Day three of my inspirations behind State series, brings us to ‘Crest of a Wave’. There may be spoilers ahead.
For those of you not familiar with 40K, it is set in a universe where humanity’s colonisation of the stars was disrupted by inhuman entities existing in the parallel dimension that enables faster-than-light travel. Shattered and riven by civil dissent, the galaxy spanning empire collapsed into a religious tyranny where the secrets of technology are the exclusive purview of a mystical cult. The only redeeming feature of the civilisation is that a space-faring equivalent to the worst excesses of Christianity actually is better than the soul-devouring monsters that can be summoned merely by knowing they exist.
Over the years, I have considered writing a story about an encounter between the expansionist zealotry and a human colony that didn’t collapse. However, if a society could didn’t need to become ruthless to survive the darkness that waited between the stars, it robbed the universe of one of the things that made it interesting: the choice between saving humanity from the demons and being a good man.
So, I decided to write the same story about a human civilisation encountering a relentless enemy that offered unity or death and gave death anyway, but not in the 40K universe.
The second seed was Babylon 5. J. Michael Straczynski’s series about a space-station with a mission to find diplomatic solutions to the challenges of sharing the universe with many alien species, has a piece of back story where the Mimbari and humanity start a war because they misinterpret each other’s cultural mores: the Mimbari try to honour humans by pointing weapons to show they do not regard them as no threat; the humans see this as aggression and pre-emptively attack.
As a ponder of many things, I had imagined what might have happened if the Mimbari had – instead of defending their traditions – realised their behaviour had been misinterpreted and resolved to avoid the mistake. Remembering this alternate history gave me a solid basis to make the protagonists militantly pacifist.
So, instead of merciless invaders who were actually doing it for the good of all, the dynamic was a threat that wouldn’t negotiate facing overly merciful defenders.
As it was space opera, the only option at this point was to throw in a renegade-maverick-captain-who-breaks-the-rules-to-get-things-done.
Did you enjoy ‘Crest of a Wave’? Were the space battles enjoyable?