Where Did THAT Come From: The Star Master Setting

Star Wars. The Star Master setting comes from Star Wars. Maybe a little from Battlestar Galactica, because I’m pretty sure I saw the original Galactica on tv at around aged 3 or 4, based on where I was living at the time, and might have first seen Star Wars: A New Hope on tv as late as age 5. But I would go on to see A New Hope many, many times, because my family owned a limited number of child-friendly movies on videotape* and A New Hope was one that my siblings and I could all agree on. A lot of what I know about plotting, I first learned from A New Hope.

Over the years, I saw Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi, read the sequel trilogy by Timothy Zahn, watched the Special Editions, the Prequels, the Sequels, and The Mandalorian when they came out, dabbled in the Book of Boba Fett, the 00s Galactica reboot, and the Clone Wars and Rebels cartoons. I saw Star Wars-inspired movies like Krull and the 1980 Flash Gordon** as well. There were specific elements I liked about them (Ming the Merciless, Baby Yoda, Poe Dameron, the climaxes of Krull and ROTJ), but none of them left as deep an impression as A New Hope or its first acolyte, Galactica.

I decided, sometime in the process of writing the Jaiya Metaseries, that I also wanted to write a space opera. The false starts may go all the way back to the 2013-2014 timeframe, but I didn’t take a serious stab at the space opera idea until NaNoWriMo2018, when I tried my hand at a Sanjuro-inspired storyline that involved way too many characters and not enough plot. The basics of the setting were already in place though: humans in space a long time ago and far away, a suppressed order of psychic knights, a new and oppressive government interested in getting psychics under its control, star ships that vaguely homaged the mobile game Space Arena (which I have played on and off since 2018). The most important element invented at this time was the division of different psychic powers into “elemental schools” (Stone, Lightning, Wind, etc).

A another attempt, for NaNoWriMo2019, produced the first half of the book you know as Shadow Captain (Star Master Book 1). The plot had elements in common with A New Hope and Firefly (tramp freighter, crew at odds with passengers’ agenda), Empire Strikes Back (a ship on the run), and Hansel & Gretel (two siblings at the mercy of a petty but dangerous woman). The hero’s arc came from old westerns: the not-so-bad man on the wrong side of the law, who gets recruited to the right side of the law, and is caught between old loyalties and new. I got the idea for the maguffin (the mad scientist’s invention that the Partisans are chasing) from a game mechanic in Space Arena.

The vaguely Egyptian underlayer in the Star Master universe comes from my long-standing interest in ancient Egypt, and is probably influenced by Galactica as well. The Akh, or sun-angels, and their evil counterparts, are named from Egyptian mythology but were created out of my need to account for the humans being in space since ancient times, and the fact that these humans had values more or less compatible with my own. And because every acolyte of Star Wars needs a “good vs. evil” conflict.

Where the characters came from, well, that is a story for another time.

*for those of you who are not familiar with this term, videotapes are a type of data storage medium, similar to cds, dvds, or memory sticks/hard drives, but with much lower data storage density, because they are based on analogue rather than digital technology. Specifically, they store movie data on specially formatted magnetic tapes, which can only be read by specific data readers called VCRs.

**Previous versions of Flash Gordon had in fact inspired Star Wars, but this particular version was only made because of the success of A New Hope.

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