Ad Astra is nowhere near as 'conventional' as most sf games. For example, the Third Imperium of Traveller obviously owes much to Isaac Asimov's Galactic Empire future history, and the various cyberpunk games are clearly inspired by the Movement. Familiarity with these literary inspirations enables the GM and players to fill in considerable amount of background that can be essentially left unsaid, at least until there is a large body of background material relating directly to the game. With this in mind, and considering that the literary precursors of Ad Astra are more recent and more varied than those of most games, we thought it wise to describe ways in which we have been influenced and inspired by sf stories and novels. Although Ad Astra does not have any single work to which it owes a great debt, this survey will provide at least some sense of the atmosphere for which we are aiming.

The sense of rapid technological advance has been influenced at least in part by Marooned in Realtime (Vernor Vinge). The pervasive power of molecular nanotechnology is like that of Aristoi (Walter Jon Williams), and a more recent novel that, although not an inspiration, is similar in atmosphere is The Diamond Age (Neal Stephenson). From the latter we also acquired the term "phyle", although not the underlying concept, which we independently invented. The effect of technological intervention on human minds is similar to that in many Greg Egan stories, especially "Learning to be Me", "Axiomatic" and Permutation City, and also to Mike Swanwick's Vacuum Flowers.
Earth is a little like Golter from Iain M Banks' Against a Dark Background, being a patchwork of small statelets with complex relations and only limited overall authority. Again Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash and The Diamond Age describe political set-ups on Earth that are something like ours.
The massive scale of industrial development on Luna was directly influenced by Mike Swanwick's excellent novella Griffin's Egg. Its corporate-playground nature was not influenced by John Varley's Steel Beach but has turned out fairly similar. And, of course, all modern fictional Lunas have echoes of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (Robert Heinlein).
Sol System
Solar system colonisation has been highly influenced by Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy, which we both consider to be a first-rate future history. Our colonisation programme, however, has a quite different balance of importance between Mars and colonies in the asteroid belt. Paul McAuley's Four Hundred Billion Stars and Eternal Light share atmosphere more than any specific details (and certainly not the dodgy empathic abilities of Dorthy Yoshida).
The Belt habitats are inspired by Bruce Sterling's Schismatrix. The sense of a wild diversification and modification of humanity advancing almost out of control is certainly influenced by the Shaper/Mechanist future. I suppose that there are at least some echoes of Larry Niven in there too. The nature of the Belt habitats also makes them somewhat similar to Iain M Banks' Culture, although considerably less utopian (many are following explicitly utopian programmes however). The naming scheme of Astartan ships is, of course, a nod in this direction. On a similar note, the Terran Imperium bears considerable resemblance to Galactic Empires in general (and perhaps one in particular).
The Archipelago is something like Larry Niven's Known Space setting in the time before We Made It bought the hyperdrive from the Outsiders. There are, of course, many stories of slower-than-light colonisation that have undoubtedly exerted subconscious influences on us.
The term "Uplift" is, of course, from David Brin's Uplift Series. I consider the concept to be central to any setting that attempts to provide a coherent rationale for the existence of different species of starfaring aliens at the same time. Gregory Benford's Galactic Centre series juggles large amounts of space and time in a similar manner to that for which we are eventually aiming, and has an interesting machine civilisation that probably influenced us in some way. Brin's "Lungfish" is also a possible influence.
The Future
The development of the Human Archipelago could turn out like the human societies of Stephen Baxter's Xeelee Sequence, or Dan Simmons' Hyperion Cantos, or Greg Egan's Diaspora, or be completely different. Only time will tell.

The future of Ad Astra

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