Shattered Thoughts Info

About the Canon

Shattered Thoughts isn't traditional space opera, nor is it traditional eldritch horror. It's the name given to any story that deals with a certain set of themes and takes place in a universe with a certain set of basic laws.

The core idea of Shattered Thoughts is that if you scratch the surface of the universe, it is fundamentally inconsistent. Therefore, nature is not simply unforgiving, it actively eludes grasping. And if the laws of nature have no order, where does that lead you? ST is a kind of cosmic horror, driven by terrifying forces and incomprehensible creatures and concepts and immense scales of time. It is equally inspired by gothic fiction of the 1800s as it is by Star Trek and the Golden Age of hard sci-fi of the 1960s.

Shattered Thoughts deals with a visualization of the cosmos that is a twisted fairyworld, a foreboding and predatory universe bubbling up with monstrous abnormalities and perpetual storms of meaningless destruction. Black holes, pulsars, alien planets are thematically reimagined as fantastical sites one might find in a Lovecraft novel - yet everything is still set in a gritty high tech universe. Humans and the few other alien species out there are on the frontiers of the darkness of the rest of spacetime, trying to survive.

Stories set in Shattered Thoughts are inherently philosophical. They're at their best when they deal with big ideas and harness the power of the science fiction genre as a vehicle to explore questions of time, space, destiny, and the meaning of it all.

Here are some motifs that Shattered Thoughts consistently deals with:

  • The relationship between knowledge and the unknowable
  • The dual nature of science and religion
  • Cycles of history told among massive scales of time
  • Order and chaos
  • Consciousness
  • Magical realism

Shattered Thoughts is an excuse for you to absolutely nerd out when it comes to real-life science. You are encouraged to root your ST stories in scientific accuracy and even inspire them from real-world scientific developments.

To contrast sharply with the other space canon, Ad Astra Per Aspera, Shattered Thoughts has a deeply dark flavor to it; although there can be small victories, the universe will not allow you to have a good end. The psychedelic hyperreality of the canon isn't fun - it's fucked up, even terrifying. The stories themselves therefore tend to be unsettling, or scary, or tragic, or maybe reflective. Yet Shattered Thoughts is ultimately also the story of the uplifting ability of civilization and science, an arc of (perhaps foolish) hope and perseverance against the forces of the cosmos. The universe may be full of horrors of the night, but it's also still wondrous and inspiring. It's a land that we want to tame. When writing Shattered Thoughts, don't ever lose sight of that mystery and infinity.

If you want to get a good grip on the feeling of Shattered Thoughts, the canon is influenced by Liu Cixin's The Three-Body Problem, Asimov's Foundation trilogy, as well as the TV series The Expanse. Or maybe go binge some PBS SpaceTime and exurb1a videos on YouTube.


About the Universe

There are few detailed aspects of the lore of Shattered Thoughts to describe; again, it's more about writing with a certain mood and with a set of basic assumptions about how reality operates. But there are a few things.

If there's a such thing as a primary "antagonist" to ST, it's probably pattern screamers. They're a real and prevalent presence in the Universe, destroying planets and ships left and right. Their exact nature is left up to the writer, but the canon generally will ascribe them to be some kind of aberration in the fabric of reality. It will tend towards a sci-fi explanation of pattern screamers over a religious/fantasy one.

We are not the first iteration of humanity. Eons ago, there were previous versions of our civilization that were much more advanced than us, but that were wiped out. But people survived, losing the memory of the old empire, and the cycle began again.

[more to come]

Ultimately, the rules of the universe are not set in stone. The exact nature of technology, of groups of interest, of technological and societal developments, are all left to the writer. In fact, you're encouraged not to just center your Shattered Thoughts story on humans or Earth; write about something deeper in the cosmos, some alien planet, some other galactic empire. Every single surviving civilization in the universe is like an isolated island in the sea. How might the laws of nature and the terrifying abnormalities of reality affect them?


Shattered Thoughts: Broken Minds

The story that I, ModulumModulum, am writing is one of many possible ones in Shattered Thoughts, and indeed one of many interpretations of it. It is very much not intended to be the basis of the entire canon; simply my personal arrangement of it. But if you feel inspired by it, please feel free to write for it.

STBM tells the story of a particular version of Earth in the 23rd century, one that has managed to colonize the solar system - with great difficulty. A team of scientists use a particle accelerator to investigate the existence of a theorized quantum mechanical phenomenon, and accidentally trigger an invasion of pattern screamers on Earth. The story first deals with how humanity and the Foundation attempt to defend themselves against this threat, but the second half then takes a turn as reality itself begins to fail and a surprising truth about the nature of the universe is revealed.

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Ignorance Is Bliss

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