On Earth As It Is In Space

Space has long been the place, especially when it comes as a setting to spicing up genres or stories or TV shows or tropes that have gone stale:

Friday the 13th . . . IN SPACE!

Sharks . . . IN SPACE!

The Brady Bunch . . . IN SPACE!

And so on. 

Some of these work, and some of them don’t, but it got me thinking: what about stuff set IN SPACE that would actually work better on Earth?

Popular and talented artist Carltoons had an excellent example: Aliens but on a submarine:

How has this not been done before? Maybe I’ll be the first!

MegaBusterShepard may have hit the nail on the head here:

Bring back the adventure genre indeed. There are plenty of unexplored places on Earth, including the horrifically terrifying deep sea which is full of Biblical monsters and foul hellspawn. To this end, Daniel J. Davis and Not John Daker make some prescient observations about how this has, and could be, done:

Steve DuBois has an interesting spin on a sci-fi classic:

10/10. Would pay to see. 

Patrick J.B. Simmons and Rob Papesch remind us that this has, indeed, been done a few times before:

And Bryce Beattie reminds us of what prompted my original Tweet: the well-known fact that Star Trek was conceived as a Western IN SPACE!

Here are some other space-centered genres, tropes, premises, or situations that I think could work here on Earth (or some other planet; it doesn’t have to be Earth):

  • Running out of air or some critical resource while marooned or abandoned somewhere (seriously, we see this, but seem to see this mostly in space when it could work anywhere).
  • The implications of super-fast travel. What if there was faster than light (FTL) or something approaching that, but it was developed for terrestrial use and not interstellar?
  • TV show The Last Ship,  based upon William Brinkley’s novel of the same name, did the whole “generation ship” trope Babylon 5 and other sci-fi stories–including one of my favorite bad movies Space Mutiny–Dan with, but on Earth. I’ve never seen it but I think it’s a cool premise. 
  • Teleportation/transporters, but on Earth and Earth only.

That’s all I’ve got for now. If you have some extraterrestrial tropes that could be given a unique spin if they got transferred to Earth, let me know in the comments!


My first novel, A Traitor to Dreams, sort of ran with this idea, bringing the main character to another world, but one that is a world within the world on Earth (a technologically enhanced dreamlike state). The heroes face all kinds of strange creatures and situations. It’s a great book with a fantastic message and a protagonist you can really root for. You’ll love it, so buy it here

The Last Ancestor, of course, is pure sword-and-planet set on a distant world. You’ll love it too; it’s getting great reviews on Amazon. Buy it here in time for the forthcoming Book 2!

This is Part 1 of NortherWild‘s  7 posts in 7 days challenge. 

23 comments

  1. Alexander

    My plot ideas:
    Classic dungeon crawl in an abandoned mega mall in suburbia complete with treasure, dragon and mythic monsters and killing. Lots of mayhem and havoc

    King kong in underground cavern system.

    Holy relic hunting. Find a holy relic before the evilllll bad guy does to open gates of hell.
    mix mission impossible hijinks, tech noir, Tron Legacy esthetics with a super cool soundtrack from religious music to techohosechill whatever music.

    Satellite repair in near space with a countdown clock. Repairmen have x time before uber ultra advanced satellite crashes to earth and destroys civilization.

    Hal the crazy drone. Heros have to track down hacked homicidal drone bent on killing normies to impose a 1 world govt

    Well you get the idea.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Alexander,

        Thanks!
        I’ve never played D&D and I’m deeply concerned I wouldn’t do a dungeon crawl justice. Any tips, suggestions, or books to orient me?

        As for the treasure, what about a long lost video game (something like a riff of the ET game Atari buried in New Mexico)?

        xavier

        Liked by 1 person

      • The only dungeon crawl I’ve written was a sequence in A Traitor to Dreams. I actually drew a map of the dungeon, which helped.

        Benjamin Cheah’s book Dungeon Samurai is EXCELLENT, and really gets into the logistics of dungeon-delving.

        I was more of a GURPS kid growing up, which didn’t feature dungeons as prominently, but look for scans of the D&D first edition Dungeon Master’s Guide. There’s a whole section about dungeon construction.

        I’d say make the layouts logical (is it a cave? A mall, like you said? A temple? Etc.). Make traps or puzzles unique to the setting. And don’t overdo it.

        Check out maps to some old computer RPGs for inspiration too. The first Eye of the Beholder game and Pools of Radiance—both D&D-licensed games—are a good start, as is the first Might & Magic game. The latter in particular is one of the best designed CRPGs I’ve ever played…and it’s ancient.

        And the treasure being old Atari ET cartridges…you gotta watch the AVGN movie my brother.

        There was a really good documentary about that too, but I forgot what it was called. Spoiler: it’s NOT a myth.

        Like

  2. Setting things in space leaves a sour taste in your mouth because writers and directors don’t take advantage of the physics of space. How would Star Wars, for example, have played out differently if the TIE fighters and the X-Wings behaved like actual spacecraft, if the gravity generated by capital ships could attract asteroids or other celestial bodies, and if planets like Hoth and Tatooine had to have temperate climate zones with plants that could create the planets’ oxygen?

    To demonstrate that the “X… but in space!” trope still has potential, I once had a dream that I flew the transport from Joss Whedon’s FIREFLY as a sort of space taxi. My passenger for the day was none other than Professor Remus Lupin from the Harry Potter series, and I had to mind the time with which Iingered around other planets’ moons. The terrain and the quantity of the moons mattered little, because if I flew near a planet’s moon, then the professor would begin to feel ill.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s true that the actual physics outer space aren’t explored all that much, at least in sci-fi on screen. There tends to be a BIT more in novels. The only recent sci-fi movie I can think of that did interesting stuff with this is Interstellar. I guess Ad Astra did too, but I haven’t seen that yet.

      The trope does have life in it. But I’m just spitballing about some space-based tropes being used—whether or not they’re actually “cooler”—here on Earth. I liked my idea of terrestrial FTL travel on Earth.

      Your space taxi idea, however, is really cool whether or not it crosses over with Harry Potter. It could be any other werewolf affected by the various moons out there in the universe.

      This raises a question though: are werewolves affected by ANY moon, or just our moon/the moon of the planet they’re on? Because some of Jupiter’s moons, for example, may as well be planets. And Mars’s moons are just two irregularly shaped chunks of rock.

      Questions deserving answers…

      Like

      • Alexander

        That’s a really unique question. Here’s my take: werewolves are affected by the moons where they are. So in the case of Jupiter or Saturn, the various moons will give werewolves different capabilities with increased strength as the base line. Then choose the various effects via D&D monster attributes. And take into account male and female werewolves.

        Liked by 1 person

      • What if the whole “wolf” thing is specific to our moon? What if different moons have different effects, so future Mars colonists have e.g. were-rabbits and were-rhinos? Or what if werewolves, or perhaps our entire species, are in fact humanoid wolves who have become weremonkeys (possibly triggered by the rays of Earth, and possibly involving being bitten by radioactive Neanderthals a few million years ago) and it’s only the influence of the moon that turns (some of) us back to our true form? Perhaps on the moon, werewolves are wolves all the time and sapient monkey-things only at Full Earth!

        (Maybe one or more of the Apollo crew turned wolf while visiting the moon – it would explain that weird post-moon landing press conference where the astronauts were all sombre and stoney-faced like their dogs had just died.)

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Alexander

    Thanks for the tips and resources. I happen to have Benjamin’s books. I’m so backlogged. But I’ll definitely read it for ideas
    The abandoned mega mall is the 21st century dungeon. Using a directory map is a great idea.

    As for the interstellar werewolves I have some ideas. For the example the women I’d do a riff of aliens. The woman wolf spreads lycocahtropy via an enhanced libido that can be mistaken for a succubus. The challenge is to present in a really family friendly way. O and throw in a werewolf/vampire hunter killer unit of the Inquisition.
    Sorta like techothriller monster hunting

    xavier

    Liked by 1 person

  4. FTL travel on Earth would basically be teleportation. Even if it was possible, the pressure wave you cause would leave a path of destruction in your wake. Solving this would make a great plot device in a hard sci-fi novel, but the greatest potential for FTL is unlocked when you use it go outside the solar system.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alexander

      Thanks. I’d add an internal tension to both male and female werewolves.Whereby the intensity is based on whether they wilfully sought becoming one or not. In the case of the former, no mercy for man or woman; those that didn’t seek to become one, they can be saved,reintegrated into society. but the transformation is permanent. I have to work out the rules for Communion, mass going and what conditions trigger the transformation..

      Vampires are a kill list.
      .
      In the case of wolf women, the Church gets a huge laugh as once the libido is correctly channelled, they make great moms with numerous families (and don’t threaten the kids or the community!) The werewolves make good warriors and family men (and don’t threaten kids or the community either! And woe to those werewolves and vampires that target kids and women!!)

      And yes there’s a hunter/killer unit made up of saved werewolves where some members are married couples with the brood 🙂

      xavier

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I don’t know if this counts but, while Cyberpunk riffed on many of the themes, tones, and tropes of noir, I don’t recall reading an actual cyberpunk detective story. Hercule Poirot, his crime scene ablaze with the reflected fire of neon lights, perhaps…

    Star Wars but set in a fictionalised Southeast Asian country. Luke is a fisherman; Leia the adopted daughter of the head of a local development committee; and Han Solo a drifting surfer on a tourist visa, desperate to pay off a crime boss in neighbouring Thailand.

    The intrepid crew of a think-tank discover an AI-worshipping cult in a basement at MIT. (In a subversion of the trope, the cultists believe their idol to be a computer when, in fact, it’s a minor Mesopotamian deity.)

    This is really good fun to play with! Thanks for posing such an interesting thought-experiment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Those a really cool premises!

      I’ll allow the cyberpunk one—cyberpunk crosses with classic murder mystery would be really, really fun and interesting.

      The first—Star Wars in Southeast Asia—could be done in such a way that I’m sure the fact that it’s a riff on Star Wars goes over most people’s heads. And what a great locals.

      And your second premise is also really intriguing. Sort of a C.S. Lewis Space Trilogy vibe to it as well.

      And it’s my pleasure! Comments like these are why I write posts like this.

      Like

  6. “Aliens but on a submarine:”

    “Leviathan” (1989) was sort of an underwater version of “Alien”, as is “Underwater” (2020).

    “A good Hollow Earth tale would be the bees knees right about now.”

    The new Godzilla and King Kong movies have had Hollow Earth elements. “Godzilla: Kind of the Monsters” (2019) even had a significant scene set in a vast subterranean lost kingdom that had to be accessed by going underwater in a submarine, then surfacing in the vast air-filled cavern.

    “A tale of lost Atlantis or Lemuria would be great, too!”

    “Aquaman” (2018) is about Atlantis, and even throws in Lovecraftian sea monsters and a Verne/Burroughs-style Hollow Earth for good measure.

    Liked by 1 person

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