I spent an hour or so tweaking the screenplay for the Weapons of Choice pilot today - mostly working on the dialogue. By an odd coincidence I'd spent the morning reviewing the first seven or eight chapters of WW 3.1, the next really long book in the series. So my head was bouncing between the two projects but inside the same narrative space.
One thing I kept thinking about was the relatively primitive nature of real world tech when I was first drafting Weapons. I think I wrote the draft on an old black plastic powerbook. I still have it.
And my phone was definitely some sort of analogue brick. So those books were wish fulfilment in a way. Flexipads were the iPhones I knew I wanted, but imagined as being decades away, not a couple of years. The RAN eventually got, or maybe one day will get, nuclear subs. But not fusion powered. The biggest miss, however, was cultural.
There are no neo-nazis in those books. No epistemic collapse in the nature of our shared reality. No QAnon. No Trump. No climate crisis. There is Hillary, but hilariously (or so I thought at the time) she is a unifying figure. The most uncompromising wartime president in US history.
Ha. Ha. And if I do say so... Ha.
I've slipped a couple of iPhones and Samsungs into the next book, and I'm pretty comfortable doing so. But I've been plagued by the question of how much of our civilisational malaise, if any, to import. It seems weird now that we've passed Transition Day (15 January 2021) not to have the uptimers thinking about the things that they would have been thinking about.
Some of them are easy. Slim Jim moves into renewable energy, not to save the planet, but because J. Paul Getty is mean to him. Lonesome Jones hits a ceiling in his career, because he runs into a senior officer who is openly bigoted against him. They're simple narrative plays, easily made.
But I really can't decide how much, or little, if any, of the culture war to let trickle back in time. It is a part of the original story for sure. Guys like J Edgar Hoover, for instance, mobilise against the uptimers because they can't countenance the future they promise. (And for their part the uptimers, or some of them anyway, organise their own push back against the reactionary forces. What is the Zone, if not a safe space).
Anyway, this is what I'm pondering in my imaginary worlds right now.
If I had my druthers, I would minimize binging the social conflicts of the present period into this universe. It's fiction and I read it to relax. If I want to get outraged at what's happening now, I will read the papers.
Back to pondering...did you ever consider making the uptime fleet start their journey from 2041? And go back an even 100 years?
Part of the fun of the books was figuring out what advances have happened and how things turned out and how culture has changed. If the show starts in 21 we know all that.
Why not set it in 2041 and have the past be about how Covid and Ukraine and Taiwan and Mars and Twitter turned out...rather than 9/11. If it starts in 2021, there's only backwards to talk about...
This is exactly what I was afraid of...DONT DO IT. Don't kick us in the balls over and over again about how shitty it is now. Don't make us just as bigoted now as we were in 1941. Don't do it. If we want to see that we can turn on the TV now. Just don't.
I don't even have to open the book to recite the scene I loved. Where the young LT from 1941 meets Lonesome Jones, and he is given respect and gets it in turn. Where Jones makes the crack about "Americans of Color" and his wife being as white as etc etc.
I've waited for this to be on TV for years.
Don't ruin it by starting a culture war among your fans and ignoring how much progress has been made.
Just....don't. Please. I promise you it'll be better if you don't.
Might be interesting to dicuss the dangers of authoritarian overeach during a pandemic and how that affects the past.....which was full of petty little tyrants who would have loved to put their foot on everyones throat for any reason anyway
I think it might totally stuff up the French Marxist philosophy travelling to the USA in the 70s, metaphysics would be ruined by quantum physics , the overblown University system in the states wouldn't be reduced to selling cheap and easy courses to the masses. Post modernism wouldn't occur because all the cool stuff was just given to the world. Instead of becoming jaded , people become speechless. And the endless parade of dud naive politics isn't expressed as everyone will have real fish to fry ( maybe) or everyone dyed their hair blue in 68 and got even more shouty.
SJG makes a good point which leads me to ponder: are we looking at a new civil war in America in the Axis timeline between the uptimers and those that ape them with their uppity women and uppity coloured people, and those that want 'Merica to remain as it was before the Transition? The existential threat from the Soviets could be, not just war breaking out in Europe again, but the Soviets undermining American cohesion, just as Putin did to put Trump in the White House. The Hammer could end up fighting a world war on one front, and a civil war on the other.
The bloody preview trailer doesn't work. I clicked on it and fuck all happened, the video just froze. 1 out of 5 stars.
One thing to wonder is in what way the culture war is shaped.
J Edgar/Edna is dead. Will he be a martyr or do the uptimers finish the job and launch a pre emptive strike to take out more of those in the cabal? Tailgunner Joe is a candidate as is Joe Kennedy senior, Lyndon Johnson maybe (though he has a great civil rights record).
What technology is available to unite the masses? A strong enough women’s rights movement can in my opinion only take root with the introduction of the pill and an amendment of laws. Who will be the groups on the front-line? The 68 boomers are too young, will it be the Vets and the Blacks?
How does denazification go this time in post war Germany? If there was one person responsible for part of the troubles in the 60s and 70s it would be Hans Globke ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Globke ).
What can be stashed under the big umbrella of Slim Jim Enterprises? And who gains from the culture war?
Agreed that the Culture War is old hat, and the myth of American unity is just that, a myth. For example, as late as December Sixth of 1941 a sizable fraction of the US electorate hated and demonized FDR. Millions were solidly in the "America First" camp. Our former president stole that old theme in 2016, and many of his followers had no idea of the unsavory provenance of the slogan. In short, there is nothing new under the sun. In regard to Hillary Clinton, it is entirely plausible that in an alternate timeline, a likelier timeline than what we actually got, that she became president in 2016. It is entirely imaginable that she became a unifying force, much like GW Bush in 2001, after another large-scale terrorist attack.
So don't beat yourself up. What you imagined was actually not that far off.
The culture war has been going on since Civil War, sometimes going quiet, always ready to flare up at least provocation. I'd think the deciding factor would be political alignments at the coldwar's onset. The up-timers understand the soviet threat, which isolates them from their natural allies, while right is more in line with their viewpoint. The soviet threat, and social progress are both issues that need to be addressed. However, the soviets are the only existential threat, and the up-timers would probably see this, though at the same time leave many feeling betrayed at the same time. Just my two cents at any rate.
P.S. Have you given much thought to the Dulles brothers?