Not with a bang

Playing with world-building snippets for my Restoration stories again…


The end of world was a global event, but it wasn’t an end. It wasn’t an event. It was a process, a slow collapse that only looks inevitable in retrospect. It was never seen as apocalypse even when cities burned and missiles flew. Perspective is tricky, and denial is a powerful force. If globalism was the theme of the twentieth century, the lesson of the twenty-first was that connections can transmit chaos as easily as commerce .

During the span of decades comprising the Revision Years, governments toppled and economies disintegrated, businesses failed and took governments with them, social and political institutions crumbled and billions perished. Bastions of political stability were eroded by surrounding conflicts, and alliances proved as deadly as enmity.  No place on the planet went untouched by the upheaval.

Some sciences progress by leaps and bounds in times of conflict, but others cannot be maintained in chaotic environments. Most modern technologies rely on complex supply chains and  require engineering support that cannot be maintained in war zones. Many of the 21st century’s advances in materials sciences,  nanotechnology, genetics, biologic pharmaceuticals and other sciences  got lost during Revision. Projects were abandoned, data was destroyed by electromagnetic pulses,  and critical private records were erased or locked into forms no longer accessible by surviving equipment.

The handful of years encompassed by the name “The Revision Period,” will have an impact on human understanding of the universe for centuries to come.

 

 

Dystopian? I’m not sure.

I write about a broken future. I am of the generation after the one promised flying cars. We saw miracle technology in our cartoons, but we watched death live on the news, and many of our heroes stumbled and fell before their time. So when I envisioned a world for my first heroes to stride through, it was a shattered thing of tangled public and private loyalties, a place of poisoned resources and rotting infrastructure, with much of the population scattered into small, isolated communities and its new gritty, dirty new urban centers built on crumbled patchwork ruins.

But, you know, being a dreamer I also made it a world of boundless optimism and ferocious idealism. A place and a time when cynicism gives way to creativity and energy, where people refuse to bow under the weight of the past. They step up to the nigh-insurmountable challenges of making bad better, and they succeed by making the most of what is left.

That doesn’t fit the traditional dystopian mold. ( Dystopia: an imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one) In proper dystopian fiction everything is awful and either the System swallows up the protagonists  (1984, Brazil, 12 Monkeys….)  or the system must be destroyed, and rebellion is the main  (Hunger Games, also 12 Monkeys and about a gazillion others)

So does  the world of The Restoration Stories count as dystopian? Some readers seem to think so, others disagree. Me, I don’t care as long as readers keep liking it.

Not familiar with my stories? You can read a description of the first one here : Controlled Descent: A Story of the Restoration

Teddy Said It.

Today I am sharing my favorite quote regarding the argument, “but he’s the President now, so we need to stop with the dissent and unite behind him.” I see it quoted in part here & there on Facebook and Twitter, usually with a pretty image, often paraphrased. Me, I like my historical data as intact as I can find it. Here ya go:

“The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the nation as a whole.”
“Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly as necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile.”
“To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else.”   Theodore Roosevelt 

The masses can be wrong. But so can elected leaders. Declaring the power in charge right by virtue of it being in charge make zero sense. None. It’s a circular argument. Logic breaks. If crimes against persons & property occur in the course of a protest, those acts are illegal regardless of motive. Their occurrence in no way invalidates dissent as a concept.

I keep seeing the argument that vocal–violent–public protest against duly elected officials is not “a right guaranteed in the Constitution.” No, it is protected by the First Amendment covering free assembly and free speech. It is protected there for a reason. Breaking up dissenting mobs and declaring them criminals was an act of tyranny the Founding Fathers knew firsthand. They recognized the necessity of public protest, and considered its occurrence a failure of the government.

Sure, dissent isn’t cooperative, helpful, courteous, or peaceful. It isn’t comfortable. It is what happens when working within the system fails. It’s what happens when too many people are treated discourteously, unhelpfully, or violated by the system. More importantly: the system is people. When enough people are mistreated badly enough by other people, that’s when the system breaks.

No one who engages in dissent does so lightly.  Acting on principle means becoming a target for those who have the power to do the greatest harm. No one who has something left to lose does that on a lark or for entertainment value.

Don’t rock the boat? The rocking starts when the boat is already sinking and people’s feet are getting wet. Yes, it would be nice if we all pulled together to get the boat to shore where it can be repaired, but telling all the people screaming “we’re about to drown!” to shut up and sit down doesn’t help. They’re the ones wielding buckets and trying to save the day.

You know what would help? Pick up a bucket and start scooping. Or at least stand between those doing the work  and the people who want the damned boat to sink so they can collect the insurance.

OK. Rant over.


quotation pulled from TheodoreRoosevelt.org

Postscript 1: I don’t get into politics much online because a) others do it better, and  b) the internet isn’t a forum for discussion, it’s a gladiatorial pit and c) I must guard against burning out my physical engine with constant revving.

So I do little and say less. But I do not sit idle or look away. And that requires occasionally standing up in my own space and declaring my position.

Note I said my position, not my opinion.  I have zero tolerance for the dismissal of thoughtful statements with “I suppose you’re entitled to your opinion. I don’t agree, but I don’t want to argue.”  It’s surpassed only by “your facts are not my facts” as a way to hit every Big Red Emotional Dissonance Button on my board. Which is where (c) up there comes in.

Postscript 2: comments off because of everything in Postcript 1.(But  I left likes turned on in case anyone feels like leaving an affirming little star. Because I am a sucker for affirmation, yes I am.)