Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Anatomy of a Horror Setting #3-5: Horror Boldly Goes

Space... the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Event Horizon... its seven-year mission... to return from Hell... to seek out a new crew to torment... to boldly go where the Nostromo has gone before. Space is no stranger to horror. The basic conditions of the actual area known as space is dangerous and it is a seeming antithesis to life; cold, barren, and empty for the most part. For the longest time space was a great unknown. It still is a source of many questions and a never-ending parade of mystery. What is out there, waiting to be found, or ready to come here and find us? Science fiction that takes place in space doesn't fit into a particular sub-genre of its own unless it contains certain other hallmarks, which can then make it Space Opera.

Space Opera seems like an odd genre to which to add horror. It is historically know for its melodrama and romantic plots. It is also a heavily clichéd form of science fiction. By definition its characters, plots, and the civilisations, which inform most of the settings, all tend toward the massive, powerful, and grandiose. It is working in contrast to all of that where the best horror might be found. In keeping with Space Opera's past, horror doesn't have to be the only other genre added in, though of course such additions should tend toward being tropes and the like only. These additional elements can be from other science fiction sub-genres or from other full genres entirely. The use of vast space faring empires in Space Opera opens up several facets upon which to build.

The new frontiers of the galactic empires, governments, and federations lend themselves well to plots that are perfectly at home in Westerns, or Adventure stories. Those frontiers can be filled with horror. The series Firefly is a fine example of fusing Space Opera and Westerns. With the addition of the Reavers it veers straight off into horror. Cyberpunk is another possible addition to Space Opera and horror. Though lacking the 'Opera' aspects per se the movie franchise Aliens and its assorted book series' is certainly cyberpunkish with the company conspiracies of Weyland-Yutani Corp. Moving from Alien to its sequel Aliens moves from space horror to Military Science Fiction horror. Military Science Fiction often overlaps with Space Opera sometimes by necessity.

Mood: cold.
Music: Cyanide by Metallica and Satellite by Def Leppard.

Metallica: Death Magnetic
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Def Leppard: On Through the Night

In space no one can hear your spleen!

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