A WAY WITH
YIN AND YANG: UTOPIA DYSTOPIA CORNUCOPIA
By Steven Savage
Archives available at The Way With Worlds Home Page
Once, there were two kingdoms, a very good kingdom, and its neighbor, a very bad kingdom. The people in the good kingdom were happy and nice, the people in the bad kingdom mean and oppressed.
One day, the bad kingdom attacked the good kingdom, and there was a terrible fight. The good king and the bad king finally met in combat.
"I have a question," said the bad king.
"Yes?" the good king asked, raising his sword.
"Why is it our kingdoms are completely different, yet close by? Why is it that we have no similarities and thus fight? Why is it my miserable people conquer your happy people?"
"I don't know," replied the good king.
And both kingdoms vanished in a puff of logic.
Welcome to Yin and Yang, an irregular (read, whenever I have a theme) part of A Way With Worlds. In Yin and Yang, I'll take a look at opposite ideas and extremes in continuities, and how to reconcile them and/or avoid extremes that may damage your continuitys consistency.
And, I think you can guess this column's theme already . . .
MY KINGDOM FOR A
It's one of the most egregious stereotypes ever to show up in fiction; the really nice kingdom/country/planet and the really bad kingdom/country/planet, the fairy land of perfection and the oppressive yet-unstoppable nightmare, next to each other or close. Talk about metaphor all you want, this is a trap that can ruin a good continuity.
It's simple to say there's a Utopia and a dystopia, making it believable is another thing. In fact, honestly, unless you're doing complex political metaphor and analysis, its likely to end up not working.
Where's the flaws? Let's take an analysis of both sides of the situation and common flaws found within.
THE GOOD KINGDOM:
THE EVIL KINGDOM:
Can you reconcile these opposites? Sadly, I think not. Simply defining something as complex as social-political structures is going to create a flawed, unbelievable, and shallow continuity. Simply saying that a Kingdom is good or evil is as much a cop out as saying a person is good or evil - definition is not motivation or background.
There are a few common ways to try and get simply good/evil kingdoms to work:
Don't fall into the simple good/evil trap in defining your societies. It may seem easy or obvious, but for strong continuities, rarely is that easy to pull off. Take the time to build your governments/cultures, and dont fall into the simple good/evil trap.
Recently, I've focused on sites to promote online projects. Now, I'd like to inroduce you to a few that may help you make money.
http://www.themestream.com/ - An article publishing site that lets you get paid for people viewing what you post. Seems orented towards columns and helpful ideas.
http://www.epinions.com/ - A review/advice publishing site. Express yourself, help out, make money.
http://www.iuniverse.com/ - Easy publishing in a bottle. A newer venture in making publishing more accessible to people, more author-oriented, and more print-on-demand focused. Worth a look. I'm keeping an eye on this one in the future!