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Space Trucker

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Complete with space mudflaps.

"We got music in our solar system!
We're space truckin' through the stars!"
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When space westerns decide to get literal with the genre name, these guys tend to show up.

They are usually depicted as, well, southern-fried semi truckers that happen to fly cargo spaceships instead. Usually easygoing, unflappable, and have a backwoods wisdom developed during the time spent alone on long hauls between solar systems. Occasionally they're smugglers, but usually aren't drug mules. From time to time, between hauls they'll stop at a local tavern and challenge various folks to a little arm-wrestling, drinking contests and then drunken brawls. Tend to talk in a Southern or slight Texan drawl.

Overlaps occasionally with the Boisterous Bruiser, Gentle Giant, Warrior Poet or other ersatz cowboy-style archetypes.

Their ships are most likely Used Future pieces of junk, just barely held together — bonus points if they're blocky, and bear a surprising resemblance to modern Mack trucks or other 18-wheelers.

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Often a subtrope of Intrepid Merchant.


Examples:

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     Anime and Manga  

     Comic Books 

  • 2000 AD's Ace Trucking Co. series.
  • While less of a trucker and more of a taxi driver, DC Comics has Space Cabbie, who has been shown transporting and imparting wisdom to everyone from Adam Strange to Ultra, the Multi-Alien.
  • The mostly-forgotten (for good reason) Marvel hero Razorback had the mutant power to drive any vehicle seemingly by instinct. He happily moves up from semis to FTL spacecraft.
  • The 2010 The Infinity Gauntlet mini-series includes the character U.S. Ace, whose Space 18-Wheeler (it looks like a semi-truck with rocket boosters) is the fastest ship in the galaxy, and therefore the chosen ship for The Avengers to use to get to the center of the universe. (U.S. Ace is a non-trademarked version of U.S. 1, a character Marvel created in the '80s for a licensed comic to promote a toy truck line. In the '80s comics his truck was "merely" tricked out a la James Bond.)
  • Wonton Soup: The main character is a highly skilled chef who decides to wander the galaxy as a space trucker.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): Diana's revolutionary pirate crew starts hitting the local equivalent of trucking routes through the boarder security planets of the Sangtee Empire since the truckers are transporting slaves. They pretty much give up without a fight, even if they aren't happy Diana steals most of their ships, which causes the empire to have them escorted by fighters.

     Film 
  • The crew of the Nostromo in Alien. The cargo they are hauling is a huge oil refinery, and they haul it behind their spaceship like a tractor trailer does with its cargo.
  • Dark Star provides the probable Ur-Example, with John Carpenter and Dan O'Bannon intending to create a foil to 2001: A Space Odyssey by replacing Humanity's Finest with a bunch of stupid hill-billies IN SPACE!. Dan O'Bannon would go on to re-use this motif in the later Alien
  • Spaceballs (a parody of Star Wars) naturally has Lone Star (a parody of Han Solo) driving a Winnebago through space.
  • Space Truckers. You don't say. Right down to the spaceship looking like a Mack truck.
  • Battle Beyond the Stars: Space Cowboy is a character like this, down to his broken-down cargo ship with a Confederate flag on the hull. He even watches old westerns on long hauls, and plays the harmonic. He's delivering a cargo of hand weapons, albeit legally.
  • For all intents and purposes, Han Solo in the first Star Wars film, at least when the audience first meets him. He'd normally have turned down the heroes' request for transport, except he was hard up for cash after having to dump a big cargo of illegal goods. Circumstances prevent him from repaying his debt which finally comes back to bite him at the end of the second and beginning of the third films.
  • In Petticoat Planet, Steve Rogers is a space garbage man whose ship crashes on the planet of Puckerbush. He tries to big note himself by claiming to be a commander, but the ladies of Puckerbush soon discover the truth.

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     Literature 

  • In John DeChancie's Skyway trilogy, the only widely known form of faster-than-light travel involves driving ground vehicles along the highway/Portal Network Precursors have built which seems to connect every place in the universe worth visiting. Most races don't even bother building sublight spaceships (though they do get used), and if anybody has actual FTL space drives they're keeping it very quiet, so trade equals truckers. And human truckers tend to be... well, truckers.
  • Endemic in The Expanse, where jobs to transport water and resources between the outer colonies and Earth/Mars are vital but not very highly regarded. The protagonists (Jim, Naomi, Alex and Amos) begin the series as this, hauling water for a private company between the asteroid belt and Jupiter's moons.
  • Chakona Space: Contributing author Allen Fessler has given us Neal Foster: Interstellar Freighter Captain. Foster's Backstory even includes an actual 18-wheeler.
  • In Lucifer's Star, the crew of the Melampus are this when they're not functioning as Space Pirates. The ship is a Star Galleon and contains a town-sized amount of cargo space. Its crew is also halfway between a Ragtag Band of Misfits and an Army of Thieves and Whores on its best days.

     Live-Action TV 

  • The Eureka Maru in Andromeda is this before its captain got hooked up with the Andromeda. Their contacts still come in handy.
  • Neelix was this in Star Trek: Voyager before joining up with the Voyager. He was initially portrayed as a much savvier spacer before going through Flanderization to become Plucky Comic Relief.
  • The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Outrageous Okona" had the Loveable Rogue variation in Okona. He is also an Expy for Han Solo, so this is to be expected.
  • Firefly: The crew of Serenity have this as a major part of their job. Of course, they also do burglaries and mercenary work.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: In the Netflix revival seasons, the new human protagonist Jonah Heston is introduced piloting a cargo tug which is clearly based on a Freightliner cab-over cargo truck (think G1 Optimus Prime).
  • The Doctor Who story Warriors' Gate features a Used Future space freighter with a blue-collar crew who are more interested in getting their bonuses than doing their job. Said job being slavers.

     Music 

  • "Asteroid Named Rest Stop", a song by Julia Ecklar and Leslie Fish. The lyrics can be found here
  • The song "Space Truckin'" by Deep Purple, which provides the current page quote, is at least metaphorically about trucking through space.
  • Mojo Nixon has "UFOs, Big Rigs, & BBQ." Apparently UFOs are driven by long-haul truckers.

     Tabletop Games 

  • The aptly named board game Galaxy Trucker. Corporation Incorporated needs a way to transport low-cost housing and sewer construction equipment to new colonies. What is the cheapest way to do this? Let people weld it together into random spaceships and fly it across the galaxy in exchange for getting to keep any profits they manage to earn along the way.
  • Free Traders in Traveller, though there the preferred analogy is of "tramp" (non-scheduled) ocean freighters than of truckers; even a free trader costs enough for any one who owns one free and clear to be counted as pretty wealthy.note 
  • The roleplaying game Bulldogs! has the player characters as delivery messengers in the vein of Futurama—with the "expendable employees" Black Comedy turned Up to Eleven.

     Videogames 

  • Elite, its sequels and the many, many games that followed its example start from a basic premise of "A Space Trucker Is You". Over time, the concept expanded to the point where the player has the option of becoming a mercenary and/or bounty hunter, an Asteroid Miner, a Bold Explorer or a Space Pirate. Some games cross over into An Entrepreneur Is You and allow players to buy real estate and hire NPC ships and pilots.
  • The X-Universe series allows the player to take up the role of a freelance trader, along with the thousands of AI traders. Most TS (Transport, small) class ships have modular cargo sections like a freight train. Several of them have elements of modern trucks - The Argon Mercury has a sun visor and a cockpit reminiscent of a Mack truck. Others resemble oceangoing cargo ships, with containers being the bulk of their mass and the cockpit protruding slightly above them roughly 2/3rds of the way from the front, like a ship's bridge.
    • TL (Transport, large) ships, however, don't reference pre-space age designs and consist basically of a single humongous container with engines attached. Justified as they need to carry very bulky goods like space station assembly kits.
  • While StarCraft was established as being the Deep South IN SPACE!, StarCraft II takes it even further, with all the music being country, the SCVs being truckers, and advertisements for "Bubba's Gas and Grits", a restaurant with an actual space truck on it.
  • In EVE Online, a player can train industrial ships and become one of these, hauling others' goods around. Red Frog Freight is a particularly well-known player corporation that specializes in this.
  • Space Run is about hauling goods between space stations. Instead of piloting your ship, you build and direct defenses to fend off pirates with Tower Defense style gameplay.
  • On the 3DO game Loadstar: The Legend Of Tully Bodine, you play the titular space trucker as he runs through the maglev trenches of the Moon ferrying an illegal cargo that must be taken to Mars. The game itself is a Rail Shooter with Full Motion Video.
  • This will be one of the possible occupations in Star Citizen's MMO-style persistent universe.
  • Rebel Galaxy combines the same sort of space trading simulator as the above games with a rusted Used Future aesthetic and soundtrack full of country music.

     Webcomics 

     Western Animation 

  • One episode of Futurama has a space trucker convoy. Their role in the story was basically just to throw cat calls at Leela.
    • The main characters themselves work for a delivery company, making them non-stereotypical truckers in Space.
  • The Planet Jackers from Invader Zim are quite reminiscent of long haul truckers.
  • The Vreedle Brothers from Ben 10: Alien Force and beyond talk and dress like stereotypical truckers; even their spaceship looks like a truck.


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