I have been thinking about and drawing spaceships for as long as I can remember. Spaceships have been important to me for reasons I do not fully understand. I have reflected upon what spaceships mean to me and have concluded that they serve primarily as symbols. There are the obvious motifs of advanced technology, human daring and achievement, and raw power that spaceships represent. There is also the theme of exploration; the facing of the unknown. However, perhaps the most important thing that spaceships exemplify for me is that humanity has a future. The images of spaceships I saw as a child and impressionable teenager suggested not only that humans would venture into space, but that the future these vehicles represented was one worth looking forward to. Thus, the spaceship has become my personal allegory for the positive future for humanity that I long to live in.
Since the time period in which I was born and grew to maturity in seemed at times far from that glorious future age of human deep space exploration, I used the creation of my own spaceship designs as an activity that connected me vicariously with it. My intense attraction to the future lead me to explore the realm of literary science fiction in hopes of finding passages that could not only spur my imagination in the creation of new spaceship designs, but also sustain me in the often seemingly primitive era I found myself in.
I use the title “speculative spaceship designer” as I feel it describes best what I do when I draw spaceships. One reason I believe this is because the name term acknowledges that the designs I create are not necessarily based on current engineering knowledge. Rather, they exist primarily as personal and often very subjective images that perhaps may have little in common with any spaceships ever actually built. Another reason I like this appellation for what I do is that it highlights the main activity to be the configuring of original shapes for spaceships rather than the creation of artworks. Indeed, I see my talent in this area focusing more on the original configuration of starship shapes than whatever level of artistic execution I am able to muster at the time to express them. It is this skill at concocting interesting spaceship forms that I hope most impresses those viewing my speculative spaceship designs.
It is hard for me to stress enough the tremendous importance of the support I have received over the years as I engaged in what I came to call my speculative spaceship design work. I was very fortunate to have parents and grandparents who encouraged me in this rather eccentric form of artistic expression. There have also been a number of teachers throughout my formal education who saw how my spaceship work inspired me in the pursuit of all my studies and let me use a portion of my class time to develop it. My various employers have also kindly allowed me to use their tools to engage in my quirky hobby off company time. Then, there have been friends, some of them even fellow speculative spaceship design enthusiasts, who have recognized the value of my work to the point of even acquiring it for their very own. Finally, there is my wife, Sharie. She started out as an observer of my work but eventually became a collaborator in it. To all of you, please accept my heartfelt gratitude and my solemn promise that I will continue to persevere in this activity of imparting the vision of a wonderful collective future for us all.
I see the most important purpose of my speculative spaceship design work to be sharing my deeply held belief that the future for Humanity will be positive over the long term. In the majority of fictional backgrounds I set my work in, Humanity has entered the early stages of spiritual adulthood. This transition from the chaotic, spiritually adolescent condition we find ourselves in at present to the beginning of spiritual maturity implies some basic advances in human culture:
1) A profound recognition of our common humanity that transcends the political, religious, and cultural beliefs that we perceive as dividing us
2) The abandonment of the acquisition of material things as the primary way to measure our self worth
3) The conversion of the economy from only the gross accumulation of material wealth to the serving of the needs of all humanity with the much greater mutual reciprocity that such a change implies
4) Using deadly force only for self-defense and the protection of those under our care rather than for territorial conquest, glory, wrestling material resources away from others
5) The creation of a pan-Human society that actively promotes the positive personal growth of individuals and balances such growth with encouraging the integration of individuals into a community that takes delight in its diversity
6) The realization that one of the greatest joys in life is unexpected discovery, especially if it is the discovery of joy in being part of a peaceful, diverse community that looks forward to meeting other forms of sentient life.
Obviously, the Human star-faring cultures set in my handful of fictional settings are not mere replicas of current and past Human cultures full of squabbles over territory and resources, but rather societies reflecting a spiritual maturity equal to the vast improvements in technology they have obtained. My visions of these better potential futures for Humanity are grounded in the positive visions presented in both the utopian science fiction that I love and the Bahá’í Faith of which I am a member. They both offer us new spiritual outlooks on our current problems as we make our way though our collective spiritual adolescence as a sentient species.
My humbly offered but deliberately upbeat views about the future of the Human race are currently out of fashion. Much of modern science fiction media assumes that the future is a mere continuation of the present; from the depressing near future of Bladerunner, to the cynical and conspiracy-ridden focus on power politics in Babylon 5, to the stark depictions of the depths of Human degradation seen in Sci-Fi’s Battlestar Galactica. Even in the relatively progressive Star Trek, the positive vision seen in much of the original Star Trek TV series, the first Star Trek movie, and the first seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation was eventually replaced by darker, supposedly more “realistic” vision that focused more on dealing with belligerent alien sentient species than the wonder of space exploration. For those who don’t connect with or appreciate my particular type of positive slant, I hope you may at least see my work as a small counterbalance to the predominantly negative viewpoints that current dominate popular science fiction media. For those who do feel a connection to the hopeful assumptions that underlie my work, I encourage you to read The Artist’s Introduction to the Baha’i Faith