Angel One

A Star Trek: TNG episode titled, Angel One is an example of the type of episode that struggles with a moral and social dilemma. Characteristic of this type it is suspense driven, with characters facing grave danger (which is an excellent tool too enhance your sense of moral outrage); in this case a sentence of death awaits merchant spacers and the indigenous woman of a matriarchal regime with whom they fall in love.

From ST:TNG’s first season it stars Patricia McPherson of Knight Rider, and I believe a member of the 1988 Men’s Gymnastic Team; as a member of that elite and a spouse of the same, any fan will find the story intriguing. However, in classic Roddenberry tradition it is episodic. The problems must be solved in an hour (or brought to life in the least, so the locals can work it out) and then they move on to the next adventure. This naturally leaves little time for worldbuilding, of the stem culture (i.e. the Federation) much less those that they come in contact with.

This is a perfect example of a culture that could be expanded. First, what could have led to a society where human or humanoid females are dominant? The answer would certainly have to be biological, although not necessarily physical. Suppose, that these females had the ability to emit pheromones at a level that amounted to mind control (fine tuning hormone levels to command specific responses with the aid of only the most basic verbal cues). This alone might suffice, but also imagine the capability for reproductive control, such as voluntary miscarriages and organic or artificial embryonic and fetal transfer.

What sort of society does this lead to? In the case of reproductive control, natural reproductive control would require us to rework the alien species from the very human aliens in the episode. Does the production of the male sex cell require the ingestion of food that lead to small bodies, yet are agile and active to chase their fleet prey and perchance the female diet consists of large and dangerous catch necessitating a need to control one’s reproductive cycle to maximize the numbers in a hunting party and leading possibly to a neuter gender for child care (John Dalmas’s Soldiers envisions such a species as does TNG in a later season). Also the ability to control the males in such a threat heavy environment will enhance species survival.

If this were to be done artificially, then would we be looking at mechanical devices, chemical and genetic alteration or some combination of all three. Political upheaval could lead to this, especially if a repressive patriarchy were overthrown. It may be accomplished by a drug regime given to key and influential figures to control them. Women may start taking advantage of and increase research strenuously in the area of reproductive health to close the career gap, that child rearing inevitably leads to. They may also see fit to genetically or mechanically engineer caretakers to free themselves up to rule.

Watch the episode and give the old mental muscles a stretch would you. Until then see you out there.





Worldbuilding 101

One of the many important aspects of storytelling is world building. When done properly they can evolve into a tome or volume of their own. Simply think of your favorite author who released a sourcebook or atlas of some sort after completing a nine part epic saga. More likely than not the bulk of this was finished before the first novel went to the publisher. Also just as likely, many revisions as well as additions are made after completion. However, the fact remains worldbuilding is essential.
Take this into consideration, it is better to have more information than you need than less. After all you can always leave out details as you wish. Another factor to take into consideration is your story must make sense. If a dwarven army is on the march, you should know how long it would take to get to their destination
(if only to determine whether to elapse the journey or describe it in detail). In order to accomplish this, you should have a basic map (with bodies of water, settlements and other landmarks) to show what they’ll encounter along the way. A detailed topographical map isn’t necessary, but it will help as will meteorological data (if you once described an area as rainy,it won’t due to have characters dying of thirst; unless a warlock thought that was the perfect place to cast a drought spell as characters might forego carrying excess water). Knowing your world will explain the actions of your characters. More importantly,it will allow you to explain these actions to yourself, allowing you to plot (strong hint) the path they will take in a way they could realistically be expected to behave.
Once the physical environment has been chosen, you can now tackle the cultural and political and economic aspects. The physical environment determines what sort of people thrive and this will determine culture and invariably religion. Take Presbyterianism, started in Switzerland and the Confederation of the Rhine, it is a denomination that speaks to the mountain peoples of the world and quickly spread to Scotland and now has many adherents in Korea as well. It stresses hard work and that man is deserving of little, a fine survival tactic where the terrain is rugged and the resources sparse. Furthermore, the isolated nature of the Scottish Highlands led to a proud and independent clan culture. A culture which would give rise to a kingdom that would be absorbed by and a driving force behind the military might of the British Empire. A similar phenomenon would occur in Korea, after Japanese occupation the Korean military culture would transform that of Japan leading to the adoption of the curved sword. The only difference between a gum and a katana is that the former is inscribed in Korean and the latter in Japanese. Swiss pikemen from the independent canons would not only fight off the Austrian Empire, but would also determine the fate of kingdoms selling their services as mercenaries. Their austere lifestyles allowed them to be disciplined soldiers and likely led to the large amount of capital in their banks to this day (both the ability to earn and save).
I hope this has illustrated the benefits of world building. I will post more on this topic at a later date. I am also available, to design a world for you, e-mail for a quote.