Writing: Withdrawel and reworking the story "Future History"

Future History is a (relatively) short story I wrote for “We see a different frontier”. Read earlier post here (“IP wars” written shortly after the final edit, weeks before sending it) and here (on: spindoctoring a war).

Decline of Europe

It is part of the “Decline of Europe” series (see snippets/fragments here).

Withdrawel of the current version of Future History

I have withdrawn the current version of “Future History”. Two reasons:

  1. Torture/needless violence — In the first version the main character is arrested and tortured around halfway in the story. 
  2. Where is the culture? — The stories for the collection (in my short take on the request for stories) should reflect the culture of the people that play a role. It hardly does.

I will try to rewrite it in the next days.

“Justified violence” and rape culture

The part on torture (“Needless violence”) was nagging me from the beginning. Where it seemed to make sense that the main character would be arrested and end up in a sort of “Guantanamo bay” of Zambia (sponsored by American Christians for one) it kind of draws the attention away from other things. With only 6.000 words there is no room for diversion.

However.

Something else became explicitly clear to me yesterday, after reading review after review after review on “Requires only that you hate“.

I basically wrote a variation on a rape scene. So: fuck me. Not going to happen.

Violence is a cheap and simple way to make a story more “exiting”. Put in a gun, some pain and suffering, a bit of running and some people shouting at each other in aggression. Make some stuff explode and fall apart. Add some bullshit reason why all this happens and you have 99% of all action movies summarized.

Rape culture in story-telling takes rape and makes it into a Mars-bar. It is a snack, something to look forward to. It is sold as something that is allowed — as long as you can get away with it. Package it properly, make sure it fits the mental models your target audience shares and it can become “the most moving part of the book”.

Rape culture in general justifies rape itself. The victim should shut the fuck up, there are no deeper conesequences to the rape (within this specific fucked-up fantasy world) and the aggressor “had his reasons” and “is really not the one to blame” when it is the “good guy” or the rapist is “an evil son of a bitch that should die anyway” and so the balance of the universe is restored anyway.

Torture and murder (in American popular culture) have similar mechanics. It is OK to torture people “IF IT IS THE GOOD GUY” doing it. Torture can be used TO DEEPEN THE CHARACTER. (Also fitting in this category: using cannibalism, cruel and gruesome murders and even the mass murder of people is OK: WHEN THEY ARE ZOMBIES (or some group you hate, like NAZIS) — because ZOMBIES (or group you hate like NAZIS).)

And all these reasons/motivations are bullshit.

Dropping it

I decided to drop the torture/prison part. It is useless and stupid. I do not support it in my own work, used in this way.

[Update, Jan 07, 2013] This has led to the story not being in the “We see a different frontier” anthology. How saddening this might be, I also feel that is the right thing for that specific version.

As I wrote in my e-mail response to The Future Fire (put here as poem):

Rather not published 

Rather not published 
than published and feel ashamed in a way like:

“then our friends came over
and I realized
I forgot to clean the remnants
of my pooping-session this morning”

kind of thing.

Instead, what about?

  1. Her sister and mother? — There is a lot of interesting things I can get from the relationship between the two sisters and their mother
  2. Her personal life? — How was it? How is it being changed?
  3. The city? — Lusaka, the surroundings of Lusaka? The people living there? The changes due to colonization?
  4. The impact of the invasion? — Drones, government, police being “taken over”. People being imprisoned for no other reason than the fact they can think
  5. The backstory on the technology? — So you can predict the future. How does this make sense? How do you use it?
  6. Consequences? — Things change. People died. Some things you cannot change that easily. Now what?

Changes /additions

  1. Fleeing the city — Lusaka has some interesting surroundings. And what about the forest?
  2. Family/friends — More moments of togetherness and sharing
  3. Food — They eat.
  4. The complexity of society — there is the old. Different groups. Different people. There are the belief systems, including religions, injected from the outside. More can be shown on the complexity of a deep and well-prepared revolution and the people who do not really want it but are included as well.
  5. Coming back — When and how?
  6. Evasion — How do they stay free? What tension is there? What kind of  How is this experienced?
  7. The plan — What is the plan? How is it implemented?
  8. The revolts — How do people respond? (Re-implementation of removed parts on this)

Short scenes and bits to add

  1. Basement super-computer — Why not. Cluster 100 ARM-based machines. One problem: energy-signature.
  2. Shadow warriors (or whatever I called them) — Clearer why/how. Rogues. Personal agenda’s. 

Story background (the very simplified version)

“Future History” plays in Zambia and summarized in one sentence: it deals with the 2012 forms of colonialism on several levels, from the invasion of foreign brands and chain-stores to economical “support” to buy favors from governments and the continuing conversion of people to all kinds of religion.

What if an entire population says?: “enough is enough, now you can all piss off with your bullshit.”

When the United States wages a war against the Chinese factories and mining companies in several African countries, this war of social sabotage also affects the people. To cripple the factories, the populations in these countries are crippled as well. By raising food-prices (via sabotage), raising the cost of living, making general processes harder, making life itself more difficult.

The final step is a simultanous attack on several targets that only make sense to Western people: shops (of known brands) and churches. People die in McDonalds “restaurants” and Christian churches, making the “need for American interference more clear”. (See “Spindoctoring a war“)

While the war is on Intellectual Property, to stop the bootlegging, to stop the increasing influence of China in Africa, the war is on the people. People who have nothing to do with any of the two parties.

Around 4 years before this story, another even has happened in this story world: a gigantic leak of all research and development data of the Saudi Renaissance project. This includes software to project possible future events based on current data. This (and more) plays an important role in the story.

Faking it

I had two options: not writing the story at all, or faking it.

I tried as best I could not to be too ignorant. I probably will fuck up big tome on some issues.

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