Changing a world:

There’s a whole lot of world building behind the Iskander stories, and ‘behind’ is where it mostly belongs except where an action or intention of one of the characters brings it into the story. I’ve always been interested in world building, especially in better methods of world building than we experience in our lives, but a story written around it could hardly fail to be boring.

I believe that the main reason for today’s problems are a lack of understanding. These are easy to document in past times – they’re analyzed and dissected in history – but it’s not so easy to pick out the losers and the loser world views in contemporary society. The biggest reason for this is all the drum beating and blarney spread by those who benefit from faulty world views or who are too frightened to honestly consider their ignorant acceptance of them.

Lest you think I’m about to pontificate about my own opinions – sit down and relax. I’ll try to remain fairly neutral – the divine Middle Way – by looking at this from the point of view of the world of Iskander.

In exactly the same way very few people in our world examine the ways in which their views of reality control what they do and believe, both the Iskanders and the people of Gaia unconsciously do things in ways conventional to their beliefs and upbringing. Many of Gisel’s passionately held beliefs come from what must be normal in Earth at the time she came from. (Which I loosely call the early 23rd century.) It was to confront these kinds of mind sets with those of completely different people that I started work on these novels. I guess such an interest comes from my own lifetime characteristic of being an outsider, as well as the four and a half years I spent working in Libya.

If the Earth of Gisel’s time is well enough organized to produce colonizing starships and crew them with a fair cross-section of the peoples of the world, it seems to me there must be some prerequisites. There must be a viable economic society; not one that has been destroyed by nuclear wars or catastrophic global warming. A well functioning system of international cooperation and organization must exist, and the Iskanders be well disposed to reproduce it on the world where they find themselves.

It is essential that the education of young people is widespread, and has sufficient homogenous elements that all races can participate effectively in the economy and administration. It seems to me that the issue whether the ‘interstellar’ colonizing projects are conducted by an International organization, a National organization, or a Corporate enterprise is beyond the scope of the Gaian end of the novels. We have yet to prove our capability in any of them. However it seems inconceivable that there would be a monetary economy aboard the starships, or on a planet under development. Even the settling of the west was mostly a subsistence business.

Looking at similar self-contained organizations in our world, such as military (particularly submarine patrols), or space sciences (voyages to the Moon), or journeys of exploration ( Lewis & Clark, Magellan), it seems the ‘rewards’ phase is abstracted in order to function efficiently in the present. The payback comes when the ‘project’ culminates. At world scale, which is open ended, some form of economic, self-interest bargain is struck that protects the interests of all, equally. This suggests that the Iskanders operate on a median path between a cashless, commune society and one which rewards the kinds of devotion that most of them have transferred to their common task of creation. It has to be familiar to them and accepted as fair and efficient within the project, with no defect of creating a group that grows rich on the exploitation of others made poor. It might take another 200 years for us to develop that.

This by no means exhausts the consideration of the effects of 23rd century Earth thinking, but next time I’ll consider the effects of the history and world view of the Gaians, and their input into the kinds of social structures that can result from the interaction. If you have comments on this so far, I’d love to see them.

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One Response to “Changing a world:”

  1. Lea Schizas Says:

    Chris, having read book one and book two, it’s very clear the detailed accounts of both ‘worlds’ that you put into them to make each civilization distinct apart from each other. From dialogue, to their way of thinking…this keeps characters interesting knowing they come from two different worlds and how each one will react to a similar situation.

    Loved both books and Gisele, what a gal.

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