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Research on the classics of space opera

April 16, 2007

One of the interesting things I’ve noted, as I do research into the classics of space opera literature, is that, by and large, most of these stories take place either in a corrupt democratic federation or in a benevolent (if decadent) empire. The Flandry stories (based on internal chronology anyway) start out during a benevolent imperial phase and become gradually more unpleasant and autocratic as time goes on, but, even so, the Terran Empire is at least presented as a “good” thing in relative terms, despite its growing tyranny.

I find this all very fascinating. I’m sure there are plenty of explanations for these tropes, as well as the all too common swipes, both substantive and puerile, against the very idea of democracy in these stories. For my money, though, what’s more significant is that corrupt democracies and benevolent autocracies, dramatically anyway, meet in a nice middle ground where the protagonists are forced to use their own resources and to distrust and/or disdain the central government’s ability to get things done. For a RPG, that’s ideal and it’s why Thousand Suns follows the same model, with the default governmental models being either the democratic but corrupt Thousand-Sun Federation (aka the Second Federation) or the autocratic but benevolent Empire of the Thousand Suns.

I should add, by the way, that, in the style of SF that Thousand Suns emulates, the government is rarely, if ever, outright immoral or evil. Mostly it’s just distant, incompetent, self-interested, or corrupt, which is to say flawed. Consequently, both Star Trek’s Federation and the Empire of Star Wars represent different styles of SF, the one naively utopian and the other fairy tale certain. Interestingly, if one removes the whole Sith storyline, the Republic of the prequel movies fits rather nicely into Thousand Suns, with beleaguered Jedi forced to deal as best they can with problems while their masters in the Senate waste time in debate and other political maneuvers.

One Comment leave one →
  1. June 25, 2007 11:46 pm

    Sounds like a fun setting all in all.

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