Today I’m starting to publish a story here. It will be a (hopefully daily) series of posts that are a screenplay of sorts, though in the interest of screen-space it will not be in proper screenplay format. This is a sort-of movie script. It is somewhere between a proper movie and a movie-of-the-week or a series, or maybe a novel. Read it like you are seeing it on the big screen. It’s a space-western, in the Firefly genre. The story proper takes place circa 2655. FTL travel was discovered in the late 21st C, but not FLT communication, so star systems are still connected similarly to the 18th century days of sail, with message-drones and ships carrying data and people between stars, often taking days, weeks, or even months for flights.Explorers might be out of touch for months. Many star systems and planets have been explored, and some have been partially terraformed. A “local” supernova disrupted subspace so much, though, that FTL was shut down for several centuries, and each terraformed planet (and planets that were still very much “in process”) and colony had to survive (or not) on its own. This was known as “the long dark” or “the big blackout”, as well as by several other names. This takes place after things have quieted down a bit, and “the stars are coming back,” meaning FTL travel is once again possible in some places. But, FTL sub-space is like a stormy ocean, and “swirls” in it can make FTL flights faster, or slower, than normal, or even shut them down altogether.
Cultural note: the dominate cultures out among the stars are the descendants from former British Colonies, but there are scattered colonies from various other places as well.
If anyone in the movie industry sees its potential and wants to turn it into something “real”, I’d be more than happy to talk to them. Feedback from readers welcome, be it positive or negative.
OK, here we go:
The Stars Came Back, Part 001, Intro
A series of scenes showing the development of space flight and the expansion to other star systems and the subsequent terraforming.
- Stock footage of the first flight
- Stock footage of jet aircraft
- Stock footage of the space shuttle
- Footage of modern space craft heavy-lift rocket
- A glowing and turbulent star within the nebula Eta Carinea
- A smallish near future space craft orbits around Saturn with moons in background
- A large space station orbiting Mars with arriving and departing spacecraft
- A spacecraft moving fast relative to a space-station , then jumping to FTL with very simple FX (stars shimmer, then start to move visibly)
- Eta Carinea even more roiling and violent looking
- A large spacecraft around alien (more reddish) sun and planets
- Lots of ships around alien sun / planet / moons
- A pair of massive ships (terraforming platform, or TFP) that look like a cross between the Titanic, a Jawa Sandcrawler, and a giant tunnel-boring rock drill landing on a planet and starting to grind / plow through the crust with a large spherical “balloon” (gas-transport sphere, or GTS) sticking out of the top. In the distant background a large three-pronged “tuning-fork” like thing sticks in the air.
- A line of GTSs coming up from the atmo of a gas giant
- A GST landing on top of the TFP. Another is pulling away from another TFP in the background. A huge amount of water streams out of the backs, and sand and blocks of metal shooting out from the sides on conveyor belts. Camera pans over to show, then pulls away from a man in a space-suit standing on a stern railing looking at water streaming away through the trench the TFP has dug, and it’s full of water; camera pulls further out to show the planet is criss-crossed with channels of water with some leading to a small sea and some ending on other TPFs with a couple of the GTSs moving to and away from them. The top of the TFP is covered with clear domes full of plants, and the CAT logo in 50m tall letters can be seen. It looks like humans are taking over the galaxy.
- A fly-by scene of an obviously non-earth colony being built on a new world and small cities on an alien planet
- Eta Carinea roils, convulses, then goes nova, screen goes white
Fade to black
BLACK SCREEN. BELLS AND SIRENS AND WARNING ARE SOUNDING, LIKE ALL HELL HAS BROKEN LOOSE ABOARD.
DAY – INT – Bridge/cockpit of a small starship. There are several bells and sirens and computer voice warnings about exceeded limits and system failures and blinking warning lights. There is a man, HELTON STROM, strapped into the command /pilot chair, with one hand on the control yoke, and one flipping switches and making adjustments on the control panel in front of and around him. The whole cockpit seems to be shaking him and everything in it around violently. He’s obviously trying to get a ship in much trouble under control. He’s clean shaven, shortish hair, late 30s, well built, wearing a simple jumpsuit uniform. He grimaces as he struggles to get it back to “normal,” as things go from bad to worse, with more flashed and audible warnings (such as “CORE OVER TEMP” and “Hull Breach!”) and lights, then he goes sideways, then upside-down with stuff falling past him, then back to sideways. Smoke rises past him, and briefly he looks at in surprise. There are a couple of loud BANG!s and popping like something is breaking, then another puff of smoke, a final lurch and all the shaking stops, all the lights in the control panels and screens blank out, and go black. He hangs there in his harness, silently, motionlessly, sideways, an expression of tired fatalism on his face.
Instructor: (OC, drolly) Well, that’s a first.
Camera pulls back to reveal that there is a man strapped in next to Helton, looking at him as if wondering what to say. He’s also in a jumpsuit, with a “Flight Instructor” where his name tag would be and across his chest.
Instructor: (slightly incredulously) You managed to crash… and break… a flight simulator doing a simulated crash landing… Impressive. Test again after it’s repaired?
Helton looks blankly at the screen in front of him, then shakes his head slightly, and sighs heavily through pursed lips.
Orbital Rings should make an appearance if Earth is ever show, most space ships will probably be built in space eventually and won’t handle atmosphere.
But I just love Orbital Rings… The idea of massive super structure floating around a planet with ships docking and tons of weaponry sticking out of every square inch and maybe shield generators to encompass the planet, it makes everything more epic… So yeah >_> I like the battles in space sci-fi
One question though, if you are in a space ship, how do you tell it’s day? Like will there be a clock with military time showing 1400 hours?
For screenplay purposes, when you are inside, DAY or NIGHT is as much to denote lighting as to indicate sun or not. At some points it’s clearly night-time aboard, because it’s all dim red lighting – otherwise, it’s just convention to indicate SOMEthing, even if it’s not critically important.
And yeah, there are a few space battles scheduled, but I’m going to try to do them within more-or-less correct physics (within the assumed limits and abilities of FTL and anti-grav and inertia compensators, etc). And so far, there are quite a variety of different types, as well as a few I don’t remember seeing anywhere (though I’m pretty sure they must have happened in SOME show or other).
One of the assumptions on the FTL is that it can’t be used too deep in a gravity well, so there are lots of ships that are surface-to-transit-distance, and some that are only for deep space and spend little time in conventional space when not un/loading or being worked on. Some are planet to planet. So, yes, there is lots of room for space stations and orbital ring sorts of things. And sometimes they go boom.
For correct space battle physics and weaponry, see the works of Larry Niven. I can’t take any more Star Trek phasers.
Arthur C. Clarke had a memorable battle scene where the weapon seemed to be firing a laser, but it turned out to be very fast-moving molten metal. Perhaps an offshoot of the recent, very successful, Navy tests of rail guns. But more melty.
Great start. Waiting for more…
That is something that gets explicitly considered – the different types of missiles, guns, beam weapons, etc, and where/when they are most useful. There is also a bit of discussion about hiding heat signatures, friction and atmo velocity, cooling, etc.
At least, I’m planning on a lot of that stuff, and have it in there, by I may cut it if things get too long. It’s already about four times longer than I thought it would be, and I don’t have half the scenes that are still running around in my head.
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