Anarchy in the USA

Last week, I discussed the nature of most dystopias in Sci Fi. On the other end of the spectrum, there are those Sci Fi authors and works that take on a flair most opposite of a dystopian totalitarian state of living. They fly by their own rules. Or no rules at all…

Libertarianism

Libertarianism is broad itself in scope, covering everything from having a small state government to complete anarchism ( a total lack of central government). It spans from right to left, but is pretty centric in all incarnations. The basis is on personal liberties that govern how an individual lives. These themes are explored in such works as The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein and Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.

A strong focus within these works is the ever hush-hush anarchism. Because a society without laws is unthinkable. Without the government to hold us all together we would just cease to exist. Or worse…we would actually get along just fine.

I think anarchism is such a strong theme because it’s what everyone really wants. We want to form communities based on a need for community, not because we live inside of an arbitrary boundary drawn by a detached state government.

If i may wax romantically for a moment…

I sort of wish i was born in the days of pioneering the American West. Little to no governing authorities, just people working together for the good of their family, self, friends, whatever. Sure it bred outlaws, but it also bred heroes. For every story of crime we have a story of bravery. The illusion of the need for a government stems from a detachment we all experience. Most people live in an urban center and have no idea where their food comes from, whether it’s vegetables or meat. Most of us have never had to build a shelter to survive a winter or keep away predators. We’ve never had to walk miles to find said food or shelter. All in all we have disconnected from what it is to be. We think living in a city near a store where we spend the money we earned at our job and paid taxes on to support our country’s infrastructure and bureaucracy is how we are supposed to live.

Or we could throw rocks at the Earth from the Moon.

Whatever side of politics you land on, consider a world without a government. Consider having to really provide for yourself. Consider having to survive. Call me a caveman. Call me whatever you want. I fall right in line with all of the writers who have already expressed this sentiment. I find that a world run by the individuals who inhabit it and not massive states is my utopia.

What’s yours?

What’s your utopia? Perhaps it looks more like what we already have. Maybe it resembles what most would call a dystopia. Maybe it’s something completely different from anything I have discussed.

Whatever it is, there must be a story waiting to be told about it…

The political spectrum of Dystopia

Many science fiction novels deal with a future that is united by one world government. The question for the aspiring writer of these probably dystopian masterpieces remains simple: what kind of government is it? There are a plethora of options, on all ends of the political wheel.

The answer to the question often lies within the author: what do I fear the most?

Disclaimer: I hate all of them. Don’t comment about political systems or your personal preference unless it has something to do with writing. If you want to rant about how much one of them sucks and how America or whatever country you live in is turning into it, I will become whatever totalitarian establishment you hate and delete your comment.

OK?

1. Fascism

Are you a strong independent woman reminiscent of Kelly Clarkson or Beyonce? Then you should be scared of fascism. Are you a homosexual who enjoys meeting other homosexuals? Then you should be afraid of fascism. Are you a proponent of a strong national pride coupled with far right social and moral laws?

Then you are probably a fascist…

Ok maybe not really. But the principles stand as far right and strong nationalism. The liberal author would find living like this appalling and unbearable. The Nazi author would love it. The liberal mind finds a government that oppresses people on the basis of race or social orientation sickening. This world would definitely be a dystopia for some. Think V for Vendetta.

2. Socialism

Are you a successful business man who donates to charity and enjoys the fruit of his labor? Then you should be scared of socialism. Are you a farmer who enjoys the great outdoors and the freedom to grow whatever you choose? Then you should be afraid of socialism.  Are you a poor person who thinks the government should do everything for you?

Then you’re probably a socialist…

Or maybe just a poor person. Socialism strives to make all citizens equal in every way. This takes away the entrepreneurial spirit and the drive of the open market. The conservative mind finds this reprehensible because of the economic implications. While less popular in fiction, it is definitely an inviting setting. Think 1984.

Most dystopias revolve around these two governments taken to their totalitarian extremes. The USSR and Nazi Germany are often cited as the basis for these extremes and the fears that come with them. Which makes sense because “Nazi” and “Commie” are pretty much universal terms for “I hate you”.

Conclusions

In essence, a totalitarian government is everyone’s fear no matter which end of the spectrum this government is on. That makes it great fodder for sci fi novels. Especially novels written during a World War or the Cold War.

Speculative future fiction has always been a favorite genre of mine, and I think it’s worth considering as a writer. If you need some inspiration, see such novels as Atlas Shrugged, Fahrenheit 451, The Giver, The Hunger Games, Brave New World, Watchmen, or for a more comprehensive list, click here.

So what is the answer to all of this totalitarian, far right, far left ridiculousness?

Libertarianism or Anarchism of course…on next week’s blog!

The Beginner’s Guide to Futurism

Source (http://media.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/images/retro-futuristic-designs-tutorials/retro%20futuristic%20city%2010.jpg)

Futurism is a hot topic. Especially if you’re into being an entrepreneur. Predicting and/or setting future trends can be a make or break skill in the business world.

But what about the original futurists:

Science Fiction writers?

How does that work? Where would I start? What exactly is futurism?

Excellent questions.

What is Futurism?

Also known as future studies, futurism is the act of postulating different futures. So when Heinlein postulates space marines, he’s being a futurist. When Clarke postulates communications satellites, he’s being a futurist. When Rodenberry postulates personal communication devices, he’s being a futurist.

The single greatest joy of a science fiction writer should be futurism.

Basically you get to make up whatever you want. Make sure it’s a good idea.

The idea of futurism is not necessarily to predict the future, but rather to speculate on the future. Most writers who end up being prophets are speculating with known information, not dictating what will happen with that information. It’s a tough process sometimes, but one that’s worth going through.

Futurism and Science Fiction

Think about some of the most successful science fiction authors Arthur C. Clarke writes stories about solar system colonies and wandering alien space ships in the near future. Robert Heinlein writes about space marines fighting for territory on foreign planets in the future. Isaac Asimov writes about a world full of helpful robots that permeate every level of society. Philip K. Dick writes about memories being implanted and removed from people’s brains. Suzanne Collins writes about a near future held together by children fighting to the death for honor.

All they did was dare to dream of the future and what could be.

This is the staple of being a futurist as a writer: you have to dream. If you predict, you will almost certainly be wrong. But if you dare to dream, you just might be right. And that is the success of some science fiction writers. They dared to dream of the future and they actually ended up predicting the future.  If you haven’t, you should watch the Science channel’s Prophets of Science Fiction series. It details this process and is very informative. The series consists of biographical documentaries following eight science fiction writers who changed the world with their writing. It’s extremely intriguing, and gives a wonderful picture of these futurists in their element.

What Does the Future Hold?

As you begin to envision your version of the future, there is one central question that has to be your starting point:

Am I an optimist or a pessimist?

This is the difference between Utopia and Dystopia, a nuclear war or treatied world peace. Mad Max and Star Trek if you will. Look at the world around you and ask yourself where you see it going. Is it to greatness, or oblivion? This will greatly shape the world you are writing, and may even lend something to the story (other than setting, of course.)

Determining whether or not the future is shiny can determine whether or not your story is worth writing.

Well there’s a starting point for becoming a futurist in your science fiction writing. Stay tuned for future  parts to the series!