Every once in a while, I come across an idea or image that seems to write a story for me. The above image is one of those images.
Some time ago, I was pondering over the success of the Star Wars franchise. I’m sure there are lots of things that could be credited for its epic and enduring success. Last year, at WorldCon, I attended a workshop by Lou Anders where he broke down the entire plot and cast into a formula for success. While very engaging, I was looking for something more primeval, that je ne sais quoi that bestowed upon the Star Wars franchise such an enduring appeal that millions of viewers were willing to forgive the occasional, horrible acting from main characters. As I pondered upon this, it occurred to me that virtually no other sci-fi franchise incorporates magic as a main element of its worldview. Sure, E.T. has a magic finger and the occasional alien on Star Trek boasts some psionic abilities and very occasionally, Spock engages in mind melding but those plot elements are rather incidental and don’t play an enduring role in the plot. Even if we make the concession that one old school Star Trek movie revolved around the effects of that mysterious mind melding, that was only one of several movies in the franchise. Besides Star Wars, what other mega sci-fi franchise consistently uses magic in lieu of (or despite) advanced technology? After months of thinking about this from time to time, I still can’t think of any.
So, I began brainstorming story lines that would incorporate elements of “space opera” and/or sci-fi themes with fantasy. One of my baby ideas was to have a space traveler run across an alien who was performing magic, befriend that alien, learn the magic from the alien, and then use the magic in further adventures – and the magic needed to be something more thought provoking than levitation and the occasional shooting of lightening out of the fingertips. At best, my idea was rudimentary and it lacked the engaging finesse I would expect out of my own writing but it was a beginning. That’s when I found this image.
All of a sudden, that potential alien came to life and she met one of the characters in a storyline that was previously far removed from futuristic technology. She instantly had an interesting personality. She was nameless and wreaked of mystique. Of course, you can tell from the picture (not!) that she had a tail, an elongated torso, gills, and interesting skin patterns. Despite being a space traveler, she was very organic in nature and her influence upon the main character would be much more than “the alien who bestowed magic upon mankind.” Indeed, many of my reader reviews for Moon 514 focused on their interest in this alien woman and every reader who commented on this alien woman seemed more attracted to her than they were any of the other main characters – despite the fact that she was not the central protagonist.
All of that from a single picture…
I have no idea where I got this image from – if anyone knows the photographer, please let me know and I’ll drop a link and an acknowledgement.