Category Archives: Inspirations

Links for July 2017

These links sat around for a while, and I figure I should share them with you guys:



I like music – like most people presumably do – but I am hardly a music geek. I wish I could create my own. But that’s a talent I was not blessed with. For my work, there are really one two modes: Either, I work by complete silence (most of the time) or I work listening to music that’s turned up way too loud on my headphones. The later happens when I am in creative burst mode.

Like right now.

It’s 1:30am and I should sleep. Really. I have to get up at 6am for some #souldraining. But how can I sleep, when I have to chronicle the rise and fall of the Terran Federation?

Anyway, as an aside, I thought I’d post some of the stuff I am listening to while world-building.

Right now that’s the album “Drink the Sea” by The Glitch Mob. Especially “Fortune Days”, “Animus Vox”, “Bad Wings”, and “We Swarm”. My playlist is also looping through some tracks from the “Tron Legacy: Reconfigured” album.

At other times, I enjoyed the music from the Battlestar Galactica series (heavy on percussion, I guess – reminds me a whole lot of Homeworld, but that’s probably just me imagining things). I also have the Homeworld tracks, ripped from my Homeworld game CD which I seem to have lost in one of my many moves over the years. Awesome music – I wish I had as cool a soundtrack for my science fiction universe. Maybe some day.

Of course you couldn’t do science fiction without classical music – Kubrick saw to that – and I once listened to the Blue Danube for an entire day. Holst’s The Planets are another must though I am not a huge fan of the tracks other than “Mars – the Bringer of War”.

I also collect game and movie soundtracks. The music of some of the Baldur’s Gate titles – and sequels and spinoffs – was pretty epic, as is the Guild Wars music. Michael Hoenig and Heremy soule are great! For movies, pick any adventure, action or science fiction movie. Pirates of the Caribbean, The Gladiator, The “Imperial March” from Star Wars, The Mummy, you name it.

The sound track of The Fifth Element has a special place in my heart, as does the movie. “Timecrash” makes me wish I had a decent music setup here that could produce decent base sound (but my neighbors probably appreciate that I don’t).

Some of my world-building can get quite weird. For example, I do have a playlist I call “Mythos Mecha”. That might give you a hint what it was for… it includes Cab Calloway, The Inkspots, the music from Bubblegum Crisis (Konya wa Harikeen is awesome!), “masked Ball” from Eyes Wide Shut, “Love Removal Machine” by The Cult, “Go!” by Tones to Tail, Tesla’s “Last Action Hero”, “Where Evil grows” by Poppy Family, and a whole lot of instrumental stuff from movie soundtracks. Eclectic, eh?

As a final, special tip – you can actually find awesome music on ccMixter, Jamendo, and – but you gotta dig through a lot of bad music to find it. Still, how can you not love, for example, Ditto Ditto, or Houdini Roadshow? Or, hell, Sad Robot by pornophonique? What can I say, I grew up on a diet of 6581.

On the subject of The Mythos – Another really good album to listen to – in my opinion, as always – is “Live on the Radio” by White Ghost Shivers. Really great 1920s Harlem Jazz style music.

I posted on this subject before – my playlist for the 2008 NaNoWriMo reads like my approach to music consumption during my ‘work’ really hasn’t changed. Getting old and set in my ways, I am.


A bunch of cool YouTube Videos

Roy Prol posted a bunch of fairly cool videos to YouTube, many of them contain fairly cool ideas that could be expanded into entire settings. Check them out:

Anti-Water Device:

Earth with Saturn-like rings:

Floating Gardens:

Clockwork City:

Man-Made Islands of the Future:

As an aside, the City Coaster and Floating Garden videos combined do remind me of Bioshock: Infinite…


H. Beam Piper’s Terro-Human Future History

One of my favorite Science Fiction authors is H. Beam Piper. He lived from March 23rd, 1904 until early November 1964, when he tragically committed suicide. He chose to kill himself because he – incorrectly – thought that his writing career was at a dead end.

Piper’s work can be divided into roughly two parts, or two “settings”, if you will. His “Paratime”storylines deal with alternate worlds and alternate timelines; the Paratime Police deals with incursions and problems in different timelines; their society jealously guards the secret of travel to parallel worlds while exploiting the same for their own benefit. If you ever read GURPS Time Travel (or the GURPS Infinite Worlds setting), you will find that Paratime was the main influence for their setting.

The other group of stories by Piper is usually referred to as the Terro-Human Future History. It’s basically an example of the “consensus cosmogony” that science fiction writers only needed – and still need – to hint at for the reader to make assumptions about the future of human history.

Piper’s Future History

The history of H. Beam Piper’s Science Fiction stories diverges early from our own timeline, the UN collapses and World War III leads to a follow-up organization, the Terran Federation. It is World War IV that completely devastates the Northern Hemisphere. The southern nations rebuild civilization, and the Hyperdrive is developed in circa 2126, finally bringing mankind to the stars.

Piper’s setting is notable because its society is not American-based. His characters are a very wild mix of nationalities, and for example major universities are in Australia and South America rather than the US and Europe. Culturally, there isn’t all that much difference, though.

Mankind’s early exploration of interstellar space is run by the Terran Federation, which charters company to colonize and exploit various worlds. So for example there’s the Chartered Uller Company, and so on. These companies act pretty much like their British equivalents that settled North America.

The Terran Federation expands and then fights a war against the System States Alliance, a group of worlds that declares independence. The resulting war eventually triggers the collapse of the Federation, and a long time of anarchy descends on human space before the Empire revives interstellar civilization.

The Books

A quick Terro-Human Future History Bibliography:

  • Uller Uprising (1952): Details a native uprising on the planet Uller. (get it from Project Gutenberg.)
  • Graveyard of Dreams (Short story, 1958): A boy comes home from Terra to tell his town’s people that the magic computer they are looking for does not exist. – later expanded into a novel as “The Cosmic Computer”. (Collected in Federation.)
  • Four-Day Planet (1961): A modern whalers’ tale; the Sea Monster hunters’ collective is run by corrupt officials; things are stirred up when competition arrives from Terra. (Get from Project Gutenberg.)
  • The Cosmic Computer (1963): Citizens of a planet covered by the remains of a lost war are starting a salvaging company to find a mythical supercomputer and jump-start the planetary economy as a side-effect. (Get from Project Gutenberg.)
  • Space Viking (1963): After his wedding is crashed by gunfire and his newly-wed bride killed by an assassin, a space viking sets out to hunt down the murderer among the stars. (Get from Project Gutenberg.)
  • Little Fuzzy (1962): Discovery of a new sentient species, and the question – just how do you define sentience?
  • Fuzzy Sapiens (1964, originally The Other Human Race): Sequel to Little Fuzzy.
  • Fuzzies and Other People (1984): Sequel to Little Fuzzy.
  • Omnilingual (Short Story, 1957): How do you translate the language of an extinct alien species that has no cultural connection with you? (Collected in Federation.) (Get from Project Gutenberg.)
  • Naudsonce (Short Story, 1962): A starship crew discovers a new sentient species. (Collected in Federation.) (get it from Project Gutenberg.)
  • Oomphel in the Sky (Short Story, 1960): The natives are going berserk because they think the world will soon end… (Collected in Federation.) (Get from Project Gutenberg.)
  • When in the Course (Short Story, 1982): (Collected in Federation.)
  • The Edge of the Knife (short Story, 1957): (Collected in Empire.) A history teacher can see into the future, and gets into all kinds of trouble when he accurately predicts an assassination. The Edge of the Knife is used by Piper to lay out many concepts of his Future History.(Get it from Project Gutenberg.)
  • A Slave is a Slave (1962): (Collected in Empire.) (Get from Project Gutenberg.)
  • Ministry of Disturbance (1958): (Collected in Empire.) (Get from Project Gutenberg.)
  • The Return (1954): (Collected in Empire.) (get it from Project Gutenberg.)
  • The Keeper (Short Story, 1957): (Collected in Empire.)

There’s a magazine (fanzine?) article in which Piper published a rough timeline of his Future History, and is worth a look after you read some of his books:

  • Zenith – Future History No 1 (1964) – Article in which H. Beam Piper presents a timeline of his Future History.

There are two Piper stories that are not, technically, part of Future History, but which fit really well:

  • The Answer (1959): Two scientists are dropping an antimatter payload into the Argentinian wilderness to see what happens, and make an interesting discovery about the World War that devastated the Northern Hemisphere.
  • Lone Star Planet (1958): Ambassador Steven Silk must find out who murdered his predecessor, and why, before he himself becomes the next victim. The setting is very similar to the Terro-Human setting; to make them compatible one would simply have to change the Solar League from Lone Star Planet into the Terran Federation, and change minor details of administration and policy. (Get from Project Gutenberg.)

Piper and Traveller

Piper’s works were among those that influenced the Traveller Role-Playing Game. Off the top of my head:


Ever since I discovered Piper – way too late in my life – his work has been a major influence on my own sicence fiction designs.

If you want to read Piper, my recommendations are:

  • The Cosmic Computer
  • Space Viking
  • Uller Uprising
  • Oomphel in the Sky
  • Omnilingual
  • Four-Day Planet

The other stories aren’t bad, but I think those are the best of the crop.