1. Defender
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    Defender Senior Member

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    What happens during a dark age?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Defender, Feb 18, 2016.

    If we went into a golden age headed by NASA after discovering terraformation, and then when we sent explorers to the newly terraformed planets they found alien relics. what would logically happen after a civil war and an alien attack followed by a dark age? how would we survive scattered across the face of the Earth with aliens encroaching ever so slowly across the civilization we left behind? would a group unite everyone and then they build a city, would a bunch of old soldiers from the war band together to defend the people, Etc. What would the coming age be like? what would we do first after we got back on our feet with aliens spread across our lands? I have some ideas, but not sure if they sound logical for a situation like this, any help?
     
  2. terobi
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    terobi Contributing Member

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    Well, "Dark Age" is probably not the word for it - the reason we call them the Dark Ages is because we pretty much have zero information about what happened and how people lived at the time.

    Human beings are not logical, rational creatures, particularly en masse. We can't say with any certainty what will definitely happen in a given circumstance.

    Take the modern day as an example. All analysis says we're probably going to have another massive financial meltdown this year - and how will the population react? Will they become openly hostile towards outsiders, lay the blame at the feet of immigrants and spur on a new wave of far-right nationalist movements? Or will they lay the blame at the feet of capitalism as a fundamentally flawed system, lurching to the left as a reaction?

    Spoiler: BOTH of these things are happening right now, and both are completely logical occurrences, even though they're polar opposites.

    What will make something believable or not depends on the society you construct and the principles and beliefs they have. Will they bind together around a particular figure, seeking safety and someone to look to? Might that become a dictatorship? A cult-like theocracy? A vicious empire? Perhaps small communities adopt an "us or them" outlook regarding the scarcity of resources, leading to warring insular tribes. Perhaps they take it as a sign that they must live in harmony with the universe and opt to live simple, non-materialistic lives.

    All perfectly plausible if you set them up the right way.
     
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  3. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    It is called the Dark Ages because it is a dark and depressing time period following societal collapse AND we happen to know a great deal about those periods. Generally Dark Ages refer to periods where there is a loss of "enlightenment and reason."

    The Greek Dark Ages were from 1100 BCE (end of the Bronze Age) to 750 BCE (beginning of the archaic period), when there was little or no building in the areas surrounding the Aegean Sea and the art of writing was apparently lost.

    The European Dark Ages were from 476 CE to 1000 CE. It is the time following the fall of Rome during which Germanic tribes swept through Europe and North Africa, attacking and destroying towns and settlements. When Rome fell we lost a great deal in the way of science and medicine, not to mention art and culture. It literally set the continent back several hundred years as far as science, technology, literature, etc.


    Other Dark Ages include, the Dark Ages of Cambodia, (1450 to 1863) and the Dark Ages of Laos (1707 to 1893). Also there is a fear of what is called the Digital Dark Age, which would be a time when digitally stored data and documents are no longer readable.

     
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  4. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Dark Ages tend to be less than exciting in terms of centralized governments and grand achievements (which tend to go together) but they wouldn't necessarily be unpleasant times in which to live. Less trade, sure, but also less forced military service, less taxation, less oppression (at least possibly).

    In a fictional dark age, I'd say you could write it how you want. There'd likely be a lot of variation from one region to another... no centralized government means less consistency. So one agrarian community might be ruled by a tyrant while one not that far away could have a much more democratic system of government. Technology might be challenging, since most of our modern tools need fairly complicated infrastructure to gather and refine the raw materials, run the factories, etc. Trade goods in general would likely be rare luxuries... it was hardly a dark age, but my parents used to get an orange in their stockings on Xmas morning because oranges were a rare treat, not a daily staple, in our northern climate.

    I'd figure out what you want your society to be like, and then figure out the reasons that will make it that way.
     
  5. Defender
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    Defender Senior Member

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    Well in the end the desired result would be a small city, with a set of super warriors who built the city as a refuge, but the don't know what events would bring that into being?
     
  6. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    Consider watching The Postman, with Kevin Costner. It's old but it's a good example of rebuilding after societally collapse and is a great modern "Dark Ages" type example. Also--if you're up for zombies (and this would work for Aliens too) read Ilsa Bick's Ashes series. She shows how society can collapse, the immediate aftermath, and how pockets of survivors begin to stake claims and fortify towns. It has the benefit of being a fantastic read!

    In the real world rebuilding takes 100's of years. In fiction you can shorten that time period dramatically, but you need to be aware that it will take time. Without the languishing and struggle you might not be able to get readers to suspend disbelief.
     
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  7. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    I also suggest "A Canticle for Leibowitz" chronicling the dark ages following a nuclear apocalypse and the next thousand years of rebuilding what is recognizably the United States, though no longer states or united. It is considered a classic, and I think it actually could have happened much as he described.
     
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  8. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    That basically sounds like the story line from The Postman. Any idea if the two are related? One of those, "book adapted for movie," but we scrapped everything in the book, including the title, maybe?
     
  9. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    "If we went into a golden age headed by NASA" There's some fantasy for you right there :)

    As you can see by other's comments, then term dark age is a confusing one because it means different things to different people. I assume you're referring to a time during and following a societies collapse. I would think the population's response would in large part depend on how much is left. If there's a large enough population then it might be possible to sustain a government similar to what we already have. If the population is down to extremely low levels then I would expect monarchies to return. They spring out of areas with a small strong core group willing to defend their areas population in return for obedience, taxes, food, etc.
     
  10. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Some people in tough situations will take a charitable, we need to rebuild approach, Others will take an every man for himself approach. Others will just live on without caring so much. There are a million responses and a million nuances of those. Generally, it makes things more extreme, makes people more intent towards one goal or belief system.
     
  11. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Canticle is Walter Miller, 1960. Postman is David Brin, 1982.
     
  12. Defender
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    Defender Senior Member

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    Well,it is actually more like you said in the second idea, the population is very low, and most of earth is desolate. So should an organization unite people or should mythic soldiers save them and leave again?
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2016
  13. Defender
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    Defender Senior Member

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    Hi again,:superhello: the two names you referenced above are books right?
    Or are they movies? Sorry for asking such a stupid question, its that I have never heard of any of these titles before now. :D
     
  14. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    From the point of view of building a story, I'd step back a bit and think about the scenario in specific terms.

    1) has the environment been poisoned?
    2) are the aliens 'aware' that they've wiped out a civilisation, or has this been done inadvertently? Are these highly developed aliens with a civilisation, or mere microbes that are harmful to humans? If they are developed aliens, are they still actively seeking to remove humans from their world? If they are microbes or 'lower forms of life' (think kudzu vines!) is there any way to combat them with science?
    3) do the humans still possess all the knowledge they had when their civilisation crumbled, or have they fallen into illiteracy and forgetfulness? Do they still have access to machinery, medical supplies, etc.
    4) are the humans expecting or hoping for rescue from humans unaffected by this alien invasion? From other colonies in space, perhaps? If so, is there a way to signal them?
    5) can the humans still produce or find enough food and water and shelter to remain healthy—and presumably air to breathe, etc?

    Once you've got this stuff in mind, then go for the humans as characters. Who will be your main characters? What do they want the most? To leave this horrible version of earth behind and find another place to live? Or to remove the aliens and rebuild it? Or possibly learn to live in mutual harmony with the aliens? Possibly each goal might be held by some characters and not by others.

    If they are a small group of people, I imagine remaining hidden would be something they'd strive for in the short term. It would not make much sense to build a target city, if the aliens are likely to simply attack it and wipe it out.

    Unless lots of heavy duty science is involved here, which means you'll either need to know your stuff already or do tons of research, all you really need to do is sit down and have a good think about the issue.

    It's tempting to say 'go look at this or that movie, read this or that book,' but then you'll just be tempted to copy somebody else's idea. Instead, dig deeply into yourself and imagine what this kind of world would be like. You can do it. And if you do, your story will be totally unique.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2016
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  15. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    NO.

    Population's response would be to do what we've always done. Try to survive. On a personal level.

    If that means taking control of as large a group of followers as you can handle and making them work for you, you'll do that. If it means living a subsistence lifestyle in a commune with just your nearest and dearest, you'll do that. It's just that history will probably be written (long after the event!) by the winners, or their successors.



    No it's not. No matter how depressed you were at the time, you didn't name the era. It was only named long after the event because of the paucity of written records, most of which were written a century and more after the event.

    Not really...see your own comments about the loss of writing, and the loss of scientific knowledge.



     
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  16. Defender
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    Defender Senior Member

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    JT
    Hi those are some good points. :D
    Here is what i have based on your questions:
    1) No the environment has not been poisoned, merely devastated.
    2) Yes the aliens are aware of the destruction of our civilization.
    3)No they do not have any knowledge from the war, just what they can reverse engineer from our older tech and what they can decode.
    4)No all of the colonies are destroyed and any surviving humans would have retreated to earth.
    5)Yes Earth is not completely devastated, and they are able to build a small but well fortified city, offering refuge to any survivors.
    Are there any weak points in the things i stated above?
     
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  17. tonguetied
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    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am really confused by your scenario, Earth establishes colonies that are later found by explorers to be destroyed by aliens, what do you mean by explorers? There are survivors from the colonies that have the technology to make it back to Earth, interstellar travel is not something to be taken lightly, we have not achieved that yet (by a long shot) so reverse engineering technology just doesn't seem to fit, to reverse engineer interstellar travel technology would require a very advanced technology in itself. Fortified cities also seem contradictory, food and water would have to be provided, back in the middle ages castles provided sanctuary for the towns people during attack only when things like siege engines weren't available, so fortifications only generally work when the attackers have low technology levels, unless humans have some very advanced technology that creates things like force fields, which doesn't seem to fit your overall premise. This sort of reminds me of "Battlestar Gallactica" from years ago.
     
  18. Defender
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    Defender Senior Member

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    Oh, no the explorers are the first people to come to the planets,researchers and explorers who set up outposts, after which normal people follow. :D
    The city, is simply what we would have now...picture it like an American town in Iraq you will have what you need, but you will be in constant danger, so a military, and fortification is needed to ensure safety, also there is a force field like thing over the city.
     
  19. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I did pick you up wrongly when you said : how would we survive scattered across the face of the Earth with aliens encroaching ever so slowly across the civilization we left behind?

    I assumed your story was taking place on Earth.

    As to the other points, I wasn't asking the questions for myself, because I need to know the answers. Instead, I wanted you to think about the implications of whatever your answers are. In other words, things like poisoned earth. If nothing has been poisoned, then there won't be any 'danger zones' where people can't go because of radiation or other contaminants. Etc. That's the kind of thing that will help shape your story.

    I do think you should take time to think about all these kinds of questions and figure out what you think would happen in the scenarios you come up with. I'm worrying that you're asking other people to give you answers and premature approval for what, as a writer, you need to work out for yourself.

    I mean, some people see the future as potentially glorious, with all sorts of new technology making our lives easier and less dangerous. Other people see the opposite happening. Everything from danger and death from contamination, etc, to total breakdown of society due to any number of reasons. Some folks would welcome aliens, not only because they might be friendly, but they would prove once and for all that we are 'not alone.' Other people would be terrified by their 'otherness,' and not welcome them at all. Aliens might be friendly, hostile, or just unable to understand earthlings at all. Movies and TV shows have been made with all of the above scenarios. Anything is possible, if you think about it and work with any known science, if necessary.

    Try your best to make this your own story. The way to get ideas is to ask yourself the kinds of questions I asked you. Play 'what if' games with any idea you come up with. What if hostile aliens controlled all the sources of water on a planet? Etc.

    It's doing that sort of thing that gets a story moving. Letting go of what other people think at this stage of a story is like taking training wheels off a bike. You'll find you can ride alone, no problem.

    People's opinions certainly come back into it after you're all done writing and are pleased with the result. Then is the time to try your story out on people, to see if it has the effect you wanted. If it doesn't, you make changes till it does. Just don't let other people's opinions hold you back at this stage. Have confidence that you can do it alone, because you can!

    And have fun. This is Creation with a big C. The world is yours to do with what you will.
     
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  20. Defender
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    Defender Senior Member

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    forget this message, it was an accident!
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2016
  21. Defender
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    Defender Senior Member

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    " Instead, I wanted you to think about the implications of whatever your answers are. In other words, things like poisoned earth. If nothing has been poisoned, then there won't be any 'danger zones' where people can't go because of radiation or other contaminants. Etc. That's the kind of thing that will help shape your story.

    I do think you should take time to think about all these kinds of questions and figure out what you think would happen in the scenarios you come up with. I'm worrying that you're asking other people to give you answers and premature approval for what, as a writer, you need to work out for yourself.


    Try your best to make this your own story. The way to get ideas is to ask yourself the kinds of questions I asked you. Play 'what if' games with any idea you come up with. What if hostile aliens controlled all the sources of water on a planet? Etc.

    People's opinions certainly come back into it after you're all done writing and are pleased with the result. Then is the time to try your story out on people, to see if it has the effect you wanted. If it doesn't, you make changes till it does. Just don't let other people's opinions hold you back at this stage. Have confidence that you can do it alone, because you can!

    And have fun. This is Creation with a big C. The world is yours to do with what you will."

    Thank you for the advice! however i don't want to be misunderstood, i have worked out the fiction many a time, but to me what might make sense, wont to others who have a broader horizon. Like if i think that in a collapse it is a good idea for the city to be selling ice cream ( example not really an idea) most people would say " what are you doing?" " This is a crisis no one wants ice cream, be real!" so i just ask to see how others, who have seen more movies, read more books, and have a better imagination feel about ideas i might think are good, because for one, i have a horrible imagination, i mean horrid, and the movies and books i have read are limited due to where i live, so i have a limited pool of resources and ideas to draw from, leaving me to question whether my chocolate chips go good with banana ice cream. but you can be sure i get your point and will definitively apply it ! :superagree:
     
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  22. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I think the point I am making is this. If you think selling ice cream during a collapse is a good idea, then go with it! If you write it well enough, and give reasons for why your characters are doing it, it will work.

    Don't assume people won't like it. I certainly would. (But of course they'll have to have a way to make ice and milk cows to get the cream, and the sugar, etc....but that might be a great way to start your story. People who believe that ice cream—a bit of frivolity and reminder of the good old days—is exactly what a demoralised population needs.)

    If you start out believing you have a horrible imagination, you'll never get anywhere. Nobody has a horrible imagination. It's just that some people are frightened to use their imaginations, for fear somebody else will think what they are imagining is stupid. That lack of confidence is the quickest way to die as a writer that I can think of.

    I think anybody who comes up with the idea of selling ice cream in a dystopian society has a fantastic imagination. It's certainly not the first thing 'most people' would come up with, is it? But it makes sense to me, would cheer people up, and maybe get their morale to rise to the point that they're willing to start thinking about the future in a good way. So you've already surprised and delighted your readership with something unexpected. Go with it!
     
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  23. Defender
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    Defender Senior Member

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    I do declare, if I hadn't, come to this forum where would I be?
    Thanks for that insight, I never looked at it that way, much less thought about imagination that way, now that you mention it maybe that is really what I have, a fear of having a stupid idea that no one likes.....you guys are all a terrific help thanks! ( and for my favorite tagline) :write:
     

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