One of the questions most asked about the Unified Republic of Stars is, “where the hell did this come from?” They ask this because they’ve seen the history books that are now available in the reference wiki and the Excel spread sheet that holds all the facts and figures I put together for the world. (More on that later…)
Well… so where did it come from?
The truth is, it came from my own reading of science-fiction and the frustration I had while reading the short stories and novels.
Have you ever read a book, enjoyed it, but then later, while thinking about it, though, “Shit… it’s almost like that world blinked into existence on the first page and blinked away on the last?” Because that’s what I’ve thought with too many sci-fi and, hell, even fantasy books. It’s almost as if the world existed merely to tell the story that was told and then ended after it was over. It was like all the events in the story were specifically so that the main character could achieve their goals and everyone knew it.
It’s a bad example, but imagine if the same thing were true of our world and Oswald were the main character. It would be as if everyone were secretly hoping for Kennedy’s death and every person Oswald ran into said something along the lines of, “the United States would be what it once was, if only someone did something about Kennedy. Oh? More bullets, young man? It just so happens we got a shipment of your caliber in last week!”
Sure, I bet there was an underground movement of people that wanted to see Kennedy dead, as sad as that is. But it wasn’t like the entire world was clamoring for it. And, sure as shit, things weren’t lining up for Oswald to do his thing.
Instead, what happened that day in Dallas was one sad man doing something terrible that shocked the world but the world kept turning. (My apologies to those who think there was a second shooter on the Grassy Knoll that day. I’m sorry, but evidence and common sense prevents me from thinking otherwise.)
Nothing that Kennedy put into motion prior to his death stopped. Nothing cultural changed radically that day. The world, as I said, continued turning, and progress continued to be made. But, if it were a sci-fi or fantasy book, it would have forever altered existence as we know it and nothing would have ever been the same. Until the last page. Then it wouldn’t have mattered because the protagonist would have solved everything and the world, as we had just read about it, would have ended. Probably happily. With the protagonist as the president. Or something equally as stupid.
What I wanted to do with the Unified Republic of Stars was do the opposite. I wanted a world that would live on past the events of any given story. I wanted a world where maybe even the bigger events were just backstory to the person events being told. Some things were just going to happen and yet the “story world” would continue to move along, regardless.
Take Rugged Individualists, for instance. What happened, world wise, in that story was merely a footnote in the history of the entire story world. The characters there weren’t interested in the larger world events. Not really. Not beyond colonization. Yet, it helped define the world for its time and theme. And the time in which it took place helped define what happened in that story.
When working on the Unified Republic of Stars, I spent a large amount of time defining what would constitute each “age” within the world. Thus, when you see the Age of Colonization, it should follow like any three act epic, with a beginning, a middle, and finally and end. And, I believe, the same holds true for the Age of War. I can only hope that the forthcoming Age of Betrayal is the same.
So… that’s where the Unified Republic of Stars really came from. A desire to have a story world larger than the actual story itself.
I keep updating the website with new plugins and extensions written to visualize the data that I’ve created for the world. But, the world won’t really be complete until others participate in it and help breathe their own vision into the creation for others to then use. This can be done by helping to define a city or the culture of a world. Or, if you’re up to it, writing a story that takes place within the story world.
In my next post, I’ll spend a moment writing about the structure of the world in a little bit more detail and how, while it might seem constraining at first, in other ways it can actually be kind of freeing, knowing where the world is going.