Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Worldbuilding is the ultimate regime change

[Content warning: Politics. If you don't wanna hear it, don't read on, please.]

Political debate tonight + SFF Seven topic on worldbuilding governments = a fortuitous mix for my possibly overbaked brain. In a national election year (in the U.S.), I think most folks around here are low-grade thinking of how we'd make this world a better place if only we were in charge. Not gonna lie: I have plenty of "when I am queen" plans. Be honest. You do, too.

Which makes writing SFF so incredibly satisfying. It is not a coincidence that in 2017 I wrote a book about a woman senator who brings down a corrupt, hate-mongering, anti-migrant government and imprisons its self-serving president. (Too on the nose? Maybe. Don't care.) 

Psychologists say that PTSD forms most often in trauma victims who are captive to the traumatic episode and unable to end it or gain a sense of control in the moment. In a very real way, other than periodic voting opportunities and mostly ineffective protest and legal remedies, most citizens in a large government are powerless. In fiction, though, we are able to rewrite our reality My world in the book was obviously not the real world, but I could use it as a tool to vent my frustrations and gain a feeling of power over my reality, at least in a "this is how it ought to be" sort of way. So I guess you could say that worldbuilding fictional governments can be therapeutic.

Making up other worlds and systems of government can also be aspirational or cautionary. Right now, I'm writing a world run by benevolent computers. When Terminator did that, it was bleak and horrible, but what if computers are not after all just like us (violent, power-mad, etc)? What if they don't rule with emotion, anger, grudges, or acquisitiveness? Could their reliance on logic and rule sets instead make them more stable than human overlords? Asimov explored similar questions in his I, Robot stories and essays, of course, as have dozens of SFF writers before and since. I suspect my conclusions will be similar to theirs. In the mean time, what a fun game to play with myself. Not sure readers are going to love it, but I am digging the ride.

And that's ... kind of what writers do, right? Entertain ourselves, write the books we want to read? So when we're building worlds and governments, we are also, ultimately, creating the worlds we want to either change or inhabit.

We are all the benevolent dictators of our own imperfect minds.

1 comment:

  1. Huh, interesting take on AI in charge. I hope there'll be some kissing in that world you're crafting!!