Thursday, 17 November 2016

This falls out better than I could devise...

... or, fairy hijinks in spaaace!

Ill-Met by Moonlight was one of the very first stories that the Space Princess series was conceived to tell, as hinted by the fact that the Captain and leader of my bikini-girl protagonists shares a name with the fairy queen in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. In celebration of the release of the second Space Princess adventure with the good people at Uruk Press, this here is a little online tour through some of the novella's influences and some of my favourite examples of stories that thrive on an overlap between mythology and science fiction.

The "Snarr Freck" Connection: Devil's Due.

The discerning reader might just notice that the Space Princess yarns draw on vintage Sixties sci-fi, and especially a series whose title rhymes with "snarr freck," for a certain amount of inspiration. Ill-Met by Moonlight owes probably its most direct inspiration to one of those episodes of The Next Generation whose concept would have been at home on the original Star Trek series: "Devil's Due."

I hesitate to bring up Trek because I don't want to give anyone the impression that you have to be Trek geek to get these stories: you definitely don't. And if you're not a Trek geek, basically the thing to know about "Devil's Due" is that it features a sultry villainess who uses the trappings of mythology to get what she wants from her targets. (In my opinion it's an episode worth a watch if you've never seen it before, but if that's not your thing, no big. Space Princess doesn't need it to be your thing.)

If you are a bit of a Trek geek, the trope of aliens showing up in some kind of period costume or the trappings of Earth mythology to mess with our heroes will of course be familiar to you. It's a cheeseball tradition but an honourable one. Ardra from the episode was kind of a departure for this kind of story in that she was exploiting someone else's myths for once.

Ill-Met by Moonlight's antagonists are, in a very loose way, a take on what a "Devil's Due" sort of plotline might look like ultra-pornified, with a considerably more successful seductress in the main villain role and a much more "Sixties" take on the central trope. 

The "Snarr Freck" Connection, Redux: A Spoonful of Shakespeare.

The other proud tradition from That Sixties Show getting a nod here, of course, is the obligatory Shout-Out to the Bard which makes for a resonant-sounding story title. In this case the shout-out is a quote from A Midsummer Night's Dream, one of a couple quotes from that play which turn up in the story in the mouths of alien characters who strictly-speaking should have no freaking reason to know Shakespeare... but hey, this is Sixties Space and aliens know Shakespeare. (Does the story use any other elements of the play? Nope, not really! "Shout-Out to the Bard" achievement: unlocked.)

Fun Instances of Faeries in Science Fiction.

A grab bag of my personal favourite "you got your fairy mythology on my sci-fi" moments:

Literal faeries, ancient entities who aren't bound by linear time, turn up in the Torchwood episode "Small Worlds." It was episode with teeth... all manner of teeth, actually.

Julian May's The Many Coloured Land and its sequels feature a Celtic/Sidhe-type culture thriving and struggling in the Pliocene epoch after travelling through time. I guess put like that it sounds pretty weird... and I guess it was. But fun!

Poul Anderson's The Queen of Air and Darkness is a famous example of faeries-in-SF, featuring an encounter with fae-type aliens on the distant colony world of Roland. This story has helmed a number of the author's short fiction anthologies and is considered a classic by many.

Not quite "faeries in science fiction" but rather "faeries in alt-history fantasy," Ironskin is billed as a "steam-punk Jane Eyre" that features humans locked in grinding World War One-style battle with the "Fey." (Without going too deep into fantasy waters, because that would be a whole other post, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell has one of the most brilliant takes on faeries ever put to paper. Apparently it has a TV adaptation now, which I haven't seen and can't comment on.)

On the big screen, of course, we have Avatar, which is eventually getting sequels (first one supposed to be inbound for 2018 but I'll believe it when I see it): 

The Na'Vi in this classic SF blockbuster can literally commune with nature, live in forests and find themselves in a struggle with humanity... so they're pretty much fairies. They'e also badass sexy blue cat-person fairies (and allegorical stand-ins for every indigenous population that ever found itself in a no-win fight against the march of high-tech capitalism), which makes them even better.

Allow Me to Play You Out.

So, there you have it. Faeries in spaaace! Get your copy of Ill-Met by Moonlight now! And allow me to play you out with "Queen of Air and Darkness" by Conscience Racks Tom.


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