Alpha Centauri in fiction


Alpha Centauri in fiction

Alpha Centauri, the closest star system to the Sun, is frequently referenced in science fiction stories, especially those involving interstellar travel.

Literature

* In "Far Centaurus" (1944), the classic short story by A. E. van Vogt, an earth crew which travelled at sublight speed in hibernation to Alpha Centauri discover when they arrive that their mission was long forgotten and presumed lost, and that man has arrived long before them "via" superluminal travel and an unimaginably advanced human civilization has developed on the Centauri planets while they were sleeping.
* In Philip K. Dick's early short story "The Variable Man" (1953), the inhabitants of the Alpha Centauri system possess a vast but decaying empire that encircles humankind and prevents further exploration of the galaxy. Dick also wrote the novel "Clans of the Alphane Moon" (1964), which dealt with an independent former Terran Colony on Alphane III M2, an inhabitable satellite orbiting a gas giant within Alpha Centauri's planetary system. Alphane II is inhabited by sentient insectoids, who had previously fought an interstellar war with Earth, but are now engaged in an arms trade with Alphane III M2.
* "Revolt on Alpha C" (1955) was Robert Silverberg's first novel.
* Gordon R. Dickson's "Childe Cycle" (1959) has the planets Cassida and Newton in orbit around Alpha Centauri A and B, respectively.
* In Leigh Brackett's "Alpha Centauri or Die!" (1963), the overly regulated government on Mars has become so stifling that a small group of men secretly restore an old spaceship and go with their families to a habitable planet of Alpha Centauri, where they can govern themselves.
* In Larry Niven's Known Space (1964 onward), Wunderland is a habitable planet circling Alpha Centauri, and was the earliest extra-solar colony in human history. Later it is occupied for a long time by the Kzinti, an intelligent catlike species, after their first contact with humans, which resulted in several interstellar wars.
* In Stewart Cowley's Terran Trade Authority setting (1978–1980), Alpha Centauri is the home system of the Alphans, the first alien race Terrans made contact with and allies in the war with Proxima Centauri.
* In Thomas J. Hubschman's novel "Alpha II" (1979) a failed colony at Alpha Centauri is the subject of an explorer's investigations and troubles.
* In Isaac Asimov's "Foundation and Earth" (1986), Foundation councillor Golan Trevize and his traveling companions find the last survivors of a radioactive Earth on a largely marine planet, Alpha, which is in orbit around the largest star of the Alpha Centauri system. The name of the settlement is New Earth.
* In "The Domination" series (1988 onward) by S. M. Stirling, Samothrace is a planet in the Centauri system inhabited by descendants of those who managed to escape Earth after an oppressive militaristic nation known as The Domination of the Draka won control of the planet.
* Jack McDevitt's short story "It’s a Long Way to Alpha Centauri" (1990). ["" Issue 8, ed. Kristine Kathryn Rusch]
* In Poul Anderson's book, "Harvest of Stars" (1993), a fictitious planet of Alpha Centauri is colonized for the single millennium before the planet's destruction by a rogue planet.
* In "Flying to Valhalla" (1993) and "The Killing Star" (1995) by Charles R. Pellegrino, Alpha Centauri and Proxima Centauri are home to multiple offshoots of an alien race called "Alphans" who become involved in an intricate plot revolving around the concept of a relativistic kill vehicle.
* In Mary Doria Russell's novel "The Sparrow" (1996), in 2019 humanity receives radio broadcasts coming from the planet Rakhat in the Alpha Centauri system, and the Vatican sends a small Jesuit-led group (four Jesuit priests, a young astronomer, a doctor, an engineer, and a young computer genius) to the planet on an expedition resulting in tragedy.
* In "Alpha Centauri" by William Barton with Michael Capobianco (1997), a terrorist plague endangers an exploration ship; the explorers discover the remains of an ancient civilization and a device that can see into the past to find out what happened to that race.
* In Paul Levinson's novel, "Borrowed Tides" (2001), the first starship sets forth from our solar system to Alpha Centauri - with just enough fuel for a one-way trip.
* Michael Ely has written a trilogy of novels based on "Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri" (1999) computer game: "Centauri Dawn" (2000), "Dragon Sun" (2001), and "Twilight of the Mind" (2002). The game also spawned a graphic novel, "" (2000), written by Steve Darnell and illustrated by Rafael Kayanan, and a GURPS role-playing rule book, "GURPS: Alpha Centauri" (2002).
* In the "Starfire" series of novels (2002 onward) by David Weber and Steve White, Alpha Centauri is the most important system in the Terran Federation due to the large number of warp-point junctions in the system and its proximity (one warp transit) to Earth. It is the headquarters and principal shipyard of the Terran Federation Navy. Because of the nature of warp junction travel, it was believed to be secure from any attack because of the Terran Federation's immense strategic depth, however in the novel "In Death Ground", the Arachnids discovered a closed warp point into the Alpha Centauri system, allowing the system to be threatened and seriously attacked.
* In "Flight of The Mayflower" (2004) , NASA, through the US Government and The Mayflower Consortium (a loosely-knit group of mega-corporations), send a manned mission to the second terrestrial planet of Alpha Centauri A, attempting to escape an Earth beset with civil unrest and nuclear war, and establish an outpost of Humanity, far from any threat posed to life on Earth. The flight takes ten years, propelled by two redundant 1 GW nuclear reactors fueling an ion drive.
* In the "First Ark to Alpha Centauri" series of novels (2005 onwards) by A. Ahad, a 23rd century global space agency builds a (6 x 9 mile) cylindrical interior interstellar ark in orbit around the Earth, complete with a working biosphere and a population of 900 people onboard. In view of an impending Ice Age threatening the future of the globe, the ark – named the "Centauri Princess" – is then catapulted out of our Solar System and targeted toward New Earth, an as yet undiscovered extrasolar planet orbiting the star Alpha Centauri B within its habitable zone. The voyage is simulated to last of the order of 50,000 years and take advantage of material found in intervening Oort clouds scattered between Sol and Alpha Centauri.

Film and television

* In the hit television series Babylon 5, Alpha Centauri plays a large role as one of the Earth Alliance's major colonies. The human designation for the star changed to simply "Proxima" to avoid confusing the star system with the name of the alien race Centauri. The Proxima system has 3 known planets, with Proxima 3 being a major colony of the Earth Alliance. In the year 2260, it was embroiled in the burgeoning conflict of the Earth civil war when it declared independence in response to then-President Clark's bombing of Mars (who refused to accede to martial law). Earth sent military ships to blockade the planet and as of 2261, the blockade is beginning to affect the overall infrastructure of Proxima 3 that refugees will do anything to escape the planet, even riding in Starliners while packed like sardines. Refugee ships were destroyed by Earthforce ships, prompting Captain John Sheridan to attack Proxima 3 and liberate it from Clark's forces.
* The main planet in James Cameron's "Avatar" screenplay (2009) orbits Alpha Centauri and is called Pandora, "...or more properly Alpha Centauri B-4. Discovered by the first interstellar expedition twenty five years ago, Pandora has been the single most interesting thing to happen to the human race in ages. The news services love to run clips of the wild scenery on Pandora, and its bizarre flora and fauna. To a culture which has lost all contact with the natural world, Pandora is mysterious, primal, and terrifying."
* The "triple star" near Earth mentioned in Season 4 of "Battlestar Galactica" is presumably Alpha Centauri.
* "Star Trek" has on occaision mentioned Alpha Centauri, most notably as the system where warp drive inventor Zefram Cochrane chose to retire.

Comics and animation

* In the DC Comics universe, the planet Rann originated in the Alpha Centauri system. Rannians are so close to normal Earth-based humans that Adam Strange was brought to the planet to act as a sort of breeding stud. This was before Rann was teleported out of the Alpha Centauri system, into a parallel pocket universe, and then to the Polaris system.

* In the Marvel Comics title Guardians of the Galaxy, humans have established a colony in the 31st century on the planet Centauri IV, co-existing with the native inhabitants (including Yondu Udonta and Photon).

* In the Dan Dare stories, "The Man from Nowhere" and its sequel "Rogue Planet", the star system Dan Dare visits is less than 5 light years from Earth and has three suns, one of which is a red dwarf; so is presumably meant to be the Alpha Centauri system.

Computer games

* One of the potential victory conditions in "Civilization" and its sequels involves being the first civilization to send a colony vessel to the Alpha Centauri system. If more than one civilization is in a position to do so, a space race may result.

* "Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri" (1999), a spiritual sequel to "Civilization", involves seven ideological factions competing to colonize the Earth-like planet Chiron that orbits Alpha Centauri. An expansion pack, called Alien Crossfire, has also been released, also set in the Alpha Centauri system. A GURPS book ("Gurps: Alpha Centauri", 2002) was published to allow role-playing in this universe. [http://www.rpgshop.com/product_info.php?products_id=31952&]

* The computer games ' (1993) and ' (1995), Alpha Centauri is notable as being the location of the discovery of the first extrasolar planet with flowing surface water. The planet (named Eden) was later determined as being uninhabitable, though a small research station is present on the surface. The system is an unpopular destination for players as the only starport in Alpha Centauri is usually 900 to 1,000 A.U. away from where ships tend to exit hyperspace from. This usually means wasting an (in-game) month trying to reach the port without many prospects for combat or trade.

* In the computer game "Independence War" (1997), Alpha Centauri is described lying roughly at the center of the known jump point network, giving this system high strategic importance.

* In the PlayStation game series "Colony Wars" (1997), Alpha Centauri was the first star system to be colonized outside of our own solar system.

* In "Earth & Beyond" (2002), Alpha Centauri was featured as a Terran colonized star system with two habitable planets called "Wittenberg" and "Zweihander", and is home to EarthCorps HQ.

* In "Star Control 2" Alpha Centauri is listed as a red giant star, and is one of the systems where the Melnorme reside.

Role Playing Games

*In the GDW's "2300 AD", Tirane is the first planet of Alpha Centauri A, a garden habitable world, and it houses many colonies of several Terran nations. Tirane is the first habitable world discovered by mankind, the importance of Tirane has grown up until to be converted into one of the core worlds. Limbes is the third planet orbiting Alpha Centauri B, a post-garden world, sterilized by greenhouse effect. The "ESA" nations have a research station in orbit around the world. Despite almost a century of study, no surviving life forms have been detected, but fossil evidence indicates a rich biosphere just under 1000 million years ago. Sheol, the first planet of Alpha Centauri B, is a hothouse with fairly large mineral deposits, a combined Mexican/Argentine research station is maintained in orbit around the world. Moiroi (and its associated satellites: "Clotho", "Lachesis", and "Atropos"), is the sole planet of Proxima Centauri, a few nations have scientific or minning stations in the moons.

Other Games

* In "Race for the Galaxy", Alpha Centauri is one of the four player start worlds. In the game system, Alpha Centauri has the potential to produce nuclear fuel and starts a game with one unit (card) of that production good. The Centauri player can also more easily settle other worlds that produce nuclear fuels.

Inhabitants of Alpha Centauri in fiction

In the following cases, people or aliens from Alpha Centauri appear, but the star or its planets are not featured:
* In "The Centauri Device" (1975) by M. John Harrison the native Centaurians (humanoid aliens able to interbreed with humans) have been wiped out in a genocidal attack by expanding Earth colonisation of the galaxy. The novel's main character, whose mother was Centauran, is one of the few people in the cosmos able to operate the 'device' of the book's title; a weapon of enormous power.
* In Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's novel "Footfall" (1985), the invading elephant-like creatures are revealed to have come from Alpha Centauri. In a discussion within the novel among science-fiction writers about the presumed origin of the so-called "snouts," one writer dislikes the idea of Alpha Centauri because it is "trite," but admits it got that way because it was used so often, and it was used so often because it was one of the best options.

* In the motion picture "Impostor" (2002) the evil alien race opposing Earth was from Alpha Centauri. It is said that Centurians are superior in intelligence to humans.

* An inhabitant of Alpha Centauri appears twice in "Doctor Who" in the Third Doctor serials "The Curse of Peladon" (1972) and "The Monster of Peladon" (1974). Alpha Centauri is depicted as a large egg shaped green blob wrapped in a cloak with a singular slit eye and a high pitched voice.

* In "Metamorphosis," (1967) an episode of ', Zefram Cochrane, the inventor of the warp drive, is said to be from Alpha Centauri. He is also mentioned in the Star Trek novel "Federation" (1984) by Garfield and Judith Reeves-Stevens, the film ' (1996), and episodes of the TV series "Enterprise" (2001). conclusively establishes he is an Earth native, as he is found by the Enterprise-E crew on Earth in the late twenty-first century. It is established that Alpha Centauri is a colony founded by humans from Earth and that Cochrane lived on Alpha Centauri for a time before his mysterious disappearance.

* In "Encounter With Tiber" (1996), former astronaut Buzz Aldrin and science fiction writer John Barnes write about intelligent aliens who visited the Earth long ago. They had come from the Earth-like moon Tiber of a hypothetical giant planet round Alpha Centauri A.

Minor references

In the following cases, Alpha Centauri is mentioned but neither the star nor its planets appear directly:

* In Walter M. Miller, Jr.'s novel, "A Canticle for Leibowitz" (1959), a planet of Alpha Centauri (Centaurus Colony) is settled by humanity in the far future and is mentioned briefly in the last third of the novel, "Fiat Voluntas Tua", chapter 26.
* In Frank Herbert's "Dune" universe (1965 onward), Ecaz, the fourth planet from Alpha Centauri B, is ruled by the feudal noble family of House Ecaz, and is known for its fogwood.
* Alpha Centauri is mentioned several times in the "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" series (1978) by Douglas Adams: as the place where plans for demolishing the Earth to make way for a hyperspace bypass were deposited, [http://www.globusz.com/ebooks/Hitchhikers/00000014.htm] and as the home of "small furry creatures". [http://www.globusz.com/ebooks/Hitchhikers/00000026.htm] Alpha Centauri's main space port, Port Brasta, has a massive duty-free shopping mall, whose motto is the ingenious but untranslatable Centaurian pun: Be like the twenty-second elephant with heated value in space -- bark!.
*Michael McCollum's novel "Procyon's Promise" (a sequel to his earlier book, "Life Probe") humans find the secret of faster-than-light travel by sending generation ships to the system hundreds of years before the novel.
* In Charles Sheffield's novel "Aftermath" (1998), one star in the Alpha Centauri system becomes a supernova, causing drastic effects on Earth. Through his characters, Sheffield admits Alpha Centauri is not the right type of star to produce a supernova. This issue is not explained further in "Aftermath", but in the sequel, "Starfire".

*At the end of Neuromancer, the entity formed from the union of Neuromancer and Wintermute tells Case that it has found an entity similar to itself in the region of Alpha Centauri or the Centauri system.

* In the "Space Patrol" (1962) episode "Message From A Star", signals from Alpha Centauri suggest intelligent life but it would take a Galasphere 3,000 years to cross the immense distance. Irya, a being from the planet Delta, teleports himself to Earth to fit a special power unit to the Galasphere, enabling it to travel at faster-than-light speeds. Professor Haggerty, however, has reservations about making the trip.

* In the "Lost in Space" TV series (1965), Alpha Centauri is the intended destination of the United States spacecraft "Jupiter 2" launched October 16, 1997 and crewed by the Robinson family and Major Don West. Stowaway Dr. Zachary Smith sabotages the mission on behalf of a foreign government, sending the ship off course.

*Star Trek references:
** In an earlier "Star Trek" episode, "Tomorrow is Yesterday" (1967), Captain Kirk is captured and interrogated by the United States Air Force while in the twentieth century. When pressed for his identity and origin, he flippantly tells his interrogator: "I'm a little green man from Alpha Centauri. A beautiful place – you oughta see it."
** Alpha Centauri was also mentioned in several "" (1993) episodes. In "In the Pale Moonlight", Kira Nerys theorises that it could be threatened by an invasion by the Dominion.

* In the first issue of the original Marvel comic book "Transformers" (1984-1990), it is said that Cybertron orbited Alpha Centauri. After repeated millennia of explosive wars waged on the planet by its inhabitants the Autobots and the Decepticons, the planet was knocked loose from its orbit and sent wandering into interstellar space.

* Redmond A. Simonsen's "" (SPI, 1974), part of the "StarForce Trilogy" (with "Outreach" and "StarSoldier"), is a simulation of events within a conjectural future history involving 74 star systems in a three-dimensional "sphere" of space roughly 40 light-years in diameter, centered on the Sun.

* In ' (2001), the description for one of the multiplayer maps is "Chiron TL34, 'Spartan Clone Training Complex'". In the novel ' (2001), as the young Spartans are embarking on their first mission by boarding a freighter, they come across wine, on a goods list, of Alpha Centauri vintage.

* Lego set 6988 of the Blacktron II faction is known as "Alpha Centauri Outpost".

* In David Brin's Uplift series, Alpha Centauri is not explicitly mentioned, but the region around the solar system is called "The Ash", because all planets were devastated by the passing of civilization.

* In the Australian movie "", as well as in its spinoff TV series, a global network of crime-fighting young people is named Centauri due to the fact that they communicate using an abandoned satellite which is in the same position to the Earth as Alpha Centauri.

References


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