Launchland: Music for the Science Fiction Imagination

This album is about books. Books and movies, really, but mostly about books. Books are a world I live in, and out of all the worlds of books, the world of science fiction has stood paragon for me ever since I was twelve years old or so.

I must confess: I have not written the songs to the books they refer to. Rather, I have sought in the endless worlds hidden in my bookshelf for those moods and emotions that best fit the music in my mind. So it’s not like these songs were created as soundtracks for these books. But rather, they have come to be out of the same endless depths of imagination as the books and stories they are named after.

One song reminds me of the oceanic vistas in Léo’s amazing graphic novel, and is dubbed after it: Aldebaran. Another one was written when I was starting to read Hannu Rajaniemi’s outstanding Quantum Thief. It always propels my mind to the plaza in Mars where time beggars try desperately to extend their lives for one more moment of ordinary life. (Insofar as life on a futuristic transhumanist Mars can be called ordinary to begin with.)

Perhaps most significantly for this particular album, two of the songs are linked intricately to two novels by Alastair Reynolds. House of Suns may simply be the best science fiction novel I have ever read. Its outrageous scale and courage left me dumbstruck turning page after page, and the story still has not left me, some two years after reading it. The bizarre galaxy-spanning love story of Campion and Purslane is in many ways completely unique – quite a feat for a fictitious book in the 21st century. The second song, the album finale “Approaching Delta Pavonis,” links to a progression of events in Reynolds’ debut, Revelation Space. When the lighthugger Nostalgia for Infinity approaches the star Delta Pavonis, things are only beginning to happen. And a beginning, I believe, is as good a place to end as any.

At the end of the day, this music is about imagination. The worlds where my mind has wandered have left their mark, and that mark is stamped on these songs. I hope that these songs go some way to propel you too to new worlds beyond anyone else’s imagination – your own private worlds, with a shared genesis in these stories.

I hope this album gives you the odd chance to launch at the stars – and land at worlds never before seen by anybody else.

You can buy the album at iTunes or Amazon. You can also download it free of charge here.

La Mantrisse, créature fabuleuse et étrange

There are strange things under the stars.

There are bigger things, stranger things, things that simply escape understanding that wait to be discovered. Yet what strangeness is such strangeness that we can already imagine? And what strangeness could we ever hope to experience that we could not imagine?

Songsworth: Aldebaran

Tau Ceti Center Kalle K. remix

This is a remix of “Tau Ceti Center” by the Finnish composer and keyboard player Kalle Kovisto. The mix moves in the moods of ’80’s alt pop and Trentemøller with a dash of early Chemical Brothers.

Check out also the original track.

The Universe is a Many-splendored Place

We set out to seek one thing and find another.

Given that the colonists had been here for more than half a century, it was striking how much they had managed to live without. There were no large structures in orbit; no evidence of local spaceflight within the system. Only a few comsats girdled the planet, and given the lack of large-scale industrialisation on the surface, it was doubtful whether they could be repaired or replaced if any were damaged. It would be a simple matter to disable or confuse those that remained, if that fitted in with the as yet unformulated plan. (Alastair Reynolds 2000.)

Songsworth: Approaching Delta Pavonis

What Do We Hope to Find?

What is a world? A piece of rock? A place to live? An entity? Who are we to know?

We are only seeking Man. We have no need of other worlds. We need mirrors. We don’t know what to do with other worlds. A single world, our own, suffices us; but we can’t accept it for what it is. We are seaching for an ideal image of our own world: we go in quest of a planet, of a civilisation superior to our own but developed on the basis of a prototype of our primeval past. (Stanislaw Lem 1961.)

Songsworth: Solaris

Ave Maris Stella

The seafarer’s prayer, for those who cross the sea of seas, the sea of stars.

Hail, thou Star of ocean,
Portal of the sky !
Ever Virgin Mother
Of the Lord most high !

Oh ! by Gabriel’s Ave,
Uttered long ago,
Eva’s name reversing,
Stablish peace below.

Break the captive’s fetters ;
Light on blindness pour ;
All our ills expelling,
Every bliss implore.

Show thyself a Mother ;
Offer Him our sighs,
Who for us Incarnate
Did not thee despise.

Virgin of all virgins !
To thy shelter take us :
Gentlest of the gentle !
Chaste and gentle make us.

Still, as on we journey,
Help our weak endeavor ;
Till with thee and Jesus
We rejoice forever.

Through the highest heaven,
To the Almighty Three,
Father, Son, and Spirit,
One same glory be. Amen.

Songsworth: Stella Maris