1. David Perkins
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    David Perkins New Member

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    A Discovery worth killing for, worth going to war for...

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by David Perkins, May 7, 2014.

    So this is akin to my conspiracy question, the thread for which helped with this thought path.

    After constructing the universe my story will be set in, I've decided that some kind of discovery should be the catalyst for a government coverup, high profile assassination, and cause to go to war with a neighboring territory.

    To clarify, this discovery should be something archeological, scientific in nature. Something we might discover out in space. Something that could give an extreme advantage to whomever possessed it.

    Would anyone have any thoughts on what this type of discovery might be? I'm hoping to exclude "supernatural" type things. AND, if i can manage, I would like to keep aliens out of it, however, I've thought that perhaps discovery of aliens could be the Discovery. But I'm not sure how that would be cause to go to war with someone...

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. HelloThere
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    HelloThere Contributing Member

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    There's always the cliche of the "Ancient Ones" or the "One's who came before" who for some reason leave behind an artifact of their technology, and its never a billion year old coffee machine is it? It's always a weapon of mass destruction that will eradicate everything in its path when the looney bad guys get a hold of it - personally I think this is quite a neat idea but it's been done by Halo and Mass Effect and no doubt a few others.

    People normally start wars over resources, so some sort of valuable material? Something that's vital to life in space and it's slowly running out?

    Other than that, some sort of human (alien) rights atrocity? Like when big corporations are revealed to be using child labour in a foreign country and everyone gets briefly pissed about it. I'm not sure that'd be a reason for a war by itself but it could be a large part of the equation.

    @Wreybies posted the other day that sci-fi that takes place in the future (and any sci-fi) is about exploring issues in the present, so research modern history, look at examples of corrupt governments and see what sort of thing they've been going to war over.
     
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  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Well, I don't like coming up with other people's stories for them, but what about a pharmaceutical that is highly addictive, with high mortality in withdrawal, that makes people susceptible to suggestion.
     
  4. Jetshroom
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    Jetshroom Active Member

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    Without knowing more about your story, I don't know how much help we can be, but:
    Don't governments normally cover up government mistakes? Like, oops, we just supplied a nation full of terrorists with piles of our own weapons, better not tell the voters!

    Does the war have to be between rival territories, or could it be a civil war? Perhaps a separatist faction discovered an illegal government testing site. Or perhaps a war between rival political parties, and the high profile assassination was of one of the leaders.

    Does the war need to have a reason beyond the voter turnout?
     
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  5. Caeben
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    Caeben Member

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    This isn't what you're going for, but your question made me think of Tom Clancy's Red Storm Rising. The USSR decides to preemptively attack the West before the West discovers that the Russians had just suffered crippling damage to their oil and natural gas industry. The Russians believed that without a doubt the West would hold them hostage in this moment of weakness and go to war to secure the resources they believe are necessary to survive.
     
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  6. Morristreet
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    Morristreet Member

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    The long sought after unobtanium element, or a mineral that, previously thought to be mythical, turns out to be real, but only in one location. The mineral that can allow for cheap controlled fusion, or some other dramatic power source. Energy, and the control over energy is also a powerful thing that a government would want to keep the lid on, and control, especially if it can give them an edge over other governments.
     
  7. Ben414
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    Ben414 Contributing Member Contributor

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    A country has finally found out what is black and blue and "red" all over!
     
  8. David Perkins
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    David Perkins New Member

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    I like the idea of human atrocities as a catalyst. I've spoken with some people and came up with the idea of a discovery that leads to faster than light travel. As it stand right now, my universe requires jump gates, which if I assume everyone only has near light travel, take decades and even centuries to set up.

    So that causes me some time line trouble, but I can work with it. Especially since I've wanted to add genetic engineering to the story, ie. humans now live much longer.. 180-200 years on average.

    Now I realize that if we stick completely to science fact there are all kinds of problems with all of this space travel stuff. But what could be the implications to the STORY and logic of the story, if mankind has to use jump gates that only go to certain places and then all of the sudden a nation discovers faster than light travel?

    How could those mechanics work?

    Also, I have begun researching current/past human atrocities and international relations to help guide the conspiracy and cause for war.

    A big obstacle for me is my extreme lack of political knowledge. I've never really been one to concern myself with it so this aspect of my story is proving quite difficult.
     
  9. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    If you sail up the East River from New York Bay, you pass under two bridges in succession that link Brooklyn to the island of Manhattan. The first is the Brooklyn Bridge, designed by John Augustus Roebling, widely regarded as one of the most aesthetically pleasing bridges in the world. The second is the Manhattan Bridge, an unremarkable structure known, if at all, for the fact that subway trains run over it. It was designed by committee.

    Quality fiction, like a quality bridge, is not designed by committee. You may get some suggestions here, but they are not helping you because until you learn to answer these questions yourself, you will not be able to fully tell your story.

    Good luck.
     
  10. Ben414
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    Ben414 Contributing Member Contributor

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    In regards to international relations, the two main theories used now by Western countries post-WW II are realism and liberalism.

    Realism basically states that countries base their foreign policy to best improve their own relative power, since the international system is anarchical and they are endangered by every other country. Countries build their military might and amass resources so that they can threaten other countries or go to war with other countries to best secure their own survival and power.

    Liberalism basically states that countries base their foreign policy around pushing for liberalism and democracy. Free trade between countries produces an economic dependence of each state on the other. From this, war is disincentivized because any country going to war would also be hurting itself economically. War will still happen between liberal democratic states and non-liberal democratic states because there is no economic dependence.

    I'm not sure if this is of use to you, but it might help you in brainstorming ideas for discoveries that would have broad foreign policy implications.
     
  11. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    An ancient artifact capable of creating infinite clean, cost free energy. It just needs to be plugged into the grid.

    But there's only one.
     
  12. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    It doesn't have to be anything tangible or technological. Just knowing your neighbor might have a treasure is enough for some people to kill for.

    Have you ever heard the song "One Tin Soldier" ?
     
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  13. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    But the maybe doesn't make for good storytelling in my opinion. Then it could just be a random invasion story. But if you state that there's something very valuable in that other country.....
     
  14. Aled James Taylor
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    Aled James Taylor Contributing Member Contributor

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    You could have a government cover up where the officials doing the covering up don't even know what the secret is. You could then have loads of rumors and speculation. There is a saying; 'the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing'. When it comes to governments, sometimes the right hand doesn't even know that there is such a thing as a left hand.
     
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  15. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's what I think happens now. Our government does some nasty stuff, and if everyone knew what everyone did, it'd be bad.
     
  16. MLM
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    MLM Banned for trolling

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    Hamburger Earmuffs?
     
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  17. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you're looking for some lost knowledge on faster than light travel, the easiest way out is to find some lost research on the creation of warp bubbles (I know warp drive sounds Star Trekky but the concept is actually being researched now). The question is how far are you in the future and how would data like that stay hidden. If you're far enough in the future, then humans have forgotten where they came from before taking to the skies - meaning a lot of early science could have been lost. So, your secret could actually be the discovery that Earth was the starting point, and that there's some treasure trove of "early" scientific history on a thumb drive that somehow survived the Nuclear Holocaust or some other event that changed the nature of Earth. But I'm really far down my own rabbit trail at this point.

    As for researching historical human rights atrocities to study their structure, we certainly have a lot to choose from. I would suggest reading up on two model-events: The Holocaust and the Rwandan Genocide. Those are your two huge exemplars. The Holocaust shows how a technologically advanced society can be propagandized into accepting the systematic extermination of a population, and it remains the only genocide that was carried out with such a high level of technological sophistication (What made it so horrible was not just the body count, but the fact that it was done in industrial "killing factories" with an industrial efficiency). Rwanda, on the other hand, shows how a relatively undeveloped populace can be propagandized into attacking their neighbors with machetes. That was the opposite of The Holocaust - there was no technology involved at all, but in the holocaust the actual killing was done by relatively few people. In Rwanda, you had a massive amount of ordinary people (including civilians) who cooperated in an attempt to brutally murder their neighbors. Also, look into the civil wars in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Liberia if you want to see how a civil war can disintegrate into wanton senseless violence against civilians - same thing going on right now in the Central African Republic if you want to look at that one. Those five examples should scare the daylights out of you, but unfortunately they will give you a clear picture of what humanity is capable of doing to itself.
     
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  18. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oh and I ripped-off the "lost Earth" concept from Isaac Asimov's "Foundation"....so maybe read that. They dealt a lot with lost knowledge there - actually that was the whole point...they lost knowledge of nuclear power.
     
  19. Aled James Taylor
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    Aled James Taylor Contributing Member Contributor

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    A government cover up, in its self would be something a government wouldn't want people finding out about. You could have different departments and agencies intensely engaged in hiding their own and each other's activities (which attempted to hide previous activity). Ultimately, the hero can discover the governments deepest, darkest secret that so much effort and sacrifice was made for: Politicians are a bunch of greedy heatless bastards who do little but promote their own personal agendas and cater to their own selfish desires. And ironically, this is something that everybody knows.
     
  20. MLM
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    MLM Banned for trolling

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    How about it turns out that the real earth exploded and everyone was secret evacuated to "new earth".
     
  21. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    I immediately thought of a "Slaver Weapon"
    en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=The_Slaver_Weapon
    (I'm right in the middle of a Star Trek retrospection) :)

    Jump-gates and FTL.... hmm, wouldn't there be a substantial conflict of interest between whoever maintains the old, reliable network of wormholes and whoever just obtained a way not to use them? The economic impact of such a breakthrough seems like a good excuse to dig up old rivalries, ideological differences and national tensions.
    Or, the governments/economic powers could always conspire not to let the existence of a radically faster and cheaper mode of travel be known to the public. Like the oil companies wage silent wars against alternative power sources today :)
     
  22. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Kind of like the tape in Infinite Jest?
     
  23. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It was on the Star Trek animated series, but it was an adaptation of a short story by Larry Niven, "The Soft Weapon."
     
  24. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    @Cogito oh, don't you just adore the pink-clad Kzinti in their purplish UFO? :D
     

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