I’ve always been fascinated with stories set in dystopian worlds. If I could sum up the two great dystopian literature that I’ve taken to heart all these years, it would be Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty Four” and Huxley’s “Brave New World“. Both of which I could debate into the wee hours of the night summing up how they both parallel the world we live in today (and considering they were written in the 1930’s and 40’s, it’s pretty amazing). These days I’ve taken to actually writing stories rather than just reading about them. It’s not a particularly easy thing when compared to other people who have been writing stories since they were barely into their teens, I’ve only started all too recently. Then again, we all have to start somewhere.
I’ve sort of started working on this year’s NaNoWriMo again. While last year’s virgin effort was a success, I still found myself in great difficulty pressing forward simply because I never really answered the pressing question of how the world in my novel is really like. While I can come up with a million and one imaginary dialogues for my favourite science fiction and fantasy universes, those worlds already exist as it is. Creating a cohesive universe from scratch is not exactly an easy task for an amateur hobbyist, but I believe to make my next novel attempt work, I’ve got to at least try something new.
So it comes down to the genre I’ve picked and the world I’m trying to create. Biopunk, a little known genre where the use of biotechnology is culturally prevalent and socially accepted as machine parts and cybernetic brains are as common place in a Cyberpunk universe. It is in effect the antithesis to the Cyberpunk genre and as far as genre’s like this go, the world that it’s set in presents itself with a dystopian future. There in lies the monumental task ahead of me.
As far as I know and understand, a dystopian world is one where most of the citizens are primarily oppressed. The means of oppression does not matter for they may range from fear and brutality to entertainment and apathy, but as long as the citizens have their lives controlled by a central power, that itself is the basis for a dystopian setting. This in turn affects the science, culture, economy and most importantly politics of the world. The science of the world I’m trying to create I can handle with minimal input. Having a degree in both biotechnology and medical science does give me some advantages in this field. The rest however, primarily the economy of the a dystopian world, I do need a lot of input on.
The main problem I’m finding out however, isn’t how the system would work in my story, it’s why it has turned out that way to begin with. I’ve always envisioned cyberpunk worlds to be easier to swallow mainly because the plot devices and science behind the story can literally be a deus ex machina and we won’t question it much. With genetics, it’s harder to to just throw in some technical terms and call it a day. While fiction may work that way, the science doesn’t. It’s hard to swallow a story when the basis under it doesn’t sound all too plausible.
So I’m writing notes on a some old school pen and paper notebook. As it is, I’m still working on creating an economy and a political system that runs on a culture driven by biotechnological progress, and I’ve yet to refine the culture and science behind it. Still, it’s somewhat inspiring to go back to the roots of writing, when all you need was a feverish imagination and something tangible to write on. Not to say I’ve gone all hippie all a sudden, I’ll still have to copy what I’ve manually written down onto my computer, but at least that is a start and I don’t feel myself bogged down by it, neither should I be at this point.
What I really don’t mind is having someone to talk to about refining the dystopian world I’m building. I feel the universe and its concepts should be bigger and more complex than what I can grasp right now. Sometimes it is a good idea to just wing it and go with the flow, but sometimes it’s a good idea to create a reason why your characters should exist in the first place. It would be a big help to have more human input than just me scoring the web for things. Either way, I’ll try and keep things updated on this point.
I really think that this is a good idea to start a novel on. With a little hope as much as effort, I’ll see this to the end.