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Author Topic: Mindjammer Inspirations  (Read 6852 times)
Angst of Parting
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« on: April 25, 2014, 02:10:27 am »

I was reading the New Commonality Era chapter, and it occurred to me that Commonality history reminds me a lot of Cordwainer Smith's history of the Instrumentality of Mankind.  Was that a source of inspiration for the Mindjammer setting?  If not, and you haven't read his stories, they are well worth the time (though they're a product of the late 1950s, when he wrote them).

Beyond that, what would you throw into a good inspiration reading list for Mindjammer games?  I'll start it off by adding Iain Banks' Culture novels to Smith's haunting, darkly profound sci-fi faerie tales.

-AOP
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Commonality_intendant
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« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2014, 10:03:15 am »

Hi Angst of Parting,

Definitely Cordwainer Smith - his stories are awesome, and his themes resonate through pretty much all modern SF, and absolutely throughout Mindjammer. Banks's Culture novels too - although quite bizarrely I only started to read them *after* publishing the first edition Mindjammer book, as Chris Birch at Modiphius said, "hey, it's like Iain Banks's Culture, right?" - and I was like "Okay..." Smiley I've read 4 or 5 of them now, and I'm struck by the similarities and differences - many themes are there, but also the *huge* difference is that the Commonality is very humanocentric.

Also I'd recommend Olaf Stapledon - Starmaker in particular, but also First and Last Men - and Dan Simmons' Hyperion and Peter Hamilton's Commonwealth Series (and even Night's Dawn). Also definitely give Jaine Fenn's Hidden Empire series a look - tons of cool ideas in there.

I'm reading Alaistair Reynold's Revelation Space for the first time at the mo, and finding some excellent ideas there, although it's a bit of a slog; and I have Neal Asher's "Agent Cormac" novels on my bedside pile after someone on the G+ community recommended them. Such a lot of great SF to read!

I also read loads of non-fiction pop science; Gardner's "Intelligent Universe" is worth a read just for its mind-bending scale and potential. And of course Kurzweil. Then tons of history - John Julius Norwich's Byzantium trilogy and Alain Peyrefitte's "Immobile Empire" are just awesome for getting into a Core Worlds mindset. ;-)

Cheers,

Sarah
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Angst of Parting
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« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2014, 11:59:23 pm »

Iain Banks's Culture... I'm struck by the similarities and differences - many themes are there, but also the *huge* difference is that the Commonality is very humanocentric.

Also, though Banks seemed to rethink the issue in his last book, the Culture books generally treat a copy of a person as that person.

Quote from: Commonality_intendant
Also I'd recommend... [a pile of stuff that sounds very cool].

Sweet!  I now have a much fuller Summer reading pile, though I think I'll pass on Kurzweil.  He has interesting ideas, but is a bit optimistic with them, IMO, especially with respect to machine intelligence.  In any case, muchas gracias!

-AOP
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Jakob
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« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2015, 02:57:00 pm »

Since I'm reading MJ at the moment and I love to think of rpg settings in terms of "what novels can I get more inspiration from?", I'll just add a few titles to the list that resonate with the MJ setting for me:

Anne Leckie: Ancillary Justice/Ancillary Sword - that's kind of a no-brainer at the moment, since these books made such a big splash in the sf community. They feature intelligent starships, the end of sexual dimorphism, a powerful far-future empire with very strange cultural traditions (a lot of them focussing on tea ceremonies and not showing your naked hands) and several planets that have obviously settled by humans in ancient times and have developed their own ways ... also, both are just great sf novels (even though Ancillary Sword is a little slow ...).

Justina Robson: Natural History - the setting is very different from mindjammer, but it is full of interesting ideas about uplifting and/or designing lifeforms to fulfill certain tasks and what that might entail politically; does a "forged", as they are called in the novel, have a right to pursue other agendas then the ones it has been created for? What would that mean for an intelligent starship? What happens to forged people who are not needed any more or turn out as failures? I'm pretty sure that some of this stuff must have been inspired by Cordwainer Smith, too ...

China Mieville, Embassytown - a difficult, but very impressive novel about humans memetically infecting an alien species; it also features great ideas about artificial life/intelligense.

Peter Watts, Blindsight - A very dark glimpse on posthumanity; also a great example of tightly narrated, deeply disturbing and truly alien space horror.

David Brin, Existence - While the setting ist (mostly) near future earth, a cosmic perspective comes into play that could povide a very interesting perspective for MJ campaigns; it is something better left unspoiled.
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