Inspired by the old videogame Half-Life, it’s expansions, and dozens of mods:
The idea is to have a novel about a magical disaster, with each chapter being a complete story of different characters in different places having their own different experiences of the events. None of the characters have the complete picture of what’s going on, but all the stories together gradually give the readers a better understanding of the overall situation.
I am not actually a sci-fi fan. I like Star Wars and like space horror movies, but these just use space as a setting and don’t concern themselves at all with technological progress and its impacts on society.
But a few months back I had been thinking again about how one could make good science fiction stories that are accurate to physics, and played around with various ideas regarding spaceship construction, space stations, space industry, and the implications of post-scarcity societies developing from access to efficient fusion power. I think most futurists are thinking way too fantastical and simply want their jetpacks and Mars colonies, willingly ignoring economy, sociology, and even physics to get there. Looking at what might actually happen is much more interesting to me.
I also have been watching Star Trek: Deep Space Nine for the fourth or fifth time over the last half year, and there were a couple of episodes in the later seasons that seemed really out of place for Star Trek, but still felt quite intriguing to me. One of them has a character visiting her family who owns a big mining company on a lawless border world and are having trouble with the local organized crime. It also is connected to an undercover investigation into organized crime episode from one season earlier. This really doesn’t feel like Star Trek at all, and it was just a 45 minute oneshot with mostly single appearance characters thst were not very well developed. But it had me thinking that I would love to see a whole show just about this family business.
I was talking about this with someone and how it had me thinking about the aesthetics of Blade Runner, and he reminded me of the movie Outland. It’s a pretty obscure movie and has been almost entirely forgotten, but I’ve seen it twice over the years and it’s actually pretty good. It has Sean Connery as security chief on an industrial space station investigating a series of suicides by miners who were drugged up to their eyes and corruption in the administration.
Even though it’s set on a space station, it has the same very low-tech style of Alien. I’m a sucker not just for 80s fantasy art but for the sci-fi aesthetics of the time as well, and this is exactly the kind of imagery I had in my mind from the start. Like the two Star Trek episodes, both of these movies are really Noir stories. And I also really love Noir. Many Sword & Sorcery stories are fantasy noir stories, and cyberpunk is sci-fi noir. I love this stuff.
Right now I really need to get my Sword & Sorcery ideas getting worked on. But one day in the future, I might come back to this and give it a try. I think it’s a really cool idea.
Another thing that came to my mind recently was that in space industry, food supplies would be a major factor that usually gets ignored by most sci-fi. And I just happen to be studying to become an agricultural engineer, with a strong current interest in industrial in-door growing facilities. Maybe instead of mining, my family business should work in vegetables for deep space colonies instead of mining. I actually know a lot more about this stuff and it might make the setting feel more fresh. (Pun absolutely intended.)
I’m not really much of a Sci-Fi fan. It’s generally all fantasy for me. And even with my fantasy I have a clear preference for medieval or particularly ancient and prehistoric styled settings over early modern ones. But there is one thing in modern and futuristic settings that is really cool, and you just can’t have in these types of settings.
Engines are really damn fucking cool. Going at full power with the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars or the War Rig from Fury Road is just pure fun awesome. Going at insane speeds riding on a cycle of continuous explosions is just plan cool. I was thinking about how having something like that in fantasy while watching Fury Road the whole time. But you can’t have that in pre-industrial settings. There’s always magic as an alternative option, but using magic as a replacement for technology never feels right to me. Magic should be magical, not utalitarian.
However, there is one other alternative. Wind power. Particularly with boats. Scandinavian longships are pretty cool fast and agile vessels, but they aren’t exactly racing crafts. But polynesian sail boats are very close to that and have been around for over 3,000 years. Modern high tech racing trimarans can reach speeds over 50 knots, which is about 90 km/h in relation to the water current. Somehow it seems the internet does not have any real information about the speeds of polynesian sailing canoes, but racing dhows from the Indian Ocean are quite capable of reaching over 20 knots, which is in the realm of 40 km/h, and a wooden catamaran build for speed should get considerably faster than that. This may not seem very fast when looked at from inside a car, but in a small boat with the water just half a meter below you, this would be crazy fast. Like this:
Now imagine crews fighting each other with spears and fire bombs and trying to trick the other boat in doing tight turns that flip them over. And I think under certain weather conditions, it could possibly get a good deal faster than this.
Fast sailing boats are great vehicles for adventuring heroes and for marauding pirates. While you could create a fantasy series just around this, the Kaendor setting was always planned as a forest setting first, but also a coastal setting as the immediate second. One with strong natural forces being ever present in the outdoors. I can totally incorporate this into Kaendor seamlessly instead of making it it’s own distinct thing.
When I was in Greece last summer, I was doing a lot of swimming in Epidauros. It was also on that beach that I finally completed my reading of Conan stories with Queen of the Black Coast, which somehow had slipped by for years. Right across the water sits this looming island.
I’m pretty sure it’s a nice tourist place, but it did inspire me for a shipwreck story about Mira that starts with a pirate battle in rough waters. I was thinking more about big shooners and junks, but sea battles are already a part of the world. Making it more about small fast catamarans only makes this aspect more cool and fun.
And it also allows me to do fun crazy stuff like this.
Unlike previous awesome future novel ideas, this is one I actually plan to give a try very soon. It’s something I am still bouncing around in my head but intend to give a shot as soon as I have more of the basics figured out. Don’t hold your breath, though. I’m impulsive and have a very poor track record of completing long term hobby works.
The idea is a synthesis of the conceptual work I did for game settings in the past that also incorporates my love for the great neo-noir and wuxia movies from the mid-90s forward. At the center stands a world that is full of life, but hostile to people. A world in which the spirits of the land rule, with civilization confined to small enclaves along the coasts where priests and sorcerers maintain a tenuous state of stability. It’s a world in which the forces of nature are particularly powerful and unpredictable, as are the spirits who control them. Civilization is in an eternal state of siege and to keep the constantly encroaching wilderness at bay, the priests and sorcerers need to know what is going on beyond the borders of civilization.
Within this context exists a special class of scouts, who are knowledgeable in eldritch lore and accustomed to the ways of the barbarians who inhabit the lands of their wild gods. The scouts are not soldiers, though most of them are mercenaries of a sort, offering their skills and knowledg to the courts and temples for pay. They are a society of their own, at home both in the wilds and civilized lands, but set appart from either population by their delvings into esoteric things. Violence is not their trade, but alone among barbarians and magical beasts, they are highly skilled with spear and bow. Among each other, knowledge is the main currency of their trade and connections worth more than gold. Yet there is also great rivalry and competition and out in the wilds they are beyond the laws of either kings or tribes.