2. Worldbuilding hIstorical notes nuts & bolts

Cleaning Out The Closet

Today in building The Stories of the Restoration, I offer a bit of faux academic writing about law enforcement in the Restored United States. The fictional writer responsible for it vehemently disagrees with socio-political concepts accepted by most of my other characters. Who’s right? Good question.

An excerpt from ” National Insecurity: The Hidden Power of the Civilian Security Bureau”

It’s useful to consider the Civilian Security Bureau as a tree – an organic, living organization of local roots and branches with a federal trunk supporting and feeding all of them. It evolved organically in response to conflicting needs, and over time those pressures have left it irreparably twisted.

At its inception, the CSB saw no hope of effectively absorbing the myriad public and private police operations which had evolved during Revision. It chose instead to establish control by dangling the big carrot of access to weaponry, federal identification rolls and data from financial and personal-activity monitoring systems in front of organizations long starved by a lack of enforcement technologies.

Departments were invited to join the Bureau as independent chapters with their own procedures and policies intact. The CSB provided technical support and dispatched trained analysts and investigators to member jurisdictions on request. In return, the local chapters agreed to abide by certain additional policies, deliver data to the Bureau’s centralized administrative hub, participate in training programs and encourage transfers into and promotion from the centralized services.

This quietly brilliant strategy resulted in a nationally-directed policing force with maximized local clout. The CSB Central Administration has slowly grown to be a dominant feature on the national landscape. Centralized efficiency paired with a distributed power structure has created a bureaucratic monster.

Our ancestors were willing to barter away privacy and personal freedoms in the name of security, but the world we live in would horrify them. They faced hard choices, and we live with the consequences. We think nothing of carrying multiple forms of identification, we accept drug and genetic testing — even brainwashing – as reasonable terms of employment and citizenship. Roadblocks and wellness checks are accepted without question as ‘normal’ where once they would have raised outrage.

The CSB’s power stretches over every aspect of our lives, and corruption is rife at the local level. Worse, we can only guess at the rot at the core. Promotion to administration roles is dependent on acceptance of psychiatric conditioning, and the centralized power structure is notoriously opaque to public scrutiny. What really happens behind closed doors? What abuses are inflicted on agents who sign away their rights in return for legal authority? What we don’t know can hurt us.

Convictions based on drug-assisted interrogations have rocketed in the last decade. Every citizen has the right to refuse pharmaceutical invasion of our most private minds, but exercising that right leads to conviction on suspicion. There was no public outcry when the legally-sanctioned lobotomy known as ‘rehabilitation’ was adopted for many major federal offenses. Hundreds of local jurisdictions have begun to practice it indiscriminately for even the most minor crimes, but the innocent are too docile to protest a horror visited only on the guilty. For now.

That’s today’s installment. If you’re wondering, yes I DO want to know what you think of these little niblets. I crave affirmation like a fish wants water.

2. Worldbuilding hIstorical notes nuts & bolts

Superpowers = super tricky

Continuing my explanation of the letter-number-letter system that defines superpowers in my Rough Passages fantasy world. Part 1 discussed the primary powers. Onward to the rest of the dirty picture.

II: Power ratings

  • A rating is only meaningful within a power series. There’s no attempt to compare the “power” of, say, a B1 rollover who can see through foot-thick lead walls to the power of an R1 rollover who can measurably move a continent, or a W1 who can create a point-to-point teleportation gate big enough for a truck to drive through.
  • The number is assigned through a comprehensive set of objective tests. Results are compared to collected historical measurements, providing a consistent and impartial result.
  •  1 indicates the strongest manifestation if the designated ability series, a rating of 0 means practically no sign of the ability indicated by the primary series letter can be detected.
  • The change in power between rating tiers is even, but the rollover population distributes unevenly into the space. This, like primary series designations

III: Variant designation

Every power series has an alphabet’s worth of variations, far too many combinations to detail in a simple work like this. Before databases, the catalogues required multiple bindings, like an old encyclopedia set or the Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature. The early inclusion of additional letters to define powers was a white flag of cataloging surrender by the system’s creators. Here are some of the complexities:

  • Multiple abilities are more the norm than the exception, and some power series show more variation than others.
  • The variants are all series dependent — the same letter means different things connected to different primaries. J stands for “jump” attached to a W teleporter, meaning altitude control, but it means a medium weight restriction when applied to a W telekinetic, and something entirely different when attached to each of the assorted B sensory powers.
  • Each primary variant series has its own letter/number set of deviances, and some of those have variances.
  • Series and variant assignment still relies on subjective observation and human judgment as much as hard data.


All in all this a lousy cataloging system, but its limitations stem from its origins. The people who designed it never expected it to be permanent. Picture the poor doctors, police, doctors, firemen and air raid wardens tasked with organizing the thousands–even tens of thousands–of hysterical, confused rollovers on that first, dreadful night in the summer of 1943. Those first responders were working in total ignorance and facing a bewildering array of symptoms. An inspired few created quick-and-dirty rules of thumb to triage their charges as quickly as possible. Accuracy and precision were not priorities.

It worked well enough to be imitated and implemented on a international scale before anyone with more sense could protest. The military and the scientific community adapted the flawed template to suit their needs and stamped it with their own flourishes, and the newborn Department of Public Safety chiseled it into the stone of bureaucracy.

It’s unwieldy, and no one likes it, but unlike the Metric system (adopted by the US in 1969 and finalized in 1976 in this world) no one has come up with anything better yet. Or to be precise hundreds of excellent proposals have been offered up, but none have been effective enough to justify the upheaval and expense of changing now.

People being people, amateur cataloguers keep their eyes peeled for rare rollover types as diligently as any birdwatcher works on an Audubon life list. Trainspotters have nothing on monster buffs.

More on slang like that later. Another time. Remember, if you enjoy it, put a like on it.

2. Worldbuilding excerpts hIstorical notes nuts & bolts

How Did It All Start?

World-build day! I’m alternating worlds. One week I’ll focus on the glittery superpowers of my contemporary alternate-universe, the next week I’ll scatter sparkly factoids of future history from the Restoration Stories.

The following excerpt may look familiar to beta readers of Flight Plan’s first edition. I cut it from the book because  interrupting the story flow  made me itch even when I wrapped the information up in a narrative blanket. It’s still hard to find the right balance between immersion and confusion.

ANYhooozle. Here’s this week’s cheerful data dump, presented as an introduction to a historical text covering the period 50-100 years before the Restoration novels begin.

Excerpt from the introduction to “Doomed to Repeat: Revision, Restoration and the Coming Crisis”

The global sociopolitical meltdown now classified as The Great Revision was in many ways a self-inflicted disaster. One stagnant government after another collapsed, choked by debts, strangled by diplomatic obligations or torn apart by internecine conflict. Civil unrest and military conflicts crippled vital industries, and critical infrastructure fell prey to violence as well. Bioweapons and poisons were released to devastating effect. Technological standards backslid by decades in some areas and centuries in others.

The disintegration could have been the start of a new Dark Age, but while the future went up in flames and crumbled to rubble, it never quite died. Day-to-day life continued amidst the ruins,  and principalities all around the world found their own solutions to stave off total destruction. As the tumultuous decades of Revision drew to the close around the world, new national governments were slowly constructed by those who still remembered life under the rule of the old orders. Civilization emerged from the crucible of anarchy in new forms that were in many ways indistinguishable from the old. Familiarity bred comfort rather than contempt.

Widespread violence  and rule of might became the norm in the semi-organized territories and city-states that remained of the United States, but even during the worst of the disorder, people fought and died to keep the broken pieces of civilization from eroding into utter chaos. An alliance grew up between international corporations who feared extinction, surviving elements of the military branches who clung to traditions of honor and service, and the leaders of individual communities who wanted more than bare-bones survival for themselves and their descendants. Compromises were struck, deals were made, and the basis for a new political construct was pieced together on the ruined foundation of the old.

This book will examine the forces that broke apart the old world and demonstrate that, as a political entity, the Restored United States has failed to learn the most important lesson of its own history.

I’ve mentioned previously I thought I was building a shiny idealistic world in Restoration America. It turned out to be a much grittier, unjust, and complicated place than I intended. Reality is sneaky that way, even imaginary reality.

That’s all for now. Thanks for coming to the show. Enjoy the free words, remember to tip your server, and keep on keeping on.