When you tell a great political sci-fi or space opera, you need complications of good and evil, as enjoyable as the polarity of Star Wars was with the Rebels versus the Empire. In this blog, I’ve given some history in the captions of the tiny micro-fighters I’ve designed. I spoke about GDM, the Great Democracy Military, with its two free worlds and glorious white and red-coloured ships.
And I’ve told you about their enormously larger cousin race and culture, the EGM (Explorer’s Guild Military) with 103 worlds and growing fast. The EGM culture values exploitation without end. If they could, they would own every planet and mine and farm it to the point where the stars were empty of verdant worlds full of life and new possibility. The GDM are conservationists. Their entire ethos could be summarized as the “The beauty of enough” or “Leave space for something different to grow.” The Rebels and the Empire might not be so very different in both their core values and in the differences that bind them in internecine conflict. But for a really captivating story, you need entire people, polities, that don’t care about things the same way as the good and bad opponents you set up. That might be what completes real worldbuilding for the sake of good narrative. Some forces out there are just out to make a living.
Take a great space opera like Babylon 5. You have races that are made much more common appearances on the show, each with their own antipathies to other races, their own politics, histories, and most important, shades of grey as far as good and bad. I always thought that what was missing in the world of Star Wars was a polity of humanity or some other race that had Han Solo’s look out for yourself and end your life rich philosophy. And bend the rules wherever you can to get yourself that dream. I needed something like that for my fictional world, the one I plan to write up into a trilogy sometime soonish. I have 83,000 words in the tale so far. Another 25 should do the novel.