Wiki has a pretty good break down of the opening plot line;"
The novel begins with the entire Solar System waiting for the news of the first successful interstellar expedition to Barnard's Star, a mission named "The Big Jump". However, only one crewman, Ballantyne, returns, half-dead and with a body so changed he's barely human."
I covered the androids & cybernetic organisms of 'Old Space' yesterday, today I want focus on the efforts of getting into FTL travel with Leigh Brackett's 'The Big Jump' which appeared in the February 1953 issue of Space Stories. The artwork is by far my favorite for this one featuring all of the classic pulp elements including the Bug Eyed Monster, the space man hero, & the buxom blonde. But its not only evocative its also the echos of the dying breed of the pulp magazines. What's interesting is that many of these elements would later on come back with the advent in the Seventies with the release of Star Wars but they never really went away. These same elements came back around in Warren publishing horror comics & magazines.
"What awaits us out in space?
New star-drive engines promise to open up the galaxy to human-kind. But the first ship to use the engines disappears and a sole survivor returns…alone and dying of some strange type of radiation.
No one can figure out what has happened to the ship or the crew. Nor does anyone know what happens to a ship traveling using star-drive technology.
Does some unknown horror await us out there?
The only way to find out is to go out again. And Arch Comyn is determined to be the one to solve the mystery.
But is he, and the rest of mankind, ready for whatever awaits us beyond the Big Jump?"
Within 'The Big Jump', we finally get to meet the Cochrane family, who have the in-system travel star ship monopoly. These folks are big players in the space ship building & FTL drive business. They're a major corporate faction in terms of every facet of space ship building & planetary government contracts. These are the faction that's going to be playing the long game within every single piece of the Old Mars & Old Venus space game. Nothing moves or is build without their say so. Their the ones who are going to be paying for, buying, & getting their hands on every scrap of data coming in throughout the system. This means that in Adventurer, Conqueror, King terms they're a solar system dynasty that makes Bill Gates look like a chump. They've got ties with the Terra government, the Mars coalitions, & knowledge about all of the alien races within the solar system & beyond. Why? Because they're basically Weyland Yutani for the Old Solar system. These folks are the ones that are going to be calling the shots & getting called on by the Terra government throughout the solar system and they've been doing it for centuries. They're willing to pay 10000 to 50,000 gold pieces per relic depending on where, when, and how its found in the Old Solar system. Why? Because these folks have been reverse engineering the alien technologies of the Great Race of Yith,The original Martians, the Elder Things, & many others. These folks are perfect examples of the royal dynasty rules from Adventurer, Conqueror, King rpg system in action.
But what the hell are they looking for? They're looking for the Outer Gods & god things like them,& we see exactly how fragile humanity is in the face of journeys through hyperspace. Remember that bit in the film Forbidden Planet where they make the jump to Altair IV and the standing under the rays to adjust their bodies back to our reality? Yeah well we find out the reasons for that in The Big Jump. Anyone attempting such a jump in this era is going to have to save vs poison or have some very nasty effects to deal with. That is except Hyperboreans whose ancestors compensated for dimensional gates & hyper-spacial effects.
But what the hell are they after out there in the universe? We get a clue in the form of "Outpost on Io" where prisoners can die like men or have the planet kill them. An exotic alien isotope makes metals explode and we get a look at the 'Old Solar System' form of Jupiter's moon Io.
Pendleton's quiet voice was grave. "Mars is old and tired and torn with famine. Venus is young, but her courage is undisciplined. Her barbarians aren't suited to mechanized warfare. And Earth . . . ." He sighed. "Perhaps if we hadn't fought so much among ourselves . . . ."
Outpost On Io You Can Download For Free Here
But what does all of this have to do with Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea & Warriors of the Red Planet? Plenty, the Lovecraftian races of AS&SH are still operating in Underborea & Hyperborea itself. They've been plundering & moving among the asteroids and various proto worlds of the Asteroid belt for centuries. 'Old Mars ' is a breeding ground for the types of outlaws, wizards, adventurers, and others who use their age old knowledge to move among the belt to secure many treasures, relics, & even bases there. Hyperborea is unique because its cosmology is both on the ground for Swords & Sorcery and the grand pseudo cosmic that we find in Sword & Planet literature. Hyperborea is out among Saturn & its inhabitants are unique in their knowledge of their night sky and what lurks among the dread stars. There might be other space island mini settings like Hyperborea out among the asteroids.
Master of the Asteroid by Clark Aston Smith is a great resource for some of the minor and more benevolent aliens that might lurk among the remains of the Old Solar system.
This story also gives some insights into CAS's Mars and more.
For getting into an old school sword & sorcery campaign with elements of space travel & space craft, I'd go back to one of my favorite science fantasy retroclone sets. Hulks & Horrors which is a 'pay what you want' retroclone mixed with a good dose of Bandits & Battlecruisers which is an OSR rpg kit for science fantasy.
Once again I'd be using Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea as the backbone system and the other science fantasy retroclone supplements.
Tomorrow we'll be returning to Mars & the inner worlds! Stay Tuned!
This post is not an attempt to violate the copyrights or trademarks of any of the films nor properties named in this post. All ideas are for a private table top rpg campaign. None of the ideas or opinions expressed in this post are meant to violate the trademarks nor copy rights of any of the table top rpgs discussed nor are they in away responsible for the thoughts or opinions of the author. The writing, ideas, and opinions are copyrighted and trade marked to the author and Dark Corner productions. This post is for entertainment & educational purposes only.