Depiction Part 16
Depicting Political Disruption From China To Today
Jacqueline LichtenbergPrevious posts in the Depiction series are indexed here:
This post has two titles because I have two books to review which are perfect examples of an article which discusses a non-fiction book.
We have discussed in Parts 19 and 20 of Marketing Fiction In A Changing World how non-fiction writing is the mainstay of a professional writer's income.
Now, if you have many contracts for fiction novels coming in, as many mass market Romance Writers do, you can't dabble on the side in writing non-fiction. There's no time or strength. But even when selling fiction, you have to read a lot of non-fiction. Romance writers and science fiction writers do a lot of research reading. If you are writing the hybridized field of Science Fiction Romance, that is more than double the amount of non-fiction reading per novel produced.
Some writers shun reading fiction while writing fiction -- so as not to be "influenced." Others gobble up books in the field they are writing in.
But no matter how you go about doing it, your fiction must connect the reader's real world with some less tangible world -- an ideal world, a future world, an alternate reality, or just artistic imagination.
Connecting layers of reality and imaginary perception is what writers do, in fiction or non-fiction. Readers most enjoy experiencing connections they haven't found for themselves, yet.
So today let's look at some science fiction and some fantasy that depicts political disruption by using Romance.
In April, 2016, Fortune Magazine posted the following article:
This Ancient Chinese Text Is the Manual for Business Disruptors by Michael Puett , Christine Gross-Loh APRIL 11, 2016, 8:00 AM EDT
Michael Puett and Christine Gross-Loh are the authors of The Path: What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us about the Good Life (Simon & Schuster, 2016)
The article starts out:
And no, it’s not Sun Tzu’s “Art of War.”
When disruption became the rallying cry for innovators a decade ago, they seized on ancient work of Chinese philosophy to prove their point. In Sun-Tzu’s Art of War, a new class of business disrupters claimed to have found the original manual.
They were right about ancient Chinese philosophy, but wrong about the manual.
As it turns out, another text from China, the Laozi, actually offers a much more expansive—and revolutionary—vision of innovation.
That’s why those who aspire to innovate are better off seeing the world through a Laozian, not Sunzian, lens. If life is like a game of chess, Sunzians concentrate all their effort towards winning in a situation in which the board, the pieces, and the opponent are immutable. Laozian innovators know the chessboard can be tipped over at any moment. So they shift to another game entirely without anyone even realizing what is being changed.
Read the whole article if you can because explaining these two views of "disruption" can give you a deeper understanding of the world your reader lives in. The writer's business is explaining the reader's world to the reader.
Now here are two books (both plotted around super-hot Romance) -- both in series -- one blatant military science fiction genre by Jack Campbell, the other equally blatant Fantasy by Marshall Ryan Maresca -- each depicting Political Disruption in such a way that the reader can recognize and relate to the Disruption Forces driving today's headlines.
The first book I want to draw to your attention, the latest in a long series, is by the New York Times Bestselling writer, Jack Campbell.
The Lost Stars: Shattered Spear by Jack Campbell ...
... is the 4th title in the Lost Stars series, but The Lost Stars is in the same universe, with the same characters, as 11 previous titles, 6 in Campbell's The Lost Fleet series, and 5 in The Lost Fleet: Beyond The Frontier series.
This series is huge in scope, depicting the clash of two human civilizations in a 100 year war that hammers both of them to flat out desperation.
It turns out that this 100 year war is the result of non-humans (very alien aliens? - we don't know because nobody's ever seen them) playing a very human game of "Let's You And Him Fight."
Games People Play is so "disruptive" and currently interesting that it was reissued in a variety of modern formats in 2011
So taken as a whole, this 15 novel set by Jack Campbell accurately depicts a group of interstellar civilizations from the Chinese Laozian innovators' point of view.
This is accomplished rather neatly by introducing the rapidly changing political variables of these civilizations from the point of view of a man who grasps and understands 3-D interstellar war fleet combat in .
THE LOST FLEET part of the series gradually walks the reader through changing from a point of view to a Laozian point of view. The main Character, Black Jack, has an unconscious bias for the Laozian method of problem solving. The other characters, who have failed to understand that Constants are actually Variables, can't stop him from disrupting their 100 year war.
The Beyond The Frontier part of the series follows other characters who ride Black Jack's wave of disruption out beyond the borders that have been considered Constants and there they discover and bring back data about what is really going on.
You may remember me talking about The Alien Series by Gini Koch (here with me in the background)
and my delight at how Gini's main character figures out "what is really going on" --- which she does by applying the Laozian innovator's problem solving methodology.
Alien In Chief is the 12th and not the last in this Series.
In the Lost Stars series, Jack Campbell shows, without telling, how those whose lives have been disrupted by Black Jack's victories, now rebuild the shattered civilization into a new model, a little bit more of a democracy (but not too much, you understand). They are forming alliances and stabilizing thing among the stars in their region of the galaxy.
The Lost Stars sub-series has a genuine Romance story-arc beautifully blended and balanced with long, long descriptions of space battles. The space battles are long because they are realistic -- it takes a long time to maneuver whole fleets traveling at measurable fractions of the speed of light.
Doing the unexpected, (disrupting expectations) is the key to battle success, in the Romance story, the Battle Plot, and the Political Machinations. These books form a poetic example of the Laozian view of the universe.
Marshall Ryan Maresca's THE ALCHEMY OF CHAOS...
...is a Fantasy series incorporating a School of Magic campus, a former Circus Performer, a Drug Cartel (or two), and a social fabric straining under Laozian Innovation and the ultimate Disruption.
The Alchemy of Chaos is the direct sequel to The Thorn of Dentonhill, which I also loved.
In The Alchemy of Chaos we see the Romance between the main character and a real kick-ass-heroine heat up to dominate the action-plot.
The venue is the Magic School's campus plus the surrounding business and residential district (dominated by street gangs manipulated by organized crime).
It is a wheels-within-wheels world where the Circus Performer-Mage Student is The Disruptor, solving his personal problems by understanding how Constants are actually potential-variables. Being young, he thinks (Sorcerer's Apprentice style), that he is in control of all those disrupted constants he is trying to vary.
The author obviously has much more to say about disrupting nice, quiet, reliable constants when you are so absolutely (20-something-year-old) certain you are in complete control of the results.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the Maradaine novels, for me, is the Romance and how true love, true soul mates, come together to deal with unexpected chaos together.
Emergency Crisis Management is one of the major, core topics of all Romance but is especially relevant to plotting the Science Fiction Romance, or perhaps especially the Fantasy/Paranormal Romance.
In the Maradaine novels, Maresca has shown how a civilization might treat Magic and Science as separate topics that can not be mixed -- only to discover that they are not so separate.
So take all the Jack Campbell titles together with, interwoven with, the Maresca titles, do an in depth contrast and compare among those, then review the Chinese Philosophy discussed in that Fortune Magazine article.
There is, of course, much more to say and write about Disruptors. The most devastating chaos always results from Soul Mates finding each other. The best case scenario is that the chaos might be just transient, and stability might ensue. Then again, it might be a hundred year war.
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