Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Strange Stars Appendix N

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.

Visual Inspirations:
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.


The Angry Lurker said...

I like the Dune references and how they will show,Spice or a dependency on a commodity?

Trey said...

@Fran - Probably more so in the religious/secret society aspects of Dune, but a spice inspired substance probably lurks somewhere.

Tallgeese said...

I really dug Neverness for its sheer quirkyness and wordplay. Words like "cark" for "splice" stuck with me for years before I discovered the word "carcomia" in Spanish (for sticker). Brilliant book.

I also enjoyed Schroeder's Permanence and had the pleasure of interviewing the author at a con a number of years ago. A really nice guy, and someone who is a singularity skeptic (he thinks its a theological concept, not a sociological/scientific one).

Great list! You might also like Raymond Harris's The Broken Worlds.

Trey said...

@John - Definitely. I often catch myself mentalling saying "cark" for for uploading/splicing sometimes, then realize I can't write it that way (well, I guess I could). I have the Requiem for Homo Sapiens trilogy by Zindell, but I found it slower going and never finished it.

I've been wanting to read Ventus by Schroeder, but haven't got around to it yet. I kind of agree with him on the singularity concept--at least the way Vinge expressed it, though Stross's Accelerando seems plausible, though it's rate of technological change in the 21st century I think is optimistic.

Alex Osias said...

I like hearing about how you're approaching this mix of Space Opera / Science Fiction. The articulation is important because the walls between the subgenres are pretty porous.

But that's the prescriptive approach, I suppose. The descriptive approach -- with the past posts and the Appendix N -- are just as effective.

Jack Guignol said...

This is a good reading list as I'm familiar with very little of this stuff!

Trey said...

@jack - Of those , Permanence is probably the most straight forward read of the works written post-80s. As a man of 19th century lit, though, the occasional poeticness of Zindell or Wright's mannered prose won't bother you. Rajaniemi is crisp and modern, but throws out a lot of terminology.

Fabien Lyraud said...

On the science fantasy space opera front, i guess you the short stories of Yoon Ha Lee. Far future with technology seems to be magic.

Chris C. said...

This is a great list. With so many gaps in my own reading, this gives me tons of ideas of things to pick up. Plus, it's just darned impressive to see just how informed your approach to creation really is. Thanks for sharing!

Trey said...

@Fabian - I had not heard of Yoon Ha Lee. Thanks for the tip!

@Bard - Well, I tend to be over analytical with these sorts of things. I don't know if it necessarily makes any difference with the final product.

garrisonjames said...

Great list...we have a few in common in the list we're compiling for S-AS, like Ironwolf and Starlin's work (Darklon!) Some of these are quite unfamiliar, guess I need to get away from all those crappy Seventies paperbacks we were able to pick up over the winter...

Canageek said...

Hey Trey: Roll a San check:

Just thought you'd enjoy that, and possibly get some inspiration out of it.