Major Themes in Starslip Crisis


Throughout its duration, Starslip Crisis explores a number of literary and science fiction themes. Straub’s webcomic satirizes traditional themes in sci-fi while pushing them to their limits, and he also explores major concepts such as how parallel universes would function if they existed. Straub also tackles themes and ideas that authors have explored for centuries, such as immortality.

In addition to the science fiction and literary themes found throughout the comic, Starslip Crisis also takes time to satirize artistic themes on occasion. Straub takes on the notion of “true art” being angsty or incomprehensible by creating caricaturized versions of that notion through various art ships featured in the comic. The Xxxyyy, which is pronounced “zee,” features a deconstruction of a modern artist in her attempts to create something to make people realize she’s just a hack. Additionally, Memnon consistently plays into the “art snob” stereotype with his overtly arrogant persona.

Science Fiction Themes Explored in Starslip Crisis
As a science fiction webcomic, Starslip Crisis mocks traditional sci-fi tropes while simultaneously testing their limits. For example, artificial intelligence is commonly portrayed in science fiction as a crapshoot – it either greatly enhances humans’ lives or ultimately turns against them. In Starslip Crisis, Straub addresses this issue through a character named Vore. When Vore makes his first appearance, he terrifies the crew because he was last seen plotting a revolt against humanity. However, after disappearing for years and downloading the intelligence of other robots buried after the revolt, he reevaluated his priorities as a result of his newfound intelligence, and he determined that he could make peace with organic life forms. Straub also mockingly pursues similar sci-fi themes and tropes such as Mr. Jinx’s bizarre alien biology, which becomes increasingly ridiculous as the series progresses, and a secret future police, called the Deep Time Agency.

Starslip Crisis also explores deeper themes in science fiction such as the notion of parallel universes. In Starslip, the “Starslip drive” is first used for communication purposes due to scientists’ sheer fascination with the notion of parallel universes, and as scientists can study events that occur in those other universes, everything that happens becomes a test case. These initial scientists eventually form an all-controlling Cabal that forcibly attempts to control events in other universes to benefit themselves. The Cabal would occasionally shut down a universe if its events did not work out in the Cabal’s favor or if the Deep Time Agency needed to clean house. Within the series, the characters use the “Starslip drive” to effectively “slip” between these parallel universes and trade places with versions of themselves in that universe. These uses and exploitations of parallel universes allow Straub to explore how parallel universes could function and how powerful groups could exploit them to their advantage.

Starslip Crisis’ Literary Themes
Starslip Crisis also employs traditional literary themes throughout its plot, examining issues that authors have ruminated on for centuries through his various characters. Immortality, for example, appears in literature everywhere from Greek mythology to Wagner’s operas. In Starslip Crisis, Straub explores notions of immortality through the character Quine. Because he can be resurrected each time he dies, Quine is essentially immortal, so Starslip explores how this cheapens both life and death for him. Straub also pursues the theme of the importance of leaders listening to others through Memnon. Throughout the series, Memnon constantly must overcome his arrogance to allow his crew to assist him in commanding a ship – a job that he was completely unqualified for. Other characters, such as Mr. Jinx learning self-confidence, also represent various themes that Straub pursues throughout the webcomic. The consistent employment of these themes attest to Starship Crisis’ evolution beyond a simple gag-a-day webcomic.