Last week I spoke of Igniters and how I had to scrap this series of Star Wars novels for legal reasons, or maybe just to avoid having any legal reasons to begin with.
Since then I’ve been thinking about the best way to handle it, what the setting should be, and how to turn what was once Star Wars into a new idea, something that suits me.
Let’s talk about setting. I could do a future suddenly awakening to magic or other forms of mysticism, but that is simply Shadowrun and as much as I love stories in such a setting, it’s still familiar ground to me. It’s the same with a modern setting, as it would be another Urban Fantasy world for me.
That leaves two options: Space Opera and Steampunk, both of which are new ground for me. I have never done a Space Opera story outside of Star Wars and Steampunk is confusing for me at times. I never know how much technology is too much, when you cross the line with steampunk to make things too super-science.
So as I like to challenge myself, I thought “why not do both?” And so it’s going to be a Steampunk Space Opera. There is travel among worlds, but the technology is rudimentary, clunky and unwieldy. Everything is more complicated than it should, and a simple FTL drive takes more than a few kettles boiling.
It sounds weird, I know, but that’s why I like it. I like to take concepts and take them to their extreme to see what kind of story you can come up with, and Steam Punk Space Fantasy sounds like the most extreme of all. It should be fun. I’m still deciding on the technology level, whether there is FTL travel or teleportation, railguns or lightsabers. You get what I mean. Who knows, maybe the simple act of space travel breaks Steampunk and takes it one step too far, so extreme that it becomes impossible to write credible stories for it.
As for the Igniters, that’s much more troublesome, because I have to figure out what the preternatural part is. I have a couple of ideas, but until I flesh out the universe, I won’t know if it makes sense or not. I’d rather build the universe first to a consistent degree and let that influence the supernatural rather than forcing things the other way around.
Having said so, the idea of the kids having a connection to nature and bringing life wherever they go, within a galactic society which has spread across the cosmos using and consuming worlds until they’re barren rocks, sounds very appealing and could play well with my original ideas of nature vs civilisation, and the disconnection with the natural world.
But I’m also thinking of the Igniters being psychics, with the ability to form deep mental links with others, kick-starting their own mental abilities and forming an ever growing network across the galaxies, but it comes too close to a hive mind concept, which is not what I want. But it could be a great way to study the interconnectedness of all living things, something that technology and our overdependence on it took from us (I admit I sounded a bit too hippie there).
I do want to point out that at no point am I going to write a story just for the message in it or the theme I have now thought of. I’m simply going to write a story that I think is fun and hope others will agree. If there are themes explored in it, it’ll be secondary.
The first idea seems much sounder, but I’m still toying with the concepts. Who knows, maybe by the time I’m done I’ll have them flinging fireballs and casting spells like D&D Wizards. It’s not likely, but you never know. I do hope I can make the magic big enough for variety in stories and challenges but consistent in its use, with clearly defined in-universe rules.
The only thing I don’t like about either Ignite concept though is how close it is or how easy it would be to slide into the “Chosen One” trope, which I thoroughly hate, unless it ends in tears. It’s why I haven’t committed to a concept yet and want to see what the universe is like before I decide what they’ll be like…and as I write this, another idea popped into my head that might be the perfect solution, one that marries together all concepts. But I need to explore it further before I tell you about it!
I don’t mind the work, or taking my time figuring this stuff out. I did mention in the very first of my Novel Writing Guides that the planning is one of the most intense stages, and world building is of paramount importance!
Next time, I’ll start telling you about universe specifics and maybe the identity of these Igniters and what makes them so special!
(Featured Image Credit: The Museum of Fantastic Art)