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Designers Turned Playing Cards into a Legit Sci-Fi Universe

Spades are aliens and clubs are space marines in Lunar Saloon's cyberpunk interpretation of the classic card deck.
Images courtesy the artist

Space nerds, rejoice: you can now trade dusty kings and queens for robots, aliens, and space marines with the STARDECK, a new version of the 52-card deck that draws on classic sci-fi characters and storylines.

The design from Minneapolis-based studio Lunar Saloon builds a story arc for hearts, spades, clubs, and diamonds full of sci-fi tropes that will feel wonderfully familiar to fans of Robert A. Heinlein, Ridley Scott, Isaac Asimov, Stanley Kubrick, and even the Wachowskis. The four factions battle for supremacy on the a perfectly sci-fi named planet called Proxima B.


Lunar Saloon co-owner Meg Griendling explains that spades are aliens, clubs are space marines, diamonds represent corporate interests, and hearts are robots. "We crafted a narrative that the aliens are called Spades because they live beneath the surface of Proxima B. Clubs were the most difficult to develop a context for, but we ultimately decided Clubs would 'The Club,' an elite team of space marines sent to the planet to prep for the arrival of future colonists. Diamonds show members of Diamond Corp, a company looking to harvest Proxima B's natural resources, and Hearts are robots who, to varying degrees, aid the other factions. Throughout the deck, you'll see hints at how the factions interact with one another: Heart logos on pieces of tech or allusions to the Spades having to fight both humans and robots," Griendling tells Creators.

Subtle changes to each suit's patterns and the characters on the face cards—each printed on high-grade Bicycle paper by the United States Playing Card Company—drop hints at the world Lunar Saloon has created. "Our goal is to fit STARDECK into a larger universe that tells this story through art prints, books and other fun and interesting products," Griendling says. Creative director Alex Griendling has already expanded on the lore of the playing cards with original illustrations, and there is more to come.

Card decks on a theme have become popular on Kickstarter, where the STARDECK raised its initial funding. The examples are endless from the glitch art deck to one highlighting the work of 55 Bulgarian artists. Lunar Saloon's goal to create a robust universe full of sci-fi lore sets it apart. The Griendlings believe in the medium as a way to promote the cognitive benefits of sci-fi.


"Sci-fi cultures a certain way of thinking: The reality we experience is not the only option," Meg Griendling says. "Sci-fi forces you to think of the endless possibility of the future. Writers and directors have long been warning society of its own vices through the sci-fi lens. Terminator and The Matrix tell us not to rely too heavily on technology, while Star Trek takes us to a future where we've set aside our destructive tendencies in favor of peaceful exploration. STARDECK is just the beginning of our effort to combine these various aspects into a fully realized sci-fi universe."

Buy your own STARDECK here, and see more of Lunarsaloon's work on their website.


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