Sunday, August 19, 2007

To expand or not

Many years ago I wrote a short story called "The Galton Principle." The premise behind it was that a fascist US arises where eugenics is used to control the population. The story was almost 6000 words, and it was the only story I ever wrote in one sitting...non-stop 6,000 words. That's how much the story grabbed me. It was also the first story I wrote about a fascist US, a concept that has always fascinated me...and finally culminated in The Opium of the People.

For a long time now, Tyree Campbell at Sam's Dot has been trying to talk me into expanding the story into a novel, and I have been tempted, but I'm not sure if it would really be that good of an idea. For one thing, the plausibility of the idea worries me. Could this really happen? I'm not so sure anymore, especially given the state of science in the US now. Plus, I've had a few people tell me that the premise of Opium is hard to believe...which seems a bit naive to me. Maybe it wouldn't be as drastic as I what I painted, but it certainly is possible for the Christian Right to seize control of the US government.

Another concern I have is that I already have one novel out about fascists taking over America, do I really want to go back to that well again?

Still, I have a friend who keeps saying to me that people should have a certain IQ before they're allowed to breathe...so maybe eugenics is plausible, although I don't think IQ would be the criterion used to determine who can and can't reproduce.

Any thoughts?

8 comments:

Jim Shannon said...

I think there is a concern out there suggesting that the earth should have a population of no larger then half a billion people. I don't know what the term for this is called but the idea is that our planet can not sustain current population increases.

Personally i think that's bunk. If anything we need to move (those that can)most of earths population in to space colonies. A very old SF idea but a long way off for us.
If it ever happens at all. It won't be in our life time.

A manned landing to Mars might not even be in our lifetime the way things are going. Maybe if this is an international concern yes but not by Nasa alone.

I think we need to do something to keep the worlds population under control but a national eugenic program isn't the answer. It seems to me the answer might lie in changing our society from a patriarchal society (men) to a matriarchal society (women)

I don't know,

Anonymous said...

Is family planning eugenics? What about offering monetary incentives to drug addicts, convicts, the mentally ill, anyone deemed or admittedly "unfit" for parenthood? Would this seem to "target" any group in particular? If so, why -- and should those underlying problems be addressed first?

I think that lunar or Martian colonies should be pursued on their own merits, if at all; space cannot be the "dumping ground" that the western hemisphere once was, for Europeans -- it's too expensive and complicated, the distances and difficulties too great for any mass migration.

Patriarchy and matriarchy are two faces of the same fascist coin. Egalitarian society or bust!

Keith said...

I have a friend who has the terrible job as staff psychologists for schizophrenic retarded mental patients. Each election day the state rents buses and takes them to vote. These people who are complete delusional and with an IQ of 50 get to vote in all elections.

He claims that there should be a franchise test to see who gets to vote. He has decided the best test of all is a driving test. A person should be able to pass the written test and the road test. The ability to follow simple instructions and make practical decisions should be predicate to being able to vote.

As far as eugenics, I think that soon there will be a birth control shot that will prevent girls from becoming pregnant until they receive the antivirus. I think that no one except those that will be good mothers and raise responsible children will actually make the decision to have babies. I think populations will plummet.

Marva said...

Keith: That must be the 27% who still support Bush's war.

Whether or not to expand into a novel depends completely on whether you have enough story to fill it. A new twist on an old theme can always sell. Besides, has your writing improved over the years? (answer: yes), so see where it takes you. Maybe it's really a novella or maybe it's a 3000-word story.

Keith said...

Marva,
I'm not sure how to take your comment. I shudder to think that the only women who actually choose to have children are conservative republicans. I was thinking about the large number of children born to women who do not want them or are not capable of raising them. It takes no planning (actually a total lack of planning) to have children. If the opposite were true, if you actually had to make plans to have a child, how many women would follow through?

J Erwine said...

Jim-I do think the Earth has a carrying capacity. Our technology allows us to keep pushing that capacity higher and higher, but I can't say if we've actually reached that limit or not. As far as moving people off Earth, we still aren't ready to do that. We should be, but we're not. The biggest problem (other than money) is that we can't protect colonists from radiation. I agree that a national eugenic movement isn't the answer, but I think there are some groups that would not mind implementing such a policy if they came to power.

Keith-They've implemented tests and such for voting before, but most of those were designed to keep blacks from being able to vote. The problem with implementing something like that is where do you draw the line. It becomes a slppery slope...

Marva-At 6000 words, I already have 5-8% of the book, and it wouldn't be hard for me to expand. Fascism fascinates me.

I think Marva was talking about the people with 50 IQs being the ones approving of Bush. I know that's the first thing that popped into my head when I read that!!!!

It seems to me that you'd be most likely to get a eugenics movement out of a radical religious group. Certainly the Nazis practiced eugenics, and they were most certainly a radical Christian group. So, my issue is, if I write this and I use another radical religious group (which in America would have to be Christians) am I just re-doing Opium?

Maybe it doesn't matter. Opium's only sold a few hundred copies (oh, the joys of small press publishing.) If I could sell to a major publisher, most people wouldn't even know what Opium was. Of course, selling to a major publisher isn't exactly easy.

I guess I'll keep thinking on this one...

Keith said...

Now the 27% makes sense. I thought it had something to do with the franchise issue. I think that everyone should vote. Only 10% of the electorate makes any kind of difference. The rest just vote randomly and cancel each other out.

Keith said...

J,
I have been thinking about this. Since the ground work is done, you might find it easier to start a novel based on the story. You still need about 150K words more, though. Perhaps a new story would be more inspiring and not much more work. A novel idea is quite different than a very long short story. You might be better with a BIG idea for a novel, one with a novel sized concept.
I have yet to get more than 25k words into a novel. You need a larger plot with many many subplots and characters. It's not like you can tie together a bunch of short stories into an arc.