Friday, January 11, 2019

Solar Trek: An Alternate Star Trek Setting


Bold proposal: Take the "stars" out of Star Trek. Make it a hard(ish) sci-fi alternate history setting taking place within our solar system. Yes, this would lose some of the mission statement of the voice over intro, but it would actually put it in line with Roddenberry's pitch noting similarities to Wagon Train and Horatio Hornblower (spoiler: neither series featured journeys to other worlds.). In modern high concept terms we could think of it as The Expanse meets Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.

So, there would have been genetic supermen in the 90s, leading to advances in spaceflight technology unencumbered by democratic concerns. The supermen dictators would have sent out space probes, maybe even began colonies. (One of these expeditions would start the terraforming of Mars. Their colony of genetically modified individuals would centuries later provide the famous half-Martian first officer, Spock.) As the post-Eugenics War chaos ushered in World War III, some would flee the Earth to set up settlements elsewhere.

In the 23rd Century, some of these farflung colonies and societies are only now being re-contacted. Some have grown strange in isolation. Other have grown into military powers in their own right, like the bellicose totalitarian state lurking around Jupiter's moons, the Klingons, or the mysterious Romulans of the cold depths of beyond Uranus.

The solar system could be updated to modern science, or it might conform to the state of knowledge in the late 60s when Star Trek debuted. I suppose one could push in back even to the 50s science of Asimov's Lucky Starr series, if you just needed Venus with an ocean. Science fiction's knack in the era for coming up with creative ways life could be almost everywhere might prove instructive.

14 comments:

Dan said...

A new O'Neill cylinder every week.

Rob Conley said...

I see you wisely avoided a pairing of certain outer planet with a certain race's homeworld. But then again maybe it ought to be that way. :-)

Francis Lee said...

I'd watch that!

Michael Kennedy said...

I like this. Condensed scifi settings are the best. I feel like it wouldn't be very Star Trek, honestly, but if you could truly bring the feeling of exploration from Trek and apply it to just our little solar system, you would have made something pretty great.

B.J. Johnson said...

It would definitely be easier to buy the bumpy headed aliens as bumpy headed modified humans. I like it!

Trey said...

@Michael - Yeah, it probably would not feel much like Star Trek as it evolved, but it could feel true to original concept of Star Trek and work with some similar themes. There are a lot TOS episodes that would be easy to adapt to the setting.

Jay Dugger said...

How do you avoid turning the setting into Eclipse Phase (q.v.)?

Anne said...

me: watching Wagon Train and Horatio Hornblower simultaneously on two tvs and two dvd players

trey: "spoiler: neither series featured journeys to other worlds"

me: tears both dvd players out of the wall and throws them out the window while crying

JB said...

This is pretty awesome.

Trey said...

@Jay Dugger - Don't make it a game of transhuman post-apocalyptic conspiracy and horror. Eclipse Phase is hardly the only sci-fi rpg set in the solar system. GURPS Terradyne might be closer to the mark. I probably wouldn't feature transhumanism much as a theme (though elements of it might be present) but going fully into that could be more like Transhuman Space.

Trey said...

@Anne - It's a cruel world!

Malcadon said...

The genetically-modified "Alien" races need not be the product of a race of genetically-modified race of dictatorial "Supermen"; they could have been colonists who altered themselves to deal with the harsh alien environments within the solar system.

I can totally see a race of early space explores who'd setup first, lost contact with the Earth, and over a century of isolation, they became tribal spacefarers. They would have highly decorative and colorful spacesuits and spacecraft, with neon-circuitry tattoos to control such machinery that make them look like Native Americans and Pacific Islanders. Much like any "native" people in Western and Age of Sail fiction, the more "civilized" newcomers are throwing their weight around, thinking they know everything due to their smug "high ideals", and do not have the best intentions for those who already settled the "final frontier".

Trey said...

Exactly! Well put.

Tanner Yea said...

Reminds me somewhat of Rocket Age, which is a very cool game