Post-America

What would a divided America look like?

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Post-America

#1  Postby ackmanben1988 » May 28, 2019 2:54 am

So I wanna write a novel (or series of novels) on a post-American world where we have no national government and America is divided into several different countries. Couple this with a revolutionary turned dictator who seeks to unite these different countries into the United States again.

What do you think this world would look like? How many countries would there be? Who would come out on top if a war broke out? What would the military and economy and political system of these countries look like?


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Readers beware this thread contains various versions of the OP and at least 2 different versions of the same thread. [kiore
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Re: Post-America

#2  Postby Blackadder » May 28, 2019 7:19 am

So you want us to do the thinking for you? Do we get royalties?
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Re: Post-America

#3  Postby Keep It Real » May 28, 2019 7:32 am

America = the world? Whoda thunk.
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Re: Post-America

#4  Postby Cito di Pense » May 28, 2019 7:50 am

ackmanben1988 wrote:So I wanna write a novel (or series of novels) on a post-American world where we have no national government and America is divided into several different countries. Couple this with a revolutionary turned dictator who seeks to unite these different countries into the United States again.

What do you think this world would look like? How many countries would there be? Who would come out on top if a war broke out? What would the military and economy and political system of these countries look like?



Blast from the past, eh? I remember you, Ben, even if you don't. Knock yourselves out.

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ackmanben wrote:Let's assume (for the sake of exploration) that there is something to this notion of God--or a "higher power", as its called. Could God be anything other than the concept we're traditionally used to, as in the "old man in the sky" perception? And in a way that appeals to logic and rationale? Interested to hear your thoughts on this.
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Re: Post-America

#5  Postby Alan C » May 28, 2019 8:22 am

I was going to suggest plagiarising Fallout canon but good catch. Looks like some socks were left in the dryer.
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Re: Post-America

#6  Postby Spearthrower » May 28, 2019 9:07 am

ackmanben1988 wrote:So I wanna write a novel (or series of novels)...


I think the first comment by Blackadder was spot on: I am not sure how you could be conceiving of writing one novel, let alone a series of novels, where you're unclear on the basic setting of the world you want to build for action to take place in.

To be blunt, stories aren't about well-crafted worlds (a mistake a lot of people make), but about protagonist transformations, flawed characters, fraught relationships, pacey plots, and enlightening themes.

I'd recommend starting there rather than contriving dry socio-political scenarios which might eventually be inhabited by a story.
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Re: Post-America

#7  Postby tuco » May 28, 2019 9:08 am

Without the USA the balance of power would shift indeed. Depends which way you wanna go but Russian or Chinese threat would probably be most believable for readers. I would start with studying history. There is no need to reinvent the wheel so to say. To paraphrase A. Einstein, the secret to creativity is to hide sources.

---
edit: if you wanna go really wild, something like United Arabs would also probably resonate ;) Or perhaps even wilder United Africans but for that, the novel would need elements of sci-fi.
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Re: Post-America

#8  Postby Cito di Pense » May 28, 2019 10:24 am

tuco wrote:Without the USA the balance of power would shift indeed. Depends which way you wanna go but Russian or Chinese threat would probably be most believable for readers. I would start with studying history. There is no need to reinvent the wheel so to say. To paraphrase A. Einstein, the secret to creativity is to hide sources.

---
edit: if you wanna go really wild, something like United Arabs would also probably resonate ;) Or perhaps even wilder United Africans but for that, the novel would need elements of sci-fi.


All over the globe, it seems, voters are fantasizing about an end to the status quo. And then what? They don't have a clue. These are folks for whom life is like a permanent Groundhog Day. "Anything different is good."

tuco wrote:To paraphrase A. Einstein, the secret to creativity is to hide sources.


It's not always worth the extra effort. JK Rowling is a billionaire.
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Re: Post-America

#9  Postby tuco » May 28, 2019 10:50 am

Franz Kafka wrote:Every revolution evaporates and leaves behind only the slime of a new bureaucracy.
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Re: Post-America

#10  Postby Cito di Pense » May 28, 2019 10:53 am

tuco wrote:
Franz Kafka wrote:Every revolution evaporates and leaves behind only the slime of a new bureaucracy.


Yabut. Pete Townshend made it rock.
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Re: Post-America

#11  Postby SafeAsMilk » May 28, 2019 11:49 am

As Alan C pointed out, exactly what you're describing already exists and is called "Fallout".
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Re: Post-America

#12  Postby tuco » May 28, 2019 12:00 pm

Fallout is post-apocalyptic and post-nuclear, unlike post-America.

---
edit: then again, it is perhaps what would be needed for post-America to be believable ;) like The Postman. Nothing can destroy the United States but an apocalypse!
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Re: Post-America

#13  Postby Macdoc » May 28, 2019 12:39 pm

The British Empire thought the same - the Brits are still smarting
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Re: Post-America

#14  Postby Tortured_Genius » May 28, 2019 12:46 pm

Try reading some of Neal Stephenson's stuff (specifically The Diamond Age or Cryptonomicon). This scenario has been used a lot in SF literature and doesn't necessarily involve an apocalypse!
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Re: Post-America

#15  Postby Macdoc » May 28, 2019 12:46 pm

Call it The North and have the entire now ice free circumpolar nations as one state with the rest cooking with climate change and sea level rise,

Image

They came slowly - trickling up the waterways from the melting arcologies in the south, there were no roads of course in the boreal wilderness and the ice roads of the past were only a generational memory.
Viking culture had re-emerged so raids on the remains of the high tech societies were something those trying to keep dying societies intact ......those unwilling to adopt Inuit, Lapp, Yakuts, Tingli, Cree and other indigenous peoples that had kept their survival ability intact fell prey quickly.....
Military holdouts in Alaska and Russian regions were failing without supplies from the south and Greenland not yet fertile tho with a greatly diminished ice cap
Solar panels were prised raid items.........


We should have a group write here for the first chapter....
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Re: Post-America

#16  Postby tuco » May 28, 2019 1:19 pm

While OP did not ask for it, s/he needs to get to post-America first. Only then s/he can tell a story about it. Both Fallout and The Postman lacked let's say global dimensions and were able to get away with it simply because the settings were post-apocalyptic and to an extend post-technological. The world today is global, however, so I would think unless s/he wants to go for post-apocalyptics scenario, this fact should not be ignored, even if the novel was aimed at the US audience.
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Re: Post-America

#17  Postby Cito di Pense » May 28, 2019 2:47 pm

tuco wrote:While OP did not ask for it, s/he needs to get to post-America first.


No. What the OP needs to do is justify why a proposal for a speculative fiction is being discussed as Politics and Current Affairs. Given what you know about this poster, how likely is it that this thread is really not just pulling your leg, and probably your third leg, at that? IOW, why lie about wanting to write a novel, if somebody really just wants to raise paranoid hackles about the dissolution of the US?

But, let's go with it. I recall a song title from the punk era: California Über Alles. Remember? Those were the folks that gave us Holiday in Cambodia.
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Re: Post-America

#18  Postby Spearthrower » May 28, 2019 3:09 pm

tuco wrote:While OP did not ask for it, s/he needs to get to post-America first. Only then s/he can tell a story about it.



You linked to my post where it says:

To be blunt, stories aren't about well-crafted worlds (a mistake a lot of people make)...


Assuming the OP has a story to tell, then where it's set is something that can be achieved later. Spending time crafting meticulous worlds is the creative development equivalent of tidying your room first, doing a spot of shopping, alphabetizing your CD collection... it's no good having a beautiful world uninhabited by stories, but a good story will happily take root wherever it's planted.
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Re: Post-America

#19  Postby Thommo » May 28, 2019 3:31 pm

I think I dissent from that. There are ingredients of different books, such as clever, layered or intricate plots, evocative or detailed descriptions, interesting characters (whether unique or archetypal) and the mixture and relative importance of those ingredients depends on the writer and genre and how well received they are depends on the reader.

The Lord of the Rings is all about its setting, it's not a story you could tell in the urban modern world. The best parts of the discworld novels are the setting and the humour. Shogun is about a clash of cultures at a particular moment in history. One of the best characters in Morse is the city of Oxford (and its evirons) itself.

The Wheel of Time sold phenomenally well despite having paper thin characters for the most part, and is beloved by millions. Not by the same millions who might enjoy down to Earth fiction, thrillers or murder mysteries for sure, but their taste cannot be disregarded.

Certainly "good" characters (plot, story, use of language, pacing, structure or whatever other ingredient you might name) will always be better than "weak" characters, but no one ingredient cannot be put front and centre if that's what the writer wants. It doesn't have to be story, it doesn't have to be plot, it doesn't have to be characters.

A good story can populate a thousand worlds and a good world can be populated by a thousand stories. A writer might come up with a story, mood or message to write about, then characters to act out the story, and then last flesh out the world, or they might do exactly the reverse, come up with a rich world, populate it with deep characters with their own objectives, ideas and conflicts and follow the characters to map out a story. Or they might do something else. Successful writers describe doing things in every possible permutation of these main ingredients and their order of implementation.

As far as the OP goes I tend to think much along the lines of earlier posts. It's lazy and pointless to expect other people to create a setting for you, creativity should come from within and the question is far too broad. "Post-America" could be The Man in the High Castle, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Judge Dredd, Fallout, 1984, Star Trek or any one of a hundred others which have almost nothing in common. It's not a setting, or even an outline of one. It's a single descriptor of a million billion possible ideas for a setting.
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Re: Post-America

#20  Postby Spearthrower » May 28, 2019 4:08 pm

Thommo wrote:I think I dissent from that. There are ingredients of different stories, such as clever, layered or intricate plots, evocative or detailed descriptions, interesting characters (whether unique or archetypal) and the mixture and important of those ingredients depends on the writer and genre and how well received they are depends on the reader.


That may be true, but it's not how you go about developing a story. Approaching story like that is akin to playing a board game: you set up all the pieces first and follow the rules. That ends up tangling you in knots later when your plot or character needs to do something that's not a permissible move. It's a bit like the Christian omni-everything God being able to contrive any universe comprised of any elements, but then getting constrained by the laws 'he' supposedly created and not being able to break them. You need to be building the world to suit the story rather than trying to contrive a story to fit the world you created. Ideally, it all happens concurrently.


Thommo wrote:The Lord of the Rings is all about its setting, it's not a story you could tell in the urban modern world.


I disagree with that most ardently, not least because LOTR is just a Golden Fleece story, retold squillions of times both before and after Tolkien - in fact, probably the most common of all story types. The setting is the genre and so comprises the kind of stuff you see (orcs and nazghul), but the actual story could be told in any setting; historical, modern, futuristic or sci-fi - the dressing may change, but a sound story would work in any setting.


Thommo wrote: The best parts of the discworld novels are the setting and the humour.


The Discworld setting is really just humour too though as a way for Pratchett to poke fun at our world's history and institutions; it's certainly fun, but then the point of the Discworld is that the rules are explicitly there to be broken whether it's Death taking on an apprentice so he can indulge in tomfoolery, or witches subverting stories to effect desired ends.


Thommo wrote:The Wheel of Time sold phenomenally well despite having paper thin characters for the most part, and is beloved by millions. Not by the same millions who might enjoy down to Earth fiction, thrillers or murder mysteries for sure, but their taste cannot be disregarded.


Perhaps, but this doesn't argue the contrary - the same story could be told in other settings: sure, it would need tweaks in terms of props, dressing and environments more applicable to another setting, but the same progression of events, same motives, same threat, same themes etc. could easily be transplanted to any other setting and adapted to that. I'm currently working on a sci-fi Romeo & Juliet in a world inhabited by plants and robots (don't ask! :lol: ), for example. Same basic story; star-crossed lovers, feuding families, forbidden love, sacrifice results in familial rapprochement etc but absolutely not set in 14th Century Verona.


Thommo wrote:Certainly "good" characters (plot, story, use of language, pacing, structure or whatever other ingredient you might name) will always be better than "weak" characters, but no one ingredient cannot be put front and centre if that's what the writer wants.


You can't put world-building front and centre because that's not a story, it's just a canvas. No one's going to buy a book comprised of a fabulously well crafted world that contains no story elements. This is honestly where the majority of people go wrong when it comes to creative development: they'll spend ages drawing maps and populating the spaces with unique cultures and languages and then all they have after months and years of effort is at best a scenario of a world that doesn't exist.


Thommo wrote: It doesn't have to be story, it doesn't have to be plot, it doesn't have to be characters.


I have to note here that we're talking about the development of story and how to go about it - the outcome is something that happens after the development process. Ideally, you'd be working the story, plot, themes, characters and world setting all through the development process; you can't start with the latter and work just on that because it needs to aid and support all the rest. You can, however, start with the story, characters, themes etc and then build a world around them.


Thommo wrote:As far as the OP goes I tend to think much along the lines of earlier posts. It's lazy and pointless to expect other people to create a setting for you, creativity should come from within and the question is far too broad. "Post-America" could be The Man in the High Castle, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Judge Dredd, Fallout, 1984, Star Trek or any one of a hundred others which have almost nothing in common. It's not a setting, or even an outline of one. It's a single descriptor of a million billion possible ideas for a setting.


Agreed. Instead, it should be technical - if X, then what would Y be? But you can't be asking people to supply X - if they're going to do that, then they'll write their own novels and profit from their ideas.
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