New Iskander Series novels.

I believe I mentioned the latest novel about Gisel Matah and the Iskanders. It is almost complete except for fine tuning and final editing, but I found myself starting yet another the other day. I told myself that I would only write a chapter to fix the scenario and theme of the plot, but I’m now halfway through chapter six. It must be some kind of therapy, because every time I sit glowering at the computer and look to avoid the chores I have, I write some more to cheer myself up.

The themes in the series are coming to focus on a few specifics in the scenario of grafting modern ideas on an earlier society. The stories are coming to say more about the ugliness of geopolitics. Gisel finds it necessary to follow plans and give orders that she hates – such duties come with her role of governor. While she may readily work for the interests of the poor and downtrodden, some of the measures she takes to thwart enemies also harm those same people. If it seems to parallel events in our own world it is only because I have no voice in what happens here, but the last word over what happens on Gaia – well, mostly. Sometimes the characters back me into a corner.

The lines of development also turn out to be an exposition of the way steel and steam shaped our own 19th century. I don’t have to write political pamphlets protesting against withholding the rights of workers to fair wages and decent working conditions – I just have to show the contrasts between the Iskander methods and those of greedy 19th century industrialists in nations outside their influence. The reason our nations became rich and powerful was because they unleashed the energies of their people, through education, technology, and (eventually) democratic reforms.

But in “Arrival” I don’t try to hide the unpleasant truth that industrialization got its start from outright theft. In order to develop a technological infrastructure one must have capital to invest, and that capital must be used to make more capital goods – in this case the hardware of steelworks, factories, ships, railroads, public health systems, safe water, sewers etc etc. In the 17th century world of Gaia there are no investment banks, no equity markets, no venture capitalists, and no systems of credit, and so the Iskanders do what the Spanish, Portuguese, English, French. Dutch and most others did – they stole the accumulated wealth of others.

Spain looted the Americas for its own wealth, and then the English, French and Dutch privateers robbed them of their loot. The empires that European nations founded went on looting their possessions to enhance the ‘motherland’ right up to the middle of the last century. Eventually those colonies were able to evict the looters, as had the 13 states of North America in 1776. Unfortunately the first nations of the Americas were never able to evict the looters who stole their patrimonies, but little by little their descendants are scraping something back.

Which comes back to a story idea for a future Iskander novel. How old will Gisel be when the financial system Iskander sets up creates its first bubble economy and its first financial crash? Will Iskander in that time have a wiser economic counselor than Bernanke, Paulson, and the rest who are set on bailing out the bubble economy even if they have to destroy the underpinnings of the real economic system that fuels it? I hate to end on a down note, but a political and economic novel with the power and influence of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and “Tess of the D’Urbervilles” seems sorely needed today. Something that can consign all of Ayn Rand’s writings to the recycling bin.


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One Response to “New Iskander Series novels.”

  1. joylene Says:

    I’ve done the same thing; I’m working on a new ms when Omatiwak isn’t quite finished. But you’re right, starting something new has motivated me to write.

    Look forward to reading your new one, Chris. Your goal is admirable.

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