Tuesday, November 3, 2009

It's Been a Little Light

I know postings have been a little sparse around these parts, and I do apologize.

Life and work have intruded on blogging, and often times if I don't have something I really want to say, I just don't say anything. But, I wanted to let y'all know I am working on it, and hope to get a little more regular with my posting again.

That said, I have something new I'm working on. I've been inspired by my blogging buddy Deacon Blue to start thinking about writing a science fiction novel. I figure I've read enough science fiction books in my short life that I should be able to figure out how to write one.

Anyway, I wanted to run some of the core ideas of my book by the blogging world and see if y'all think it sounds too far-fetched or crazy even for the Sci-Fi world. And I'd like to get some feedback from y'all on what you think would happen to the world if this actually happened.

Here goes:

Imagine you go to sleep one night and the world is fine. People tuck their babies in, husbands and wives copulate, things are pretty normal. However, when you and everybody else wake up the next morning, something terrible has happened.

50 percent of the world's population has died overnight.

That's right, there are roughly 3.5 billion dead people in the world. And, the death isn't spread evenly. It appears that women were two times more likely to die than men, and Caucasian folks also had a higher death rate. So, the world is now overwhelmingly male and colored. Previously white stronglholds, like America and much of Europe, have seen massive power shifts overnight. Some Scandanavian countries have become sparsely populated ruins.

I'm planning to write a story roughly 50 to 100 years after this event. For the past few weeks I've been thinking about what those two core changes would do the world. I've playing around with the idea of whether women would see their power increase as they became more rare, or whether they would see their freedoms even more constricted.

I've thought about how minorities across the world would react when white people become an even smaller minority, particularly in areas that have been white dominated. I'm also planning to introduce some more magical elements to The Event, but that's not what I want y'all's help with.

I'd like your feedback on how you think the world would change if 50 percent of the population disappeared overnight. What would things look like?

Thank y'all in advance.


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13 comments:

Darth Whitey said...

Fun! Word to the wise: disguise your sci-fi novel as scripture for a religion and bingo, tax exempt status baby! :-)

In all seriousness, that premise sounds interesting. Sounds like a black panthers fantasy, hah!

But no, can you provide some examples of how you think societies would have evolved in those 50 years then? I mean what would really have changed? Who would be the protagonist, and what struggles would they face? Would there be space travel involved?

My first thought is that you were talking about some kind of rapture event but then I saw you had mostly "colored" folks (as you put it) survive so I doubt that's what you have in mind :-) And what exactly happens? Some kind of disease that affects only whiteys? Like an evolutionary "correction"?

dindc said...

How will the art change? That's always my first question.

Big Man said...

Dindc

that's an intersting question.

Darth

I'm thinking of the protags being two brothers. I've decided that they will be searching for information on who destroyed their town and gradually will learn more about The Event and what caused it.

Nobody knows what caused The Event. Poeple juse woke up one morning to billions of corpses. I think that's an interesting hook because of the widespread fear and panic that it would cause, particularly if women and white folks died off faster.

What I've decided is that The Event will initially look like just a die off, but then people will begin to notice themselves devloping special powers or talents. Some minor, others major. Later generations will see the same thing.

What I'm really trying to decided is how to build this new world given the conditions in our existing world, or whether I should just create a whole new world entirely where this event happened.

Initially I wanted to build on our world, but have society revert back to a more primitive state in some ways because of the massive loss of knowledge and people, plus the rareness of women. i figured if there was one thing that could create widespread violence and mayhem it would be inability of men to find suitable partners. In my world, no only are there far fewer women than men, but of course some men, those with power and money, begin to hoard women both for pleasure and to advance certain bloodlines. I also so people being far more secluded, at least hear in American because of how large the country is and who much life would be disrupted if key individuals died.

How long would it take for key infrastructure to crumble? How isolated would people become? Would the idea of a strong centralized government be able to survive that sort of collapse and awe-inspiring recovery? How does dealing with that much random death affect religion?

I have some ideas, but I've spoken to people and they poked holes in some of my ideas. For example, initially I saw food shortages as a problem because of the lack of workers, but a friend of mine pointed out that was silly. Most likely, there would be a surplus of food and other stuff, and people would have more land to revert back to self-sustaining agriculture.

Darth Whitey said...

Yea you definitely have to build on this world or it's not interesting. In fact I'd be much more interested in reading it from the perspective of the event happening NOW, seeing it happen and then the immediate aftermath n stuff.

The ultimate futurist sci-fi is Dune. That takes place 10,191 and the evolution of societies and humanity depicted is absolutely brilliant and absolutely logical. But the event of the sort you describe would be a new twist.

The time frame you're describing sounds more Road Warrior-ish, how the world devolves after a mass extinction. When fuel becomes the scarce resource.

Man I'm excited! Bring it!

T.A.N. Man said...

Interesting concept.

The role of women in the new world is definitely a fertile issue. If such an event really occurred, I'd bet on women's rights becoming more restricted. In fact, I'd bet women would become more like chattel and would be housed in either reproductive centers or sex houses--the more rare in either coming at a premium, and with some sort of class system to otherwise determine which women are used for reproduction and which for prostitution. I guess it would be sort of like the aptitude tests some countries require teenagers to take to determine if they will attend either state-sponsored colleges or vocational schools or get it how they live in the unskilled labor market.

Big Man said...

TAN

That's how I saw it, although i hadn't pictured the fertility test. That's a good add on.

Darth

Well, I feel like the immediate aftermath, while interesting, wouldn't allow me to tell the story I want to tell. I want explore the idea of a building a new world on top of the ruins of hte old one. Typically novels like this deal with some sort of natural disaster that cause the die off and harsh conditions. Octavia Butler's Parable novels, Walter Mosely has a similar novel, plus a whole host of others.
I think those type of novels explore how fragile civilizations really is, and how easy it is to disrupt things. Well, not easy I guess, but how we're not as invincible as we think.

It's kind of like a religious, sci-fi, personal journey kind of novel. I could provide more details on how I see things develop but that would prevent me from mooching off of you all's ideas.

Duh.

Imhotep said...

Big Man, I see you're still at the idea stage, but I need to be clear on your numbers. You state that billions are going to die, mainly women and white folks. White folks hardly add up to a billion, it means that most of the casualty will be women of color, is that your intent?

Anyway, I would have white folks die off from natural causes, like skin cancer. Perhaps you can have a meteor shower burn a hole in the ozone, and the increased sun light cause white folks to get skin cancer and die. To decrease the women population, have the same increase in sun light have a fatal impact only with women who are capable of giving birth. Now you have created a situation where the entire human species is facing extension.

So, now there is a premium placed on intellect and creative thinking, and obviously the brainy people become much sought after. It so happen that the women who cannot give birth, have the largest brains, and they become the saviors. How they save us, I don't know. I'll leave that up to the writer.

Just my random thoughts.

Darth Whitey said...

That's a good point. The Indian subcontinent for instance would largely be unaffected insofar as their knowledge and technology so they'll basically take over the world then. I assume China is considered "white" for this catastrophe. Same with non-black Hispanics? What level of tint must one's skin color have to be susceptible?

Brenda said...

Big Man,

I've been reading scifi novels since the age of 11 and I'm 51 years old now. What you have shared about your proposed story line sounds very, very intriguing.

But before I offer up my suggestions, one BIG word of caution - be very careful, extra damn careful about sharing too many details of your storyline, online. Remember - "The Hills Have Eyes!"

Stories based upon mysterious disasters which affect the entire planet, are generally best sellers. Witness the book and now the TV series, "Flashforward".

Given what you've shared, I can't possibly see where the reduced population of women would be able to assert any real power of significance. As T.A.N. Man said, women would quickly be reduced to the status of chattel. Where their true value was measured in their ability to reproduce. Which begs the question, what happens to those women who can't bear children? Or what about those women who are over 40? In this new world of yours, I don't necessarily think that being beautiful woman, would guarantee a good life. Nor would the lack of physical beauty be a hinder to a women in this changed world.

I can also easily see possible character situations where the more crafty, manipulative women could gain a measure of power. Something like the Dowager Empress of ancient China or the women of the Imperial Households in ancient Japan. These women often began their lives as concubines and through sheer will of character and personality, ended up having a great deal of power.

Some of what you describe reminds me of the great book by Margaret Atwood, "The Handmaid's Tale". If you haven't already read this, I would strongly encourage to you to, as it offers a stark assessment of women in the US after a totalitarian theocracy has gained control of the country.

The other idea I have is what role does religion now play in this new world of your story? Have people become more religious or has one or two "new" religions gained prominence?

And what about money? What currency or precious metal is used to buy and purchase goods?

I can see where the remaining populations naturally become very suspicious. I can also see wars or battles being waged over the most minor of things. But primarily over women...

That's my 5 cents worth. I hope it helps.

Big Man said...

Thanks to all who contributed, I appreciate your advice and questions.

Deacon Blue said...

One thing we might see is that with a massive die-off, and all those corpses, we could expect a sharp rise in disease for a time, leading to further die-off or situations that might weaken or cripple survivors, or even further reduce reproductive capability. Going 50-100 years after the fact, that will have cleared up, but there may be lingering aftereffects for the current generation in your novel.

A 50% die-off is going to hit different countries harder, based on your concept. the U.S. might not fare too badly, though, even with the loss of whites. Whites are the SINGLE largest group, but if I recall, all minorities combined together make up a larger bloc now...or will soon. There may be a loss of high-level technical knowledge in the states given income and education disparities, but plenty of people left who know how to work hard and possibly worked with their hands more than their minds in their daily work.

Women will definitely lose power, but it won't always be a chattel situation. That may end up being the most likely outcome, but some of the drive to sequester them will also be legitimately to protect and rebuild them. But human nature being what it is, even benevolence can turn pretty sour and sick quickly.

We can probably expect that largely white regions and nations will have reverted to a more "wild" state in your timeline, as people probably won't rush to fill those voids as they rebuild and hunker down. So, infrastructure will be deteriorating in those areas and flora and fauna will probably boom.

Just a few initial thoughts.

Deacon Blue said...

A few other thoughts.

I think we can reasonably expect that white-dominated nations neighboring non-white one would see incursions. For example, one might expect that Mexico would be reclaiming parts of California, Texas, etc.

With the United States losing so many people, and so many whites having been in the leadership roles (politically and economically), there goes the U.S. as a superpower, I think. But China would likely remain a strong player, as would India. That means the global powerplays would be driven by those two nations, which have an unsettled history with each other. Whether or not China might come in and try to take some control in the U.S., given how much money it has sunk into our debt burden, is an open-ended question. Would they have the desire or the means to move any kind of invasion across the oceans to these shores? Or might they settle on more concentrated efforts (In a reverse of the UK controlling Hong Kong for so long, perhaps the U.S. would give up the San Francisco Bay Area.

Now, getting back to the woman issue, here's a thought: If there are areas where perhaps the women were not as hard hit but the white males were, there is the possibility that women could carve out some autonomy, if they have the tools and person-power to protect their position. They might even use their reproductive capability as an economic tool...with some women providing the use of their bodies to carry children for men in other areas who want them. I would expect that in such a situation, the women might also use fertility drugs and such to increase the rate of multiple pregnancies in order to consolidate their fertile female population, possibly with some gene manipulation to trend pregnancies more toward female births. This could have an additional effect of perhaps meaning that the male population will trend older, while the youth population might be predominantly female.

I'm sure I'll have more thoughts, for good or ill...

Smokie said...

All I have to say is "write it because I'd love to read it".

Raving Black Lunatic