Grab a Shovel and Dig

Posted: January 1, 2015 by writingsprint in Science fiction
Tags: , , , ,

Because that garden won’t dig itself

I spent the past two days working on a critical part of the story: justifying Risha as a princess, when there are only 26 monarchs in the world today, and 11 of those are figureheads.

The original character of Risha in Star Wars: The Old Republic, that mine is inspired by, was the exiled princess of a planet called Dubrillion. I’m no Star Wars scholar, but from what I can tell, planetary governments in Star Wars appear to be a mix of monarchy, democracy, oligarchy, whatever. Each planet of sufficient size or status sends representatives to a senate, where everyone has equal representation in passing the laws that govern them. Obi-Wan Kenobi himself said to Anakin Skywalker that his allegiance was to the Republic, to democracy. So, at some level, be it senators, viceroys, Hutts, whatever, people are being elected and have rights that are guaranteed by the Republic constitution.

Yes, writers think about this stuff. I call it digging into the story. Even if it doesn’t make it into the story, we need to know what’s going on so that we know the rules of our world. Minimally, we need to know at a high level. If necessary, we’ll go down to the gnat’s a**. Hopefully that doesn’t happen.

Royalty give the story a heroic, fairy-tale feeling, but I’m having a hard time answering the simple question: why? Star Wars and Dune bypassed the problem by throwing us tens of thousands of years into the past and the future, and decreed “let it be done!” It’s an option if I want the story to have a science fantasy feel. Other possible reasons:

  • One or several of the world’s monarchies led the way into space.
  • Earth was taken under the wing of an advanced, monarchial species when it moved into space, and adopted the titles to smooth the transition.
  • As Earth moved into space, power became centralized around the largest colonies. Due to the dangers of starting new colonies, changes in authority were less popular in the short term. Monarchial titles and practices came back.
  • It’s an alternate timeline where constitutional monarchy is the most popular government.
  • The wealth gap continued to expand to the point that the rich stopped pretending they wouldn’t hold on to power forever, appointing their successors rather than through elections. Monarchial titles were adopted as a matter of course.

Or I could ditch the idea of her being a princess entirely. I’m pulling on threads, knitting them into sweaters and unraveling them again to see what comes out. If Risha’s a princess, she has a claim to her parents’ throne after she goes into exile. If she isn’t, she’s a nobody, a Jane Doe with a gripe against the people who staged a coup against her family’s administration.

More than Risha, this is about what I want the human race to look like. How far will I take us into the future? Will it feel like today, or more like a storybook? Will we have dominated the galaxy, or are we small players? Do I want to treat monarchy and democracy like balls of Play-Doh, mush them together and come up with a reason? As much as I sweat the details, there’s a good science-fiction reason to just make sh*t up: the future will be stranger than we can imagine.

I still have to believe it. If I don’t, you won’t, either.

Photo credit: “it’s almost always just about digging in the dirt” by woodleywonderworks at Flickr
Photo is unmodified
Shared under Creative Commons license


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