Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Knowledgable Castaway

One of the staples of speculative fiction is the ‘modern’ individual thrown into a primitive culture, where he or she wows the natives with advanced knowledge and technology. Well — it used to be a staple. Not so much now, but it’s still around, appearing mostly in not-so-good attempts at fantasy or sci-fi novels. It smacks a bit too much of cultural chauvinism today, maybe.

But we might question whether that individual would actually be able to change the society into which he is thrown. I do think that cultures don’t change until they are ready; a printing press is useless in a world where no one reads, and that goes for pretty much any other advance one might attempt to introduce. It’s a matter of economics, in part. There is also the question of whether our modern individual would actually know how to make any of those items we take for granted.

My own Malvern/Mora books revolve around castaways (vintage 1914) thrown into a less-advanced world. They do introduce a few innovations, it is true, and it is not so much that some of them know how to make things but that they know things can be made. That’s at least half the battle, knowing what the end goal is! One, finding himself in a trade center where all goods are carried about in baskets on people’s backs, decides they need wheelbarrows and experiments — with the backing of the local leader — with developing one. There is little more in the way of modern technology introduced.

On the other hand, there are subtle influences on such practices as archery and fishing. In every case, the Mora people are ready for such things — and they take these things and run with them, creating their own innovations. But they are the ones who know how to do things in their own world; there are going to be no radical differences introduced from outside. There will be no ‘white saviors.’

In related news, I am working on plotting/outlining (and even writing a little) on the third book of the Mora Trilogy (which followed the Malvern Trilogy set in the same world). This one will be called ‘Woman of the Sky’ and focuses on/is narrated by Rahiniti, the titular woman. She has been the common factor of the trilogy, but was a secondary character in the first two novels. Now she moves to center stage to complete the sequence.

There may be more Mora novels down the line, maybe another trilogy, but that is way down the to-do list. Lots of other books need my attention first!

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