02 March 2013

Damned Space Pirates!

I wanted everyone to know that I have not been abducted by Space Pirates, but this week has been nuts! The promised Space Pirates blogpost will be delayed until next week sometime. This blogpost is proving complex and maddening adding time to the normal schedule...and who knew that Space Pirates could be so vexing, but so fun to research?! Anyways, keep your rum cold, your laser-swords primed, and your sails at the ready...because the space pirates are coming!


  1. I woulda gne with "I'm on a research trip with Captain Harlock".

  2. I just started watching the Cosmo Warrior series with Captain Harlock. Dialogue is goofy (as is alot of anime) but I love the ship designs.

  3. How great would being on a research trip with Harlock be? That is my happy thought of the day! How could FWS talk about Space Pirates and not discuss Captain Harlock?
    Yeah, most of the Harlock anime that made to our shores are goofy, especially the original 'space pirate' series from the 1970's. The only Harlock anime I enjoy and own is 'My Youth in Arcadia', the Eternity Comics weren't bad either. I never felt like Harlock got his fair treatment, never got the great work that his character deserved.

  4. Christopher PhoenixMarch 3, 2013 at 8:00 PM

    You sure you don't want to be abducted by space pirates and made to join their crew? It seems like a great way to research space piracy!! XD I find the best way to learn about pirates is to read about real ones, they have such colorful and brutal histories even the movies often seem to pale in comparison. Historical piracy is a fascinating subject, I have several books on it.

    Offhand, it seems to me that space pirates need some trade to prey off of, you should make a point of that. No prey, no pay, as they say. So clearly we won't have space piracy if we don't have some spaceships to capture and rob- and don't forget planetary assault too, some pirates robbed towns!! So trade in space will come up with piracy.

    In some stories, piracy isn't so much career piracy but rather opportunistic robbing when the occasion presents itself. Something like this could happen if a rogue space colony ship attacks another to steal their supplies or something. And privateers are interesting, too, perhaps some space nation would employ privateers to raid enemy supply chains.

    The biggest argument against space pirates always was that spaceships, like steam-powered ships, require lots of support and maintenance. It is not so easy to stock up on plutonium fuel rods and consumables at some deserted icy planetoid, after all- scraping up hydrogen propellent may be doable, but some other things not so much. So a big part of having pirates is providing them with ships they can maintain, either by having very self-sufficient ships or somewhere to land and fix them.

    Another factor is the space drive, if it needs lots of refined fuel it won't be easy for pirates to keep it running, but if it is more like the age of sail (i.e., the eventually-lost "fuelless drive" from "Cities in Flight"), piracy will be more likely. This can be connected to FTL, too- with lots of planets to visit (and raid), a large amount of space to hide in, and possibly no easy way to detect ships in FTL flight, piracy could be quite possible. And, since you make up the rules for FTL, you can specify that FTL drives are pretty easy to build and maintain with the proper technology and knowhow.

    But the real purpose of pirates is to either be romantic heroes, or brutal bad guys (i.e. Triplanetary's space pirates). Or a mix of both, as in Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island", the pirates in that story are brutal and desperate men, but they are somewhat romantic as well. Either way, they often add a lot of flavor to a setting. So, you have to decide whether your character will fight the pirates or join the pirates. :-)

    Oh, and don't forget the Chinese pirate fleets and Lai Choi San! There has got to be some big inspiration in the Chinese pirate fleets for SF stories.

  5. I CAN'T WAIT for this post! Will you mention the space pirates from Metroid? I always thought it was kind of funny that they're called space pirates, considering they're basically giant lobsters that shoot lasers!

  6. There are several models for pirates who lack access to FTL in a universe with FTL.
    The Intergalactic Empire may not have the capability, the will, or the desire to stamp out piracy for one reason or another.
    The Empire may lack the resources to police all the trade lanes. In the 17th Century Caribbean, the Spanish simply did not have the resources to police everywhere which allowed piracy to flourish, as the colonial administration of the area grew piracy diminished.
    The Barbary Pirates were allowed to flourish basically because the European powers did not want to take on the nominal overlord, the Ottoman Empire. They also found it easier to simply bribe the pirates to not be pirates.
    The Somali pirates of today hide behind the 'sovereignty' of Somalia and the international community holds upholding this principle to be more important than ending piracy (an oversimplification I know.
    During most of history piracy has been a low key affair, mainly 'off duty' fishermen, it was only for a brief window that it was anything more than that(and event then a good number of them were state sponsored rather than freelance.) Hope this makes sense.

  7. Damn! FWS has smart readers!

  8. Thanks for all the information and input, and this has led to think about making a new feature here on FWS. I believe that some of the time, I will post up the topic I am writing about, and allow you, the readers, to give some input and information. FWS is lucky to have such intelligent readers, and it could greatly benefit me.