The previous entries in this series are:
Last week we looked at copyright, DRM and phone repair as it intersects the Law.
And that raised the esoteric aspects of "ownership."
Oddly enough, "ownership" is deeply related to the "Happily Ever After" and perhaps a core issue in the problem of people not believing in the "Happily Ever After."
We've discussed the HEA ending in terms of the Pluto transits in life, testing, transformation, destruction, rebuilding, major relocation or profession changes. Mars is "war" -- Pluto is "transformation."
We experience Pluto transits as "destruction" -- which it usually coincides with because structures we have built in our lives (tangible and intangible), stand strong and prevent us from moving in a new direction.
Pluto represents "thinking outside the box" in the simple fact that we build boxes around ourselves, houses to be comfortable inside of, protected from the shapeless, fluid, wild, smashing waves of change outside our "house."
The mind is a "house" -- and through early years, we build ourselves boxes, nice strong shipping containers, and even brick walled storehouses, to rely on for protection.
To get outside those boxes, we have to smash through a wall we neglected to put a door into when building it strong.
We have to think the unthinkable.
We have to face "the unknown" which we hid from as children, building walls around our minds.
Humans value conformity and busily spend childhood building the same walls as their teachers, parents, playmates have so they can all get the same answers to questions -- and "pass the test" in the school of hard knocks.
Science is organized human knowledge. Science Fiction is "What if ..." and "If only ..." and "If this goes on ..." --- science fiction is about what does not (yet) exist, what is not (yet) known, but mostly about what is not yet "organized."
Science Fiction novels don't work well as entertainment when the author doesn't know how and why human knowledge got organized in the first place.
A science fiction writer must know some science, and be keeping up with the most recent breakthroughs and farfetched theories on the outskirts of scientific thought. But the most indispensable knowledge a writer can have is of the organizing principle around which our marvelously successful science is built.
The premise that carries a science fiction novel to the top of the charts, to "classic" status, usually involves challenging one of those core organizing principles.
For example, "no physical object can travel faster than light" is a principle, and most science fiction set in a galaxy spanning civilization postulate one or another way around that limitation. In the 1940's, Edward E. Smith, Ph.D., wrote the Lensman Series which postulated FTL drive based on the ability to cancel out "mass" and thus "inertia" -- many UFO reports cite objects moving in speedy zig-zags that indicate they've got some inertia cancelling ability.
That's how you get out of the box. Find a firmly believed limitation that is an unconscious assumption among your target readership, and smash a doorway through that wall in their mind with a "What if Science is Wrong ... again?"
What do the Characters in your built world know that your readers don't know?
Our entire world-spanning Civilization in the 21st Century is an outgrowth of Ancient Hellenistic Greek thought - Aristotle, Plato, etc. - and centuries and centuries later, Roger Bacon and the method of proving "knowledge" creating "science."
The Hellenistic civilization grew out of Egyptian Civilization, and there is cultural continuity behind some of that. Assyrians and other Middle Eastern peoples flourished and collapsed, wave after wave. None of the people who lived in those times knew they "lived in those times." Chances are you don't view your life as "those times" either -- the millennia long waves of civilizations aren't apparent to those living inside them.
The science fiction writer's job is to make the current wave apparent to those living inside it by SHOWING (not telling) that wave from outside.
That's what Gene Roddenberry did by staunchly insisting on including Spock in the bridge crew.
One way to gain the perspective on our current state of civilization is to read this book, or to read about it (or its sources), and think hard.
That sketches the very-long-view of human doings. Thinking hard about this view, you can see that we will look just as "primitive" to the future civilization that will (no doubt about it, climate change won't kill us ALL) that will grow out of the shards of our current life.
What survives the destruction of our mental (and physical) boxes?
What does it mean to "think outside the box?"
It means to absorb and internalize "the unknown" (and perhaps unknowable under current conditions). What has to change in us to shift the unknowable to the merely unknown?
What grand wisdom has survived from Hellenistic Civilization? We have some art and some literature, but what principles do we live by (what walls do we build in our minds) based on ideas codified by Aristotle but originating far earlier?
One such idea is the "either/or" principle, or the zero-sum-game. The idea that material reality consists of mutually exclusive states - a thing is, or it is-not.
All computer architecture is based on this -- the 0's and 1's -- on/off switches in combination. And now, such massive amounts of on/off switches can generate what we term "Artificial Intelligence." Just how artificial is it?
We look at our reality, and we see a pie to be sliced -- a whole that is a certain size. If I get some, that part is a part that you can't have. Mine! Ownership. If I own a piece of the finite pie, you don't own it. And you can't make that pie bigger. Your piece plus my piece add up to a Constant, the whole pie. That is the zero sum. I win; you lose. No two ways about it.
That is the box we live in, and the box science fiction romance writers have to think outside of, in order to argue readers into suspending disbelief of the Happily Ever After Ending.
Earth is a single planet, not getting any bigger. In fact, available land is shrinking as the sea level rises, so we'll have to live under water again.
But astronomers are looking at an "expanding universe."
Particle physics and the newest mathematics are describing packets of energy of which matter is composed -- and those energy packets are neither here not there.
"Here" and "there" no longer are so sharply defined you can think of them as either/or --- either you are here in class on time, or you are not here. Right?
You can't be both here and not-here at a given time.
Or can you?
The Hellenistic Civilization built that either/or box for us, and we're still trying to live inside it. That could be the reason so many people just can't accept the "Happily Ever After" ending to the story of the life of a couple.
Civilizations rise and fall, but they don't "live happily ever after."
There is not stability long-range. We are certain of that because of archeology, paleontology, and historic record.
So either there exists stability, or there does not exist stability –– can't have it both ways. Or can you?
As we have noted, the laws of physics as they apply to subatomic particles are a little different than the laws of physics engineers use to build a bridge or a cracking plant.
Does "happiness" require "stability" and impenetrable walls surrounding what you "own" in order to protect you from the turbulence outside?
Is unchanging stability the necessary condition for human happiness? Is life either "happiness" or "misery?" Is the chaos outside our either/or world the source of all threat, all misery, all terror?
If your readers see "happily ever after" as a static situation boxed into protected space they "own" and thus "control," then the solution new to them that you can present and explore might be, "How Can A Couple Enjoy Chaos, Surprise, and meet Uncertainty with Zest, Verve, and Joy?"
The general reader resorts to Tarot and Astrology as tools that can "foretell the future" -- but they can't. These tools reveal just how dependent your future is on your emotional attitude toward the unknown. They are built around a notion of reality older than Egypt, one which puts the either/or notion of reality into a special case category -- like physics puts Kepler's Laws.
Fear of the Unknown makes the Unknown fearsome.