Prompted by the Coriolis Kickstarter that opened this morning, I’m gonna brainstorm and blue-sky here for a bit.
You know what one of the very weirdest legacies of Star Wars has been for me? The normalization of armed civilian spaceships in space adventure stories. I think it’s incredibly weird when mapped to our world and carries with it a lot of implications that literally no games and very little fiction really pokes at.
Okay so just what is the Millennium Falcon? Somewhere between an RV and a long-haul truck, crossed with a cargo plane. Room to sleep and socialize, cargo space, and guns. Guns guns guns. Also shields.
So I’m sitting here thinking about how that maps to our world, given parallels to our own world are often a good way to understand scifi. Take a truck, even a big truck. Put guns on it. Plate it up with armor. You know who drives around armor-plated armed trucks? The Mujaheddin. ISIS. The Taliban. African warlords. Khmer Rouge. Basically, bad fuckers in failed states.
Normal places do not allow equipment like this! Normal, civilized stretches of the world, no matter how remote, have incredibly strict laws in place about paramilitary armaments. You don’t drive around remotest Alaska armed to the teeth JIC you get run down by similarly-equipped roving gangs; you bring a sidearm and maybe an AR-15 if you’re genuinely concerned.
So I’m thinking about that in terms of the template for space adventure I think everyone has. Everyone has (at least) heavily armored and defensible ships, because I think the underlying model for civil life is that space is either too big to have laws (see the Alaska example; I’m skeptical), or high seas piracy is the ruling metaphor (see actual piracy from real history and you’ll see the limitations), or…space is basically a failed state.
Is the Empire a failed state? It might very well be! I mean, shit, the Rebels are most certainly a good Mujaheddin parallel, and even if you’re not political (say, an Afghani drug lord) you still have a vested interest in defending you and yours absent a functional, non-corrupt police force.
Is the Alliance (Firefly) a failed state? Probably, although that directly contradicts the omnipresence of the Alliance that the game and show seems to play toward. Treating the setting as a failed state gives the antebellum South metaphor of Firefly a whole different texture, to my mind.
Dunno, I’m not actually going anywhere with this, just thinking that maybe welding plates all over my Outback and equipping it with pintle mounted weapons is a weird enough idea that it warrants further exploration. What would it take in our world for that to be normalized?