Monday, February 23, 2009

The Stars Our Destination...

The subject of running a science fiction role playing game campaign prompted a friend to point out that many sci-fi games seem to gloss over what really makes a good science fiction story. He felt that in order to keep players interested, elements that would normally appear in quality books or films on the subject are rushed through in favor of faster action, weirder aliens and bigger explosions.

Science fiction is full of jump drives, phasers, alien life forms, nanotech viruses and a thousand other fascinating and exciting explorations into the what-may-be-possible. However, if that were all it were about it would be a dead medium for storytelling that disappeared in favor of subjects that were much easier for the audience (book, TV, film or game) to connect with. Good science fiction uses all its amazing devices, fantastic settings and otherworldly atmosphere to point out our all too human flaws and foils, our desires to know more then we know now and our constant challenge to use what we learn in a manner that empowers our days and still enables us to sleep at night.

In my Traveller campaigns, space pirates, the nearly magical technology of ancient aliens and the threat of war with an honorable enemy were the backdrop for stories about fear, loss, bravery, family and all the things that make us what we are. Even the questioning of who and what we are is a uniquely human trait best explored in the venue of science fiction. On the other hand, at this time we have no one else to compare notes with.

Barking Alien

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