Terran Trade Authority: Homeworld before Homeworld


Okay, maybe not really Homeworld before Homeworld. I mean, then this would be a banal story, and this is everything but that.

If you ever had the chance to get a hold of the 2000-2100 A.D. : Terran Trade Authority Handbook than you probably know why am I so impressed with this piece of art. The feeling of sheer amazement at the ‘70s design of the space vessel on the cover can’t be compared with anything else! The style, the graphics, attention to details – it is a work of a master. The book itself is based in a space opera kind of universe, where humans achieved FTL technology and took to the stars, told through the form of handbooks published by the aforementioned trade organization.

Terran Trade Authority

This book represents the beginning of a series that contributed in a big way to how spaceship illustration developed onward. Consisting of forty different illustrations by seven different authors, this book is more of a ship ID manual placed in a specific setting, where humans struggled to reach outer space and Alpha Centauri and the Proximity Wars that ensued. The setting of the book is a story for itself, with a beautiful arc and leaving nothing to be desired, but the optimism with which it was written and illustrated strikes the reader the most.

How the hell did we lose this sense of freedom?

When I say freedom, I mean this unbound sense of how much humans might be capable of achieving, a sense of transcendence if we focused on expanding outside this speck of dust in the universe we call Earth.

What struck me the most when I started playing Homeworld for the first time was how much was actually derived from these ‘70s designs, and with what care this colorful futurism was translated into a game universe. Not just with the way the ships were drawn, but with the story which spoke of a people which had the power of consciously writing their own history, a power of controlling one’s destiny.

The magnitude of the Mothership, a ship only contested in size by the Bentusi mega-carriers resonates with this feeling, the detail in which it was thought up simply asks – how come we haven’t already started building something like this?

As I said, this book was just one in a series of titles that were penned by Cowley (AKA Steven Caldwell), and they all seem as if they inspired the authors of Homeworld when they were creating the cult game. The original book was republished in 2006 and it again sparked a multitude of interesting projects that are based on these designs.

Looks quite Homeworld-ish!

If you’d like to look up more, I warmly recommend the website that was started for a new generation of space explorers, and I leave you with some of the most awesome space art ever  made to feast your eyes upon.

Terran Trade Spacecraft

Is that…KharSelim?


Terran Trade Khar Toba

…or Khar Toba?


terran Trade Strikecraft

Or an early Taiidani strike craft?

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I'm an ecommerce / digital marketer at Rhino Digital and spend the rest of my time exercising, rock climbing, reading, and writing, usually in the company of awesome people. My favorite game franchises are the Homeworld series and the Descent series. You can reach me at mike [@] fistsofheaven.com

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