Although this is an article about writing sci-fi stories and making sci-fi comics that revolve around space exploration, I’m going to have to start by talking about TV shows. The main reason for this is that there are a lot more well-known examples of this genre in the history of TV than there are in any other storytelling medium.
One of the sad things about the sci-fi genre these days is the tragic decline of the space-based sci-fi TV show. Back in the 1990s and for most of the 2000s, there was an absolute abundance of great space-based sci-fi shows on TV.
There was “Farscape”, “Stargate SG-1”, “Stargate: Atlantis”, “Babylon 5”, “Andromeda” (I’ve still got to get round to watching this one), “Firefly”, “Cowboy Bebop”, “Red Dwarf”, “Battlestar Galatica” and, of course, all of the various versions of “Star Trek”.
Of course, there are probably many practical reasons for the lack of these great shows on modern TV schedules – probably mostly revolving around cost. After all, it’s probably a lot more expensive to make an interesting space-based sci-fi show than it is to make a less interesting one that is set on the same boring old planet every episode.
But, of course, none of this is an issue if you’re writing fiction or making comics. After all, you can do pretty much anything in a novel or a comic and it will still cost the same amount. In fact, the only possible added expense for making space-based sci-fi comics is possibly the extra time you might spend drawing all of the different backgrounds.
But, even this isn’t really a problem – because you can make the backgrounds for scenes set within spaceships fairly basic and utilitarian (eg: easy to draw quickly).
Plus, drawing lots of different planetary backgrounds means that you get to draw lots of new stuff and don’t end up having to re-draw the same boring backgrounds over and over again. And, well, this can be one thing that can prevent your comic-making from turning into a boring chore, rather than something enjoyable.
So, why should you make space-based comics and stories?
Well, one of the great things about stories that are set in space is that you have a much wider range of storytelling options available to you than you do in most other genres. Seriously, it’s one of the most versatile genres in the world.
If you want to write a dramatic and suspenseful story, then you can set your story entirely aboard a spacecraft. After all, a spacecraft is a small self-contained environment which relies heavily on technology in order to allow people to live in it.
If something evil gets aboard a spaceship, there’s nowhere to run. If something goes wrong with the spaceship, then your characters will have to fix it quickly or face certain death. I’m sure you get the idea…..
If you want to write a historical fantasy story, then that’s extremely easy to do in space-based sci-fi stories. All you do is make sure that your characters land on a planet that is less technologically-advanced than Earth is, possibly even a planet that contains some forgotten alien technology that looks suspiciously like magic…
If you want to write a love story, you can do this in space-based stories. If you want to write a comedy, then you can also do this in space-based stories.
If you want to write a legal thriller and you don’t want to do any research – then you can just write a story where one of your characters is put on trial on a planet with a rather strange alien legal system.
If you want to write a political thriller, then you can focus on the relations between various planets and/or types of aliens. If you want to write a medical thriller, then you can show one of your characters contracting a strange disease on an alien planet.
If you want to write a western, then you can include a lot of desert planets and outlaw-like characters.
If you can think of a genre, then there’s usually a way to write a space-based sci-fi story about it. Not ojnly does this make space-based sci-fi stories a lot more interesting to write (since you can “try out” genres that you normally wouldn’t write in, as well as adding more variety to your story), but it also means that it’s a lot more interesting for your audience too.
Why? Because space based stories and comics (especially ones that are part of a series) are a lot less predictable than stories in other genres often are. After all, the only thing that you can be sure of when you start reading something that is set in space is that it’s… set in space. Anything could happen.
So, yes, this is a genre that is well worth taking a look at.
Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂