Playlist Notes: Novas Chronology

(previously: Mixtape of the Found Decade)

Novas is a cyberpunk rock opera built entirely out of mostly 1980s music (primarily New Wave but including punk, disco, progressive rock, New Age, folk, and pop… and dipping into other decades as and when necessary). I don’t know why it exists. It’s a ridiculous thing to do except that it’s maybe not been done before (except for that Abba musical and that Beatles circus). And it’s only possible because of Youtube, it probably won’t survive because of Youtube, and it exists in a liminal space somewhere between ‘you can’t’ and ‘you really shouldn’t’.

It’s an example of hypermedia, I guess, or what could be done with hypermedia if we had a proper hypermedia platform and not just ‘platforms’. An aesthetic of radical remix. Does that make it punk enough, or is it too cyber? Or is it just the right amount of cyber?

It just sort of came out of my subconscious, because most of this music is what I heard in the 1980s as a kid, and it always seemed like there must be some kind of backstory to all these strange people dressing like scientists and singing about nuclear war, space, and living inside computers. When I rediscovered this music in the mid-2010s, somehow the suspicion grew on me that I could write a story out of all these found components. And so this is that story, for that kid in the 1980s.

If you’ve been following but haven’t quite been keeping up, maybe start here.

The Novas series is something that grew organically, in multiple “programs”, and I think is probably best listened to in that order, because the story starts simple and then gets more complicated.

But! The Programs are designed to be modular, so you can listen in multiple orders. You can play through either in “story time” sequence, or “release time” within each Program, and it should work.

Program Zero: Novas 0 (the Overture) (1982)
Program One: Novas 1 (1982)
Program Two: Novas 2 (1984)
Program Three: Novas 3 (1986)

Overture and core storyline. Start here.

Program Four:
Novas 4.1 (1980), 4.2 (1982), 4.3 (1981 dream sequence), 4.4 (1982 dream sequence)

Incidental music from the Simulation: two real states, two dreamstates. But which are which?

Program Five:
Novas 5.1 (1986), 5.2 (1984), 5.3 (1980), 5.4 (1981), 5.5 (1987)

A whole new take on the story, really. Prequels, interquels and a sequel, focusing on Susan’s plan to free Jack in Novas 3, their relationship during Novas 2, the backstory that brought them each separately into SYSTEM and how they nearly escaped it before Novas 1. Finally, what happened to them both after Novas 3.

Program Six:
Novas 6 (an alternate 1999)

Jack and Susan travel to a parallel timeline where SKYWATCH did not exist

Program Eleven/I :
Novas 0.1 (1980), 0.2 (1980 dream sequence), 0.3 (1981), 0.4 (1982), 0.5 (1982), 0.6 (1982 dream sequence)

Stories imagined as a “TV series” filling out the backstory of Novas 5.3 and 5.4, expanding Jack and Susan’s multiple lives as amnesiac agents inside SYSTEM.

Program Eleven/II:
Novas 0.01 (1978), 0.02 (1979), 1.1 (1983), 2.2 (1985), 3.3 (1987)

Stories imagined as a “TV series” bridging the gaps between the main trilogy events outside of SYSTEM, and a pair of prequels about Susan’s early life.

Program Twelve:

Novas 2.7 (1986), 2.8 (1986), 2.9 (1986), 3.4 (1987), 3.9 (1989), 6.6 (1957-80, 1999′), 6.7 (2000)

Stories imagined as a “TV series expansion” of Novas 5.1 and 5.5, focusing on Susan’s confrontation with Jack on the Satellite, and their actions after Novas 3.

Oh, and one thing before you start: Sometimes the Youtube embedded video thingy on a web page just randomly refuses to play all the songs (because some videos are rights-cleared for full-screen viewing, but not for embedding). Clicking the link above the embedded video will let you see them all, assuming they’re not deleted or blocked in your country.)

Continue reading “Playlist Notes: Novas Chronology”

Playlist Notes: Novas 6.7: A New Home In The Sun

(previously in Program Twelve: Novas 3.9)

(previously in story time: Novas 6 Act 1)

(previously in Program Twelve: Novas 6.6)

It is the year 2000.

Nuclear war was cancelled, the Company has been overthrown, the rogue AI SYSTEM is erased, an alien probe has been awakened, a nova has been averted, a timeline united… and the concert to end concerts played…

Together again forever, Susan and Jack have a transformed planet to explore…


Beginning of an end, start of a brand new something…

Novas 6.7: A New Home In The Sun

Well I dreamed I saw the knights in armour coming, saying something about a queen…
Continue reading “Playlist Notes: Novas 6.7: A New Home In The Sun”

Playlist Notes: Novas 6.6: To Spend The Night In Zion

(previously in Program Twelve: Novas 3.9)

(previously in story time: Novas 0.01, 0.02)

(previously in story time: Novas 6 Act 1)

It is 1999, another 1999. A world facing now disaster because Susan’s father, back in the 1950s, made one small choice differently…

It is 1980 in the Novas timeline. Susan and her mother have both been missing for a year, and the SKYWATCH network is collapsing as Astradyne’s corporate forces, led by their AI SYSTEM, take control…


A force field and a flexible plan…

Novas 6.6: To Spend The Night In Zion

By the rivers of Babylon, where we sat down, yeah we wept when we remembered Zion.
Continue reading “Playlist Notes: Novas 6.6: To Spend The Night In Zion”

Playlist Notes: Novas 3.9: He Bring In The Morning

(previously in Program Twelve: Novas 3.4)

(previously in story time: Novas 5.5 Act 2)

It is 1989. In the last days of the Final Concert, Jack and Susan have reunited… almost. There’s one last thing left to do before the world ends…


… the wonders of the world and all in colour…

Novas 3.9: He Bring In The Morning

Do boys dream about living in a constant ecstasy? Do boys dream about the same kind of thing that the young girls dream?
Continue reading “Playlist Notes: Novas 3.9: He Bring In The Morning”

Playlist Notes: Novas 3.4: A Million Grains Of Sand

(previously in Program Twelve: Novas 2.9)

(previously in story time: Novas 5.5 Act 1)

(previously in story time: Novas 3.3)

It is 1987. Jack made it back to Earth. And now he knows Susan -whatever she is now – is still alive. But in the ruins of the Company’s fall, the world needs a miracle that might be beyond either of them…


What a beautifully dangerous ride…

Novas 3.4: A Million Grains Of Sand

What a beautiful collision. Things that go bump in the night…
Continue reading “Playlist Notes: Novas 3.4: A Million Grains Of Sand”