Contechnology

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Serena
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Contechnology

Post by Serena » 20 Mar 2014 18:46

Since I've always sketched medieval-like conworlds and conpeople and I decided I'll be trying to write a short novel with a future dystopical hyper-technological setting, I thought I might try to get some suggestions.

1. I'll be trying to think a realistic evolution of an hypotetical post-nuclear North America. How would armoury change? Would you rather opt for ultra-sophisticated technology or rather for a return to manual weapons? I want to give weapons interesting names... should I decide upon fancy greek-derived names like Hyperprotoblastertron or maybe switch to an alien-looking meaningless set of names?

2. Main characters will be from a group of integralist rebels who believe in a New-age-like religion (the Believers) who fights an atheist totalitarian central government (the Infidels). Does this sound extremely lame or should I keep it?

3. The story revolves around getting lost in a virtual system (Karyon) to extrapolate sensitive information out of it. How do I develop this without having a plot which is identical to Inception and Matrix?

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Ànradh
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Re: Contechnology

Post by Ànradh » 20 Mar 2014 23:20

Serena wrote:1. I'll be trying to think a realistic evolution of an hypotetical post-nuclear North America. How would armoury change? Would you rather opt for ultra-sophisticated technology or rather for a return to manual weapons? I want to give weapons interesting names... should I decide upon fancy greek-derived names like Hyperprotoblastertron or maybe switch to an alien-looking meaningless set of names?
Hard to say how the technology might change; you could go the Fallout or 40K route where technology mostly stagnates after some great cataclysm because the resources and specialists needed to improve or understand it are scarce, then, because people are superstitious, they begin to treat it as arcane and refuse to improve it even when they can.
On the other hand, you can try to imagine what problems a post-nuclear US might have and try to come up with solutions to them in order to create new technology.
Serena wrote:2. Main characters will be from a group of integralist rebels who believe in a New-age-like religion (the Believers) who fights an atheist totalitarian central government (the Infidels). Does this sound extremely lame or should I keep it?
Well, it's not exactly a new theme, or an uncommon one, but revolution is a great means of providing conflict and a sense that the events of the story will have historical weight. As a plot point, it depends on your execution; be wary of making a thinly veiled Stalinist strawman for your totalitarian regime. Also be wary of making your rebels overly idealised.
Serena wrote:3. The story revolves around getting lost in a virtual system (Karyon) to extrapolate sensitive information out of it. How do I develop this without having a plot which is identical to Inception and Matrix?
This, I can't really answer for you. You just need to be aware of the major plot points and the over-arching stories of each and ensure that you don't mimic them too closely. Try throwing in something integral to your story that would be completely out of place in the Matrix or Inception; this should help shift the reader's focus enough to distinguish between them.
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FEERspreads
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Re: Contechnology

Post by FEERspreads » 02 Apr 2014 22:22

I hope the following rambling is more helpful than it is annoying. [xD]
Serena wrote: 1. I'll be trying to think a realistic evolution of an hypotetical post-nuclear North America. How would armoury change? Would you rather opt for ultra-sophisticated technology or rather for a return to manual weapons? I want to give weapons interesting names... should I decide upon fancy greek-derived names like Hyperprotoblastertron or maybe switch to an alien-looking meaningless set of names?
How far in the future is this? You want it to be hyper-advanced, or just hyper-tech? To me, the former is about the level of technology, while the latter is about the widespread use of technology.

Technology follows society. What that society feels is important, science will advance. To know where the technology is going, you're going to have to map out where your society is going.
There's a certain trajectory we can assume for major human catastrophes.
  • There will be an immediate time of panic
  • Panic will turn into organization within a year, possibly within a few months
  • If the original government's infrastructure was not completely destroyed, it will reinstate itself. (modern superpower governments are almost impossible to kill, especially one that separates power so succinctly as the US, like it or not, our government is incredibly efficient at making sure it remains in power)
  • If there are any other powerful foreign governments left at this time... you can bet they will be eyeing the once great nation, which still probably has some kind of natural resources, and a population they could exploit. Invasion isn't just probable, it's imminent.
  • If the original government's infrastructure was damaged beyond repair, and there is no other foreign government that desires to, or is capable of taking over, then, depending on the size of the remaining population, another would take its place quickly, within five to ten years. If the population is limited, however, there will be smaller leadership systems popping up. Think Native American tribal systems, or Medieval kingdoms.
  • Chances are, the first government(s) won't work out to well. They might be based on opposing the rules of the previous society so as not to make the same mistakes. They will probably be instated as a survival method. Once stability has been gained, the population will look at whether the government serves them well in other ways. It likely won't. So there's going to be a lot of shifting, a lot of revolution, a lot of infighting, and a lot of blood.
What you have to keep in mind is that humanity is actually pretty adept at surviving, maintaining, and advancing. Dystopian stories more often than not underestimate humanity. Since recorded history, you can actually see an almost uniform exponential growth in terms of order, human rights, and stability. This growth is rising more sharply as time goes on. Your apocalyptic scenario will certainly set humanity back, but you're going to have to take into account the people that would try to right society's path and come back to that stability. In essence, you're going to have to throw a lot more shit their way. Disease, invasions, damaging ideology, they have to get in the way of coming back to stability. There has to be a LOT of change to make it impossible for humanity to not attempt to return to its previous state, or a similar state.

But you also have to remember that humanity is efficient and will not allocate resources to advance something that doesn't need to be advanced in times of crisis. (those in power over a resource generally like to keep that resource in supply) Always remember that necessity is the mother of invention. It's cliché for a reason.

Humans will keep using the most suitable and available tools for the job. In the first stages of any crisis, guns will be popular. As time goes on, ammunition may become scarce. Manual weapons would be the most likely candidate. But any new leadership would probably use the production of ammunition as a tool to get the public to rally behind them. It would become plentiful again, at least for the people following the new government. It would likely become plentiful again simply because it's an important resource, so someone would learn how to make it, and an enterprising group will likely begin to use it for trade.

The problem with crazy advances in technology during a dystopian future is that those advances would most likely have to happen before the crisis so that they would be readily available. Large advances in weaponry come from the most economically powerful and stable group at any point in history. Think about the civilizations that are known for pushing the envelope on weaponry. Were any of them poor? Were any of them just trying to survive?

Take a look at our currently used military technology even among the superpowers. We have a stealth B-2 bomber, which has been around since 1989. The Lockheed nighthawk has been used by the military since 1983. The blackbird was made in 1964 and used until 1998. And this is at times of great stability, when the government is capable of spending billions on research. The most revolutionary military tool to come about in recent years is a UAV. Everything else has just been a reconfiguring of old technology. Even UAVs were a simple advancement concept... remove the pilot; automation.

If you're going to have this dystopian future setting, than I'd place it at least two hundred years after an apocalypse which happens at least a hundred years from now. This gives you more leeway in technology created at a stable time, which may become lost or simply may become a standard, as well as introducing a conflict to create the apocalyptic scenario. Whatever force will become your regime will probably import weapons before making them. Research and development takes time and resources that a surviving group just doesn't have. Once in power, and stable, they may begin to research weaponry, but if history tells us anything, it will be to emulate the restricted technologies of a more powerful country rather than reinventing the wheel.

This regime becomes more and more powerful and they develop a new type of weapon, something they view as directly necessary to their own survival. Find their biggest threat, then find the most simple method of taking care of it.

Your heroes are stuck with the weapons of our time, or at best the weapons of the last great war. The public may be able to produce ammunition. There may be laws against owning firearms. But it's unlikely that your rebels will have technology that can match the regime. Even the regime's tech shouldn't be too far out there. The word dystopian is way more important here than the word future
Serena wrote:2. Main characters will be from a group of integralist rebels who believe in a New-age-like religion (the Believers) who fights an atheist totalitarian central government (the Infidels). Does this sound extremely lame or should I keep it?
Be careful about that one... pitting religion against atheism in that specific configuration makes less sense than the other way around. One of the basic fundamental aspects of organized religion was to impose order and law.

In a dystopian future, it's less likely that there would be a totalitarian atheist government, and more likely a clamoring of people trying to reach for a belief system. Those that would impose order would more than likely adopt one, not oppose them. To become a government in the first place, it has to be a system the general public would accept. North America is huge, with a large population, there's no way a new group could come in and impose a set of rules that the general populace wouldn't actually get behind (either genuinely, or through deceit).

If you are intent on making it an atheistic government, then you may want to drop the religious context altogether.

If that's your entire intent, however, I would take Ànradh's advice and really make sure you have a smoothly integrated theme. Pushing this battle between believers and infidels may not be based on your personal ideology, but it will certainly trigger it in the audience (whoever that may be, I always assume there will be a general public audience).
Serena wrote:3. The story revolves around getting lost in a virtual system (Karyon) to extrapolate sensitive information out of it. How do I develop this without having a plot which is identical to Inception and Matrix?
It will be impossible to avoid links to those stories. My suggestion is to avoid the idea of 'you die in Karyon, you die in the real world'... perhaps make it more about not wanting to leave. Or maybe to enter the world you have to switch places with someone already there, making it not only dangerous for the person going in, but dangerous for the people watching that person's body with someone else's consciousness.

My real question is: why is this an element at all? What purpose does Karyon have in the world you're creating? I'm not against it at all, it just needs to be justified and fully integrated into the world. Remember, military technology only goes as fast as what's necessary (consumer electronics has the opposite trend, but let's not go there). A virtual system does open up a lot of possibilities (awesome weapons based on viruses and malware removal) but it seems like it would be a massive waste of resources unless it was already built by a previous society and is used by the current regime... But why use it over a more simple, time-efficient method?

Serena
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Re: Contechnology

Post by Serena » 03 Apr 2014 13:28

Not annoying at all, quite interesting indeed.
FEERspreads wrote:My real question is: why is this an element at all? What purpose does Karyon have in the world you're creating


I imagine a previous society in which smartphones evolve into communication prothesis that help our lives and our tasks, more or less like Google Glasses but in a fancier and more dangerous way.

Karyon's original purpose was ludic. Kids and adults who have lived in the 22th century were supposedly able to play with a completly malleable virtual reality in which you can do all sort of things, from playing tennis, to re-living and explorate your real life memories.

Now imagine an eighteen-years old girl who fights this glorious and rich society by claiming that virtual reality is demonical, that wars musn't take place and that the money system should be abolished in favor of a completely socialism religiously-driven society. Wouldn't it be a reason to fight her?
Be careful about that one... pitting religion against atheism in that specific configuration makes less sense than the other way around. One of the basic fundamental aspects of organized religion was to impose order and law.
This religion is not the way you expect it to be. Usually God is used to keep order as it functions as a Deus ex machina to solve all problems, but this religion has no sentient God. God is the Law and the Law is God. This is the Law.

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Malethi’s original poem - [1] May the Energy flow by your mind, as the Virtue flows by Lareth. [2] Follow your destiny, [3] shield the pure souls [4] and may the Law have a long life of Energy. [5] Overcome your flesh and raise to the throne what eternally lies, [7] follow the queen [8] and honor the worthy. [9] Death to those who offend the Law. Death to the infidels.

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Jarhead
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Re: Contechnology

Post by Jarhead » 03 Apr 2014 18:37

Serena wrote: This religion is not the way you expect it to be. Usually God is used to keep order as it functions as a Deus ex machina to solve all problems, but this religion has no sentient God. God is the Law and the Law is God. This is the Law.

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Malethi’s original poem - [1] May the Energy flow by your mind, as the Virtue flows by Lareth. [2] Follow your destiny, [3] shield the pure souls [4] and may the Law have a long life of Energy. [5] Overcome your flesh and raise to the throne what eternally lies, [7] follow the queen [8] and honor the worthy. [9] Death to those who offend the Law. Death to the infidels.
As a law student, I like this.
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Serena
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Re: Contechnology

Post by Serena » 04 Apr 2014 16:02

Jarhead wrote:
Serena wrote: This religion is not the way you expect it to be. Usually God is used to keep order as it functions as a Deus ex machina to solve all problems, but this religion has no sentient God. God is the Law and the Law is God. This is the Law.

Code: Select all

Malethi’s original poem - [1] May the Energy flow by your mind, as the Virtue flows by Lareth. [2] Follow your destiny, [3] shield the pure souls [4] and may the Law have a long life of Energy. [5] Overcome your flesh and raise to the throne what eternally lies, [7] follow the queen [8] and honor the worthy. [9] Death to those who offend the Law. Death to the infidels.
As a law student, I like this.
Thank you :mrgreen:

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