War in the Heavens: Dark Energy
To get your creative juices flowing, I wanted to take a look at several novels, series, movies, TV shows, RPGs, and genres that really fit well with Fading Suns— it would be easy to borrow from any of them, or even do a chronicle whose structure was a direct knockoff of any of them. Chat me up about the possibility of lifting anything from almost any science fiction or fantasy, but in particular:
Dune is in a lot of ways the Father of Fading Suns. Its focus on the politics of Emperor, Guilds, religious fervor against AI and other high technology, on melee combat, prophecy, Noble Houses and planetary feifs, and psi-like abilities of secret societies, are the mainstay of Fading Suns as well. Difference being, there is a pre-human history to the Fading Suns universe, the supernatural powers are “hard” powers (more than just natural human abilities magnified to their limit), and there are a number of alien species.
I know we’re all jonesing for more Firefly. There are hundreds of yacht-class independent-operating salvage/passenger/smuggling/etc ships operating in the Known Worlds and beyond in barbarian space. Many planets are lawless as the wild west, or run by tyrants, especially outside major starports. Fading Suns’ First Republic era is practically identical to Firefly’s setting, and the only real change you’d have to make to set it in 4995 AD Fading Suns is that many of the crew would likely be guild-trained, and “Alliance” and “Independents” would probably have to be substituted with some other political affiliations.
- League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
LoEG was of course both science fiction, anachronism, and heavy cultural reference. Like LoEG, Fading Suns thrives on cultural references and recreations, homages, etc. And the array of personally powerful freaks and weirdos you can play— weird aliens, animalistic genetically modified humans, cyborgs, psychics, sorcerers, swashbuckling mystery men, aging veteran adventurers, provides many opportunities to put some Extraordinary in your Weird. Superheroes really don’t fit Fading Suns, but the closest approximation that fits snugly is an adventure ala League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. BTW don’t watch the movie, it sucked.
- Star Wars
Star Wars has that eye-candy, kitchen-sink feeling that exerts an undeniable gravitational pull on the Fading Suns setting. It’s a big seedy universe full of bizarre aliens and post-republican politics, and so is Fading Suns. There are certainly orders of warrior-monks, though what supernatural powers they have are more traditionally religious, and too there are cells of psychically trained warriors. However, there are no Ewoks, and Jarjar Binks would be promptly thrown out an airlock. Also, robotic AI is quite rare outside of a few League-controlled worlds.
- M.Z. Bradley’s Darkover
Like many science fiction/crossover settings, Bradley’s Darkover fits almost flawlessly into the Fading Suns “Lost World” template— one of the worlds that shut its jumpgate at the end of the Second Republic. And Psi, Feudalism, alien races, coming crashing back into contact with a very mercenary sort of bureaucratic space-faring terran civilization… it fits really flawlessly with Fading Suns.
In the strictest superficial sense, Fading Suns is not Steampunk: it’s not all brass, gears and pistons. HOWEVER. Fading Suns IS mannerpunk with technological anachronisms, which is really what Steampunk is all about. There are large sectors of Fading Suns society that are Victorian to the hilt— many upper crust hereditary guild families, as well as most of the Hawkwood and Li Halan courts.
- H.P. Lovecraft & Call of Cthulu
Does Fading Suns have mind-blowing dark horrors in its backdrop? Forbidding statues of tentacle-headed monstrosities in barren wildernesses? Occult tomes galore? A huge universe in the face of whose real conflicts, everyday human reality is a fragile tissue of inconsequence? Yes, yes, and yes.
Necromongers? Well… no, at least not that anybody’s aware of… Humanoids adapted to the dark who lost a war with humanity centuries ago, and have the “they’re all criminals” reputation to show for it? Yes. Terrifying legions of grim battle clergy? Yes. Prophecies? Yes. Fragile human relationships forged between ruthless badasses on hell-worlds? Yes. Bounty hunters? Yes. Cybereyes? Yes.
Wormhole gates to distant star systems? Yes. Human mythology was probably about the exploits of unimaginably powerful & ancient aliens using humanity as pawns? Yes. Conventional earth-like worlds? Yes. Also, the question of mutual influence is very interesting. Fading Suns was in primary development between 1995 and 1999, first published in 1996. The original Stargate movie was October 1994, and the television series debuted 1997.
- Le Guin’s Hainish cycle
- Warhammer 40k
Other sources for inspiration (though maybe not direct borrowing):
- Phillip K. Dick, especially Valis, Divine Invations, and Ubik (author/books)
- The Fountain (movie)
- Pan’s Labyrinth (movie)
- Blade Runner (movie)
- 2001: A Space Oddessy & 2010: The Year We Make Contact (movies)
- Prometheus (movie)
- Curse of the Golden Flower & Hero (movies, Zhang Yimou)
- Heraclitus: “Out of every 100 men on a battlefield, 10 of them should not even be there. 80 are nothing but targets. 9 are real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but one, one of them is a warrior, and he will bring the others back.”
- Shakespeare: “If we are marked to die, we are enough to do our country loss; and if to live, the fewer men, the greater share of honor.”
- Gibran: “And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.”
- Napoleon Buonaparte “The human race is governed by its imagination.”
- Sepp Herberger: “After the game is before the game.”
- Roy Batty (Bladerunner): “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I’ve seen c-beams glittering in the darkness at Tannhauser gate. All those moments, lost, in time. Like tears in rain.”
- Black Elk: “I had a vision with which I might have saved my people, but I had not the strength to do it.”
- Walter Lippman: “Ages when custom is unsettled are necessarily ages of prophecy. The moralist cannot teach what is revealed; he must reveal what can be taught. He has to seek insight rather than to preach.”
- Borges: “Democracy is an abuse of statistics.”
- Nietzche: “A nation is a detour of nature to arrive at six or seven great men—and then get around them.”
- Nietzche: “The best weapon against an enemy is another enemy.”
- Shakespeare: “As soon go kindle fire with snow, as seek to quench the fire of love with words.”