Coulda’s, Woulda’s & Shoulda’s, But Didn’t’s.
All of our lives are filled with these recollections. They can plague us or amuse us when we reflect on our personal lives, but it becomes far more interesting when we consider the larger picture beyond our admittedly picayune contribution to the Universe. I’ve always been fascinated with the “What If’s” of history, and by extrapolation, potential futures. These are the books I’ve liked best, and the films.
I love Alt History Science Fiction particularly because, after decades of studying world history, one recognizes the haphazard nature of change, the randomness of it’s actors and their actions, and the often profound influence a small incident can have on pathways of innumerable human beings.
I also really like to play Alt History/Future video games. Apparently I have a lot of company, as Wikipedia lists nearly a hundred of them. Many of them come under the heading I’ve labeled “Utopian Dystopias”. They give you the sense of being a part of great events in an awful world gone astray, where the brave and strong -YOU!- rise up to defeat the patently evil and unrighteous.
The Nazis come in for repeated shellackings as you might expect, but only after RULING the WORLD! While not as extreme as this example, I am currently working on a story where the main character is shifted to this Earth, and finds we are the dystopia of his Earth, the scary place where stories to frighten your children come from. A great creative and intuitive leap is not really necessary for the creation of this tale. Unlike the black and white totalitarian political empires of these tales, the United States and First World elite are in control of a stubbornly durable end-stage oligo-capitalist empire whose propaganda has been far more effective. It has produced a mental state in it’s subjects..er.. “citizens” fearful, self-delusional and self-censoring, as effective as anything the Nazis accomplished, for much longer, and yet made it feel like a patriotic act to do so.
Unfortunately, as someone who despises the duplicitous, as well as Deus ex Machina story endings, I am finding it difficult to create a utopian ending to our dystopian tale. But current events, like the nakedly political decisions by the Supreme Court are beginning to point the way. The fact that our “highest” court, the five true believer rear-guardians of this decrepit, discredited and wildly out of touch empire of greed continue to produce pathetically indefensible, but galvanizing court decisions gives me some comfort. They’re just so proudly dense, so absolutely incapable of understanding that women are not the lesser half of humanity, the weaker half, but the toughest half, that their comeuppance will be as complete as it is unanticipated. If I wrote them as characters I’d be criticized for creating farcical, two-dimensional cardboard caricatures, but the breadth of their manly hubris, that is wholly believable. And in their hubris they have unwittingly released the Kraken, and yet remain totally oblivious to the fact. I can definitely use this in my story.
Maybe the ending won’t be so tough to foresee after all.