Friday, January 06, 2023

SCiON-7 Novella Notes

So what has been going on with the story that I've been working on? Haven't done much with it, but I've decided to dust it off for the new year and put some more time into it.

To the extent I've written about my idea for this story in the past, it has been several months or a year now. Basic premise: Humanity has built a series of generational ships that have been sent off in various directions in space toward what are believed to be habitable planets. Very similar to Issac Asimov's Nemesis, and I suppose that may have even been the book that really got me thinking about 

Originally the main character was orphaned at a young age and he witnessed the death of his parents... Bruce Wayne syndrome. The story was also just being written in a standard third-person perspective. I've changed it so that the protag is an orphan from before he could remember his parents (so there's no trauma), and a limited omniscient third-person narrator has been added... The narrator will be a space wizard, the "Chronomancer" (the idea and name of the character comes from The Sword's concept album "Warp Riders"). Those are pretty big changes to make based on where I was originally going with the story. I prefer the changes I made to just the Chronomancer being a deus ex machina, rather, him being the narrator will show off some dynamism, and hopefully allow the reader to relate to him more than just being a sky-daddy with a white beard.

It is still a Candide rip-off, and I had always planned that, but instead of it being a random set of mentors and/or circumstances, I wanted to make sure that each of the mentors that the protag comes into contact with represented a specific and integral part of the ship's crew, habitat, culture, or society. I came up with these four occupations that I believe to be the traditional cornerstones of society:

  • Police Officer;
  • Politician;
  • Priest; and
  • Merchant.

I specifically left off military because I felt that law enforcement more or less filled that role... Which probably says more about the current state of law enforcement than it does my interpretation of it. What I need though is one specific incident/scenario for each of those mentors that illustrates how I imagine a libertarian society might function... Not that the ship will be a cohesive libertarian society as the protag examines his place aboard it, but just that the story needs to explore the mechanics of free market interactions in certain instances. I imagine that the society I'm portraying initially--the society that our protag is born into--as a whole is actually more of a socialist one, but one that faces challenges around implementing or circumventing authoritarianism. So, even though the story takes place in the future on an advanced generational space ship, it will illustrate that humanity is relatively the same as it is now. The story needs to be relatable.

One of the things that I love about Star Trek is how humanity's past is often seen as the dark ages and Roddenberry's future is always an optimistic one, my story takes place in a nearer future than Roddenberry's 24th century. Man hasn't achieved faster than light travel, though I do envision a "jump gate" system of some kind; technology that allows us to travel faster then chemical, or nuclear, propulsion can send us between the planets. The experience for most humans traveling between Mars and Jupiter is like flying on an international flight today... I'm not sure how to totally describe the mentality, but needless to say, ships need a dock, airplanes need airports, spaceships need spaceports. That's just a pattern of how we have expanded our territory as humans. There needs to be a communal human presence between two locations to foster mass travel, that's the way that it has always been. I'm sure that as much as you might like to think that Columbus didn't know there were already people living in America, there are just too many old maps that still survive and suggest otherwise. Old maps that detail geographical features which supposedly weren't part of human awareness of at that time... I want to say that it's stupid to think they didn't know the Earth was round in the seventeenth century, but there are mother fuckers out there right now in the present day who think the Earth is flat, so my argument doesn't really work.

For all intents and purposes though, think of the SCiON-7 as the Mayflower as that ship exists in the grammar schools of our youth.

I think we are still a long way from faster than light travel, actually. I imagine we'll colonize the entire solar system before we move to the next star, it only makes sense. We need to learn how to better manipulate our environment before we are able to make a journey that is several lights years in distance. Being able to engineer a ship that can carry multiple generations of humans would be ideal. But we start to lose collective memory over time. Once you've gone four generations, the humans on either side of that equation are entirely different from one another and they don't share very much except for our base animal instincts. 

So what do those institutions look like in transit when the ship has blown off course?

👮 Police

The Law Enforcement officer will have to be a cautionary tale in authoritarian abuse. Police are by nature the force of the state manifest in physical form. Because of recent events, George Floyd is probably the easiest and most notable event to draw inspiration from... I only say that because that's one thing that most of us finally agree on. So whether you're all for the thin blue line, or you want to defund the police, I haven't really met any one who thinks Chauvin was justified. We all saw the video, he murdered him over a fake $20. Policing and how it's done is an aspect of our society that is definitely shifting. I don't even think that most police like being put in that type of position. I have to hand it to Las Vegas Metro, they're pretty relaxed and we don't have a lot of incidents here... As far as I'm aware. It's certainly not as bad as it was when I lived in Southern California. I think part of it has to do with the neighborhoods. I mean, Vegas does have MLK and D Street, and there are areas of town that are rough, but most of the city isn't quite as segregated as most of Southern California, and a lot of that has to do with money AND liberal politics, it's the combination, because I'm not opposed to sensible policies. Which is definitely a funny notion considering that most people think of California as some type of liberal socialist haven, but from what I remember, it was much worse than you would imagine.


🏦 Politician

Politician is an interesting one. The ideal is someone who truly gives a shit about negotiating the various personalities that are co-existing with one another. We have this conception that politicians are just manipulating everyone and skimming money off the top and taking bribes and payoffs and doing deal to line their own pockets. Really, most of us just want people to act as arbiters and buffers. Not all of us get along with everyone, but there are often people that both us and the people we don't want to deal with both like talking to. I do try to be that person, but it's not an easy job, managing personalities is fucking exhausting. No wonder people get selfish. That's what happens... Part of the time. There are definitely scumbags that intentionally get into politics to take advantage of the rest of the populous. Unfortunately there aren't more people doing good in the world because they get so fucking abused by the system in such a short amount of time, because most of us are too busy trying to suck from the teat of government that we're loosing all the politicians. Maybe if some of us weren't so hungry for authority we could get along with a politician that just sat in a room and moderated arguments, or drafted the language that we all could agree upon and citizens. Instead we get stuck with these idiots trying to come up with solutions that don't solve the problems. Government's role in society is not to guide us, it's simply to keep us from murdering each other over the simple things in life. There are many different ways to express how that goal should be accomplished if we can agree on that one simple element. Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts, absolutely.

☦ Priest

Pastor... Priest... Patrician? The last one is just a nobleman and not necessarily a man of God or religion, but I feel that at one time in human history they were fairly synonymous. Tales of the Church have dominated our consciousness for a very long time. The modern notion of the church in terms of Christianity and Catholicism stretch back into antiquity. We've gone through two major social cycles with the Christian God... Or that expression of the universe. Religion is just an expression of the machinery of the heavens. A lot of people feel that Science is the next evolution of that. To be honest, I don't necessarily disagree, there is a lot about modern-day science that really sort of hearkens back to the monks. When I lived in upstate New York we were told stories about how the university there was founded by twelve monks with twelve books. The astro-theological symbolism was encoded in the fucking fables told to me in the 90s, we aren't even talking about fictional accounts from the 19th century. So I have an idea of how I would tell a theologian's story in the future, but I'm not sure it's how most people would expect it. Maybe that's a good thing??


💰 Merchant

Merchants are just a nice to way to frame and anthropomorphize capitalism. It's not without its flaws... I think most people get caught up on the advantages that modern day corporations have as a sign that capitalism doesn't work, but all the really large corporations have had some benefit from tax payer money over the years. Eliminating corporate welfare would definitely equalize the playing field a bit. I think it might also stiffen the credit markets though. A lot of us take for granted our good credit because we've figured out how to do it, or we were fortunate to have been born into it. And that's a concern for a lot of my friends, not necessarily because they don't have good credit scores, but because they know people, or there are people from the neighborhoods that they grew up in who haven't figured it out yet, and don't have good credit. With tax money floating some of the market, it's almost like an insurance policy that we're all in it together. It's a sick way to perpetuate nationalism, but each state is a little bit different from one another. The Founders weren't stupid, and I don't think that this late state version of it is necessarily broken. I used to. Not that long ago either.  But the older I get, the more I can buy into the mutual humanity of the people I see in the street, in the car next to me, or walking down the street.


⨂ Finale

The end of the story? I don't know yet. I never know the end. That's part of my problem... So the underlying plot is that the food being grown on the ship is killing people, it's making them sick. Which is a massive problem when you're all stuck on a metal tube tumbling through space. So that's what killed the protag's parents, and it's the main existential threat that affects the whole society that he is born into. How do you solve that problem? It obviously has a bunch of immediate affects, but it also has a deeper ripple through society. In order to eat, doctors are synthesizing drugs that help you digest the food, but if you take too much it gets you high. So it's a balancing act between taking enough to make your food taste good and taking so much that you lose yourself in your own body.

We're all acutely aware that the real problem behind drugs is not that they exist, it's that people use them to not be present with the rest of us. Some people do it very secretively, others do it more publicly, it's always to varying degrees of control. Some of us need doctors to handle that shit for us so we only take enough to keep from collapsing in on ourselves. Some of us are perfectly fine self-medicating because we've figured out the dosage. Most doctors are probably wrong, just look at someone like Michael Jackson who followed the doctor's instructions. A healthy existence in society is dictated...--Well, some of us will never be able to figure it out, or they're too screwed up by their own biology to even have a fighting chance. Some people are definitely more biologically disposed to becoming addicts to certain substances. Why are you smoking meth and not just kicking back with a beer or smoking a joint? Or, why are you smoking a joint instead of taking these FDA-approved drugs? That's something that we have to deal which each other on, and not let the state get involved, because we know how ugly that situation is. Thankfully we've hit a point where at least cannabis is effectively legal everywhere. I'm sure there are some that still disagree on its status and importance, but the majority of the country is acquiescing, just like what happened with alcohol prohibition. Not to mention, the countries that surround us are getting rid of their laws too. It could be a massive unifying factor for North America on a purely economic level.  Cannabis should be like automobiles, each country trying to outdo each other, and there should be companies on distant shores conducting business with each other. Let's all just chill the fuck out before we start a nuclear war.

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