Monday, April 20, 2009

Let’s Play “What If?”

All of the anniversaries on this date got me to thinking. As a writer of Science Fiction Romance, when I start thinking, I start playing “What if?” Want to play with me? Then bear with my wandering mind. I’ve been playing with a scenario for a future work.

First Anniversary on this Date:
On late night April 19th and early morning April 20th, 1775, the American Revolution began with the Battles of Lexington and Concord. These were plain farmers and businessmen telling the Brits to quit bullying them. As a revolution, the American Revolution is an anomaly in all of history. It’s the only revolution in the history of the world which did not lead to the wholesale slaughter of the defeated parties. They simply told the Brits to go home. Would that all family squabbles were handled so well.

Several years later, 1789-1799, the French Revolution began in economic turmoil and lead to a blood bath in which several hundred thousand people perished in the arms of Madame la Guillotine. Granted, circumstances were different; but, the French Revolution followed the classic course for most political revolutions: protest; rebellion and change; execution of opposition; dictatorship. The same pattern followed in Mexico in 1910, Russia in 1917 and in China in 1949, all times of economic upheaval. Seven million died in Mexico, and only God knows how many millions died in Russia and China. Domestic violence sucks!

Second Anniversary on this Date:
On this day in 1889, Adolf Hitler was born. In 1933, again a time of economic uncertainty, he became Chancellor of Germany. In less than a year, with barely a whimper of protest, he replaced a democratically elected government with a totalitarian regime in a country that had a long history of education and culture. Fast forward fifteen years and he was responsible for the direct murder of over 17 million people... just as statistic unless you were one of them.

This is the scenario with which I am playing:
I have a planet in the distant future which is rather similar technologically to our own. It has had every advantage which freedom can offer. Why would its people suddenly turn their backs on the freedoms which they have enjoyed for centuries? What type of people would the villains be? What steps would they go through to accomplish their coup with the minimum of initial bloodshed? What would they do to keep power? What type of person would the hero be? What would the heroine be like? What are the good guys doing? What would the villians throw at them? Could they rescue their world? What would it cost them to do so? What other questions do you think that should be asked for a rip roaring good story?

Happy “What if-ing,”

Writing Science Fiction Romance
Real Love in a Real Future


Liana Brooks said...

Oh! So tempting!!!

I actually have a sci-fi story set with the antagonists going through their own French Revolution, complete with Triumvirate. The MC is leading a patched-together fleet of colony ships that don't want to get absorbed into a hyper-equal society. One where the extremists are pushing for full body reconstruction to make everyone look the same.

Right now, that stories a pot boiler, but I love it. The idea of people who get so tired of having class levels and push for equality any way they can. If money is the issue, they remove it. Beauty? Make everyone look the same. Intelligence? Well, you can *not* educate people past a certain point. It means the society might stagnate but no one feels stupid. And no one is better than someone else.

The main antagonist is even more fun because she doesn't buy into this idea of equality. She's something unique in a world fighting for sameness, giving the protagonist headaches and ruining his day is only one of her many goals. And charms :o)

Frances said...

Liana, that is flaming brilliant! I love it. I am so dad ratted tired of political correctness that I could scream. Write it dear. I want to read it.

Laura Herbertson said...

I think you'd like the Shadow Children series by Margaret Peterson Haddix. It's set years after a devastating famine and the government became a dictatorship. They tell people how many children to have, outlaw pets, what they can eat, what farmers can grow, and randomly raise taxes on certain families.

Frances said...

Laura, that sounds interesting. Going to have to check it out. Thanks.

Brantley said...

Laura's on the right track. Societies don't turn sour when times are good; there has to be some sort of crisis -- a really DEVASTATING crisis -- that sows panic and undermines morale.

Cyril Kornbluth once quoted from an imaginary book called ORGANIZATION, SYMBOLISM AND MORALE. Some good ideas there. It's a book that actually needs to be written -- but, God, I can't imagine who'd be qualified to do so.

Frances said...

Brantly, I have wondered, "Do societies not start to rot from the inside when times are good?" Our bodies and minds exist in a "use it or lose it" universe. Could it not be the same for societies? When a society ceases to use it's moral and intellectual muscles, do they not lose them?

I am not ignoring situations like the fall of the Athenian democracy after plague hit it. But if citizens cease to fight for their freedoms, are they worthy of those freedoms?

I don't know this author, Cyril Kornbluth, to whom you refer, but sounds interesting. Thanks Brantley. I'll have to check up on it.

Frances said...

Laura, I just reread you comment. I got to thinking about it more deeply. Seems to me like the Shadow Children series by Margaret Peterson Haddix is already taking place in our reality. "They tell people how many children to have, outlaw pets, what they can eat, what farmers can grow, and randomly raise taxes on certain families." All of these things happen in China now, and also most of them here in the USA. I don't know if you know it or not, but the Federal Government tells our farmers what to plant; and, most communities have laws about which animals can be pets within city limits. States have laws about which animals can be pets. I live in a state which has been a farming state and have watched as federal policy has destroyed the soil and industry. This doesn't even get into the food industry. Sad isn't it!

They will pry my furbabies out of my cold dead hands!