Kicking around in the back of my head as I work on novels, video entries and freelance gaming submissions, the sci-fi tabletop project continues to slowly but surely take shape. Assisting that is a few pieces of music. I’ll list them for you, talk about their merits & nuances, and what they mean to this project.
Holst – “Mars, the Bringer of War”
This is the opening movement to Gustav Holst’s famous suite on the planets. To me, there are few pieces of music that capture the excitement, pioneering attitude and downright scariness of true science fiction. It moves with a purpose, shifting between almost militaristic cadences and long, sweeping passages.
It fits this project for a variety of reasons. There’s the spectre of impending war that hangs over the interplanetary landscape, the feeling that mankind is teetering on the edge of something it doesn’t quite comprehend even as it quarrels with itself and the knowledge that the machinations of ambitious or even insane men are at work behind the scenes to drive the fate of humanity in one direction or another. “Mars” captures all of these feelings pretty well.
VNV Nation – “Sentinal”
The first vocal track from their latest album, VNV Nation’s music has always captured a mood somewhere between revolutionary and soulful. Behind the strong beat and cascading note sequences, there’s a feeling of weariness. While there’s a desire for change, to better one’s self, there’s also the impression that a lot of time has been spent dreaming of a better tomorrow while greater forces in the world work against that goal.
In the future envisioned with this project, battles have been fought both great and small, with no clear victor in the end equation despite accolades and propaganda on both sides. The players, in a way, begin somewhere in the middle, where they can either move to an overarching view of the volatile situation or choose an allegiance with one side or the other. The reason for doing this, on any scale, is to usher in better days, be it for a particular faction or humanity as a whole.
Tool – “Lateralus”
Incorporating the Fibonacci sequence and featuring a refrains scored in a rotating 9/8,8/8,7/8 time signature, the title track from Tool’s third studio album talks of man’s desire to explore himself and his interpretation of the world around him. The idea is to be unafraid of the unknown, willing to explore beyond the boundaries of what we know and learning to accept the things we do not. If someone can do that, if they can move across the borders between the everyday and the singular, one just might “go where no one’s been.”
To me, this song encapsulates the mentality of the foolishly brave men and women willing to hurl themselves headlong into the void of space. It fits perfectly with the dark sci-fi nature of the project. Also, by seeking to be different and transcend the particulars of their origins, players can move into new territory for them, influencing struggles of power between entire planets and possible redefining the destiny of mankind itself.
It may sound a bit ambitious, but I’ve never been accused of thinking too small.