We recently received this story idea from Alfonso Posadas Jr, and I think it shows a lot of potential.
This strange story idea, which could easily work as a video game now that I think about it, basically hit me after reading the tropes featured in the sci-fi horror movie Pandorum. To put it simply, humanity has constructed and deployed large numbers of FTL interstellar colony ships that are basically gigantic world ships towed by massive matter-antimatter engines and since each craft does not have superluminal communications with earth, over time each spacecraft assumes that they are the last of humanity along with the last samples of the Earth biosphere.
These weren’t pure bred generation ships, but more like hybrids to ensure the maximum level of genetic diversity with the lowest amount of resource expenditure as possible for the onboard ecosystem. To be exact, a massive bulk of the “payload” are preserved genetic material such as sperm and eggs, and even embryos. To ensure the continued survival of this genetic bank, crews are cycled out from suspended animation periods to make sure that the spacecraft as a whole continued to function but as before, ensuring that the life support systems are not overstressed due to high populations. There is even a system where brilliant-minded members of the crew, who cannot contribute due to their failing bodies, are uploaded as digital life forms to continue to mentor and advise the still living members of the crew.
Over the generations, this particular Valkyrie world ship – named Yggdrasill – has leapfrogged from one star system to another in an attempt to find a habitable planet suitable for Earth life or at least easy enough to terraform. Along the way, however, they run across other alien civilizations who are allowed to “stow away” upon the world ship by attaching modules onto the spacecraft since they were unable to develop the necessary science and technology for interplanetary travel, let alone interstellar.
However, by the time the protagonist is “activated” from their suspended animation cycle to resume their duties, the societies of the entire spacecraft have degraded to a kind of nihilist, survival of the fittest tribal-based conflict for what resources remain upon the world ship. The protagonist now has to survive not only human factions but also alien ones that they are not familiar with, all the while trying to keep the ship’s systems from collapsing and effectively killing everyone long enough for a suitable planet to be found. Naturally a question arises “Is there a planet to call home?”
I really like this idea. Pandorum is an excellent movie, and if you haven’t already seen it, I highly recommend you do so. We also proposed a similar idea back in January 2013 with our story idea “A Shipload of Morlocks” (which was admittedly very similar to the plot of Pandorum).
However, I think Alfonso is missing a trick by devolving the inhabitants of the world-ship Yggdrasill in the same way that Pandorum did. By adding alien cultures into the mix, I think the cast of characters would be interesting enough without reverting them to a primitive tribal level. If the ship not only represents the last hope for the human species but also carries thousands of alien colonists, just imagine how interesting the onboard politics could be.
In fact, rather than being a survival story, this could convey an interesting message about how societies adapt and grow by taking on new members and adopting new cultural traits. Of course, not everybody aboard the Yggdrasill would welcome the alien immigrants with open arms, leaving plenty of room for conflict.
How would you tell this story? Tell us in the comments section below.