Previous Parts in this 4-way integration of skills series are indexed here:
Applying 4 (really hard, abstract, mysterious and spiritual) skills at the same time is a job for the well oiled subconscious. These blogs apply that oil.
For the most part, when a writer "has an idea" -- all this "integration" work has already been done by the subconscious. Learning to write novels is the process of training the subconscious to "integrate" all these elements before telling you to write the story.
Once the subconscious has done the integration, it believes it has done it all wonderfully well, regardless of how inappropriate the result may be. That is why writers who first begin submitting to large commercial publishers get back arcane, incomprehensible, and just plain utterly WRONG, demands for changes. The subconscious has finished, knows it is correct, believes in its work, and refuses to make such wrong changes.
The subconscious knows the editor does not love it, and very likely its owner (the writer) does not really love it either. Subconscious, which does all the work for the writer, can be sullen and stubborn if rebuked by an editor demanding changes.
Most beginning writers are bewildered by such demands because they feel like rejections. Even an outright rejection letter tagged with an encouraging P.S. on the boiler plate note of rejection does not convince subconscious it has been understood and loved.
To hit the large commercial fiction market, a work has to conform to a number of parameters -- all moving parts of an artistic composition -- that make it "marketable."
Science Fiction, which is the genre we are blending with Romance here, arose from a group of writers who -- just like the "self-publishing" writers of today -- walked to the beat of a different drummer.
For many decades, Science Fiction was boring or ridiculous to the bigger readerships Manhattan publishers had to reach.
Very few editors or readers had the education to understand the science -- which was inserted as expository lumps -- never mind the made-up science explained in those expository lumps. The real key to the Science Fiction readership was simply to understand that the story (plot and all) arose from a questioning of "real" science.
All the readers were assumed to know the real-world-science being used, and being challenged with a "What if...?"
What if you could go faster than the speed of light? What premise of current science has to be proven wrong in order to accomplish that?
Well, at that time (the 1930's) every science educated person knew a set of facts taught in High School. Research the history of science today, and you will find (if you know current science) that almost everything taught in High School at that time has been proven wrong.
Electrons do not circle nuclei in orbits.
The atom is not the smallest indivisible component of matter.
Our solar system is nowhere near unique.
Quarks, Black Holes, Quasars, and the Higgs Boson were not mentioned because the math didn't include them.
Yes, in the development of science, usually math comes first -- math is the language of science, and to write science fiction romance, you really have to know your math.
Science fiction depicted many ways to go faster than light, get to other stars, explore other planets -- each presented different premises that defied the known science of their day. Some of the science fiction writers of 1930-1970 have now been proven correct. Some have simply been proven to have spotted the premise that was not true -- but not extrapolated what is actually true (by today's understanding of the universe, tomorrow is another matter entirely.)
In the 1960's to 1990's another breed of science fiction writer arose -- the Sociological Science Fiction genre inventors.
These writers questioned the premises then taught in universities as "the truth" of "settled science" and built fantasy worlds based on ideas about how our understanding of "what is human" and "what government works for humans" was flat out wrong.
Harry Harrison and Poul Anderson are two leading names.
Ursula LeGuinn added many unseen dimensions to exploring social constructs -- revealing what Poul Anderson taught his writing students -- all society is rooted in and driven by the power of gender.
Poul Anderson created his aliens from animal species found on Earth, extrapolating what such a type of reproductive drive would produce for a society of a star-spanning civilization.
Also from the 1960's on, we had writers like Katherine Kurtz -- even Tolkien -- founding the new genre of Adult Fantasy.
By "Adult" here is not meant the current must-have-monkey-sex scenes, but rather Adult in the sense of taking up the life-issues of grown up people rather than the "talking animal" issues of children's fantasy.
So Adult Fantasy became about worlds where Magic is real, where threats are invasions from another dimension, Heros defend a way of life from such supernatural invaders.
Adult Fantasy of Katherine Kurtz's Deryni series were sociological-religious-Fantasy -- where a breed of human, the Deryni, had both ESP and real-magical-powers. The Deryni were rejected for their abilities by the dominant religion, and created their own religion based on that dominant religion -- the novels talk around the concept of "The Church" of the Middle Ages, but it is very similar.
So religion and ESP were tackled head-on as social constructs.
The Deryni novels are all about who will be King. The economic structure is based on typical Fantasy ideas of an entire government and economy modeled after the real-world year 1000 - plus or minus a couple centuries.
What would today be like if the Deryni Kings had held sway through the Dark Ages, and piloted human society into the Enlightenment?
Those modern day novels in the Deryni series have not, as far as I know, been written.
But many writers today are exploring the Unseen Worlds, Magic Is Real, or Defend From Intruding Demons, worlds that are so fascinating and scary.
Some such fantasy is pure horror - at least from some people's point of view.
Some seems to appeal on the level of, "I'd go live there if I could."
One version of the attractive Fantasy World arose in the Vampire Romance -- where a human woman would fall in love with a Vampire, and he with her, and they would attempt to solve his problem of killing humans for their blood.
All these worlds, and variations on them, have been explored at great length. Much imaginary science has been invented to support the sociological discussion about human nature -- most of that imaginary science is not based on real-world science being systematically (scientifically) challenged, the way early science fiction writers challenged the unquestioned beliefs of science textbooks of that day.
Many writers with ideas about how Relationships might work out to a Happily Ever After ending just plunge into writing their stories based on an impression they have derived from reading many Fantasy Novels.
There's nothing wrong with this commercially! What your intended readership wants, loves, responds to, (or ignores and doesn't care about) is relevant to what story you are telling about what Characters.
Copying what academics call the trope that has become popular is a way to sell a lot of books - and that is the goal.
But there are vast areas of human society that have remained untouched, and could make grand new ingredients in those worn out tropes.
Science Fiction started with modifying scientific "laws" to allow for Faster than Light travel to explore Alien Planets.
Then Fantasy writers challenged "science" -- with the idea that there are other dimensions to reality that science does not (can not) describe.
Ghosts are real. Zombies can happen, Vampires have to be dealt with. Telepaths exist. Psychokinesis works. The Russians were reported to be spending money on research into Clairvoyance - Far Viewing to spy on American defense plans, was that Fantasy or Science Fiction?
And of course, UFO nuts still promulgate conspiracy theories -- guess what, 2017 revealed the USA was spending millions investigating UFO's.
So where is a Fantasy writer to go to find an accepted idea, premise, or theory that can be refuted? What difference do you base your Worldbuilding upon that will, in 50 years, be proven correct?
Look at the world of 2018 -- all around the globe -- and cut away the noise and chatter, the politics and nonsense. You see a world in the grip of a number of very hot Religious Wars. And even war to extinguish all Religion as superstition, hypocrisy or outright lies told to gain control of "the masses."
Now look at the world from another direction, and you see a world where the entire concept of "the masses" is being systematically dissolved away.
Google, Microsoft, Apple, -- Artificial Intelligence, Social Networking -- all of the emergent technologies are groping for control of "Big Data." People are handled as individuals, each unique, but composed of standardized units of information (name, address, date of birth, facial recognition, fingerprint, credit rating). Fill in each field in the form with standardized information blocks, and the resulting form is a unique composite -- an Identity.
Identity Theft has run rampant when the sociological assumption behind all the governments of the world (including the U.N.) is that government exists to control "the masses." The assumption is that there is no such thing as "an individual" or an "Identity." People move in masses, and all the ones with the same "label" are identical to one another (interchangeable) -- Black, White, Muslim, North Korean, Chinese -- we are our labels, not ourselves.
So we are a civilization that has been founded on governing masses by whatever force necessary, now in transition to a civilization founded on independent movement of unique individuals. Will that transition continue to completion, or reverse itself? How many Billionaires can this planet hold?
Yeah, that sounds ridiculous, but look with your writer's glasses on. Look at China and the culture that embraced Communism because they even name their children putting family name first, then personal name.
The Group is your Identity - not your personal or individual name.
That tension between Group and Individual is built into humanity.
Astrologically, it is First House opposite Seventh House -- the individuality of First House is inside you, but the Spouse/Public/Partner is ALSO inside you. That is the portrait of the Natal Chart we all share - every one of us has a First House and a Seventh House, and we all have them in opposition-tension.
Individually, few of us could survive, never mind thrive. In fact, most all "apes" (the animal family we sort of belong with) live in "tribes" and develop a Group survival strategy.
So, as humans, food, clothing, shelter, reproduction, raising the young, etc. all the basics of life depend on our Group affiliation.
But Groups have Structures, and even Great Ape communities have bosses, dominants, go-along-to-get-along, and humans periodically look around and declare, "We have to get organized!" Groups don't function to survive without being organized.
So for thousands of years, some humans have spent their lives studying Organizations -- how to organize humans, how to make an organization work, which organization structure is superior to the neighbor's organization (Communism, vs. Socialism, vs. Capitalism).
Humans study animals, and that seems to work -- we seem to be able to make sense of animals and predict their behavior. From the first spear-carrying human, we have relied on understanding animals to hunt them for food. We can predict animal behavior.
But humans studying humans has not been all that successful, up until Public Relations became a science by applying math to human behavior.
Public Relations dubs "the masses" as "the public." These are all the people you don't know personally, but have to deal with as if they are all identical (e.g. the masses.)
There are many applications of these predictive assumptions, many of which have gone unquestioned for decades (longer than most practitioners of public relations have been alive). Advertising is one such application.
The predictive assumptions have gone unquestioned because they have worked -- they have worked, gangbusters!
Most of Economics as taught in universities and applied using government, regulation and law, is obviously wrong.
Much math is being applied and much psychology -- all of it targeted at predicting and thus controlling human behavior on the survival level.
Ultimately, economics is about getting enough food, clothing, shelter, sex, and satisfaction, in spite of all the forces arrayed against you.
The phrase, "Dog eat dog world" -- applies today. It is how basic humans behave.
"Standard Economic Theory" assumes people act rationally.
What if your Aliens actually acted Rationally?
Could your human Character fall in love with someone who was totally rational?
Well, look at the success Gene Roddenberry had selling the American woman on how sexy Spock is - even Sarek! Of course, in his heart, Roddenberry did not think of Spock as really (actually, provably) rational. Logic is not the same as rationality, is it?
Logic requires a Helenistic view of the Universe, which is based on an "either/or" or zero-sum-game choice. Public Relations is the root of "Game Theory" -- which pits one side against the other, to produce a winner.
All through human history, survival has been a winner-take-all, either/or issue.
Maybe Artificial Intelligence, or some new application of the communications facility of the Internet will change what it takes to survive, and thus change all economic theory of humanity.
One of my hobbyhorses here has been solving the Energy problem. Fossil fuels work, obviously - and kill us, obviously. Energy is necessary for individual and group survival, but getting it and using it kills us all.
Allan Cole, in his Sten Series,
postulated an anti-matter driven galactic civilization.
Isaac Asimov predicted getting our energy from an adjacent universe (but they fought back against the theft). Star Trek postulated an anti-matter drive. So far, we haven't got that -- but Nuclear Fusion (far cleaner than Nuclear Fission) might be within reach. An abundant energy source that doesn't kill us (even the smoke from caveman fires killed), would change the entire definition of "economics."
Earlier this month, the director-general of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) announced that construction of the project had reached the halfway point. It’s an important milestone for the multi-billion-dollar facility being constructed in southern France. The goal is to begin generating plasma, an essential component of nuclear fusion reactors, by 2025.
ITER (Latin for “Way”) is a partnership of 35 countries, all hoping to share in the scientific rewards. “This gives us confidence as we face the remaining 50 percent,” Dr. Bernard Bigot of ITER told the journal Live Science.
Note the size of the financing, location and staffing. Note the source of funding. Also note, they do not yet have a way of producing as much energy as it costs to run such a fusion plant, so it isn't an abundant-clean source of energy to run the planet (yet).
But what if Aliens arrived who knew how to do this fusion trick? Would we reject them because it puts the lie to our beliefs about the structure of reality? Embarrasses academics or politicians? After all, humans were in charge of the Roman government that thought it was a good idea to crucify the guy they thought was the Jewish Messiah (mostly because he was gaining political klout).
THEME: Is there anything humans wouldn't do to defend beliefs?
Maybe it will take a first encounter with Aliens (and yes, a love affair) to change how human society organizes around economics.
THEME: If you want to know what's really going on, follow the money.
Right now, the field of Economics is split (just like the current global religious wars) around two belief systems derived from two Nobel Prize Winners in Economics, each of which did an amazing job of following the money.
Milton Friedman was an American economist and statistician best known for his strong belief in free-market capitalism. During his time as professor at the University of Chicago, Friedman developed numerous free-market theories that opposed the views of traditional Keynesian economists.
Keynesian economics was developed by the British economist John Maynard Keynes during the 1930s in an attempt to understand the Great Depression. Keynes advocated increased government expenditures and lower taxes to stimulate demand and pull the global economy out of the depression.
Both concepts are being hybridized, just as Science hybridized with fiction to produce science fiction and romance hybridized with science fiction to produce science fiction romance.
But maybe these economists adding modern data-science and psychology and brain/nervous system studies and so on to these two theories are missing something?
Maybe some predictive-fantasy writer might nail that something by worldbuilding an Alien Interstellar Civilization around a THEME that encompasses human behavior (seeking survival) and yet points out where the belief systems of Award Winning Genius Scientists (which both Friedman and Keynes were) are actually flat out wrong?
That's how science fiction themes form the foundation of worldbuilding. "What do we know for a fact is true, that we base all our very successful actions on, but is actually not true?"
Science fiction plots are built on 3 question:
"What If ...?"
"If only ...?"
"If this goes on ..."
Science Fiction Characters are built on, "What does he know that I don't know?"
Aliens know things they believe are true, that belie what humans know and believe.
Characters build worlds.
Worldbuilding is not done by the writer -- but by the writer's Characters.
Your human finds a crashed space ship with a barely living Alien crawing out of the wreckage.
Which one's "beliefs" will be proven wrong? Maybe both?
Are they "rational" -- within the contexts of their own worlds?
Does "logic" transcend their social worlds, as a "hard science" - a "cold equations" situation?
In the 1940's science fiction tropes, the alien in the crashed space ship is an explorer or military scout (The Day The Earth Stood Still, Starman).
What if, in today's sociological/fantasy trope the Alien is a Billionaire in his own civilization -- the top of the top of the economic ladder in his world?
Maybe in his world there is no ladder and everyone wields enough wealth to be an autonomous Power in their own right?
Would complete economic independence from all others of your species make you asocial -- a loner, a maverick, not a member of the tribe?
Would such a loner, totally independent of others of his species for sustenance and success, not supervised by "government regulations" and not "ruled" by an aristocracy, not taxed, not bound by family honor, just an independent individual be a Romantic Interest?
Is Independence sexy?
How many good Romance novels have you read about marrying "up" -- to higher status, money, social prominence -- to gain happiness?
From Pygmalion to Meghan Markle's Royal Wedding -- is it money, status, power, that causes happily ever after? Or is it changing your mind about something you don't even know you believe? Does it rain in Spain's mountains?
The theme generates the Character, the world they come from and the world they go to during the Plot -- and the theme generates the plot, too.
Theme is the basis of all fiction. Theme is what the story says about "life, the universe and everything."
If your theme says, "Something you (the reader) are absolutely certain about is in fact wrong," then you very likely have a science fiction story to tell.
The art behind this type of fiction, the challenge to common beliefs, is a work painted from shades of cognitive dissonance.
For example, if your Main Character is absolutely certain there can be no other kinds of people than humans, then your opening scene is the moment that Main Character meets a person who is not human.
If your Main Character believes there is no way in all creation for a space ship to go faster than light or travel back in Time -- well, he's the Air Force pilot who sees the Enterprise dipping into Earth's atmosphere, has his plane break apart, and gets beamed aboard.
To find that opening event (something dramatic, symbolic, visual, like the 1929 Market Crash featuring Stock Traders jumping out of skyscraper windows) -- read this article.
Keen and those supporting him (full disclosure: I was one of them) were making a simple point as he used Blu Tack to stick their 33 theses to one of the world’s leading universities: economics needs its own Reformation just as the Catholic church did 500 years ago. Like the medieval church, orthodox economics thinks it has all the answers. Complex mathematics is used to mystify economics, just as congregations in Luther’s time were deliberately left in the dark by services conducted in Latin. Neoclassical economics has become an unquestioned belief system and treats anybody who challenges the creed of self-righting markets and rational consumers as dangerous heretics.
Note the use of language like "reformation" "orthodox thinking" and "heretic" -- these word choices are not accidental. This article pointing out the failure of previously revered economics is explaining how authority promulgates belief systems until they become not only self-perpetuating but permeated with self-fulfilling prophecies.
Things are happening on Earth, among human societies today that belie the most cherished, heart-felt beliefs -- religious beliefs, and everything we put in place of religion and every mis-use of religion.
Faith itself, as a human cognitive function, is being challenged. Note: Fake News.
When has "News" ever not been "Fake?" The Bards sang songs of Grand Battles -- hardly a word being true, except there was a fight and lots of people died, this side won and that side lost -- (and even THAT might not be really true).
But we believe.
We take on faith.
We govern ourselves by rumor.
We discount "official sources." We believe our neighbors when they relate rumors because we know someone who knows someone it happened to.
We, as humans, believe what we experience is true.
Do your Aliens share that propensity?
To create an Alien Romance, you need to identify what the couple has in common with each other, and use that as the affinity that "Conquers All."
Then you must identify the obstacle to their founding an HEA together.
Then you must show-don't-tell how Love itself, a universal force that is a property of reality throughout all creation, conquers "all."
Whatever the obstacle, however long and complex the path from initial cognitive dissonance moment to the HEA, show how Love provides the energy.
Take today's worldwide religious war -- how does Love conquer that?
Ordinarily, people fight and kill each other until someone wins and someone gives up (and/or dies). The winner is proclaimed "right" and the loser or dead side is "wrong." The fight is about WHO IS RIGHT, and never a word or issue about WHAT IS RIGHT.
Any dispute among humans can be settled by killing the opposition -- even if only metaphorically, overpowering by brute twitter-storm.
But what if Aliens didn't settle disputes that way?
What if the academic dichotomy now applied to our political world of Friedman vs Keynes was viewed by the Aliens as silly because neither is correct. How would an Alien mediate such a dispute between two Economists, and persuade both of them to give up the panoply of beliefs each holds so dear they don't even know they are beliefs, not facts?
Would a human, watching that Alien argue, fall in love? What would the human do?
Or take another dispute that's boiling over in our world -- take Israel vs. The Palestinians. Or take North Korea vs. the USA. Or Britain vs. The E.U.
It is human to rely -- to the death -- on a belief.
How do you persuade a human to doubt those beliefs?
LOVE CONQUERS ALL.
I'm not the only one who sees and understands the world through Love Conquers All. It is a favorite hobbyhorse topic on chabad.org, and I subscribe to a Whatsapp daily bit of wisdom they send out.
One tiny capsule of wisdom that came in 2017 was a summation of a process I have seen work on humans over and over again in a wide variety of contexts.
I think it might seem plausible if you wrote an Alien it worked on, or who worked it on your human Main Character.
It is in that graphic at the top of this post. No one listens to rebuke unless they believe that you love them.
I saw it used in a Hawaii 5-O episode where a terrorist captive was being questioned to little avail, but Steve McGarrett reversed the strategy and treated the terrorist as a human being -- water, food, time to pray, clean clothes. He was rebuked by authority for this tactic, but did not accept what authority decreed (torture works).
Authority has never loved Steve McGarrett -- so he never accepts such decrees unless he's woefully out-gunned. Then he beats a strategic retreat and lives to fight another day.
Rebuke is a tool of love. In any other hands, rebuke is counter-productive.
Here's the Quote from chabad.org Whatsapp.
Here is something to think about all day long:
No one listens to rebuke unless they believe that you love them.
By the time Moses returned to the scene, his people had hit an all-time low. They worshipped idols, spoke slanderously of each other, and had wandered very far from the path of their forefathers. Perhaps he should have told them off, saying, “Repent, sinners, lest you perish altogether!”
But he didn’t. Instead, he told them how G‑d cared for them and felt their suffering, how He would bring about miracles, freedom and a wondrous future out of His love for them.
As for rebuke, Moses saved that for G‑d. “Why have You mistreated Your people?!” he demanded.
If you don’t like the other guy’s lifestyle, do him a favor, lend him a hand. Once you’ve brought a few miracles into his life, then you can urge him to chuck his bad habits.
Think about that quote. How easy to turn an idealistic thesis into a tactic for controlling people - into a Power Grab. Do something for a person, give them something they want or think they want, THEN contradict (rebuke) their most cherished belief and they will accept what you say. E.G. bribery works.
Think about Keynesian theory -- the government takes wealth that someone makes, and gives it (as if it belonged to the government because the government made it and is generous) to someone (of the masses) who wants it. Then the government tells the recipient anything the government wants the recipient to believe.
In other words, "the government" is the origin of the only forces in the world that allow humans to survive.
Now think using Friedman's idea -- there exists a force circulating among individuals that causes wealth to be created. That force (the free market) can overturn governments, reward and punish individuals, -- a force of Nature like the ocean, to be reconned with but not stopped.
Government can build sea-walls, and maybe submarines with torpedos, but government can not stop the market. The market will be free even if it kills all humans.
There is an old adage (you do know how much I love adages, the more cliche the better): If you've got a tiger by the tail, there is only one thing to do: swarm aboard and ride it.
That tiger is the Free Market that Keynes had seen destroy (1929) his world. We saw it again in 2007 with the Housing Crash, mortgage fraud, international monetary fraud, and the collapse of the international banking system (because by then computers, the internet, and global markets were emerging as Artificial Intelligence is today.)
Periodically, the Free Market self-destructs, and maybe next time will take us all with it.
THEME: Given the size and nature of the Market "Ocean" with currents, monster storms, unfathomable depths, we must either build a true Titanic Economic Vessel, or stop the ocean currents and storms from circulating (using government or magic).
THEME: There does not exist any such thing as a "Market" -- it is a figment of human imagination.
THEME: humans can be "happily ever after" only if they keep shedding out-worn beliefs (such as "The Market" is "Free.")
THEME: No human can be sovereign, an individual, independent and rational.
THEME: Identity can not be stolen.
THEME: There is no such thing as "the masses."
THEME: Humans don't need to "be governed."
THEME: Humans need to govern others to be happy.
THEME: No human can survive long without a government (support group, tribe, family).
THEME: Money is not the root of all Evil; Envy is.
THEME: There is no such thing as "The Market."
How do you marry an Alien Billionaire? As in the recipe for rabbit stew, "First Catch Your Alien."
Would you recognize your Alien Billionaire?
How can you tell, by looking at someone, or even listening to their voice, that they are ultra-wealthy? Are all wealthy people independent individuals? By "marry" do you mean make the Billionaire dependent on you for emotional satisfaction?
What is wealth? Is it the same as money? How do humans acquire wealth?
Do all human societies need an Aristocracy of Power supported by wealth sucked from the hands of peasants (the masses).
Modern Fantasy Romance often uses a Setting of Kings, Dukes, arranged marriage, and revolution by warfare, Court Magicians and decorative Characters. Theme generates Setting -- the presence of an aristocracy in a setting limits the range of themes possible.
If you must write in an Aristocratic Setting, you will have to create "masses" (peasants -- people who out-number the Aristocrats) to support them. Just establishing the existence of an Aristocracy sets up your Economic System.
Human history worked through that stage of Kings and Kingdoms. Did your Aliens also evolve through thousands of years of Aristocracy?
Have your Aliens, now an Interstellar Civilization, evolved a different kind of Economy because of their reproductive methods? Humans are all about dominance, winning, and the Alpha Male. What are your Aliens all about? How could a human Alpha Female find such a male attractive?
The Billionaire image is a symbol of an individual whose will gets done. That is, the Billiionaire has the magnitude of wealth that is sheer, unadulterated Power -- like the Market-Ocean, Power, Force, irresistible.
Is that sexy, in and of itself? Or is it sexy only when contrasted (artistic composition) with "the masses" - who individually are powerless, but together can overcome a multi-trillionaire, in the improbable event they chose to do so.
Small wonder Kings fear The Masses. Kings rule only by making sure that "they" (the masses) don't all know/believe the same thing at the same time and move as one.
And "the masses" (or "The Market Forces") will be much-much-much larger in an interstellar civilization.