Location, location, location

Jan 19, 2013


Some exciting news regarding the book. I’ve been in discussions with Michael at Frontier Developments as to where the book will be set and the ‘art of the possible’ with respect to the systems within Elite.

As the plot has come together I’ve been firming up ideas on how to get this all to work.

The plot is based on the backdrop of Elite, more particularly relating to the political situation within the galaxy. As you may be aware, there are three major powers in the universe immediately around the Earth (or the Sol system) in the time of ‘Elite’: the Federation, Imperials and the Alliance.

The Federation

The Federation is based around the ‘Core Systems’ with ‘Sol’ at its centre, extending out past familiar star systems such as Barnard’s Star, Alpha Centauri, Tau Ceti, Epsilon Eridani and so on. The Federation has been in existence for hundreds of years.


Federation Space as portrayed in the original FFE Game

The Empire

To the ‘south’ (as the FFE galactic map is organised) lies the Empire of the Duval Dynasty. Centred around the Achenar star system, this is a militaristic dictatorship, equal to (and some say even more powerful than) the Federation.


Imperial Space as portrayed in the original FFE Game

Note how many of the systems here are ‘made up’ by the procedural engine in FFE, can you even pronounce Exiool? 🙂 Achenar is a real place of course.)

The Alliance

In the second Elite (Frontier) the Federation and the Empire were the only two organisations that existed, the game was set in the year 3200. But by the time of the third Elite (set in 3250), things had changed a little.

The Federation and the Empire had been at war for many years. In 3230 an alliance of worlds centred around the Alioth star system got fed up with this warmongering and instigated a mass insurrection, defeating the joint forces of the Federation and the Empire. Thus the Alliance of Independent worlds was formed, lying ‘North’ of the Federation.


Alliance Space as portrayed in the original FFE Game

These three powers drive the politics in the explored worlds of Elite.

So how does this relate to Elite:Reclamation?

As I mentioned, my novel is set against this backdrop. The action will centre around a star system that lies on the edge of this political influence, a system that is loosely coupled to all three powers and being actively fought over by the Federation and the Imperials. Given their spatial location, this narrows down the place in which the desired system could exist.

Being an enthusiastic astronomer I also wanted the system to be a ‘real’ system, i.e. One that actually exists out there in the universe, not a procedurally generated one.

Unfortunately, all the systems in question were already populated in the Elite world. One in particular took my fancy, and I’ve been in discussion with Frontier Developments as to whether I can use it.

On Friday, Michael got back to me and gave me permission to ‘change the future’ as it were! Thus I can reveal the setting.

Elite:Reclamation will be based in and around the Wolf 630 (also known as Gliese 644/643) system, 21 lightyears from Earth.


This lies to the ‘North west’ of the Imperial area and ‘South West’ of the Federation, neatly on the edge of these super powers and influenced by all three of them. Traders will have nicknamed the system ‘The Prism’ on account of the number of stars ( there are six in FFE – but in reality only 5 – so that needs fixing.)

Here’s an extract from the Frontier map, showing the relative position of the various powers.


The Frontier map of this part of the Galaxy

Wolf 630 an interesting place. Here it is in the original FFE game.


The Wolf 630 star system as depicted in FFE

As you can see, there are six (five!) stars and some weird indigenous life. This is the edge of the ‘Frontier’ beyond this the systems are increasingly uninhabited. You’ll also notice that it is a Federation member and trades mostly in agriculture.

This is how the system is in the year 3250. In the next 50 years, up until the start of Elite:Dangerous (which we’ve been told is set around 3300), things will be rather less settled. Michael’s given me the opportunity to write some new history for this system and move some of the artefacts in the system around. I’ll be writing this up and submitting to him for approval into the Elite ‘Canon’.

The main planet, Landfall, will experience some major political upheaval and the description of Wolf 630 will be markedly different in Elite:Dangerous!

It’s possible to visit Wolf 630 in other games and simulation. Here is what the system looks like from high orbit of ‘Landfall’ in FFE. You can see the Brown Dwarf ‘McCarthy’ (with rings – might rename that – not a great name!) hanging ominously behind it.


Flying around the Wolf 630 star system in FFE

Here is what the system looks like in ‘SpaceEngine’. One of my favourite astronomical visualisers. This gives a clue as to what you’ll be able to experience when you visit the system in-game next year. This is from a hypothetical moon orbiting a hypothetical gas giant in the system, looking towards the primary Wolf 630 red dwarf (Wolf 360a).


Wolf 630 as depicted in ‘SpaceEngine’

Here is the location of Wolf 630 in the sky from Earth. The system is too dim to be seen with the naked eye, but it’s visible in a telescope from the UK, during the summer months. (Image from Stellarium)


Where Wolf 630 is located as seen from Earth (Stellarium)

Artwork you’ve previously seen now has a firm location. Below is the capital city of Landfall, where our story will start. Note the stars of the ‘Prism’ in the sky. The colour is wrong (as these are Red Dwarfs) but we’ll get that fixed before too much longer!

Alien City

The Capital City on the planet ‘Landfall’ in the Wolf 630 system.

So we have a location, a time, a plot and a series of characters. It’s all coming together!

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