science fiction. I would call it: far future transhuman(ish) space opera. Far future sort of explains itself; it only has weird connections to the world of today. It’s space opera, because its an adventure setting set in space (though more of the picaresque Jack Vance or Harry Harrison variety, than the “planet-wrecking" of Edmond Hamilton).
Unlike traditional, space opera whose basic form was laid out decades ago, I do want to take into account the effects of technology on human society--and humanity itself. This isn’t a new idea either really; there’s plenty of fiction in this vein and a few rpgs--though most of the rpgs seem to go for a smaller scope or harder science than space opera. I want Dune plus the stuff in Transhuman Space. The “ish” is because this sort of stuff is always going to take a bit of a backseat to the space opera.
I want both of these wrapped in the now even stranger visions of the future from the late 60s to the early 80s, shown on the covers of science fiction paperbacks, and in the Terran Trade Authority books. I want it to be populated by people like might show up in the pages of Heavy Metal in the works of Moebius, Caza, and Druillet, and in the disco-era stylings of the 70s sci-fi comics of Starlin, Cockrum, and Chaykin.
So here are some specific inspirations, broken up into where their influence is felt:Human & Alien Cultures:
Wayne Barlowe. Barlowe’s Guide to Extraterrestrials.
David Brin. Contacting Aliens: An Illustrated Guide to David Brin’s Uplift Universe.
CJ Cherryh.Chanur’s Venture. (particularly the appendix on species of the Compact)
Frank Herbert. Dune.
Willis McNelly. The Dune Encyclopedia.
Jack Vance. “The Moon Moth” and other short stories, Planet of Adventure
David Zindell. Neverness.
Technology & Societies:
Tony Daniel. Metaplanetary.
Greg Egan. Diaspora.
David L. Pulver, et al. GURPS Transhuman Space and its supplements.
Karl Schroeder. Permanence.
John C. Wright. The Golden Age Trilogy: The Golden Age, Phoenix Exultant, and The Golden Transcendence.
Howard Chaykin. The adventures of characters Cody Starbuck (appearing in various places), Ironwolf (Weird Worlds #8-10), and Monark Starstalker (Marvel Premiere #32).
Jim Starlin. His Warlock stories (Strange Tales #178-181, and the various graphic novels and series related to the Dreadstar saga.
Steven Cowley (writer). Terran Trade Authority books.
Heavy Metal (magazine). particularly the works of Philippe Druillet (Lone Sloane 66, Salammbô), Moebius, Caza, and Enki Bilal (Exterminator 17).
Legion of Super-Heroes in the 1970s, particularly the designs of Dave Cockrum and Mike Grell, and a bit of Giffen's "Five Years Later" run beginning in 1989.
Star Wars, particularly Star Wars: The Clone Wars.