Ross School - Senior Project 2007-2008
Mentor: Kimble Humiston
Title: Beyond Eden: The Memoirs of a Space Pirate
For my project I chose to write a science fiction novel with space pirates as the central theme. The project began as something I was doing on my own time for fun, and evolved into a full blown school writing project. On the outside, the novel is simple, about a heroic space pirate and an evil empire. But the novel runs deeper then that, dealing with biblical and mythological concepts, mainly the story of exile from the Garden of Eden, from which the book draws its title. The novel is told from the point of view of the main character, Captain Raikiendo Toranaga, a white hat pirate who is torn between his desire to lead a simple pirate's life and the necessity of transforming himself into a warrior.
The writing of the book took place over a period of about three years, with the second half being written the past few months. I made the cover art and a series of small images, one for each chapter in order to involve my skill in art with the project, which would otherwise be solely writing. I also made a three-dimensional model of the Captain's ship, the Black Templar, for display purposes.
I added a number of images to the book besides the cover image, including a side profile drawing of the ship from the novel and an introductory image to each chapter, as well as creating a three-dimensional model of the ship from the novel.
Cover image, depicting the ship from the novel
Example chapter image
3D model of the ship from the novel, made with cardboard and other household materials, ¾ front and rear views
My project began in the summer of 2004 as something I was doing for fun. I had just recently watched two of my favorite films, The Ice Pirates and Arcadia of my Youth, both of which have space pirates as main characters. The problem is, these two movies are some of the only examples of space pirates in fiction. The genre is criminally underdeveloped.
That's when I felt inspired to write something about them. In an afternoon, I drummed out a prologue and hewed the first rough semblances of characters from the proverbial stone block of creativity. It went slow at first, I sort of meandered along writing very stock-sounding scenarios of the main characters going about doing pirate stuff, a lot of which I ended up cutting out later because it did not relate to the central plot.
Said plot only came into it's own when I decided to use the work, which then amounted to about sixty pages, as my senior project. Though I didn't get any of my three mentor choices, the mentor I did get, Dr. Humiston, took an instant liking to the novel and proved very helpful in completing it. I began writing with renewed vigor, sometimes hammering out entire chapters in a day's time. Though the failings of modern technology consistently sought to deter my progress, I succeeded in finishing the book on schedule, honestly having had fun doing so. By then the book had evolved into, in my opinion, an excellent work with a clear, concise story and well-developed characters, the two goals I most sought to accomplish in writing this book.
At Dr. Humiston's suggestion, I delved into a number of established themes and stories ranging from Judeo-Christian myth to the story of Robin Hood, eventually resulting in the tale of a brave young pirate and his fellows. It became an almost classic tale of boy meets girl, fights evil empire and saves the galaxy. The book ends on a happy note despite reinforcing the notion of the cyclic nature of history.
In many ways the most difficult part of the project came after the book was finished, strangely enough. The fates conspired against me, making the even the simple task of hole punching the printed copy a Herculean task. I felt an extremely deep feeling of relief when the book was finally submitted for printing. I feel now that whether the book succeeds or not, I have accomplished something I can be proud of and can use as a base for further forays into the world of storytelling, and good storytelling at that.
Arcadia of My Youth. Dir. Tomoharu Katsumata. DVD. Toei Animation, 1982.
The Black Hole. Dir. Gary Nelson. DVD. Walt Disney Pictures, 1979.
Half-Life 2. Bellevue: Valve, 2004.
Hengeveld, Nick. "Bible Gateway." Bible Gateway. Gospel Communications International. 2007. Viewed 13 Dec. 2007. <http://www.biblegateway.com/>.
Herbert, Frank. Dune. Randor, Pennsylvania: Ace, 1990.
The Ice Pirates. Dir. Stewart Raffill. Videocassette. MGM, 1984.
Megas XLR. Cartoon Network. 2004.
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. Dir. Gore Verbinski. Buena Vista, 2007.
Priestley, Lindsey, Talima Fox, and Jake Thornton, eds. Warhammer 40,000 Third Edition Rulebook. 2nd ed. Glen Burnie, Maryland: Games Workshop, 1999.
Starcraft. Irvine: Blizzard Entertainment, 1998.
Starcraft: Brood War. Irvine: Blizzard Entertainment, 1998.
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Dir. George Lucas. Videocassette. 20th Century Fox, 1977.
Community Member (Details)
Dave Morgan: Professor of Cosmology at Eugene Lang College
Dave Morgan came to Ross to give a lecture on Dark Matter, Dark Energy and the fate of the universe, which I found very interesting. I talked to him a bit after the presentation and chanced to mention my book, whereupon I discussed a number of sci-fi concepts with him, and he explained to me what would work and what wouldn't. He seemed very interested, so I got him to sign on as my mentor. I sent him the book twice, once when I was roughly halfway through and once when the first draft was done. Though I never heard back from him, busy man as he is, I'm sure if he got a chance to read the book he enjoyed it.