Best known for his work as the lead singer and founder of the band Starset, Dustin Bates could best be described as a multimedia storyteller and science communicator. Indeed, his work with Starset is but one arm of a burgeoning project that spans music, prose, and beyond, all dealing with futurist themes including the potential consequences (both positive and negative) of advancing technology.
Based upon Bates’ prose novel of the same name, ‘The Prox Transmissions’ graphic novel explores the origins of the Starset Society, a group which aims to alert the public about the contents of a mysterious message contained within a signal from deep space. At New York Comic Con, we sat down with Bates to discuss ‘The Prox Transmissions’, the Starset Society, and his future plans.
Can you tell us a bit about how the project came about?
Yeah. So the ‘Prox Transmissions’ graphic novel is a graphic novel version of a full length novel that was completed a year before. Last year. It tells the inception story of the Starset Society, which is a group that’s looking at science and technology and how it’s affecting our lives now and in the near future, in ways we might not have originally intended. And so, using science and sci-fi to look at possible dystopian futures that might arise. And as I said, the ‘Prox Transmissions’ graphic novel tells the beginnings of that group.
In your work you tend to wear your interest in science and science fiction on your sleeve. Are there any sci-fi stories or writers that stand out as being especially influential and meaningful to you personally?
Hmm. Well, Phillip K. Dick is a given, I would say. Hugh Howey. Michael Crichton, obviously, as a kid was just something… I just read so many of his books and I was a big fan. Those are the first three that come to mind.
Are there currently any follow-ups planned?
There is a second full-length novel underway, and we hope that the first graphic novel can be successful enough that Marvel will sign on for another installment, or hopefully do many more.
More generally, there’s material on Starset’s second album, ‘Vessels’ that carries on themes that are present both in the novel and on ‘Transmissions’. Do you look at these as separate works that happen to touch on similar subjects or do you see them more as parts of a larger, cohesive whole?
It’s sort of both. ‘Transmissions’ and ‘Vessels’ as records and their overarching narratives are separate but they’re also part of the same universe. Much like the first and second novel. They have overlappings but ‘Vessels’ is more of a journey and also more introspective. And at the same time that it’s more personal and introspective it’s also a bit larger than life and out there in an ethereal way at the same time. That’s a little bit floaty of an answer, I realize, but that’s sort of the way it is.
Do you have any plans to expand this universe or this narrative to additional media?
Absolutely! The Starset Society has so far created a novel, created a band that’s been pretty successful, got this Marvel deal. And those were the three initial pillars, the three goals. And the group has done some video work but we’re really looking into taking the next plunge with the video side of media. And we’re pretty excited about what might happen.
And lastly, do you have any upcoming projects you’d like to share with us?
Well, let’s see. As far as science fiction goes, we have a new music video for Starset the band that’s coming out. I’m pretty excited for that, it’s beautiful. That’ll be coming out maybe within a month. The Starset Society itself is releasing a new sort of multifaceted website that’s going to blend the educational side of science and awareness of science and technology – STEM – and the actual sci-fi hyperbole of the society as well. I’m really excited to bring that out, and we’ll be doing that in November.
‘The Prox Transmissions’ is available now from Marvel Comics. Be sure to check back with ScienceFiction.com for more on Dustin Bates’ future projects as it becomes available.