Influences and references
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The Star Control 1 manual mentions "Inspired by the Works of Fiction of: Orson Scott Card, Larry Niven, Andre Norton, David Brin, Robert A. Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, Jack Vance, Alan Dean Foster, Keith Laumer, A.E. Van Vogt, E.E. "Doc" Smith, Joe Halderman, Dan Simmons, Fred Saberhagen and 100 worthy others."
The Captain's remark to the Pkunk "Hey! Bird-brains! Got any fruit loops? Har-har-har!" refers to a brand of breakfast cereal called Fruit Loops, which features a toucan resembling the Pkunk as its mascotte.
The Ilwrath were named after a friend of the creators (XXX: both?) named McIlwraith.
When the Spathi Safe Ones ask the player for the Secret Spathi Cypher, one of the incorrect options is "Wagh-nagl Fthagn", which spelled a little bit differently ("Wgah'nagl Fhtagn") comes from "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!", a liturgical phrase in H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulu mythos.
One of the other options for the Spathi Cypher, "Gort, merenga!" comes from the movie "The Day the Earth Stood Still".
The Mosquito Mange is mentioned in the Androsynth computer records immediately prior to their disappearance. It is a reference to the term found in Roadside Picnic refering to graviconcentrates - areas of heightened and directed gravity.
The Roadside Picnic might also be the inspiration for the 'Empties'. In the novel they are one of the common alien artifacts found in the Zones. In the game they are a Precursor artifact that Commander Hayes mentions in relation to the Ultron.
The Mycon is taken from the Greek prefix "myc-" or "myco-", which means Fungus.
Tanaka's opening comments, "you killed my father, my mother, my many brothers, all six of my sisters - prepare to die," may pay homage to the movie The Princess Bride, in which the character Inigo Montoya has prepared a similar comment for when he confronts his father's murderer, Count Rugen.
When you choose the aggressive lines to speak towards the Slylandro Probes, the third time you get the response "ENACTING THIRD LAW." before combat is initiated. This refers to Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics. The third law says "A robot must protect its own existence, as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.". The Probe's version must not have the first clause as the first law says "A robot may not harm a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.". (Alternatively, its First Law applies to solely to its creator race, which grant humans and other sentients no special protection.) Also the Slylandro will go "to seek out new life and new civilizations, to go where no catalog item 2418 Remote Self-replicating robot probe had gone before." when asked about the programming of the probes, a reference to Star Trek.
When the Utwig are trying to tell you what to do with the Precursor Bomb, at one point they say that the "Bomb must be...Hugged." This is likely a reference to the movie Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.
One of the ways that the Utwig determined that the Ultron could have been saved was by cushioning the fall with a fuzzy wumpus. A Wumpus is a mysterious monster from the famous, early computer game Hunt the Wumpus.
When describing the Kohr-Ah, the Utwig say that their stated purpose is "to seek out new life and new civilizations...and then annihilate them," a clear play on the mission statement of the Starship Enterprise of Star Trek fame.
When The Captain gets to choose the name for the new alliance, one of his options is "The United Federation of Worlds", a reference to the United Federation of Planets from Star Trek. Starbase Commander Hayes will reply to this choice by saying "we will make it so", another reference to Star Trek, where captain Jean-Luc Picard would frequently order to "make it so".
Numerous ship captain names are actually references.
- 1040-EZ is a common tax return form in the United States.
- 976-KILL is probably meant as an American phone number. It may also refer to the movie 976-EVIL. The "976" prefix is reserved for pay services.
- AK-47 is the famous Avtomat Kalashnikova assault rifle
- BHS-79 (just a wild guess here- is this the initials of one of the high schools they attended, and their graduation date?)
- BIM-XT is an anagram for the IBM XT personal computer from the early 1980s
- BOOJI-1 is a possible reference to the character Booji Boy from the band Devo.
- CRC-16 is a 16 bits "Cyclic redundancy check (an error-detecting checksum).
- DORN-3 may be a reference to artist John Alfred Dorn III, who did several illustrations for the novels of Stanisław Lem. It could also be a reference Michael Dorn who played Lt. Worf on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
- DOS-1.0 is a reference to one or all of the various early disk operating systems (PC-DOS, MS-DOS, Apple DOS, etc).
- HAL-2001 is a reference to the HAL 9000 computer from Arthur C. Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey
- JOR-15 might be a reference to Jor-El, superman's biological father in the DC comics universe.
- ME-262 is a reference to the Messerschmitt Me-262, the first operational jet powered aircraft.
- NECRO-99 may be a reference to the robot NECRON-99 from the movie Wizards.
- SR-71 is a reference to the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, an advanced reconnaissance aircraft.
- XR4-TI was a car model manufactured by the short-lived Merkur brand.
- Adama is the captain of the Battlestar Galactica in the television series by the same name.
- Belt is a reference to Henry Belt, captain of a solar sail vessel in Jack Vance's short story Sail 25.
- Buck refers to Buck Rogers, a character who appeared in popular Sci-fi serials in the late 30's, as well as a later television series.
- Decker is likely a reference to Willard Decker, captain of the Starship Enterprise NCC-1701 in the movie Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
- Ender is a reference to the main character of the Orson Scott Card novel Ender's Game.
- Graeme is a reference to Donal Graeme, a protagonist in the Childe Cycle novels by Gordon R. Dickson. (This may also be a reference to other characters in this series with this same lastname.)
- Halleck is a reference to Gurney Halleck of the Dune series.
- Kirk is a reference to James T. Kirk, captain of the Starship Enterprise NCC-1701 in the original series of Star Trek.
- Pike is a reference to Christopher Pike, captain of the Starship Enterprise NCC-1701 in the pilot episode of Star Trek.
- Pirx is a reference to a fictional test pilot in a series of stories by Stanisław Lem.
- Solo is a reference to Han Solo, captain of the Millennium Falcon in Star Wars episode 4 through 6.
- Spiff is a reference to Spaceman Spiff, the fantasy identity of Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes
- Trent is a reference to Jeff Trent, civilian airline pilot from Plan 9 from Outer Space
- Tuf is a reference to Haviland Tuf, the protagonist in Tuf Voyaging by George R.R. Martin.
- VanRijn is a reference to the merchant prince Nicholas Van Rijn in Poul Anderson's stories.
- Wu is a reference to Louis Wu, the protagonist of Larry Niven's Ringworld series.
- All of their ship names appear to be Death followed by a prime number.
- Tweety is likely a reference to Tweety Bird.
- WudStok is Snoopy's friend Woodstock in the comic strip Peanuts.
- Bonsai! is actually the Japanese art of pruning trees, but is most likely a reference to the cry Banzai.
- Busu is a Japanese word for ugly
- Chimchim most likely refers to the pet chimpanzee in Speed Racer.
- Daikon is a giant, white radish popular in Japanese cooking.
- Gaijin is one of the Japanese words for foreigner.
- Ginzu is probably the Ginsu knife.
- Ichiban is the Japanese word for the number 1, or first
- Kimba refers to the main character in the Japanese animation Kimba, the White Lion.
- Katana is a Japanese sword.
- Kudzu is an Asian plant that can be found in southern Japan.
- Naninani is Japanese for "such and such"
- Sushi is Japanese for seasoned rice, usually associated with raw fish.
- Tanaka is Japanese for unexpected good fortune.
- Tofu is bean curd, popular in Japanese cooking.
- Tora-3 refers to the radio call announcing the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Tora! Tora! Tora!
- Wasabe is a Japanese condiment, usually spelled wasabi.
- Jinkeze is a reference to the catchphrase of Velma Dinkley, a main character in the Scooby-Doo cartoons, which she says when she's is scared or surprised.
- Crinoid is a reference to the Krynoids, hostile sentient plants in the Doctor Who episode The Seeds of Doom.
- Trifid is a reference to the carnivorous, mobile (and possibly intelligent) plants in The Day of the Triffids.
- All of the other captain names are parts or types of plants.
- Aelita possibly refers to the early Soviet silent film Aelita:Queen of Mars.
- Alia is a reference to St. Alia of the Knife, the sister of Paul Atreides in the Dune series.
- Alura is possibly a reference either to Princess Allura in the Voltron cartoon series or to the mother of Supergirl.
- Ardala is a reference to the Princess Ardala, nemesis of Buck Rogers.
- Be'lit is a possible reference to Belit, a pirate queen in the Conan the Barbarian stories.
- Brawne refers to Brawne Lamia, a character in Dan Simmons' Hyperion Cantos books.
- Dale is a reference to Dale Arden, the girlfriend of Flash Gordon.
- Danning is a reference to the actress Sybil Danning.
- Dejah is a reference to Dejah Thoris, Princess of Helium, in the Barsoom series by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
- Maya refers to the attractive female Space: 1999 character gifted with shapeshifing abilties.
- Munro possibly refers to another genre actress, Caroline Munro.
- Penny possibly refers to the lead female character in the movie The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension.
- Ripley is a reference to Lieutenant Ripley, as portrayed by Sigourney Weaver in the movie Alien.
- Sparta is a reference to the beautiful female protagonist with a mysterious past in the Venus Prime series by Arthur C. Clarke and Paul Preuss.
- Teela is a reference to Teela Brown, one of the heroines of the Larry Niven's Ringworld novels.
- Yarr may be a reference to Natasha Yar who appeared in Star Trek: The Next Generation.
- Brewz'k is likely the slang word brewski.
- Ei'Ei'o is probably referring to the refrain of the children's song "Old Macdonald had a farm".
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- RinTin is likely named after the famous movie dog Rin Tin Tin.
- The Earthling Cruiser seems to be inspired by the Federation Starships from Star Trek.
- The Syreen Penetrator is shaped after the V-2 rocket, and a dildo.
According to the HyperSpace starmap, the names for the HyperSpace constellations were taken from "traditional astronomical designations." These are the in-game star and constellation names that don't directly correspond to real life astronomical designations. (Some, such as Lalande and Wolf, appear to be derived from astronomical designations).
- Brahe is a reference to Tycho Brahe, the famous Danish astronomer of the 16th century.
- Cerenkov is a reference to Pavel Alekseyevich Cherenkov, a Soviet physicist and Nobel laureate.
- Chandrasekhar is a reference to the Indian-American astrophysicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, famous for his work on stellar evolution and black holes.
- Copernicus is a reference Nicolaus Copernicus, the polish astronomer who proposed the sun was the center of the solar system.
- Gorno is a possible reference to the Gorn, a race in Star Trek.
- Hyginus is a reference to the attributed author of Poeticon astronomicon.
- Hyperion is a reference to the main setting of Dan Simmons' Hyperion Cantos.
- Illuminati is a reference to a variety of conspiracy theories, especially those of the Bavarian Illuminati.
- Kepler is a reference to Johannes Kepler who discovered the three laws of planetary motion.
- Klystron is a reference to a kind of vacuum tube used in early radar systems.
- Maksutov is likely a reference to the Maksutov telescope invented by the Russian optician Dimtri Maksutov.
- Mersenne is a reference to Marin Mersenne a Minim friar who lived in France from 1588-1648 and was a major founder of number theory.
- Metis is a moon of Jupiter, and correspondingly a character in Roman mythology.
- Olber is likely a reference to Heinrich Wilhelm Olbers, a German astronomer.
- Organon is likely either a reference to Organia, an important location in Star Trek, or a reference to the Organa family in the Star Wars universe.
- Ptolemae is a reference to Claudius Ptolemaius, an ancient astronomer whose Geocentric views Copernicus replaced.
- Raynet is possibly a misspelling of "Rayet", an existing astronomical designation. it could also be a reference to British amateur radio network RAYNET.
- Zeeman is possibly a reference to the physicist Pieter Zeeman for whom a crater on the moon is named.