Influence: Spacecraft 2000-2100

I'm going to talk about one of my biggest influences today, probably one of the books that influenced me the most when I was a kid thinking about science-fiction – 'Spacecraft 2000-2100'. I think I first picked this up in a charity shop when I was about ten, probably drawn by the startling cover. (At that point, anything SF was fair game where I was concerned.) The book consists of a selection of military and civilian spaceships from the era of the 'Proximan War', a conflict fought between Earth and a hostile race of aliens living at Proxima Centauri, with the assistance of allies from Alpha Centauri. What impressed me the most – aside from the astonishing artwork – was the manner in which everything was weaved into a cohesive future history.

Around 2030, Earth – having colonised Mars – develops an FTL drive called the 'DeVass Warp Generator' (shades of the Alcubierre drive), and immediately begins to explore the surrounding stars. First contact with Alpha Centauri goes well enough, with friendly relations reached with only a minimum of initial trepidation, but with Proxima, it is less rosy a story. After a series of raids, battle is joined by all sides, and a twenty-year war starts. Raids on Mars and Alpha take place in the early days of the war, before the combined fleets finally manage to overcome the Proximans and launch a massive ground assault on the enemy, culminating in an army of occupation. (It really does feel like World War II in space – though more the conquest of Nazi Germany than the more usual Pacific analogy.)

After that, the worlds begin a slow recovery process and start to heal the wounds. It isn't covered in this book, but in a series of future books (that I must confess I found rather less compelling, but still astonishing) the timeline is fleshed out to the exploration of the galaxy. There was a second series of smaller books a couple of years later in a related timeline, the 'Galactic Encounters' series – there was another stand-out here that I'm going to get to later, for reasons that will become apparent when I start talking about aliens...

Beyond the ships themselves, my favourite part of the book by far was the last section, which almost seemed like an afterthought – a series of mysterious encounters with strange alien spaceships across local space. Wrecks on the planet of Lalande 21185, a mysterious planet at Sirius, odd vessels drifting into Sol System on the solar winds, that sort of thing. This is the book that gave me my fascination with local space – I've always been a lot more interested about the stars that lie close enough to Sol that realistically we one day might take a look. Never mind Vulcan or Qo'nos, how about Tau Ceti, Epsilon Eridani, Sigma Draconis, Barnard's Star, Ross 128...and that is why Battlecruiser Alamo is focusing on such systems. I've set a little limitation of around five or six parsecs from Sol as a reasonable limit – that gives me about a hundred or so stars to play with, and that really ought to be enough...

No comments:

Post a Comment