An Idol Romance Books 1-5, All References
References are something to be used sparingly and carefully, at least under normal circumstances. If you’re writing something intended as parody or other humour (Pani Poni Dash would be pretty much the archetypal example of reference insanity) then you can go nuts with references. But for regular works? It’s wise to go easy.
References dumped in willy-nilly and used for the sake of ‘hey, remember this!?’ ‘member berries tend to age incredibly poorly. Just see films like Date Movie *shudder*. (I don’t actually recommend you do that, if you value your sanity.)
If you don’t watch RedLetterMedia, first, please fix that, RLM rocks. Second, this episode of Re:View perfectly sums up the issues with using references, you only need to check out the first ~7 minutes for what I’m discussing here.
The creators of Fallout 1 very much adhered to this, they took the view that a reference can be fun for someone who gets it, but should be invisible to someone who doesn’t. In short, references are fine, but your work needs to stand on its own even if the consumer hasn’t seen/read/played whatever you’re referencing.
Having said that, there are quite a few subtle and not so subtle references in An Idol Romance, and not all of them are especially obvious, so I felt like sharing what they all are and why they’re there. This’ll cover books 1-5, going in order of appearance:
Book 1: Starlight Dreamers
The Prequel Title: While I don’t use the prequel any more (it’s been integrated as part of Book 1 now), the title of it (Points of Departure, for those who don’t remember) still bears mentioning. It’s a reference to the first episode of Babylon 5‘s second season.
Hyperspace: Since we open with a ship exiting hyperspace, this seems like a good starting point. The FTL method I’m using for Aida’s universe is pretty much based on Stargate’s interpretation, a subspace dimension where time and space work differently, accessed via hyperspace windows. The background setting file goes into more detail on this.
Antimoni: An odd name, and the reason why is because it was originally a character in a Terry Pratchett novel. Antimoni is also a chemical element, which is why Sir Terry used the name for an alchemist.
Gaia Worlds: Stellaris uses these in much the same way as I am here, perfect worlds capable of comfortably supporting more or less any form of life. Stellaris is probably my favourite 4X Grand Strategy game because unlike most of the others, it’s both sci-fi and grand-scale space opera, two of my favourite things (hence why Babylon 5 is my favourite TV show ever).
Explorer Fleets: Inspired by a season 2 episode of Babylon 5, A Distant Star, where an enormous Explorer Class ship gets into some difficulties and needs rescuing. I loved the idea of a massive ship (or fleet) going out to the middle of nowhere and exploring to see what they could find, charting systems as they go, so that became one of the central driving forces behind the progression of Aida’s events.
Orion Station: The Orion constellation is the most recognisable one in the night sky, and since Orion Station is a grand citadel in space and sufficiently huge that it’s vaguely visible from Earth’s surface, I wanted a name for this station that matched.
Mars: Most of the background for Mars, especially the domes and the tube transport system, was heavily inspired by the same colony world in Babylon 5. Except mine has the transport system underground, since putting them on the surface wouldn’t be the best plan on a world with no magnetosphere or enough of an atmosphere to burn up dangerous meteorites and other space debris.
Tri-Star Acadmies: Mentioned initially by Anise, these are the three main idol institutions most girls want into, the highest level academies around. The name, quite apart from the stardom connotation, is mostly from a top-level idol unit in Aikatsu, also called Tristar. It’s nothing to do with Tristar Pictures ;p
Dreamstar Academy: Since this whole work was inspired by my favourite non-live action TV show, Aikatsu, Dreamstar is an amalgam/portmanteau of the two major academies in that show: Starlight School and Dream Academy.
Rules on Exiting Hyperspace Close to a Planet: A season 4 episode of Babylon 5 has a scene where a ship exits hyperspace within the atmosphere of a planet which causes all manner of disturbances like strong winds. That was the inspiration for the rules governing ships exiting hyperspace near to a planet.
The Tower of Babel/The Babylonian: Babylonian Productions was the company behind Babylon 5.
The Capp River: Capp is a Japanese Twitter user who makes SD (super deformed) Aikatsu figures. The figures are utterly adorable and I wanted to show my appreciation, hence he got a river (and, indeed, a firefly) named after him.
Funky Hair Colours: Anime. Simple as that, lol. I wanted an in-universe reason for crazy hair colours in an otherwise fairly grounded series, so I developed the whole Microtek hair implants business for that purpose.
Lisa Lawson: I’m a big fan of hard and bangin’ trance, hard house, and similar genres, and have been since I got into it during the mid-to-late 90s. One DJ I loved back in the day was Lisa Lashes, so that’s where the name Lisa came from, at least partly. It’s also a useful name that works in both Japanese and English since her mother is Japanese and her father British.
Lisa’s real name is Risa / 理沙, with the two characters meaning ‘natural law’ and ‘sand’, tying nicely into her surname of Lawson and her sandy hair colour (inherited from her father), and was given by her mother. The Lawson part is also absolutely nothing to do with the Japanese store chain ;p Her DJ stage name is Lisa Lawless, again kind of referencing Lisa Lashes.
Mira Ananta Sundaram: Her name, Mira, is again a nod to Babylon 5, and is the real name of Delenn’s actress, Mira Furlan. Though since Mira (my Mira, that is) is of Indian descent, the name also means sea/ocean in Hindi because her parents wanted her to be as open as the vast seas of Earth. I think they got their wish ;p
Falconi & The Fighting Falcon: No particular reference here, this is more of a genre thing for idol shows in general. Since idols are often multi-talented and do movies and things alongside the music and other aspects of their profession, in-universe television shows and movies are normally a big thing.
For example, the Stylish Thieves Swallowtail movie in Aikatsu (directed by someone who looks an awful lot like Stanley Kubrick…) was a well-known project of the legendary idol unit, Masquerade, and the current generation girls audition for two roles in a modern reboot. Falconi and The Fighting Falcon fulfil the same basic purpose.
The Job Board’s Holographic Display: This and other holo displays in general were kind of inspired by Mass Effect. Specifically, the Normandy’s bridge holo displays (and similar ones elsewhere in the world).
Bar Stardew: I’ve always loved the Rune Factory/Harvest Moon games, so when an indie game paying heavy homage to those games called Stardew was released, I jumped right on board. Clearly I liked it quite a lot, since I ended up borrowing the name for this semi-regular location 😉
Lyapunov: Reference to Alexey Lyapunov, a Russian mathematician and one of the founders of cybernetics.
Russian Consortium: Another nod to Babylon 5 (you ever get the feeling I like this show?). One of the human factions was known as this.
The Resource Wars: A reference to Fallout, where the prelude to the Great War was a series of conflicts as the oil dried up, known as The Resource Wars. Though wars can sometimes be known by more than one name, depending on who’s doing the talking, so this is also known as the Last World War.
Book 2: Starlet Sunrise
Suzanne Netter: Would you be surprised to learn that this is in reference to Babylon 5 again? Douglas Netter was the Executive Producer for the show.
Millie Bright: Her family name, Bright, was taken from Sora no Kiseki’s main character, Estelle Bright. Millie has two older siblings, a sister and a brother called Estelle and Joshua, which are the names of the two main characters in the first trilogy of the Kiseki series, if you’re not familiar.
Sarge: Another little nod to Aikatsu. Sergeant Pepper (yes, really) was a similarly boisterous chap who ran the dreaded bootcamp in episode 80.
Mariposa Starbase: A huge station orbiting Jupiter’s moon of Europa, and again a reference to Fallout. The Mariposa military base was a major endgame location and symbolised transformation (a mariposa is a type of butterfly, if you’re not aware). In my case, this was the first major space station humanity built and symbolised transformation of the species into something better than it had been before.
Idols, Images, and Icons Magazine: Reference to the publication Ray mentions in the second Ghostbusters movie, Magicians, Martyrs, and Madmen. Mine’s the idol equivalent, lol.
Hotel Grandia: Will be familiar to anyone who grew up with the PSX/PS2 era of RPGs. Grandia 2 is one of my favourites from the period, especially now it’s got a decent PC release through Steam. My first experience of the game was the original PC release, which was so broken I had to develop a special method just to get it to run, hah.
Aedan O’Hare: If you guessed Babylon 5… give yourself a pat on the back 🙂 His family name was taken from the character of Sinclair, who was played by the now-deceased Michael O’Hare.
Merlin’s & Central: Both named after real clubs I used to frequent as a young adult, neither of which exists any more.
Slogh’s Flower Parade: Again based on a real event that, until recently, had been a yearly thing where I live.
Nipton’s Iced Tea: Obviously a reference to Lipton’s ;p When it comes to brands and celebrity names, you’re generally allowed to use them in fiction, but you have to be super careful, especially with real people. That said, it’s normally best to tweak a brand a little like this to avoid any legal hassles. Also, Nipton is a location in Fallout: New Vegas.
Kelly’s Yacht: There was an episode of Top Gear where they had one of those enormous American-style RVs (though in this case it was actually German, a Volkner) featured in it, which is what inspired Kelly’s yacht.
Gran Manillo: The Manillo were fish people in the Breath of Fire series, specifically Breath of Fire 3, which is one of my top 3 games of all time. Gran Manillo happens to be known as something of a fishing paradise, and the Manillo in the game where part of the fishing minigame, so… yeah ;p
The Tops Restaurant: I’ve mentioned New Vegas already, and this is another one involving that game. One of the casinos on the Strip is called The Tops, but another casino (the Lucky 38) also has a revolving restaurant at the top, so this kind of melds both together into one.
Book 3: New Horizons
Origa Gorshkova: As noted in the main setting file and the book itself, this is Aida’s current top model, and her name is in reference to Origa, a Russian singer who spent most of her life in Japan and was responsible for some absolutely fantastic music, including the awesome opening to the Ghost in the Shell series. She died of cancer a few years back, because cancer apparently gets off on targeting the very best of humanity :/
Iruo Idol Institute: One of my favourite anime of all time is the adaptation of Robotics;Notes, an entry in the Science Adventure series by 5pb and Nitro+. I have the PS3 visual novel here, though I’m still trying to find the time to actually learn Japanese so I can play it ;_; (Note added later: it’s being localised for the Switch! Only problem is… I don’t have a Switch.)
The anime adaptation is fantastic (highly, highly recommended if you enjoy sci-fi and giant robots). Anyway, it features an operating system / augmented reality system called IRUO (iru-o, 居る夫), which is where my own idol academy in New Meadowstone got its name, and because I like alliteration ;p
Celebrity Chef Crash: A twofer here. First is Celebrity Brain Crash, a short-lived segment on The Grand Tour’s first season. I despised the godawful celebrity sections in Top Gear, so I was over the moon when they got rid of that shit for GT. Alas, some idiot at Amazon forced them to bring something like that back for GT’s second season :/ And the show itself is based on a British game show from a couple of decades back called Ready Steady Cook.
Book 4: Broken Heights
Mira’s restaurant: Not exactly a direct reference, but this location was based to some degree on a really nice Indian restaurant in the next town over from where I live that I used to frequent. Alas, as is so often the case, they went from serving really good food that was mostly cooked as required to instead serving frozen stuff that was heated in a microwave. Needless to say, I stopped going soon after that ;_;
Book 5: Discovering Our Direction
Deep Cavern: Another game reference, this time something of a spiritual successor to the original Fallout games called UnderRail. Deep Caverns is a late game area a lot of people absolutely hate, lol. It seemed like a good name for an underground live event venue 🙂
Carnelian (idol from Slogh that Millie admires): Named after an artist I like. That link is safe for work, mostly, but the same can’t be said for the rest on that site, so be careful if you go exploring (though to be fair, ero stuff is hidden unless you’re logged in with an account, so it’s not a major issue). Also, that’s a good example of the sort of thing Eva likes on the gothic front.
And that’s it! A lot less in the last couple of books, but that’s not surprising. Locations like The Babylonian or Stardew are introduced once and used multiple times, so of course the opening books will have more references as I set the world up and describe things 🙂
Oh, and one last thing…
Extended Tracks for Bathroom Breaks: This is from the $5 tier exclusive prequel featuring Lisa and Mira. This is something a lot of DJs actually do; keep a bunch of super long tracks on-hand that they can play when they need a break for whatever reason. This is a reference to an article I read in some magazine or other (I forget what it was now) many moons ago where a DJ was being interviewed, and this was a question they were asked.