Gimme Shelter: Where Are The Starships?

Gimme Shelter coverIf Gimme Shelter is space opera, it begs the question: Where are the starships?

Space opera is rife with starships, usually powered by handwavium, a substance that allows vessels to operate outside the known laws of physics in an absence of actual technology. (“That planet has more handwavium than Earth? Sounds like they need some freedom!”)

Starships are central to Star Trek and a big part of Star Wars. Military SF requires them. So where are they here?

They’re coming.

The Compact Universe will be a long, sprawling series. Not all the elements are in place yet. There will be starships. One of the outlined novellas revolves around a starship. But we are in the early stages of this story. Most science fiction actually takes place on the worlds where people live. True, Star Trek spent most of its time on the various EnterprisesVoyager, and on Deep Space Nine. But the Compact Universe is bigger than a single ship. And I still have to figure out what they look like. For instance, since ships are dependent on wormholes to cover interstellar distances, what does that look like? How do the different races manage that?

While I’ve done a considerable amount of world-building, the ships are a detail that almost need to be spun around a specific story. If we look at Star Trek or both versions of Battlestar Galactica, we can see ships that were pretty much blank slates in the beginning. True, there was a visual on the featured ships in the beginning, but it’s clear even the writers had no clue what each ship could or could not do until several episodes in.

There are those who geek out over starships: Their lines, names, crew compliments, etc. The ruins of the old alt.startrek.creative groups on what used to be Usenet are littered with the corpses of would-be Trek writers obsessed with a new class of starship only to realize that most readers don’t really care until they care about the characters.

But starships are coming. I promise. I may even geek out myself during the story prep phase.

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