About a year ago I was watching a panel on worldbuilding, and Steven Brust said something that really resonated with me. It’s been a year, so I’m probably going to misquote it, but the gist of it was:
“Most worldbuilding comes from a place of ‘I really like this thing… but I don’t like this aspect of it.'”
He gave a few examples, mostly to the tune of giving a friendly shot across the bow at John Scalzi who was sitting two seats over, but at the time I was thinking, “That’s exactly what the USS Banshee universe is.”
Namely, I really like Star Trek, but I don’t like how humans are such power-players despite being late arrivals to the interstellar table.
I mean, of course, I understand the logistic reasons behind a human-centered world-view, and on a TV show having a cast of mostly humans. But as proud as I am of us hairless monkeys, I find it hard to fathom in a universe where there already was a vibrant neighborhood of dozens of interstellar-traveling species, having spent hundreds of years exploring, fighting, mining, colonizing, etc., that human entry into the scene would be able to have as strong of an impact. That there would still be so many uninhabited worlds for us to colonize.
So, I thought, what if it were a universe where four alien species came together and formed an alliance, build on the ideals of mutual respect and peaceful coexistence and protecting natural resources and developing life… and they look at humans as a species that might have potential… if they weren’t so presumptuous as to try and claim every piece of rock with no flag on it as their own?