Song to the Siren

So this is unbelievably cool: a Spanish LARP directly inspired by my short story "Sing" (which you can read here)

We live in the era of space exploration and colonization. Humanity has reached the stars and for many generations of FTL travel, we have explored and colonized inhabitable worlds. Siren was one of those worlds. A mining operation was set up in one of its islands and for many years a settlement prospered there.      That is until a disaster struck and the main mining operation crumbled down trapping and killing many of its workers. Followed by an avalanche of hurried departures, the colony lost more than ¾ of its population, becoming a lonely shade of its former beauty.      Many generations have passed since then and the colonists of Siren have long become a detached part of humanity, nominally governed by a representative of the colonial government, but much left to their own. Part of an ‘abandoned’ world, outside the main space trade routes. During these decades, both the sirenians and the rest of humanity have evolved in very different ways.      But now an Immer-ship, and marvel of modern technology, has ‘jumped’ straight from earth with an expedition which apparent purpose is to rekindle the ties of the colony and study the viability of rebooting mining operations in Siren.

I met Spanish larper Pablo Valcárcel at the Battlestar Galactica LARP The Monitor Celestra (and you should check out this link too, because it contains documentation of one of the most holy shit epic productions of all time). After reading "Sing", he decided to organize a 4-hour LARP partly based on the story for a Spanish convention. Other inspiration material included China Miéville's Embassytown and Tim Buckley's song Song to the Siren (which in itself is an interesting coincidence, as I listened to This Mortal Coil's version while writing the story).

The production went really well as far as I've understood. Pablo sent me some of the media used in-game to further the plot - I got to do a cameo as the CEO of the company that financed the expedition. Later on in the LARP, stuff happens. And other stuff. And here's a video of one of the organizers talking about the aesthetics and costuming.

Live-action roleplaying is an extremely versatile medium, and an amazing tool for exploring and developing stories from the inside. "From the inside" is key: to an observer it may sometimes not look like much. But roleplaying isn't for consumption, it's for participation. You're not putting on an act, you're immersing in it. A huge part of the experience takes place inside the player's head. An empty black box theatre stage can turn into a space ship, because you collectively imagine it to be so. Sometimes, of course, you get the chance to put on lavish productions like the Celestra, and there's also a whole culture of crafting and costuming, but you don't strictly need it. That's the power of human imagination. Not only this of course, but there's also the fact that because LARP is mainly improvised - although sometimes partly directed, allowing for improvisation within a narrative - you never quite know what direction the story will take. It'll expand in unexpected ways and become something entirely new. And when you take part of creating this new story, it'll change you in the process.

So like I told Pablo, it's like an early Christmas present that someone is so inspired by your story that they want to steal it.

Note: for those who may only be familiar with the more competition-oriented types of LARP, all of this is in the context of what's often called Nordic Larp, which focuses on immersion and collaborative storytelling. There's no game to win, only a story to tell.

Update: a complete list of the crew that worked on "Song to the Siren": Pablo Valcárcel, Cripzy Romero, Javy Dorta and Enrique Esturillo.

Art by Greg Ruth.