So, I don't know enough about this subforum to know if this is rude or not, but I was just wanting to get people's opinions on a couple ideas and some (very) short things I've already written. I didn't really want to use Drunkie's dating service because that seems to be mostly for short stories and fanfiction, whereas what I need help with are detailed outlines for novels and a few single-page poetry/prose things. Basically, a lot of my trouble with writing (writer's block, if you will
) comes from the fact that I'll come up with an idea and then later convince myself that it's stupid and nobody else would want to read it anyway, thus it's not worth putting in the effort to write it. So I'm hoping to avoid that by just showing you guys some things and you giving me feedback/criticism/commentary. I think it'll be easiest if I try to do this one thing at a time, so I'll only include the first thing with this post. It's an outline formed from three summaries for a novel. They deal with plot, setting, and character respectively (although not in that order). Anyway, here goes nothing:
The "digital divide" causes a sort of dystopian decay, whereby a schism splits the world generally into two factions: those who are trapped unreachably in life-long poverty, essentially completely cut off from the rest of society (the "lower society") and those who are completely wired into the system and live with relative ease despite existing in an almost-totalitarian technological dystopia (the "upper society"). The former are free from the entire system but are unable to receive an education, are completely unpoliced by the government (leading in some places to chaos and anarchy, including a sort of underworld comprised almost entirely of these people which forms the upper echelon of their "lower society"), cannot contact other people if they are far away, cannot receive medical attention with the exception of the "noble doctors" who wander throughout the "lower society" attempting to help them, and are generally cut off from most news and cultural information. The song "We Didn't Start The Fire" is used as a historical record in some parts of America's "lower society" so that they don't forget the 20th century.
The story focuses on the increasingly strained relationship between two brothers who have grown up in the upper society. One is a hacker/"digital terrorist" who is attempting to take down the government so as to start a revolution which he intends to reunite the two societies. He is constantly in hiding and wanted by the police, forcing him into a transient on-the-move "off the grid" nomadic lifestyle, which places him socially and practically somewhere between the two societies as he lives much more like a lower society traveler (upper society members are sedentary and stay in one place for most of their lives; they are permitted to "move" but do not move around or even take vacations, and many do not even "move" as most places they could move would be essentially the same), but acts more as an upper society member due to the fact that his life is still intensely oriented around technology. The other brother is a doctor who worked for years in an upper society hospital, but due to his brother's influence has recently chosen to abandon that lifestyle in favor of becoming a charitable "noble doctor." His brother supports this decision but wants him to join the revolution. People in general, however, look down upon noble doctors and question his choice.
The doctor hides his brother (the hacker) and helps him avoid detection by the police but frowns upon his activities and refuses to help him in taking down the government. As he wanders through the lower society as a noble doctor, however, he becomes increasingly won over by his brother's cause and increasingly sees the need for a great change. It is difficult, however, for him to adjust to his life as a noble doctor as he is still accustomed to his upper society roots.
The two brothers grew up in a fairly typical upper society household with their parents. They had many luxuries by real standards, living in a large climate-controlled "apartment" which had constant high-speed internet access, video-phone lines, a TV, and holographic games for them to play. They were sent away to school together between the ages of six and twenty at an authoritarian totalitarian institution, after which the doctor continued school for eight more years (from home, over the internet) while the hacker became disenfranchised with the system, fell in with some rebels, and fled home to start his life as a revolutionary. They can both recall memories of the school, which the hacker blames as having given him his hatred for the system. The school was heavily disciplinarian, exacting punishment for anything up to and including criticism of the school itself, and had a curriculum that was heavily skills-based rather than knowledge-based. It had several core tenets, all based around the goal of "equipping [them] for a successful, professional, upper society lifestyle." It heavily emphasized efficiency as one of its beliefs, which the hacker continually mentions as being especially ironic due to the fact that most if not all of their time there was spent doing repetitive "time-wasting" activities, most of which were designed as "busy work." They were also made to wear uniforms as the school worked to eliminate individuality, which is also ironic as they emphasized "diversity." The doctor, however, recalls much more fondly his years of learning and what was (for him) an unusual amount of social activity. He comments that he made friends and that the experience did have great educational value to him, although he admits that it was at times strict or nonsensical.
Almost all of their time before school and, in the doctor's case, after primary school was spent in their family "apartment." While the doctor was very social (the hacker was not) and had many "friends," seeing them in person was rare and most contact with the world outside of their family was done almost entirely through the internet. Almost all of their news came through the internet or the television as well. This is very common among upper society families.
Virtually all upper society citizens also have prescribed pharmaceutical drugs, as psychiatry has run rampant among the upper society and now diagnoses almost all citizens with some particular syndrome or disorder for which there are thousands of standard medications. The hacker is highly against this as he believes that all of these things are over-diagnosed and many do not require medication, however the doctor's medical training leads him to adamantly deny this point. He gains increasingly mixed feelings, however, as he takes on his new life as a noble doctor due to his finding that many lower society people have no access to these drugs and function perfectly well without them. He remains ambivalent towards the issue in the end, however, due to the fact that he also finds many people who are suffering due to their lack of medication and some who are suffering due to their attempts to self-medicate with "emotives." Handing out these prescribed psychiatric drugs for these people is often one of his main jobs. "Emotives" are a type of street drugs: advances in medical research have led to the production of synthesized chemical emotion/feeling-inducers. The sale of these is highly illegal, but is one of the main functions of the lower society underworld. It is common practice to find higher-echelon lower society members selling "happy," "horny," "forget," and so forth.
The environment has degraded almost entirely, to the extent that most food is either synthetic or factory-grown. Almost all of it claims to be "natural" or "organic," meaning not chemical-based, but the food itself is actually grown in large industrial indoor factories where the plants are kept in climate-controlled chemically balanced environments and are genetically engineered for "perfection." There are almost no trees or plants, save in food manufacturing plants (ha) or arboretums. Animals are almost never seen outside of zoos with the exception of dogs and cats, which are common domesticated pets. The ocean is exempt from this, but not entirely as many forms of ocean life are now extinct and many more have learned to avoid contact with humans for survival. Stray dogs do wander the streets of lower society areas, however, and as many lower society families are isolated rural farmers they often have common livestock (sheep, goats, pigs, cows, chickens, and horses, depending on area) as well as plants. This practice is becoming less common, though, as it is an increasingly expensive and not economically viable lifestyle. This causes those lower society members who are agriculturally-oriented to fall even further into poverty.
The hacker comes to stay with his brother while avoiding government detection. The doctor attempts to get him to reconcile with their parents but they shun him as they have disowned him due to his rebel involvement. Ultimately, they call the police on him. He is forced to flee, and narrowly manages to escape due to help from the doctor, who warns him. He had suspected it might happen due to his parents' attitude and had made a plan for it. After the hacker leaves, the doctor announces his plan to become a noble doctor and begin this new life by helping the lower society people in the lower reaches of the city to his parents and his girlfriend. His parents disapprove but his girlfriend supports him. He ventures off to do so and begins helping the homeless, of which there are many. Population growth and "the war" are blamed both by some more vocal homeless people and the doctor himself as the cause of this. He finds that several of the people he tries to help are to some degree involved in the underworld, basically an economic necessity in the lower society, but he discourages this and is at first repulsed by the idea. He finds out that one of the people he had been supplying with drugs had been smuggling them to an underworld drug dealer who used them to manufacture emotives. He feels betrayed and stops giving the kid drugs, but reconsiders when he sees that the boy needs them (both for himself and because of the money that comes from selling them) to survive. During this time he works with three other noble doctors, two men and a woman. Eventually they inform him that most of the people in the inner city will be fine without his help, and that where he is really needed is outside the city, where the rural families are separated by miles and even further cut off from the upper society and any help.
He goes to visit one such family, a small family of farmers. While there he is introduced to another traveler who is staying with the family. During his stay, the doctor is forced to save one of the family's sons, who enters cardiac arrest. It seems he will be unable to do this, lacking a "crash cart," but is helped out at the last minute. The stranger who had been staying with the family gives him a small jury-rigged defibrillator which he uses to get the boy into stable condition. The doctor at first assumes that the other man is also a noble doctor, but when pressured the man reveals that he is actually a member of the resistance and that he jury-rigged the defibrillator by modifying a taser he had stolen. The doctor and the man discuss their differing opinions of the revolutionary movement, and over the course of the conversation it is revealed that the man knows where the doctor's brother is. He asks to be taken to him, and the man obliges.
The two travel through the countryside for a few days and eventually reach another large city, where they stay in a lower society house. It is extremely overcrowded and uncomfortable as it contains not only about fifteen members of the rebellion but also twenty other lower society people who live there. There the doctor meets up with the hacker, and they reminisce (with differing degrees of distaste and fondness) of their time in school together, which the hacker cites as his motivation for joining the rebellion. The hacker asks him to join him on a mission to sabotage a food production facility. The doctor, somewhat swayed by the benevolence of the revolutionary who saved the farmboy's life and his shared memories with his brother, agrees. The hacker does not actually need to be close to the facility to take it down as his terrorism is digital, however he needs a hardwired connection in order to get into the system in the first place. The two brothers go to the plant together and break in, attempting to get the connection so that they can shut it down from afar. While there the doctor accidentally trips an alarm due to his lack of experience with illegal activities and security is alerted. The police show up and the two brothers are separated as they flee. The hacker escapes detection and gets away, but the doctor is arrested.
He is taken to a holding cell by the police, and is forced to spend the night there. While there, however, the hacker and another man from the resistance show up to break him out of jail. He is uncertain about this but sees no alternative and flees with his brother. The two decide that they must leave the city after the botched job so as to stay free. They leave and the doctor tries to adjust to living on the run. While they do so, the brother continues to carry out work for the revolutionaries, often leaving the doctor alone or forcing them to leave a safehouse suddenly. They continue like this for a month and it is very difficult for the doctor. Eventually the hacker shuts down the power grid for a small section of a city so as to deprive the government buildings located on that block of power. The doctor confronts his brother about this as there is also a transit station in that section of the city. He tells him that what he is doing is wrong as people might have died. He tells the hacker that while he has perhaps come to believe in the necessity of the revolution, or at least to doubt his initial opposition to it, that it doesn't justify what he is doing, especially as it is probably pointless in the larger scheme of things. The hacker becomes angry and asks him what he's supposed to do instead. The doctor suggests that they raid a particular hospital that would likely be restocked almost immediately, taking medicine and tools to help the lower society people in need. The hacker agrees to this, and they spend a week planning the job.
Due to their coordination it goes off without a hitch, but afterward they are forced to live in a junkyard due to the government closing in on them. While there the hacker shows the doctor his discovery: he has been using the internet during his time as a refugee to search for information regarding what could have caused what he calls "the split." He reveals that he has traced the sudden increase in population, the increasing government control, the centralization of technology, and the decreasing viability of nomadic or agricultural lifestyles (contributors to the poverty of the lower society) all back to one event. He says that the trends were all in place before but that this one event is the cause of the redoubling of all of those influences, which created the split. The event was scientists' discovery of a "cure" for global warming. This is because they solved the problem but did not address the causes behind it, leading to corporations' renewed abuse and exploitation of the environment, a government crackdown, and a revived faith in science and technology as the solutions to all of the world's problems. He says that once global warming was over people felt like all the things they'd been doing which caused the problem in the first place could then be done with impudence. The doctor is shocked at this revelation. Just as the hacker finishes, however, the police show up and reveal that they have the brothers surrounded. As they are taken away the man from before (the one who saved the farmboy and reunited the two) tells them that he was an undercover government agent and that he has betrayed them.
edited 11th Oct '11 11:03:19 PM by BooleanEarth