Monday, January 4, 2021

The New Old Solar System

The "Old Solar System" with a wet, fecund Venus, and a habitable desert Mars, doesn't have the be the relegated to pulp retreads with gleaming, silver rockets. S.M. Stirling wrote a couple of alternate histories in his Lords of Creation series wherein Venus and Mars just happened to be habitable (well, not just happened to be, but no spoilers), but the stories were otherwise fairly hard sci-fi. The anthologies Old Venus and Old Mars have a few stories in a similar vein.

There's some reason you could put a pulp-derived but more rigorous in its details Mars or Venus in the background of an rpg setting like Transhuman Space or The Expanse or any other nearer future or solar system only sci-fi thing.

A habitable Mars or Venus doesn't require much of a stretch of scientific plausibility, but it might be fun to go full Edmond Hamilton or Leigh Brackett with fungal forests on Saturn or mud-mining on Io. I can't think of any reason why in an rpg you couldn't overlay the trapping of hard/near future science fiction on a completely pulp solar system.


JB said...

I enjoyed both of Stirling’s Lords of Creation books; the Mars one especially seemed to attempt to subvert the “Mars Princess” trope.

Crouchback said...

Suppose the new old solar system really is a new old solar system. There's a couple of pastiches of Edgar Rice Burroughs that have the hero travelling back in time to a still habitable Mars. But what if we reversed direction? Set the story 50,000 years in the future after a super advanced human civilization terraformed Mars and perhaps Venus (a much tougher challenge) and other worlds. So we have an old school space opera in a single solar system, where humanity is rebuilding after a collapse countless millennia ago. All those strange animals & humanoids are compatible with humans because they are the results of ancient genetic engineering. You've got a rationale for leftover bits of super science as well.

evangineer said...

Once again, I shall mention Champion of Mars by Guy Haley.

Pulpy as Edgar Rice Burroughs, hard as Kim Stanley Robinson.

Jay Dugger said...

This has been done.
In the vein of the Dark Sun, Red Sands crossover, I recommend Anders Sandberg's "Land of the Ten Suns," a hard SF planetary romance set on a far-future terraformed Mars after multiple cycles of civilizational collapse.