On a hill in Georgia there stands 4 monoliths of enormous size. Lofted on them is a capstone which serves as the mechanism for a massive astronomical instrument. Inscribed on the monoliths are rules to follow after the end of the world.
Sadly, that’s not an original concept that I just made up. Life, as we all know, has a habit of being stranger than fiction and the monoliths are very real. They have been standing, stoically, waiting for Armageddon, since before I was born.
Earlier this month I began reading Christian Nation, a novel which is chilling in its vision of a Christian right triumphant in its desire to rule America and eradicate any non-Christian voices. As I read, I began to think about what type of society I might set up if given free reign, just as the Christians in Rich’s novel were given free reign.
My ideal society’s foundations would be built on scientific exploration and technological advancement. I think we would do well to rid ourselves of the influences of organized religion, as well as forces which contribute to greed and irrationality. The guidestones refer to an “Age of Reason” which I think is a good goal for any society, to embrace reason in all its forms.
In a simple novel like the one I’m conceptualizing, it’s too complex to work from our own society as a basis to form the scientific megasociety that I’d like to write about. Therefore I’m borrowing the idea of the guidestones for a premise. Based on the fascinating and mysterious origin of the guidestones, (as told by Wired) I am assuming that they were built under the assumption that a nuclear conflict with the Soviet Union would wipe out civilization. Since that didn’t happen, I’m going to use as a premise (and a potential storyline) that those who commissioned the monument are continuing to prepare for an alternate doomsday scenario and that they will refine their methods. A time capsule seems to have been intended for the site, but never installed. In my story, the capsule will have been supplemented with a series of underground chambers in which are stored scientific texts and instruments. This to me seems a logical extension that might be undertaken.
For this work, I would think that 2 or 3 competing storylines might be useful. One could discuss the creation of the monuments and chambers, involving the intrigues of a secret society with insights into world-shattering events. Another storyline could be the proto-society that forms in the wake of whatever disaster resets humanity.
The final storyline would be the main focus though, and for that, I’m thinking of venturing off the usual path and having it be a serial-killer hunt within a reason based society. A police officer would be our guide to this society as he would have views of the various types of people within it. Our officer would have solved the only murder in his home territory in the past 20 years and is therefore brought in to investigate when a serial killing occurs.
Through his investigations we would learn more about the society he inhabits. For instance, the guidestones instruct humanity to stay under 500,000,000 to stay in harmony with nature. With an eye for other continents, we would find humanity in smaller states of 100,000,000 each in North America (centering on the guidestones themselves in Georgia), South America, Eurasia, Australia and Africa. Each of these states would be walled off from the outside world, likely with a collection of feral humans outside the walls. The trick here is not to venture into Brave New World and see the savages as the voices of humanity. My path here would be in contrast to this. The citizens of this society would not be automatons, coldly calculating their way through the day, but would instead have a great respect for truth and beauty, while simultaneously anesthetizing their baser instincts and keeping passion from ruling them entirely. (Think Vulcan but with better art programs and an openness to emotion.)
For all of their devotion to a scientific ideal, this new society would have reaped great rewards of engineering and technology. Their resources would be harvested robotically. Their forays into space would be bold and technically near-flawless. They would have an overall goal of knowledge, perhaps embodied in a Compendium which functioned as a new wikipedia type of information storage, allowing for the accrual of knowledge to be measured and directed.
Having built the world that I’d like to inhabit, it then becomes necessary to throw a stone into the pond and watch the ripples unravel what I’ve built.
A serial killer would be the worst possible enemy such a society could face. It’s the test of rationality against a coldly irrational yet calculating opponent. The killer would be able to think like a rational person, but would embrace chaos and death. I’m picturing the killer as one of the feral men beyond the walls who sneaks into the heart of the city to sew death and dispense God’s own justice to the unbelieving masses he encounters.
A simple cat and mouse game would not do for such an elaborate setting though, and so my killer would instead have a long-game in mind, which would conclude with him detonating a thermonuclear device within a major city in a desire to destroy the secular scientists with a holy light of fire. At this point the leaders of this society would have to determine whether to respond with overwhelming force and exterminate the feral humans or to leave them as a kind of biological preserve to study and examine. Such a debate would allow for allegories and historical references wherever useful.
This concept is still in its infancy, but I hope you’ll agree that it has merit and potential. I look forward to exploring the concept further in future posts.