Writing Nice Futures

sknox

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Yes, part of the problem with general taxation is that citizens stop blaming their local lord and instead blame the ruler. Much easier for a monarch when the blame is being deflected.

I think as far as the nobles were concerned it was a case of keeping the monarch happy with money and men whenever he/she needed them. That way you secured for your bloodline influence and power in the form of hereditary titles; far more important than wealth in those days.
This was more true in the LMA and especially the early modern era (say, from mid-16thc to ... oh, Napoleon or so). Less true in the central MA and still less in the early MA.

The Middle Ages covers an entire continent, a plethora of cultures, and a thousand years. It's very hard to make a general statement that holds up across all that!
 

Aknot

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This is a very interesting discussion but I think it can also be a road block to getting a world that is good enough for your story. It's very easy to get stuck on trying to figure it all out before writing the actual narrative.

Figuring out what "works" in a fantasy world is somewhere between a great one liner to a lifetime of documents. Any student of history can tell you about the pitfalls humanity has been through so far and a psychologist or anthropologist can most likely describe all the challenges any group faces over time in terms of coherence or strife. Creating a detailed model of an utopia without possible faults is a challenge, to say the least. There are ideas though that tries to capture humanities needs. One of the more famous is Maslow's Pyramid. It doesn't really care for good or bad, but basically says that if we can cover our basic needs (protection, food etc) we can strive for other things (art, self realization and so on). A simplistic definition of Utopia would be the top of the pyramid for all the Utopians.

Morals and ethics - what is good - is another matter. It's probably easiest to stick with the big things (killing people and harming others) and keeping it in black and white versus going into all the shades of gray (is the harm of one worth the utopia of the rest: what faith, if any, defines a good life best?).

My personal view is that a world should not be more than the story requires and that one of the greatest traps for a writer is caring more about the world that is created than the tale itself. If you keep it simple, then you also make it pretty easy for yourself.

Space Opera is in my view a genre that leads itself very well to the simpler the better.

"The galactic empire had endured a thousand years of peace and prosperity, making hardships, war and suffering an unknown to all its people."

That's a space opera utopia in my opinion. If you want to introduce strife and conflict, then you add a line about whats outside the empire's domain. I would not really need more if I read a book. The premise of Star Wars does not require many lines of text. The beauty lies in the simplicity and the ease of acceptance. That is both the premise of the utopia and, most likely, the story. It's when you start explaining why it's been a thousand years of peace and prosperity that Pandora's box is flung open.

Lastly, if your story requires additional information here and there, add something simple that supports the premise. "Growth pods supplied all the foods the empire needed." What's a growth pod? Who cares! Because Space Opera!

PS. The simplicity of the premise can also help the story in other ways. That the Big Bad Person is evil is pretty clear, when their plan is to turn off all the growth pods. That means stopping BBP and turning them back on is good, as all the food of the Empire depends on it. Your value of your McGuffin does not require a paragraph to explain why it's so important. DS.
 

Fiberglass Cyborg

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A slight sideways step: though they are fantasy, books 4 to 7 of Sanderson's "Mistborn" series are set in the "nice future" of the previous three. The Elendel Basin was created as a literal Earthly paradise by a benign god. It would be certainly viewed as a utopia by their ancestors, who lived in a brutal slave empire on a volcanic hellworld. Everyone is free, the soil is endlessly fertile, war is practically unknown and technology is racing ahead. People being people, there are still problems. Notably a growing class struggle and a rise in tensions between the capital and the provincial cities.
 

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