My history with the TTA
I was born at precisely the right time (the early 1970's) to
to witness a
sea change in the science fiction world -- things that younger fans
probably take for granted, having known no other situation.
those days, effects technology was not very advanced, and visual sci-fi
was still crawling out of the 1950's B-movie phase. Unless it
science fiction literature (novels and such), it probably was not
terribly high quality or realistic, especially if it was visual media
(films and the
like). By the time I had reached childhood and was aware of
events surrounding me, this situation was ripe for change.
This occurred with the
release of the film Star
and the subsequent marketting phenomenon. I liked science
fiction before the film, but it was a
distant sort of affinity until then. After that point, my
involvement with sci-fi was
so significant that now, I cannot even concieve what my life's path
have been if it hadn't happened. I became a confirmed fan.
Shortly afterward in the UK (1978), a book was published
2000 to 2100
referring to itself as a "Terran Trade Authority Handbook", authored by
It was an
art/story book, combining various pieces of science fiction cover art
cohesive storyline, written in the form of a ship recognition manual.
The story purported to cover (as historical events) the
eponymous period in Earth's development,
the formation of a world government, the development of new
technologies, first contact, and the first interstellar war.
It was forward-looking, but predicting events that were
concievably to occur within the reader's lifetime. It was
neither overtly optimistic (ala Star
Trek) nor depressingly pessimistic, instead presenting
things matter-of-factly, as if they had been real events which the
reader had somehow magically been granted the ability
to glimpse early.
The book spread all over the world,
eventually resulting in over 800,000 copies
printed and translation into at least eight languages.
No doubt the series fed on the popularity of Star Wars.
I stumbled onto a copy around this
time, during one of our infrequent visits to a local mall (and even
less frequent visits to an actual bookstore). I fell in love
instantly, and had to have it. After somehow managing to
my parents to buy it, my life-long relationship with the TTA was born.
In its own way, it was just as influential a part of my
as Star Wars
was, such as being a major reason I'm interested in
painting and other 2D art, and I have fond memories of flipping
through the book over and over for years, lovingly analyzing the
details of the
art and text and extrapolating on the world in my head.
(I still have that self-same copy of Spacecraft,
somewhat the worse for wear, almost thirty years later.)
By 1992-3, I had gotten
RPGs and even experimented with using the TTA as a setting
much luck, however, as I was too new at it). I also
around this time that I was not, in fact, the only person that had
a copy of this book (even in the relative backwater of genre culture
that I live in), when I saw one at the house of someone I had
recently met in gaming.
The science fiction series Babylon
also new at the time, and one of the things it pioneered was the use of
graphics on telivision, using Newtek's Video Toaster and Lightwave
3D. By this point, I had been tinkering with 3D graphics
software on my Amiga computer for awhile, and I had been
wanting Newtek's software since roughly 1989. I
gained some limited
access to Lightwave and started teaching myself the
program by following tutorials and doing my own projects. One
of the very first Lightwave models that I did that was not from a
tutorial was a
model of the Proximan K13 Shark interceptor. Shortly
a model of the Avery-Frost Orion. (I had tried to do
the ships prior to this, but until Lightwave, my main 3D software was
the freeware Rayshade program, which had a nonexistant user
interface ... you entered the 3D data by hand, in text
files. This is very similar to how the popular
package works in the absence of third party front-ends. As
these early efforts never went far and probably don't really count.)
I was never the most prolific creator of 3D TTA models, but
far as I am aware, I was one of the first to try it.
In 1998, I decided that my TTA models were long overdue to make use of
my more developed skills and familiarity with the software. So I
rebuilt them from scratch. I created a new model for the Shark, and as
an experiment, I then decided to build my own Mark II variant of the
Orion (instead of rebuilding the original).
A few years after I started making TTA models, I decided to go looking for more TTA
net. That is when I stumbled across Philip
Banks' TTA page
and learned a lot more about the series that had been with me since
childhood. In particular, I learned that there was not one,
not two, but three
sequels to Spacecraft
a possibility which had never even occurred to me. There were
also a number of "related" books that Cowley had written for a
different publisher, under the psuedonym Stephen Caldwell (the
"Galactic Encounters" series). Reading Phillip's page over
next few years, I learned of other TTA sites, including sites whose
authors had also hit on the idea of doing 3D models of these ships,
Mann's TTA page
Then came the birth of eBay, and I finally had a chance to
copies of the other three TTA books to complete my collection.
finally managed to do so around 2000-2001 (along with one of the
Galactic Encounters books, Aliens
just in time for the period covered by the original book.
was also the time that I entered school as an art major, and upgraded
my copy of Inspire 3D (a low-end version of Lightwave which I purchased
in 1999) to Lightwave 3D 6.5. In celebration of that, I made
new TTA model (Object #1).
Fast forward to 2006. Recently there has
activity in the TTA universe. Specifically, the rights to the
series have been licensed by Morrigan
, an RPG company and fans of the series like I am.
They are publishing
of the first book (moved ahead by a century to
remain forward-looking), Spacecraft
2100 to 2200 AD
, as well as some original sequels
Ships of the TTA
and Aliens of the TTA
Even more exciting, they are doing an RPG core book and
supplements (Alphan and Proximan sourcebooks have been mentioned).
What's more, after some heart-wrenching
, Stewart Cowley himself has become
associated with the project as an advisor and contributor.
Unfortunately, though they have the rights to the text and setting, the
rights to the original art itself were not obtained (though they do
apparently have the rights to recreate it), so the new Spacecraft
contains recreations and later books will follow the path of the
original by including new art and designs by young sci-fi artists.
Specifically, recreations in Spacecraft by the
same Adrian Mann that I mentioned previously. The series will
also contain brand-new artwork by various artists, including Adrian, Mike
, and Jainai
All of this has, of course, reawakened my interest in the setting, and
such, I've started creating more TTA models of my own, which
you can see elsewhere on this site.