This week's winners (I picked two because I was sick most of the week and missed out on a bunch of writing time) are Tom and Brian. They proposed some pretty cool topics that gave me a lot to think about. I will back full force next week with some more of my own madness.
Hobos. In. SPAAAAACE!!
Hobos are a romantic topic. For most the concept sparks an image of a shabbily clothed train hopper with a banjo and a bindle stick boozing their way around the world on a freight train. For those who have traveled by less common means, it is a very different image. We wore the clothes we could afford or find, working when we could, and often for far less than minimum wage. Here on earth, hopping a ride and sleeping rough are fairly easy to do even with the current scrutiny on homelessness. When my friend Tom suggested “space hobos”, I knew I had a rough subject to cover.
First off, there is very little reason for a cargo container in space to have an oxygen rich atmosphere. This immediately removes one of the primary means of travel from our hobos and limits them to either sneaking on to human transport or finding work as part of a crew. Hobos would have to gain a lot more skills than the average person heading from the Martian ice mining colonies to the algae farms of Europa.
The next problem is space itself. There is an awful lot. On earth, when a freight car is “sided out” or parked, there are tracks the hobo can follow to civilization. If our hobos in space find a cargo transport with an atmosphere and get parked, they are stuck. Along this vein is also the time and energy required to cross the vast distances of space. Even at light speed we suspect the nearest earth-like planet to be ten years away or more. That’s one long ride for someone with minimal resources.
Our non-standard travelers would have a lot of obstacles to overcome that are easily overcome on earth, so I think it is a rich bed for storytelling. You can expect to see a few stories soon on the subject, but in the meantime, check out the musical creations of a real live hobo and dear friend, Tom Kerins (bandcamp page). Your contributions could very well go towards the first hobo in space!
My friend and fellow poet Brian (Katin Thehat) suggested the topic “vampires are really aliens.” This concept has been covered fantastically by several of my favorite sources. Vampirella, and all vampires in that universe, hail from the planet Drakulon. Doctor Who featured three distinct species of hemophagic aliens. Star Trek had salt vampires. And there is Colin Wilson’s The Space Vampires, later turned into the film Lifeforce.
I’ve always had a fascination with vampires. They are a cultural phenomenon that never quite gets staked through the heart despite the awkward attempts to gloss coat and satirize them. They are, and I think will remain, staples of horror. They represent what I consider the “perfect” baddie.
What makes the perfect baddie? Three things specifically define this for me: Unalterable motive; Overwhelming power; and Minimal emotion. Their motive is to eat, to feed, usually on blood. Take the blood away and they starve. That’s a good motive to keep eating. They are immortal, capable of withstanding nearly all forms of attack or injury. Besides that they have great physical strength and prowess, and abilities such as turning to vapor or animals make them an overwhelming force for most. And aside from the occasional bout of loneliness or boredom, they have no use for emotion.
I am not a big alien enthusiast. For me, the question of resources and time always makes me balk at the concept. Alien vampires give me some wonderful ideas that would allow me to suspend my disbelief enough to make something. If vampires are really aliens, then they likely have been sowing the seeds for human space travel since their arrival. It’s much easier to find resources if your food is piloting the ship.
Consider a generational ship: a spaceship large enough to house an increasing population for one or more generations and traverse a large distance. Humanity evolves to where it can make and pilot one to another earth-like planet thousands of light-years away. The vampires, who tag along for the ride, only need 192 genetic pairs to survive in order to rebuild their food source on the new planet. They can repeat this cycle until the heat death of the universe.
Will Antitopia have space vampires? Probably not. But I will definitely play with the idea. No harm ever came from writing more. *grin*
Brian has a musical project as well which you should definitely check out. It's called pIGE0Nh0LE and it is an excellent adventure in chaos!
CAST OF CHARACTERS:
Brian Dale (aka Katin Thehat): song-singer & word-bringer, psychopomp, psylosopher & backup metaphysics
Lane Wilder: classically trained master of sonic ambivalence, ear textures & instrumental adventures of all sorts
Between the Cracks (EP #2)
pige0nh0le (EP #1)