How the GOP Has Made Villainy Easier

Without warning, my friend Prubius launched into a lecture on the Mitasterites. “Well,” he started, “the short version is that they have so completely carved up their own planet and their own species. That caste system they have is one example. By the socioeconomic view, forty-three percent of Mitasterites now fall into the three strata below the slave line, and another thirty-one percent are stuck in the so-called Mighty Mid group. These people never eat tuna steak or travel off-planet. Our own soldiers live like princes by comparison. The caste system keeps people where they are. Everything serves industry, there.”

-from Endgame (Woman at War 1)

 

When I was crafting the backstory for Endgame–as the narrative takes place within the context of a war–I knew I needed texture and credibility for the ‘bad guys.’ The Mitasterites couldn’t just be cardboard cutouts to shoot at and run from. Even though they don’t much chance to show personality in Endgame (other than ruthless behavior, such as offering up 1,500 boys as sniper-fodder for propaganda) they still needed to be real enough to me.

These days, it’s very easy to look around and find a model for bad behavior: The GOP. Most everything they have done or opposed (under President Obama) has signaled a cold indifference to individual’s lives (those beneath a certain tax bracket, at least).

[I’m not so typically one-sided, to be honest. The GOP and conservatives used to represent ideals and views that made for healthy debate. Not anymore.]

The party may be on a regrettable road to fascism (yes, look at the latest tax-code revision, if you doubt it) and the leadership harbors a worrisome far-right view. (Bigotry, xenophobia and pandering to extremist views, to name a few.) They’ve made it easy. My fictional Mitasterites are just much farther down that road: Disregard for the majority of individuals–and the environment–in favor of a military-industrial complex which ultimately pursues wealth through aggression. For really, in the modern world, what is war? Nations may squabble over borders and ideological views. In a universe where a party has its own planet, border disputes and threat don’t really wash. So the government has to crank up the propaganda machine and conjure another set of excuses to conceal the truth: Somebody wants to make a lot of money. Human (or Mitasterite) cost is immaterial.

While this draws a lot of parallels from the vast armies of WWII (the buildup, the extreme nationalism, the inevitability) it also allows for plenty of internal fighting. Naturally, not everyone just gets in line with evil intentions. So heroine June Vereeth’s surprise new boss in Destruction is an admiral who has defected from the Mitasterite ranks. Tohk-Mahsda, a middle-aged woman, is utterly furious with her home-world and the government which has taken over. She’s not alone, of course.

It isn’t difficult to imagine her anger, her feelings of betrayal. How would a government–or political party–choose to sell the lie that they want more than serfdom for three-quarters of the population? When the desires of wealthy oligarchs outweigh the needs of the overwhelming majority, and institutions of scientific fact and free press and environmental stewardship are trampled and disregarded?

If the Mitasterites (or those WWII armies) are at the far-right end of the spectrum, what’s uphill and sliding down toward them?

Justin Edison's Destruction, second in the Woman at War series, will be out in 2018.

Endgame cover by Greg Simanson Designs. Cover shows characters, rockets and a woman's eye against a green-ice background and twin suns, orange lettering. "The war begins" is added at the top.

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They way a number of creative brains work–speaking from personal experience–is that doing something unrelated to the creative process can provide the burst, the spark, the breakthrough. I don’t know the science behind it. Maybe it’s immersing oneself in mundane activity that forces the brain to go for a romp in fantasy-land.

I had one of these gem-finding moments while I was at Camp Hamilton with my son’s school last week. As one of the cooks, I was tired (early mornings in the kitchen) and I’d gone back to my cabin alone for a de-groggifying shower before the dinner prep started. Sitting there, showered and dressed and barefoot (painful foot issues set aside, for a spell) in a musty-smelling cabin in the woods, without a single item of technology in sight, I had a thought about technology. That’s a little counter-intuitive, isn’t it?

Sleeping bags, trees, breeze, pine needles, dusty windows, dirty laundry piles (four cabin-mates), distant screams of occupied middle-school kids, a bit of cellophane litter outside–and I have a thought about a digital sharpshooter’s scope? How does that compute?

Red lights from bank of walkie-talkies at Camp Hamilton lodge

The item I thought of, for the second book in my Woman at War series, is a pattern-recognition capability for my heroine’s rifle. It would be an expensive piece of tech, to be sure, and I’m willing to bet we (or someone) has something similar in the works, now. (In the story, June Vereeth would use the enhanced scope to target incoming aerial assault vehicles. A tri-layer crosshairs image, in four quadrants, would help the user re-acquire a fast-moving target.)

Whether any of this technology would work out for “Destruction” remains to be seen. The story is, after all, what I imagine warfare might look like in a couple hundred years. (Small victory: I won’t be around to be proven wrong, ultimately.)

Red lights from bank of walkie-talkies at Camp Hamilton lodge

I wrote much of the snowbound first book, “Endgame,” while in sunny San Diego. Palm trees and surf–and I’m trying to figure out how my heroes might survive in an ice cave. I’ve also penned fantasy scenes (for Doublesight shape-shifters and ogres) while sitting in my parked minivan, waiting for kids to get out of martial arts or piano lessons.

Somehow, it all works. Although it may drive my wife crazy when I pause from doing dishes to pen a note, I’ll keep doing it. I know I’m super-lucky. There’s a reason I don’t go anywhere without pen and paper, these days. Inspiration is everywhere.

Red lights from bank of walkie-talkies at Camp Hamilton lodge

A bank of walkie-talkies waiting overnight for owners, Discover Lodge, Camp Hamilton with EAS.