Sunday, May 1, 2011

Thoughts on Creating a Space Station

We’ve spoken of the various rooms and programs you need to think of in creating your fictional space ship as well as speaking earlier about creating a new planet and society. Now let’s look at the last major challenge for a science fiction writer to create: the space station. Generally a space station is bigger than a space ship but it still needs the same rooms as a space ship, at least for the basics. Even if your story is based around a single space ship and its crew, remember that every ship needs to pull into a port sometime, even if only to repair or refuel. In a reality based story your crew would likely pull into a port somewhere at least once every two years, probably closer to twice a year at least, unless they are in a hostile area or repair and refuel on planets. If you are writing the story of a single ship, then you may think that these next few posts aren’t worth your time and maybe they aren’t. Depending on the type of station your fictional ship pulls into, you may not want to think about a number of the coming posts, but it may be smart to plot out the ideas in the coming posts for your story before continuing. You never know what room your characters may walk into.
There are many different types of space stations and you need to decide which one you’re going to write about. Is your fictional station merely a repair hub with a single restaurant and a lounge to offer crews passing through or is it a full out pleasure port with little desire to repair or refuel ships? Is it a military center on the outskirts of civilization designed to bring order on the borders that is well known for the rowdy nightlife designed for crews far from home or is it the political center of an empire where everyone is well dressed and on their best behavior? Is it a trade hub with an established community including children and kept nice and tidy or is it little more than a hole-in-the-wall station known as the last step of the careers of anyone sent to take control of the rundown meeting place? Is your station a child’s dream, like a future Disney World, or is an adult’s dream, no children allowed, or somewhere in between? I decision is yours and will depend on what your story calls for but there is one more idea I’d like to suggest: the government facility. Governments often put their secret projects in a deserted area in space where people are less likely to stumble upon them than on limited planet space the government may have. These stations are often prisons or research facilities for anything from disease studies to weapon studies to scientific research on nearby space phenomenon to vaults of research started but deemed too dangerous or unethical to continue. Imagine the fun you could have if a ship in need of emergency repairs pulls into an off limits station, either by accident or on purpose. Those in control of the station would need to imprison the crew or convince them that the station was really just a rundown station with nothing of interest, nothing at all to keep the crew there any longer than necessary. Of course, the station really could be the major hospital station it pretends to be instead of the medical research laboratory it really is doing illegal research on unwilling patients.

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