Dec 23

What’s the recipe for a 29th-century space fantasy about a family of privateers? It’s my own writerly secret, but as a lifelong sci-fi and pirate adventure fan, I drew inspiration from countless sources. Here, as a sampling, are a dozen ingredients that went into The Jupiter Pirates: Hunt for the Hydra, from beloved stories to evocative images:

  • A pinch of Howard Pyle:

Pyle invented the look of storybook pirates from Errol Flynn to Johnny Depp. His outfits might not be practical for life on the sea (or space), but so what—maybe this isn’t what pirates looked like, but it’s what we want them to look like:

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  • A dash of N.C. Wyeth:

Wyeth was a pupil of Pyle, and his illustrations for Treasure Island bring Stevenson’s story to rambunctious life. I love the coiled tension of “One More Step, Mr. Hands”:

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  • Hmm, needs more Wyeth:

Because how insanely cool is this?

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  • Now stir in some Blackbeard:

In The Jupiter Pirates, Huff Hashoone is an unapologetic pirate whose body is half cybernetic parts. He’s like peg-legged Long John Silver, of course, but the real inspiration was Blackbeard, heavily armed and with fuses in his hair.

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  • And flavor with a bit of Ah-nold:

From the beginning, I imagined Huff’s head as half-chrome, with a glowing artificial eye. I knew exactly where that came from—it was The Terminator, which I watched as an awestruck teen.

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  • Simmer till universe is well-done:

I’m a veteran Star Wars author, and fell in love with George Lucas’s space fantasy the moment I saw it as an eight-year-old boy. For The Jupiter Pirates, I knew I wanted the same lived-in universe, with technology that’s rusty and pitted, not sterile and clean.

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  • Add a cup of physics like it oughta be:

There are no robots or aliens in The Jupiter Pirates (it’s been done), but the starships dodge and dogfight in ways that are impossible in space. Why? Because it’s more fun that way. Thanks, George!

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  • Pour in a certain New Jersey family:

Don’t worry—The Jupiter Pirates doesn’t have brutal crimes or a Bada-Bing. But “The Sopranos” is about more than that—it’s about families, measuring yourself against your parents, and trying to make sense of a changing family business. And The Jupiter Pirates definitely has all of that.

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  • Season with some Cylons:

Okay, there are no robots, but if you want to get technical there are some humans with cyborg parts (instead of peg legs, naturally), and those cyborg parts play a larger role as the series progresses. I’ll stop there before I spoil something…

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  • Easy on this next ingredient!

I saw Alien when I was way too young, and it scared the dickens out of me. But I loved that the ship’s bridge was cramped and messy and the crew dressed like truckers. That seemed more realistic than, say, the roomy bridge of the Enterprise.

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  • Add in an old favorite:

I devoured Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin novels after college, and they helped shape The Jupiter Pirates. O’Brian fans were divided about the movie Master and Commander, but I loved the cramped world of the common sailors.

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  • And stir in some moons and planets:

Fiction is marvelous, but our real solar system is pretty amazing too. Just imagine what adventures await our descendents out here:

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Jason Fry is a writer in Brooklyn, N.Y. For more about The Jupiter Pirates, visit the official site (www.jupiterpirates.comor the Jupiter Pirates page on Facebook.