1. Uberwatch
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    Uberwatch Active Member

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    Creating a Dark Dystopian Universe in Space. Is it good and interesting?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Uberwatch, Jul 26, 2013.

    For the story I am writing, I am currently crafting a huge backstory of things that will affect the main plot. Some of these things I create aren't quite mentioned in the storyline but they are for the purpose of creating a universe where it feels real. My fictional universe itself is it's own character so I wanted to show it off in a little synopsis if it makes sense.


    About 1 million years ago, an ancient alien race established an underground laboratory on Saturn's Moon Titan. The aliens were capable of recording everything that happened within the Milky Way Galaxy. Everything that happened, they saw. Or their artificial intelligence did. For some strange reasons, the aliens disappeared and their AI was left idle controlling every structure the aliens built across the stars. Even their homeworld was consumed by the AI who was growing evil.

    In 2043 AD, World War III on Planet Earth broke out. It was a cluster of full-scale battles against countless nations. There was an uprising in several nations of a Globalist movement after the war to globalize the Earth for eternal peace. It happened slowly and surely. The leader of this movement eventually ruled what he called "The New World Republic" in North and South America. In the 2200's, World War IV broke out. It was his empire against the rest of the world. The Republic eventually won and occupied the rest of Earth. The future leader of the Republic at the time reorganized the entire system and called it, Imperial Terra. Mankind was expanding across the stars and finding new worlds to exploit, conquer and explore. They found a few natural worlds where they could freely inhabit but also had to terraform possible candidate worlds as well. In the 2400's, they came into first contact with an alien race who was just 200 years into their own interstellar empire as well. When both sides realized their capabilities, they tend to avoided each other in a full-scale interstellar conflict, but little skirmishes happened in their bordering colony worlds.

    Mankind became much much more xenophobic against aliens. In this universe, only 2 known alien races exist since aliens is considered a rarity in this universe. But mankind did not see the beauty and marvel of aliens, they wanted them gone. Mankind was soon to be the most powerful race in the galaxy, even though they barely conquered 1 third of the galaxy ironically.

    For Mankind to travel easily from other systems, they developed these portal relays in space that opens up a hole in space for ships to go through and out in another part of the galaxy. They find random star systems there hoping to find something interesting. They also open up another relay on the other side so ships can easily go back and fourth. All relays across the known space are mapped out and coordinated on a star map. Ships barely get lost, except for one area.

    Now I won't go into too much detail for this one, but this is where my story has a major impact on this part of the universe. Apparently in the 2400's, Miners of Titan discovered a cave and they found the ancient alien laboratory that looks like some sort of religious temple. It had a statue of an ancient alien with a star n hand. When the scientists began to study it, one of them learned how to use their technology. It created some sort of bioweapon that worked on one person's hand and mind. It allows them to manipulate a sharp object in hand as weapon, create a forcefield, allows the user to mind-control another lifeform and such. The Terran government apparently kept it a secret. When they learned how to use the alien's star map, they found out these "labs" are actually giant research stations and there are about 10 of them across the galaxy.

    The government wanted to access another one and they realized the lab in the nearest planet from Earth was 50 light years away. This was hard for them. They could only open a new portal relay in random part of the galaxy so they purposely sent a relay to that star system which took them 50 light years. It was worth the wait. After the 50th light years passed, the relay opened and the coordinates were kept secret. They didn't even bring a government ship to this system. Only an orbital satellites.

    The orbital images were shocking. It was a natural world of land, life and ocean. The images indicated there is intelligent life there. Somehow, some public ships got glitched into the relays and accidently went into the secret system. Masking relay coordinates as new at the time so the software did not work well. Some ships that were not supposed to see the system got through. So they hired a band of mercenaries to station themselves on the planet's nearest moon to wait for passerby ships to destroy.

    Now this is where my story actually happens in the universe.

    A mining corporation ship got into the relay and the mercenaries invaded the ship wrecking havoc. This caused 3 miners to escape via escape pods and land on the planet. They discover the lifeforms there who are intelligent but not so advanced. I tried working hard on this alien race to make them not look powerful. They are capable of firepower, but rely on fossil fuel powered vehicles and no capability of space travel. It turns out these aliens have a religion and they worship a god who they believe lives in this big house. The Big house is actually one of the ancient alien labs stationed on this planet.

    So when the Terrans find out there are survivors exposing themselves to this planet. They begin to take action and invade, attempting to strip the alien technology and exploit the locals.

    There are other things that are too spoilery where I cannot get into detail. A few things I will mentioned though that is interesting.

    1.) The Dictator of the Terra is a female. I wanted to explore, strong, powerful but brutal female antagonists
    2.) Terrans have a surplus amount of manpower. In this dark future, we are big, deadly and we are the alien invaders.
    3.) The aliens on this planet have their own racial and ethnic groups as well. This is something most ScFi alien stories barely explore.


    So what do you think? There is a lot more to this but this should be enough for you to get the picture. I would like to discuss the good points and the shady points of this possible universe. What parts are good, what parts don't make a lot of sense?
     
  2. Orihalcon
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    Orihalcon Active Member

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    I only read from "A mining corporation ship got into the relay..." because I wanted to see how the introductory synopsis held up without background information (which, I've learned, is something I prefer learning about during the course of the story rather than having to slog through it before the story actually begins).

    I haven't seen that many sci-fi movies, and read fewer sci-fi books, so I can't comment definitely on originality and whatnot. The idea of a female dictator is certainly interesting. While I'm personally convinced that there need not be a difference, I see the value of such a female antagonist, if done properly. I suppose creating an alien civilization where issues regarding race and ethnicity are existent is a positively curious touch. If it is incorporated significantly in the story, then it becomes more than a curiosity. It would be especially important if this issue somehow bleeds over to the humans. There's potential there.

    Something tells me that us humans being the alien invaders is not new, but I personally have never experienced a story in which this is the case. I think. This is pretty much a hook to me, and I would give any book with such an idea a serious chance.

    I read the entire post now, and on a whole it doesn't look so bad. Personally, I can find myself overwhelmed when introduced to several scientific advanced that I find are less than plausible. This isn't criticizing your storyline, I'm just saying that reading it all like this doesn't sit well with me, which is why I actually didn't want to read it. If worked in the story well, I won't mind it one bit. (Ideas are a dime a dozen; implementation is king, or something.) All in all, I think the idea is pretty cool; humans being the alien invaders is the hook for me. A decent story with good, well-developed and dynamic main characters is what carries me through the entire thing. You could take many different directions with your story; politics, morals, interpersonal relations, action, mystery, and so on and so forth. I think you've got something cool brewin'. ;)
     
  3. Uberwatch
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    Uberwatch Active Member

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    Hi. Thanks for the response. Okay, where to start.

    The value of a female dictator was to create some sort of superiority. Not female superiority, but in this fascist human society; it doesn't matter what your race or sex is, if you're human, you can achieve anything. Even being the leader of the world.
    I wanted to explore racism and ethnicity in an alien civilization to not only create an allegory on human racism, but to show that "Hey, I think there might be aliens out there that are struggling with the same social issues as we are".

    Last but not least, the idea of a human invasion of an alien planet has been done before but not as common. The first film I could possibly think of that did this is Battle for Terra. The second film which actually impacted a huge audience that involved a human invasion was James Cameron's Avatar. Now a few ScFI books in the past may have done this. I think it was called "Invaders from Earth". But anyways, yes 2 films and a few books have done something like this, but it isn't even a common sub-genre. In fact, it's so underused, I want to use that theme. I get sick and tired of Earth being invaded by an ultra-advanced alien race. Why can't humans do the same thing on another?

    But there you go.
     
  4. Kita
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    Kita Senior Member

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    Reminds me a lot of the Warhammer 40k universe. Looking through some of their books may help.
     
  5. Uberwatch
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    Uberwatch Active Member

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    It's inspired by Warhammer 40k but in my own original way. I also do read the books by the way and I love it!
     
  6. Orihalcon
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    Orihalcon Active Member

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    What I'm concerned about whether it not sends the message that a female needs to be "brutal" in order to reach such a position in society, or more generally, that one needs to be brutal in order to get there. Again, how you implement the idea is a large factor, but it's worth thinking about nonetheless. On the other hand, it does show that a person's gender does not necessarily determine your personality.

    As for the racism, I suppose you should ask yourself questions like: "Why do I want to create this allegory? What do I want to say with this that I can't say as well with human racism? By seeing an alien society dealing with this issue, can we find the next step required to reach a solution to the issue?" I think without attempting to answer such questions, the idea becomes more of a curiosity one entertains briefly before moving on. Perhaps this is what you want from it, but I only brought it up since you decided it would be one thing that would be interesting about your story. The movie District 9 I felt did a great job in extending the idea of racism to that of "specieism".
     
  7. Uberwatch
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    Uberwatch Active Member

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    I felt the need to turn her into female was to show that it doesn't have to be male. You are correct though. It could be a male and be the same character. The human society in my universe is sort of strange. The dictator rules with an iron fist that expands to worlds beyond Earth as well, but not was brutal as I said. It's brutal when military action is taken, which is to exterminate or exploit the aliens.

    I want to you use this allegory so I can make the aliens similar to us as we are now and use the future, advanced humans as a common enemy the aliens must unite and fight against. The message is to show that we must stop racism and work together, even for something like uniting against one common foe. But what's interesting about the whole thing is that the humans who are already 300 years over with racism moved onto speciesm which is a partial reason conflict is taking place on their home planet.

    and District 9 was an excellent movie. I think they explored the racial issues or species issues should I say between the prawns and the humans.
     
  8. Orihalcon
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    Orihalcon Active Member

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    In that case, there shouldn't be any reason *not* to have a female dictator, as most people think of men when they think of dictators.

    I keep forgetting that this is essentially alien invaders but seen from the perspective of the invaders - with the aforementioned twist, of course. Unless I've completely misunderstood you and the book is to be told from the aliens's POV.

    It may be due to my irregular sleep having thrown my focus off, but I can't find any seriously flaws in your setting, or things that don't really make sense. I mean, some things I feel I don't really get, but that's more because I don't know the backstory. The exception would be how these portal relays work. Physically speaking, it doesn't really make sense to open a hole in space. But that's just a sci-fi thing. I would probably write it off as "the universe can be imagined as a flat surface with a complex structure, and wormholes are essentially moving in the dimension that is orthogonal to the others". Or something to that effect. When it comes to things like that, I have the fortune of knowing advanced mathematics, so it would not bee too difficult for me to research the theoretical physics behind such notions since I speak the language. Most readers won't care though.

    One thing that did bug me was when you said that the alien AI became "evil". Now, unless you program an AI specifically to make choices that purposefully do harm, I would think of a better way of describing the AI's behavior. It's not just a matter of switching words; your choice of words will invariantly determine how you, the writer and creator of this universe, view the AI, and so your readers will also think of the AI in this light, which may not be what you intended. It doesn't make a lot of sense for an AI with the purpose you described to act so detrimentally to the entity it's meant to serve. I don't know how much about AI's you've read about, but if the AI has any importance in your story, then perhaps reading up on them and doing some light studying on formal logic would help you a long way to understanding how an AI works or "thinks". Of course you don't have to become an expert in the subject, but some exposition to the core stuff is always useful.

    Hope that helps. :)
     
  9. Uberwatch
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    Uberwatch Active Member

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    It's seen from multiple point of the views. The aliens POV, the humans POV and as well as a third POV of the bigger characters. The Crash survivors.
    So about those portal relays, there wasn't much science to it, but it's based on fictional science. 26th century science. So the understanding of space and time is completely different. Most ScFi books and films these days have people act like they are in the 21st century when they are not. (Depending on the time period of the story). So I am not a mathematician nor I have any knowledge on quantum physics at all, but the explanation is that they are able to rip open space like a blackhole and insert a relay. That relay is supposed to get to the other side of whatever area in the galaxy is settled in. Once the Relay has been activated, it creates some sort of molecule teleporter. The relay will transport any type of molecules to the other side. So basically, it takes all of the molecules of the ships and everything inside it and recreates it in exact form once it comes out of the alternate relay. Again it's ScFi and our understanding of science could be different centuries ahead, so I am having this in the 2500's. It should work out hopefully. People might criticize it because we think with 21st century understanding of science.


    I wouldn't say the ancient alien AI was evil, but it gives off the impression. The AI's goal is to assist it's masters to improve it's races technology. When the ancient aliens mysteriously were gone, the AI had access to all buildings and computers the ancient aliens built across the galaxy. 80% of the galaxy is controlled by the AI. Now the AI needs living things to assist it's plan. The AI is only able to quietly watch the entire galaxy. Some of the outposts on other planets happen to belong to homeworlds of primitive alien civilizations which one of them is one for my story. One thing the AI was capable of doing was contacting extraterrestrial beings of all sorts including us via graphic memory simulation. The AI can get into your mind, create a realm in your memory and talk to you. The AI can even simulate all events that have happened in the galaxy including Earth's human past by showing it to the contact agent. I don't think AI's can become self-aware, but in this case the AI is extremely calculated that could take thousands of years to master the technology. So the ancient aliens have far more superior technology than anyone else that can't really be explained by human knowledge of science period.

    Hope this helps your understanding
     
  10. Orihalcon
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    Orihalcon Active Member

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    I'll just quickly throw it out there that I do believe an AI can become self-aware, since an advanced AI most likely is composed of an architecture that incorporates artificial neural networks, control theory, input-output capacities and machine learning. Given enough time with the right software architecture and the sufficient hardware, an AI could surely become self-aware. This doesn't have to contradict the fact that it could still be programmed to behave any way it likes as long as it doesn't break its internal logic - and it won't break that logic unless something seriously wrong happens, and I bet readers would find it cheap to simply say that "something went terribly wrong". I know I would.

    As for the portal relays. Let's assume they do work. You rip open a hole at point A. Do you enter the coordinates where you want point B to appear?

    I agree that in five hundred years, our understanding would certainly be different, but attempting to invent new science when your understanding of it is severely lacking is dangerous, because readers will pick up on it, and your story loses credibility. For example, you said that "they are able to rip open space like a black hole", but a black hole is not actually a hole in space at all. It's an object with tremendous density, and this density creates a gravitational pull that is so strong that not even light can escape from it. Now, it so happens that the laws of physics cease to be at the very center of a black hole - its so called singularity point - but it's not actually a hole in space.

    The problem with using devices that display extremely advanced science is that it's not easy to make it believable. The technology doesn't exist and of course you aren't going to invent new science for your story. When you're dealing with things that are really pushing it, you've gotta be extra careful. On the other hand, like I said, most readers won't care about any of the details really, but doing some basic research is never wrong, and it helps you create a believable world.
     
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  11. Uberwatch
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    Uberwatch Active Member

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    I will admit, Black hole was sort of a bad example. The relays are supposed to look like mechanical black holes, the only difference is that relays open holes in space when black holes don't. So yes. Ships would go into Relay #1. Relay #1 orbits Earth from a long distance around the moon. When ships go into the relay, the ship command will patch in the coordinates to whatever opposite relay they would like to activate. Now most ships can go through these relays, but not some can't. There's sort of a regulation in the storyline that some human vessels must require relay-compatible ship drives such as military, scientist and public transportation spacecraft. Private personal spacecraft is a still rarity and those who venture into space have a hard time getting around because they cannot access these relays.
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    A story concept means nothing. What matters is how you write it: the characterization, the flow, the imagery, all of it.

    There's absolutely no benefit in asking what other people think of the concept! They'll either say,"Sounds great," or, "it sounds like a ripoff of..."

    If the idea stirs you, write it. Then ask people what they think of the final story. After they tell you what they don't like about it, revise it, usually several times, until you're happy with it or until you throw up your hands and say the hell with it.

    Please read What is Plot Creation and Development?
     
  13. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Normally I would agree with you on this, Cogito. But thanks to this very high quality, detailed query AND the informative responses, I'm sure this writer will go away with a much deeper understanding of what his story can do and where it might be headed. There is a lot more happening in this thread than just - gee, I'm thinking of writing a story about a girl and her horse, is that a good idea?

    Sometimes it helps to bounce concepts like this space dystopia idea around a bit. One of the great things about this forum is that it's so diverse. I'm really glad the OP found such a person as Orihalcon to help deal with the original query.
     
  14. Uberwatch
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    Uberwatch Active Member

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    I'm glad I'm getting the help. I mean sure, concept is just the blueprint of the more important set pieces, but you want a good world and universe that occupies your story to make it amazing. Orihalcon has helped me greatly in understanding authenticity in the science of my universe.
     
  15. Orihalcon
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    Orihalcon Active Member

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    Thank you both for your very kind words. :) Glad I could help you, Uberwatch. Like I said before, I think you have an interesting idea and it would be nice to see it written - and read it. Fortunately, there are a few popular scientific videos on youtube that talk about black holes, relativity and wormholes. Visualizations do a great deal in explaining these things that are otherwise hard to imagine.
     
  16. Uberwatch
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    Uberwatch Active Member

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    Thanks for the help. Extensive research will guide my project then. :D
     
  17. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I don't agree. Yes, it's a great way to solve a business problem, or work out a group school assignment.

    But writing s a different type of exploration of ideas. What a writer does is to take an idea and look at some aspect of it. He or she creates a scenario and starts writng, to see where the idea leads. The writer then polishes it up, patches the holes he or she finds, and only then presents it to others, as a finished piece of writing.

    The greatest compliment to a writer is a flood of debate over his or her conclusions. It means the writer has inspired others to think. And that takes place after the writing iw finished and distributed,=, after the writer has thoroughly explored the idea alone.

    That doesn't happen if you've sucked all the life out of the idea by beating it like a piñata with a groupthink stick before it has matured.

    My point is to encourage the writer way of thinking. It's a different mindset, one worth committing to.
     
  18. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This is probably not hard science fiction? Anyway, here are some questions, no need to reply them here, but rather, perhaps answer them to yourself because this is what I would ask.

    Were nuclear bombs used? If so, you know how that can end...

    But they couldn't control the entire planet, right? 'cause that's unlikely.

    How?

    How has this been funded if Earth is and was torn apart by war? Are these holes expensive to create? Where does the energy come from?

    How did this happen? How has human kind evolved biologically/mentally or has it? Do humans have AI/androids in their midst?

    The sex of the dictator feels irrelevant at this point. You are so far into the future there's probably far less patriarchy going on, so you have to really reimagine the society at that point.

    Good luck with your story, I think it has huge potential!


    I think I agree with this... to a degree. Though I'm myself in an unfair situation in the sense that I write with a partner and we bounce ideas because it's a joint work, and that helps a lot. The other realizes dumb stuff about the concept the other might not. So why couldn't "single writers" do this too? I get it that the writer doesn't want to start a huge project before they're sure their idea makes sense. Imagine writing a huge piece and then when it's done, someone points out the premise is faulty or most of it makes zero sense.
     

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