Is Government Form Irrelevant?
Previous parts of this series are found here:
In Part 9 of this series on integrating your stated Theme (what you want to say about Life, The Universe, And Everything) with the World you construct around your Characters,
Worldbuilding is about analyzing our real world into bits and pieces, then synthesizing, putting them back together into a new pattern, building a new world from the same components we already have, and maybe one or two really alien ones.
Theme is about the organizing principle that arranged those bits and pieces to begin with combined or synthesized into the new principle you invent to build your fictional world around.
What makes fiction believable and the source of value to your customers is the internal consistency of the rules for your built world.
One of the most frustrating things I have found about reviewing the newest Science Fiction Romance or Paranormal Fantasy -- most of the new novels with or without an ostensible Romance -- is the absence of new, original thinking.
One of the singular attractions of this field is New Ideas.
That is why science fiction is called The Literature of Ideas. Not because science fiction with or without a romance or love story is purely intellectual, dry, boring, abstract and/or philosophical, but because a whopping great science fiction novel makes you think of New Ideas wholly different from those presented in the novel.
You get new ideas from reading fiction.
The fiction doesn't "give you" ideas, and doesn't tell you to believe this or that idea, or ideal, but as Gene Roddenberry taught, it asks questions.
The questions a good piece of fiction in any genre asks are the ones the writer does not know the answer to -- but may in fact know quite a few possible answers that only lead to more questions.
The core of the matter is questions.
Learning to wade into a new field, a matter, a problem, and sort it out so that useful questions can be posited is very hard.
It takes maturity, it takes experience, it takes training in scientific thinking, and it takes training in mystical thinking.
Plotting a novel, with a romance story, a love story, and a mind-boggling Theme requires setting your Main Character(s) loose into a World you have Built, and blind-siding them with a Problem.
Chapter One does not have to open on the Problem, but does have to set the Characters on the path that leads to the Problem.
The trick to finding the Hero of the Story is knowing all the Characters, and choosing to tell the story from the point of view of the person whose inner decisions and mindset become implemented and cause the Problem to arise.
In other words, you can start with the Character as a kid, sitting on his bed, looking out the windows at the stars and wishing to be kidnapped by a UFO.
Pick out some aspect of that scene that leads to the Problem that kid will have to solve and show don't tell how the mystical forces of Universal Justice respond to that Wish.
Yes, "scary mad wishes do indeed make things come true." I do understand why "Mr. Rogers" sang that wishes do not make things come true -- but they actually do. That is why we recognize the odd resonance called, "Poetic Justice."
Poetic Justice is "the end" of your plot that starts with a wish to be kidnapped by a UFO.
It doesn't mean you will be kidnapped by a UFO, nor even that you will be kidnapped at all. It doesn't mean you will meet up with a UFO. It means that the reason why you wished to flee the Situation in the Household will be addressed by the overall shape of your life, and the Happily Ever After will not happen until you completely address all that family-induced "baggage."
The writer has to address those connections in show don't tell, and stay completely "off the nose" as they say in screenwriting.
The writer has to dissect the reader's real world into bits and pieces, then reassemble it around the Main Character into a world where that childhood "scary mad wish" comes true, is faced, is vanquished, and Happily Ever After sets in.
The World the writer builds around the Character has to "reflect" the Character and his/her Problem, just as our own subjective realities are shaped by the problems we harbor within our subconscious minds.
"Scary Mad Wishes" erupt from the subconscious, and sometimes go back into hiding. From that hidden place within, they orchestrate our personal downfall -- and perhaps our next rise.
Revealing to the reader just how the Character's Scary Mad Wish is manifesting in their life, without them knowing it at all, can show the reader just how their own repressed Scary Mad Wishes or Bright Longing Wishes are manifesting in the reader's own life.
It's a principle. You can see other people doing this, but it's very hard to see yourself being your own worst enemy, getting yourself fired from job after job, being the victim of unexpected disasters. The key to making it stop happening is to see it happening.
Only by resolving that Scary Mad Wish that the kid crammed down into the subconscious and made into a repression and/or neurosis can the succession of bewildering, adverse Events be redirected into fortunate Events.
These childhood repressions (OK, oversimplifying here) govern our close personal Relationships -- romance, love, marriage.
Marriages break up in two main ways:
A) the refusal to confront and resolve repressions which leads to insane fights or
B) the resolving of a repression changes the Character to where the pairing no longer works and the Bond is shattered.
In other words, married couples grow away from each other for two huge categories of reasons:
A) fed up with your repressions or
B) not co-dependent on you anymore.
So the Writer's Problem becomes illustration of the reasons why some married couples grow toward each other, not away.
The "hotter" the Romance that sucks them into Bonding, especially before the age of 21 (3rd quartering of Saturn) the more likely the attraction is rooted in something that will cause an explosive breakup.
The Astrology Just For Writers posts are listed here:
The ideal pairing in a Romance is between Soul Mates.
As I've discussed at length, positing a Soul Mate situation requires positing a Soul -- and the "reality" of the Soul is a Theme-Worldbuilding element.
If you posit Soul Mate level Love for your Couple, you are building a world in which the Soul is "real." That may be a fantasy premise, and the rejection of that premise may be why so many readers disbelieve the HEA.
As I said in a previous post here:
To understand the infinitely large, one must have a solid understanding of the infinitely "small."
"Large" and "Small" are concepts that can not be defined without using "space" (the 3 physical dimensions, Height, Width, Depth).
If a thing doesn't have "size" how can it "be?"
Well, how big is your Soul? How much does it weigh?
We can measure the "brain" but have not yet "located" (in space) the Soul. Therefore, people who study this kind of thing have a hard time including "Soul" in their model of Reality.
Thus reading Romance Novels is "escape" for them because the best romance novels are about Soul Mates. Free Romance Novels are flying off Amazon's virtual shelves very likely because spending time in a universe where Souls are real is just the escape that is sought by Romance Reader.
The most profound thing I've ever learned about Souls came via a course on Kabbalah, where I learned the soul enters the material world through the dimension of Time. Not SPACE -- but TIME. The Soul exists through TIME -- but not SPACE. The brain exists through SPACE and TIME.
Another thing I learned from Kabbalah while writing the 5 books on Tarot...
...is that the Soul descends into the body in stages, starting at conception and proceeding (I think by quantum leaps) to the threshold of sexual maturity at about 13. This theory produces a unique paradigm for child-rearing, setting expectations expanding as the Soul gains a better grip on the animal body. Given knowledge of what will be expected of him/her at given birthdays, and training to rise to that new level, maturity unfolds in a more steady way.
So Soul has no "dimension" -- nothing to measure and certainly has no "location" not even as indeterminate as the location of a "particle" (which is probably a wave).
Soul is not like a "particle" -- nothing material can find or measure it. But its presence resonates in our awareness.
That's just one Theory of Soul. You can create your Theory of Soul freehand with many other postulates.
If you posit Soul Mates, then you must posit Soul, and if you posit Soul you must include in your Worldbuilding the distinctive properties that define Soul in your fictional World.
To create verisimilitude, you must build your fictional World's Soul hypothesis around some feature of everyday reality that your readers are accustomed to. Religion does the trick for a lot of readers, but today many have been raised without official religious instruction.
So the Romance Writer is left to recreate the anthropological dimension of Religion for the Cultures of their fictional Worlds.
If Religion and/or Soul is the Main Theme of your novel, then elaborate detail about the nature of Soul in your fictional World can be brought front and center, becoming the plot-driving-force.
Most Romance novels don't require long, elaborate thesis statements about the nature of Soul. The point, after all, is the Romance not the Theology.
Theme is the point of your story. Love Conquers All is the big, envelope theme for all Romance stories.
The big conflict in Romance is "Love vs. All." Most readers have a set idea about what Love really is, so the writer's main job is to create an All for Love to conflict with, and All that prevents the Love from reaching the HEA.
The Love is an emanation of the Soul.
The All is the outside environment.
Remember in Romeo and Juliet it was social standing in an Aristocracy that was the All. Aristocratic based government is the standard default worldbuilding element Fantasy wriiters use without thinking.
Much of the Paranormal and/or Fantasy Romance genre comes out of Victorian Romance because the appeal of the Victorian era is the purely Alien Ambiance.
Note that Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's St. Germain series started with The Palace, a novel set in an Aristocracy -- and the Vampire St. Germain bills himself as a Count.
Historically, in our real world, totalitarianism has always been the default governmental form. Thousands of years B.C.E., Egypt, Persia, Assyrian, Babylonian, -- all totalitarian ruled by Aristocracy. That's why the Ancient Greek contribution of the bizarre and strange (truly alien to human nature?) concept of Democracy, and the related compromise of Republic, were science fiction concepts of their time.
Look at the Middle East Mess Of Today -- where governments melt down, "strong men" take over ruling their "tribes" with an iron fist. So the advent of a Sharia Law driven Rule By Divine Right is immensely attractive.
So we come to the crux of the matter -- Rule By Divine Right, totalitarianism by Divine Decree.
If your theme is Love Conquers All, and you are telling the story of Soul Mates bonding despite The All that opposes them, that "All" that opposes True Love is almost always a product of Governmental form.
In an Aristocracy, you have the arranged marriage for political purposes, welding Kingdoms together into alliances that can last generations.
In other words, for the sake of peace, the strong government thwarts the Soul Mates joining in True Love.
In a Rule By Divine Right government, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one (as Spock said and I noted last week.)
So despite the need of the individual to marry her Soul Mate, she is married off to the foreign King so there won't be war.
The form of the governmental structure dictates the Plot of the story told in the World you have built.
If this type of atrocity is not happening to your Main Character, it is happening to someone in your world. The form of the government is never irrelevant to your Main Character, no matter the form or the social status of the Character.
Why is that necessary?
Think about your reader's life. Think about your own life. Think about the lives of people in the news.
We have a worldwide refugee problem because of collapsing governments and people fleeing the "Strong Man" out to destroy them.
We have a worldwide drug-cartel economy -- the most arable land in Afghanistan is forced because of the form of the government, to grow drug poppies rather than the food that would grow there in abundance.
In the U.S.A. we have millions of "illegal immigrants" -- here mostly because of the governments they are fleeing. The form of government has a lot to do with the form of the economy, and people migrate if they don't have enough to eat or are hunted by thugs for being good people.
Amidst all that churning and ever migrating population are all the Love Stories, Romances, and thwarted Soul Mates who will have to wait for another incarnation to Bond with each other.
Click around in this history timeline map for a bit and muse over how urbanization spread across continents. A Strong Man (tribal Chief, hereditary or on merit) government is all you need if the only people within 5 day's travel are members of maybe 5 or 10 families nomadic families. Settle in by a nice tame creek with lush fields all around, a neat little forrest for hunting, and suddenly you need "government" because you have to defend your territory from those who envy it.
Look again at the Bible. It traces the archetype of history so neatly. From Abraham to the final entry into the Promised Land, the people had no government as such. They had respected elders who decided disputes, and people lived whole lives around people they knew all their lives.
Once they moved into the Promised Land, the Law changed. They had a nice river and lush farmland, and other resources and had to defend it. Things got chaotic, and they had to deal with other people around them, so they asked for a King like everyone else had.
Tribal Elders everyone knows and trusts is a non-scalable form of government. It doesn't work when you have to organize a defense of a larger group, and some people don't want to give their fair share of what that defense costs.
When the group grows, gradually the needs of the many begin to outweigh the needs of the few or the one.
So we appoint or elevate Kings who develop an aristocracy of would-be Kings to manage local problems.
The non-Aristocrats consider the Aristocrats to be "priveleged" but the Aristocrats see Noblesse Oblige -- that their needs are sacrificed by an accident of birth to the needs of the many.
Back to Astrology for a minute. The needs of the many is represented by 7th House, the Public, and the marriage partner, and the family, tribe etc. The needs of the few or the one are represented by 1st House, the Self, and the position of Self relative to Other.
The Natal Chart diagram is a circle divided into 12 sections, 6 pairs of opposites. The oppositions represent that kind of tension between government (the many) and self (the one).
Another pair writers need to study is 4th House vs 10th House -- which is the Workaholic Spouse Story, the tension between Home and Career. When that tension breaks, you get the cheating spouse and divorce story.
All the House pairs of oppositions define plot types.
The 4th House is your household, your home. The 10th is Government. 4th House is symbolized by The Moon, and 12th by Saturn -- emotion vs. logic, Soul vs. Science.
The form of government (Saturn and Capricorn represent governance, regulation, management) dictates the form of the home, (The Moon repesents the reigning Need). The resolution of this conflict is for the power of Saturn to be enlisted in the accomplishment of the Reigning Need.
That is the astrological description of the Happily Ever After result.
Note that the 1st House vs 7th House opposition is at 90 degrees (square or athwart) the 4th House vs 10th House.
The "square" symbolizes interference or the kind of challenge that builds strength as it is conquered.
That 4-way tension describes your reader's world in terms you, as a writer, can emulate in your fictional world to give the absurd things your Characters do verisimilitude.
You build the form of government which may be functioning outsiide your Character's purvue into the foundation of your fictional world where your reader may never see it. The fact that it is there governing the Characters world gives the reader a feeling that this fictional world is real.
In a Romance story, you focus the plot on the 1st House and the 4th House -- Self athwart Home -- but to make Self and Home seem realistic, they must be under tension of opposition from The Public (7th) and Government (10th).
You choose the form of government to be an expression of your Theme, just as you choose the form of the Home to express Theme.
The Main Character, the Hero, is the one facing the Problem.
Back to the kid wishing to be kidnapped by a UFO.
Consider the popularity of the TV Series The X-Files.
Eventually, it is revealed that Mulder's sister was kidnapped by a UFO, which memory sank into his subconscious and set him on a furious and perhaps unreasoning (anti-Saturn, ungoverned) quest to prove UFO's are real, so he's not crazy.
The woman he's partnered with is a pure-science person who has an open mind but sees nothing that can prove UFO's kidnap people. Little by little, she has to change her mind.
That's a typical Soul Mate Bonding process.
That's why the show was so popular.
They worked for the FBI (government - Saturn) and had their careers (10th House) ruined (thwarted) by their personal (1st House) needs. So they got relegated to the X-Files -- made a laughing stock.
To write a Romance between an Alien and a Human, you have to create an Alien -- which means creating an Alien (non-human) culture. To have a culture, you must have some "form of government" -- and for it to seem realistic, your alien government has to be something that would not work to govern humans.
If you can come up with something new -- some form of government and an alien species that would naturally develop that form -- you will have a science fiction best seller.
So consider the evolution of forms of government for humans and why they work -- from tribal elders to tyrants and totalitarian Kings in every form -- consider Democracy, Republics, elected Emperors like Rome, and all the way to religious refugees creating the absurd compromise of a Democratic Republic for the United States of America.
Then trace the erosion of the Republic of the USA back into a strange, hybrid totalitarianism where we elect people to make all our personal decisions for us. Juxtapose the rise and fall of the Democratic Republic hybrid against the population statistics.
Ancient Greece had a microscopic population density compared to even the most rural parts of America today.
Most galactic science fiction postulates either Empires (STAR WARS) or autonomous world-kingdoms. Some postulate more complicated representational governments.
What these novels ignore in creating galaxy-sized governments is the way our forms crumble when scaled up by orders of magnitude.
The USA Constitution worked wondrously for a couple million people all the way up to 60 million or so. Between then and today's 320 million, decision after decision has led to more centralization of decision-making, more of the individual's decision-making being out-sourced to government.
Because the human brain just can't absorb enough information to make sensible decisions for such huge and diverse groups.
So we are trending toward imposing uniformity in order to "manage" (Saturn; Govern) the country.
Because if we can impose enough uniformity on ourselves, we have fewer independent variables to consider when making decisions -- with uniformity, we could keep on using the same old the human government forms we've already invented.
There are cultures that have a continuous history of thousands of years that exalt uniformity and elevate the needs of the many over the needs of the few or the one. For them, totalitarianism in all its plethora of forms works just fine.
For humans totalitarianism and the kind of uniformity that it requires is the only thing we have proven to work in high-density populations for thousands of years.
Generally speaking, over human history, government by totalitarianism or dictatorships or centralized management (the Ancient Chinese are famous for their bureaucracy) usually means government by revolution. The only way to replace decision makers with new ones is by long and bloody wars.
The French Revolution -- off with their heads -- is a grand example, as is the Russian revolution. They had to kill all the aristocrats, but having done that -- the new leaders became aristocrats by a different name.
The Poul Anderson rule of science fiction is that you start inventing your aliens with their evolution and sexuality or reproductive biology. The idea is that human government is a consequence of human reproduction methods.
One new theme might be that the nature of the Soul generates the form of the government.
So create the biology of your aliens, generate their cultures from that biology and/or souls, then from their cultures generate their forms of government.
As long as you keep the paradigm of opposites that your reader lives within, (1st House vs 7th House; 4th House vs 10th House), you will be able to convince your readers that your aliens are Alien, but comprehensible enough to be worth reading about.
The Problem your Characters must solve will then be obvious to you from the pairs of opposites.
For example, if you stand within the Individual, within Yourself, then your Problem is Others. Others can be the public, the spouse, the family including in-laws, the ex-spouse, and anyone you are obliged to.
If you stand within the Home, your Problem is Career. If you stand within Career, your Problem is Home.
4th House is what you need, but its opposite 10th House is what you must do, -- discipline is Saturn, and discipline binds Government (10th House) to Family (4th House).
That astrological paradigm is based on the configuration of our solar system. Aliens might evolve a different paradigm if they originate in a different kind of solar system.
If your Alien system is based on this "tension between opposites -- thwarted by squares" layout of social forces, it will be plausible to your reader when your Earth Human falls in love with an Alien.
Looked at another way, family is the foundation of government (Cancer vs Capricorn -- Moon vs Saturn). They are inimical to each other, but at the same time each contains within itself the seeds of the opposite.
Nurture (Moon) requires Discipline (Saturn). That which you need (Moon) must be limited (Saturn).
Put another way, "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished" -- Nurturing triggers a Saturn backlash.
You can't have everything you want (Moon) just because you want it. Thousands of Romance stories revolve around the ne'er-do-well and attempts to reform him with nurture. Nurture won't reform him -- what will reform him is discipline, Saturn, limitations. You send him to the army and make him a private.
If the problem is Needs/Wants/Desire run wild, you have to create a hierarchy of values, and decide what to give up for what. You can have anything, provided you are willing to give up everything for it. That's Saturn in action.
Does your Alien Solar System have a Saturn?
We call the absence of government "anarchy." But is it if you don't need government?
Many animals on Earth are 'territorial' -- living one per so many square miles of territory and chasing off rivals. Are your aliens territorial? If they live one per solar system, do they actually require 'government' at all?
Note what I pointed out above -- our governmental forms morph in lockstep with our population density. People who live in cities, densely crowded tend to vote for policies that use governmental power to force the more capable to support the less capable. People who live in rural districts tend to vote for policies that prevent government from using force upon them.
How much Territory does a human being need? How many humans must a human have around them? How large does a colony on another planet have to be to survive -- and at that minimal size what kind of government would they choose?
What about humans living among aliens -- how would the humans govern themselves?
I tackled that one in two novels, Molt Brother
and its direct sequel, City of a Million Legends.
Would humans raised among Aliens adopt the alien's government form? Or impose human forms on the Aliens? Or hybridize the two so the Aliens become Alien to their compatriots?
There is a lot of room for original thinking on Government Forms in the newly hybridized field of Alien Romance.