Music and Science Fiction
By Steve Buick
George Lucas once said fifty percent of the entertainment value of a film comes from the music.
Soundtracks have brought films to life for the great directors for decades. With many classic and memorable moments from the huge timpani drums of 2001's Also Sprach Zarathustra to the deep and sparkling electronics of Vangelis' Bladerunner. Good musical scores work symbiotically with the pictures, intrinsically connecting them.
But for me, there has been something missing from the experience of reading about the amazing worlds created by authors with equally vast imaginations. I have decided to change that.
I wrote to Peter F Hamilton last year with an idea to create long, evolving soundscapes that are inspired by the words and worlds of The Abyss Beyond Dreams, which he was part-way through writing. Peter was immediately keen on the idea and the result, several months later, was a three track album of long atmospheres that seal off the outside world and bring the characters (and ever-present Fallers) the ideal sonic environment to heighten the senses while reading. The tracks work anywhere in the book, from the calmer narratives to the tense action. I'm happy to say I'll also be producing music for the second book, Night Without Stars.
I have applied the same idea with Neal Asher's Dark Intelligence, the first in his Transformation series and a return to the Polity universe. His worlds are harsh, with characters that are enhanced by technology, sometimes in horrific ways and for horrific purposes. There is a pace and intensity that requires musical transformations matching those of the characters with a constantly moving tension. All overshadowed by the dark intensions of those seeking power and revenge.
The ideas behind the music have come from years of enjoying the escapism of science fiction in all its forms and from pioneering musicians and bands who, to me, project the worlds of science fiction through their music. This is why you might hear echoes of Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk, Jean-Michel Jarre or Brian Eno in the tracks I created for Peter and Neal. I call them 'evokescapes' - musical pieces that evoke the atmosphere of the written word.
I hope to see many books with music created specifically for the stories. I see people every day listening to music in earphones, reading books and Kindles. They are probably listening to random playlists or something roughly approximating the feel of the story. Now they can have music that belongs to those words and those worlds.
The music for Peter Hamilton's 'The Abyss Beyond Dreams' and Neal Asher's 'Dark Intelligence' is available from Amazon, iTunes, Evokescape and most digital stores worldwide.
The Abyss Beyond Dreams is out now in Paperback, and as an Ebook and Audio book.