Tag Archives: Dystopia

Dystektopia

Momma Path straightened up from her work in her garden and tapped the screen attached to her wrist. Down the road, she’d heard the driverless shuttle squeak to a stop and expected young Nicholas to come running up and around the house to find her minding her rows. When he didn’t show, the GPS pinpointing his Patch-Trak flashed his location—cousin Ben’s house across the small Appalachian valley.

Oh, that’s right, Friday night at Ben’s.

Despite the shift to being a Ward-State, the country’s school calendar remained stuck in the 1800’s. Summer became a free-for-all and Momma Path’s large farmhouse and barn transformed into school-age-mayhem central. One more week and Nick and the others will finally help me sow our greens and victuals.

At eighty, Polenna Path had, as most folks who shared her geriatric tendencies, benefited from guv’ment’s research and subsequent distributions of “health-gevity” programs. “Healthy to the end,” had been their chorus. Little had they realized, that for most, the end now came much later in life. Her morning ritual included twenty minutes of exercise and scrounging through her weekly Ward package looking for the bright-yellow blister packs and gulping her dose along with a peanut-butter protein bar that came as standard fare.

She set fists to hips and regarded her plot. A quarter acre cordoned off from the deer and rabbits, tilled to uniform rows, with the heads of corn and squash seedlings leaning toward the early June sun. When her wrist chimed, instead of glancing at the screen she spoke openly.

“Who is it?”

A guv-droid voice, sounding like the historical filmstar Julie Andrews, spoke, “The caller is Regina Walker, Ben’s mother enroute from her residence.”

“Accept. Reggie, how are you dear? I hope Nicholas is behaving himself. I’m sure those two are bracing themselves for next week. I only…”

“Momma Path, what do you mean? I thought Ben and Nick were going to spend the night at your place. I see Ben’s tracker, he’s right there on your front porch.”

~~~

100 years into the future, technology’s promise has been fulfilled. A form of UBI, Universal Basic Income, has been implemented, funded by the incredible advancements of work automation. The United States has become the fifth nation to implement the Ward-State. Those who wish it can work as they like, educate themselves as they see fit, pursue pastimes and the arts to their heart’s desire, in a word, retire. Ward benefits include medication, food and a stipend for housing, clothing and sundry needs.

Capitalism’s strangle hold on the working-poor has given way to government managed communalism. The financial cast system continues to influence the lofty regions of political office where only the richest of the rich believe they still hold sway. In general, however, corporate entities innovated themselves out of their own profits — they automated themselves out of existence.

Momma Path has witnessed the change. She welcomed the release of worry yet still distrusts the surveillance state she knows watches her every move. Today, that distrust proved critical.

 

 


Elder centers: beta reader bonanza

I wonder if there are any elder care centers around that might entertain the idea of creating a beta-reader club.

Here’s a population of folks with time on their hands. They have organized activities, book-o-the-month clubs, social gatherings and whatnot. They sound like the perfect victims for assaulting with the likes of a poorly written beta-level novel.

“Hello, Epione’s Excellent Elder Care Home? Yes, I’d like to swing by with rough-printed copies of my new novel for your residents to read, at their discretion and interest level.

I would bring donuts…

You’d have to get approval from management? Of course. Yes, the content is relatively tame — no hard-core sex scenes, or disembowelments.

I can come by? Excellent.”

Baby Boomers Abound. I think this is an untapped resource ripe for harvest. Imagine organizing the Elder-Brain-Trust into a distributed knowledge processing service center. Millions of old-foggies bored to tears, aching for something to do with their time. And here come all these nascent authors in need of beta readers. Bingo! A perfect match.

I’m gonna print off 10 copies of my latest story and march right down there. For $85 I can get ten printed copies delivered. Sounds like a plan to me.

 

 


A themed universe

Something jelled recently.

Those of you who read Sci-Fi will know the name Larry Niven. He’s most famous for his novel Ring World. But more than that, what he created was a broad context for (nearly) all of his stories. It’s what he calls “Known Space.” What’s curious about it is that it’s fully cogent and rationalized. There’s a timeline and a physical domain that contains the “science” and the fiction.

Or rather, consider the Potterverse, one most of you are probably aware of. Jeanne created a world, a universe, which contains — yes her seven novel series — but more than that, it provides the potential for many more stories, some of which we’re seeing with the Dangerous Beasts movie series. Those and tens of thousands of fan-fic stories. And an entire dream world, made virtually real by Universal.

What jelled was that I’ve created my own post-apocalyptic world with a fairly complete, fairly cogent rationalization. And this Apoca-verse has room for much of what I’ve been writing as side stories.

  • Blue Across the Sea was #1. Red Into the Sea will be the sequel (and I’ve mapped out two more after that: Green and White…)
  • Shadow Shoals (unfinished) is also a story that takes place within this timeline and world-context. (I’ve been editing it over on Scribophile, and it’s been getting some good reviews.)
  • Recently,  I’ve returned to my Antarctic prisoner story, Iced, and — ayup — it also can be easily inserted into this same chrono-calamity and world situation.
  • Additionally, my story City Afloat, about a band of Bangladeshis who create a floating city and drift and live on the Indian Ocean, well… it also can be wedged into this same universe.

So, I’ll end with, if you create a complete, fabricated universe, that makes sense and has meaning to you and to the stories you tell — maybe you can create a themed foundational universe into which you can write.

Larry Niven is a Sci-Fi god. He’ll be 80 years old this April 30th. I wonder if he’d mind if I used his idea of a Known Space? Maybe I should call it Known Dystopia.

 

 


The Pulse and Glow 1.1

I’ve had this story in my head for a long time. I decided to give it a start and see how it felt.

The Pulse and Glow

The world balances at the tip of peak energy. More, ever more, beg the people of the planet. And who are the First World nations to hold back those of the third? But their plead for more rings hollow. And every engineer, every climate scientist, every physicist, geologist, economist, and, lately, politician realizes that more is no longer a possibility.

In a tiny village in Iraq, a dreamer, an engineer of mysterious skills, discovers a possible answer to the energy crisis. The battle to release this invention into the world becomes his and the world’s only salvation. But Abani is only a simple engineer. And the Russians, and Saudis and Norwegians would rather not see their hegemony of the world’s oil reserves jeopardized. The illuminati, long acknowledge to command the world’s economy are about to lose control — all because of a tiny device that delivers ‘free energy’.

Chapter 1…

https://goo.gl/BgXCaK

 


Writer’s Log: 1348 Intellectual Property

Do you feel compelled to sequester and safeguard your intellectual property?

Say you write a compelling short story or novel. Are you afraid for its safety as you release it into the world to be beta read, edited, teased? Do you imagine someone stealing it, making it their own, publishing it under their own name?

I used to think this; and frankly, I’m still not fully convinced that such a scenario is rare in the world. But, the more I read about the tsunami of published work that floods the market every month, every year, the less and less I believe my fears are warranted.

In fact, more and more I think my fears could be my downfall.

I recently read a fresh author’s novel that he gave away for free. “Come download my book for free!” (For a limited time, of course.) Why, I asked him, would he do this?

“I’ve discovered,” he said, “that my only (and if you’re an author, then, your only) task is to gather a readership — any way you can!”

Work is cheap. Quality written work is cheap too. Novels are free for the taking from the library, BookBub, author giveaways, Amazon deals. “No, nobody wants to steal your work. In fact, you can barely find people you can pay to read your work.”

So, in the spirit of this revelation, I’ll continue to offer continuous installments of my latest novel effort Shadow Shoals (1.2): https://goo.gl/tSbWXJ


My Dystopian Life

The topic is a tired one. And this post is not meant to wipe the sleep from its eyes. I often find myself writing stories in this genre therefore, I’d like to put all this here so as to keep track of it.

Note, I tend to focus on “apocalyptic” dystopians. Those other story lines that come about through gradual oppression, I don’t much care for. (Hell, we live in one now.)

I’ll be updating this post from time to time, and commenting with links and data.

Reasons why dystopian stories are alluring:

  1. A return to survival mode.
  2. Simpler cause and effect living.
  3. The elimination of wealth inequality.
  4. Imagining and preparing for the worst.
  5. Societal “clean slate” thinking.

A return to survival mode

Let’s face it, the act of survival (in the Western world) is less than challenging. On average, most people do not have to worry about surviving from day to day. (Many caveats to this I know, but that’s not the point now.) As animals, humans, when threatened, have a fierce will to live. In fact, we evolved during such times when our ferocity undoubtedly determined the survival of our genes. We’ve lost that edge.

“Attack that sales meeting!” “Tear into that engine overhaul!” “Shred that software bug!” Nope, sorry. Our million year old survival instincts are just not triggered these days.

I think a return to a time (or reading about one) when every decision you make, throughout the day, influences your personal and family’s survival gives us a momentary boost of Darwin’s and London’s “Survival of the fittest,” and “Eat or be eaten,” sense of immediacy. Choices would mean something again.

Simpler cause and effect living

Similar to a return to survival mode, a jump into a post-apocalyptic world simplifies one’s life. Would you have to manage your IRA? Worry about interest rates? Think about saving for yours or your child’s college education? Second guess that office photo you posted on fadebook? Hell no! That shit would be history, a quaint recollection as you lie beneath a glowing sky lit by strange aurora, listening to the wild dogs circle your camp.

When you buy a new cellphone, how much impact does that really have on your life? Diddly squat! That’s how much.

If you fail to step quietly through the broken, rubble-strewn town, what effect then when you neglectfully kick that empty jerry-can waking the denizens that lurk there in the shadows? One hell-of-a-lot!

We have no agency in our lives today. (Of course we do. But not the kind that will get you killed within seconds or minutes after your mistake — unless we’re talking about stepping in front of a bus or texting while driving.) Meaningful agency is lost to us. A return to learning to survive, where every action and choice matters, would be a refreshing reemergence of “feeling alive!”

Return to equality

Take the world and turn off the internet. Turn off the lights. Turn off the electricity. Turn off the water and food delivery and medicine production and police protection, fire protection, military protection. Turn everything off that makes our technological society what it is today.

Now tell me, what’s your net worth now? Yeah, exactly! You are worth whatever you have in your backpack — and that’s it! Those of you in your razor-wire shrouded compounds? Your food will run out eventually. Do you have private generators? Fuel production has ceased. This is a drastic simplification of course, but the vast differences in “wealth” we have today? Those would vanish overnight in a post-apocalyptic scenario.

Just to see a time when your own wits and skills of survival lend you a modicum of superiority would be worth watching the end of technological society. Or so many dystopian novels would have us believe (including mine).

Preparation for the worst case

Imagine the end of all convenience. The end of easy calories, of secure sleep, of clean water. Dwell on this imagined world; examine it in your mind, angle by angle. Now, pull back from this catastrophe and look around you. We have it pretty damn good today, don’t we? But it could be worse, much worse. By considering such End-of-Times scenarios you’ve both prepared yourself for the possibility, and you’ve reestablished your sense of what is important to you today.

Prepare for the worst, but live and survive today. Know that you have evaluated the ramifications of Armageddon but also know that, were it to arrive, you’re prepared. Your task would then be a constantly adjusting triage: evaluate, act, move on. Your future, cataclysm or not, will unfold (or not), and all you can truly do is handle the “now”.

Clean slate

Take the U.S. Constitution, patch the holes (corporations are not people!), add some equality of citizen amendments, and maybe some term limits, now, wipe the slate of human government clean and then apply your new World Constitution to civilization.

There! All better.

Well, not quite. While you were struggling to survive, a bunch of bad actors sprung up with their massive caches of ammunition and alt-right supremacy notions and bloomed, like a red tide, beneath your clean slate.

But at least your thoughts and intentions were true. They must count for something. Right?

An apocalypse and the dystopia that would follow “could” evolve into a new and beautiful utopia. This is one of the appeals of dystopian stories — the possibility that from the ashes a new, equitable and loving society could emerge. (Cough, cough!)

A list of dystopian novels I’ve read:

  • The Road
  • Alas Babylon
  • On the Beach
  • The Girl with all the Gifts
  • Far North
  • Earth Abides
  • Robopocalypse
  • Terraforming Earth
  • Stranger
  • Hunger Games
  • Divergent
  • Maze Runner
  • The Dead Lands
  • The Giver
  • Battle Royale
  • World Made by Hand
  • Night Work
  • The Last Man
  • Oryx and Crake
  • World War Z
  • Year One
  • One Second After
  • Blue Across the Sea (my own)

Non fiction:

  • The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Our World from Scratch
  • (Numerous others to be listed soon, before, you know, The End.)

REFERENCES:
https://anonymole.wordpress.com/2016/01/21/drake-equation-more-on-the-topic/