Spaceships and lasers and Freebird.
A great aspect of writing science fiction is being able to use modern culture in futuristic storytelling. I played around in the fantasy genre for eleven years with my previous webcomic, Dominic Deegan: Oracle for Hire, and didn’t have the luxury to so plainly use things like contemporary films or classic rock. (Well, you do have that luxury if you’re writing urban fantasy, but a thorough breakdown of fantasy sub-genres is a topic for another day. For the purposes of this blog, just assume “fantasy” means I’m talking about another world with swords and dragons and magic.) Some fantasy stories make clever uses of pop culture, like a pirate saying “I like big boats and I cannot lie,” but that always takes a little life out of the world I’m trying to immerse myself in. Science fiction stories that feature actual Earth in its present or its history gives you the creative freedom to reference Sir Mix-A-Lot if you want.
In my case, I got to put a Lynyrd Skynyrd song in yesterday’s page. And not just any of their songs. Freebird. I made myself giggle at the simple reality that I was putting Freebird, the actual song and not a sly reference, into a story I was writing. I’m not used to doing that, but I finally realized I had that freedom. Earth as we know it today is part of Humans’ ancient history in STAR POWER, so Burke’s love of Freebird is appropriate in the context of our setting. It’s a fun little tool that I can see myself having more fun with in the future, but I don’t want to use it so much that it becomes tiresome. STAR POWER is a sci-fi space adventure, not a vehicle for modern nostalgia.
Freebird has an odd reputation, too. People chant for it at musicians either mockingly or ironically. It’s known to be a super long song with an excessive guitar solo. But I got the idea to put this song in this story after my son heard it on a classic rock playlist and loved it. He’s three, so his enjoyment was pure and honest. So we started to listen to it more, because I take great joy in listening to classic rock with my toddler. And I have to say, after years of listening to the twenty minute songs and sprawling concept albums of progressive metal, Freebird isn’t the endurance test some people make it out to be. Like my son, I’ve come to honestly love that song and it’s lengthy but quality guitar solo.
Don’t expect me to make use of modern culture often in STAR POWER, but when I do I hope it’s good enough for a giggle. Maybe a lengthy guitar solo.