Backmatter Part 9: Ad Astra

High Concept: “The Right Stuff” meets “Master and Commander”

Genre: Scientific Romance meets modern conspiracy
Overview: “NASA always knew.

“It stands to reason, really. Ever since Jefferson, NASA (then known as the National Astro-Nautical Survey Administration) had secretly collected the stories of midnight tides to the stars, shadowed cays or misty lakes leading to the shores of the moon and paths off of the end of the world, seeking a way to slip the sundry bonds of earth and sail the starways.

Once they got there, of course, they saw that they weren’t the only ones up there. Whether it was the longships of Ymirsblot, the great sky-galleys of Osiris, the junks of the Jade Emperor or the star-clippers of the Libertatian buccaneers, the starways were a dangerous place for a country new to itself and its place in the universe.

There was wealth to be found among the hundred worlds, though, and NASA sought it out, trading or warring with the other starfarers and, occasionally, dealing with the alien races of the Menagerie when they crossed into the star system.

The heads of NASA decided to come partially to light in the 1960s, starting a “National Aeronautics and Space Administration” to help the nations of the world grow comfortable with the thought of space travel. Neil Armstrong skipped along the lunar surface, watching as the rest of his crew visited the Great Lighthouse at the center of the Sea of Tranquility.

The “Space Age” was by no means a peaceful one. Many of Terra’s wars slipped into space, as holdouts from Deseret and Confederate freebooters took their battles into the aether and fallen nations sought redoubts in the darkness of space. Robber barons and commerce raiders flew missions from the “fast country” of Mercury, seeking to partition the solar system in their own mercantile interests.

And, of course, there be monsters. Sailors tell stories of vast creatures who unfurl fins to tack along the solar wind or howl radio signals into the endless black. The S.S. Carl Sagan sent pictures back of the Lady of Storms, a kilometers-long thing wreathed in plasma arcs, eye spots along her length, while the S.S. Decatur barely survived being incorporated into the reef of ships that surrounds the Princess of Reckless Seduction. And there’s not a man alive who doesn’t shiver at the thought of the Queen With Ten Thousand Young opening row upon row of birthing tubes to send waves of assault nymphs at her foes…

That’s all talk for another time, though. Battle stations! Hill of Cumorah’s sending boarders, and those Mormons’ll give no quarter! Look sharpish, you swabs, and prepare to stand and deliver!”

– Captain J.V. Wells of the S.S. Goddard

System: I have absolutely no idea. Savage Worlds, maybe?
Illustrator: Steven Sanders
Director: Peter Weir
Potential casting: Max Von Sydow, Lucy Lawless, Kyle MacLaughlin, Djimon Honsou, Ben Kingsley, Russell Crowe, Eliza Dushku, John Goodman

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