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Author Topic: My own questions about Empire
Lyrhawn
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Okay, honestly, I pulled my post from the original Empire thread because it's not really a thread about the story anymore, it's fight night over politics. I don't think meaningful discussion is taking place over there (about the book I mean), and there's some questions I hope for answers on.

So trying to get back to the story:

Some comments on the story -

(spoiler)Actually, a question first of all. I got confused somewhere in there about who actually pulled off the attack. It's supposed to be ACTUAL terrorists, who were fed information by a White House leak, who got the information from Malek when he created it, who then set up the attack, and it was supposed to look like the American army who did it?

Didn't Malek say that he only wrote the report three weeks ago? I guess I find it hard to wrap my head around the idea that Al Qaeda or one of its brethren could put that entire operation together, and get all the pieces in place, even if they got the report that same day, all within three weeks. I suppose it's a moot point, but it strikes me as rather fast. But hey, we've seen before that terrorist organizations are actually smarter and more complex than we've really given them credit for, so why not?(/spoiler)

On the timing of the book, it's June, and Friday the 13th, which means the book will take place in either 2008, 2014, 2025 or even further in the future. From the talk going on in the book, it can't be any more than a couple years away, which means it has to be 2008.

That leads me to a question though, in June, in 2008, no one really cares all that much about the president or the vice president. He's a lame duck, and by that point, and the two front runners would have been chosen months prior, at the latest by March they would have emerged. By June, only five months away from electing the next president, what effect would killing the president really have? I can see we'd all be pretty pissed, and the Speaker of the House (Dennis Hastert at the moment) would take over for a few months...but does it have much of a substantive effect?

By the time June rolls around in 2008, I'm not going to be caring much about Bush at all, I won't have time to rail on about whatever stupid thing I think he's doing this week (which I haven't had to do lately at all, I haven't heard him say much of anything, let alone something stupid) I'll be squarely focused on the NEXT president, as we always are at this time of year.

I'd assume that any attack or assasination attempt wasn't done to try and hurt the American people, but to try and influence the election. In a story so heavily entrenched in politics, I'd think that'd have to be addressed as a possibility. But that all assumes that the timing was intentional, that June 13th, 2008 was the intended time frame for this novel, or if it was unintentional.


Another random note, the current world population is estimated by the US Census at 6.5 billion and rising. It's a minor thing I suppose, but Malek I believe refers to reducing the world population from 6 billion to a half billion, an 11/12ths reduction, and it should be 6.5 billion to a half billion, a 12/13ths reduction. Though if Malek thinks it's 6 billion too, then I suppose it doesn't matter, but he's supposed to be uber-intelligent, I'd think he'd know.


I found the Torrent's comparisons of the US to Rome very interesting. Though I thought he was wrong to say that the US had nothing to do with the fact that everyone speaks English because of the British and not the US. Imagine if the Americans had never entered World War 2, or if they had just fought Japan and left it at that. Britain would have eventually fallen to Germany, and the British Empire would have collapsed. There would be no major English speaking power in the world with the will to do anything. I think America's entrance into the war, and their rise from isolationist behemoth to aggressive freedom fighter is what secured English as any sort of a common world language. But then, I'm arguing with Torrent really, not Card


What I'm REALLY curious to see, is what the giant group of Americans sitting squarely in the middle of the political spectrum does about all this. There are radicals in both parties to be sure, they are the only voices we ever hear. I think it's because of a combination of apathy and a feeling of helplessness from those stuck in the middle, who either don't care, or figure there's no point in getting involved. Would this finally be enough to get them to stand up and tell the crazed minorities on both sides to sit down and shut up?

I disliked the constant references to red states and blue states. I think those are horrible titles to use when discussion political divisions, and they exist only for two reasons. 1. Because CNN made them up. 2. Because there's an electoral college. We have no idea what effect a free direct election would have on the electorate, we only extrapolate what is and isn't a red or blue state using voting data from the previous election. I don't think it's impossible to imagine that a couple million Republicans that live in California might vote if they felt they actually had a chance of effecting the outcome of a national election. And that goes across the entire nation. In the most populated states, you have the most clear division. Michigan is a blue state, why? Because we've voted "blue" in the last couple elections. But that's just silly. Outside of southern Michigan you have mostly rural areas. And even a lot in southern Michigan too, to say nothing of the UP. In so many states the division is so thin, it's sillly to try and lump the entire state under a single color designation. I think it does more to harm national unity than it does to help explain the current political situation.

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Lyrhawn
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Oh one more quick thing, whoever said that this felt like an episode of 24 nailed a subconcious thought I had whilst reading this. I couldn't quite pin it down, but that's precisely what it felt like, the opening to an episode of 24.

Which isn't a diss at all, I LOVE 24.

Edit to add: One MORE 'quick' comment and question to OSC: Where do you get the quotes/comments that precede each of your chapters? Is that all from you, is it the voice of one of the characters, or is it from an outside source?

Mostly I only ask because I wonder as to the truthfulness of the first one, that "treason only matters when it is committed by trusted men."

When the CSA rebelled against the US, it was treason, but is there really an argument to be made that the men in charge, the officers who were mostly former or current Union officers are the ones most to blame? Who would they lead, if not for the hundreds of thousands who were not important, and not trusted, hadn't committed treason?

Most of the men in the American Revolution weren't men who were in trusted positions, they were farmers, or lawyers, cobblers or writers. Not everyone is Benedict Arnold. Not everyone is a high profile individual, doing something only a high profile individual could do. John Boothe killed Lincoln, not a member of the secret service. I know secret service protection didn't come about until another 40 years, but you get the point. All the presidential assasins were NOT men of trusted position, they were average people.

I think treason really matters most when a nation has lost its identity, to a point where no one is sure treason is even being committed.

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Gwen
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If it's a debate about anything at all, it's a debate about whether or not the debate about Chapter Two is about politics. Confusing...so hard to keep on track...my head hurts...

quote:
Actually, a question first of all. I got confused somewhere in there about who actually pulled off the attack. It's supposed to be ACTUAL terrorists, who were fed information by a White House leak, who got the information from Malek when he created it, who then set up the attack, and it was supposed to look like the American army who did it?

Didn't Malek say that he only wrote the report three weeks ago? I guess I find it hard to wrap my head around the idea that Al Qaeda or one of its brethren could put that entire operation together, and get all the pieces in place, even if they got the report that same day, all within three weeks. I suppose it's a moot point, but it strikes me as rather fast. But hey, we've seen before that terrorist organizations are actually smarter and more complex than we've really given them credit for, so why not?

Didn't Malek and Cole come to the conclusion that it couldn't possibly have been an al Qaeda plot, because of the reasons you listed? I thought that the point was that it had to be an inside job, and if it was, that meant...*suspenseful music* CIVIL WAR!

quote:
On the timing of the book, it's June, and Friday the 13th, which means the book will take place in either 2008, 2014, 2025 or even further in the future. From the talk going on in the book, it can't be any more than a couple years away, which means it has to be 2008.
Maybe it's in an alternate universe, where presidents are elected on alternating odd years instead...

quote:
What I'm REALLY curious to see, is what the giant group of Americans sitting squarely in the middle of the political spectrum does about all this. There are radicals in both parties to be sure, they are the only voices we ever hear. I think it's because of a combination of apathy and a feeling of helplessness from those stuck in the middle, who either don't care, or figure there's no point in getting involved. Would this finally be enough to get them to stand up and tell the crazed minorities on both sides to sit down and shut up?
Ooh, me too. I hope so. But then, during the American Revolutionary War, what did the middle fraction do (I've seen numbers from three-fifths to one-third, but still a significant number)? Maybe as the war wears on, they would *have* to pick one side or the other. At some point, it would polarize everyone involved, so that neutrality would become almost impossible. ("Either you're with us or you're with...EVIL!" Very few people taking sides appreciate neutral people, I think.) The goal would be to stop the war before it got to that Point of No Return. Except that that would mean the people wanting the country the way it is would have to win completely and quickly, or give up completely and quickly, neither of which I think will happen.

quote:
I disliked the constant references to red states and blue states. I think those are horrible titles to use when discussion political divisions, and they exist only for two reasons. 1. Because CNN made them up. 2. Because there's an electoral college. We have no idea what effect a free direct election would have on the electorate, we only extrapolate what is and isn't a red or blue state using voting data from the previous election. I don't think it's impossible to imagine that a couple million Republicans that live in California might vote if they felt they actually had a chance of effecting the outcome of a national election. And that goes across the entire nation. In the most populated states, you have the most clear division. Michigan is a blue state, why? Because we've voted "blue" in the last couple elections. But that's just silly. Outside of southern Michigan you have mostly rural areas. And even a lot in southern Michigan too, to say nothing of the UP. In so many states the division is so thin, it's sillly to try and lump the entire state under a single color designation. I think it does more to harm national unity than it does to help explain the current political situation.
I've always disliked the red-state, blue-state, one-state, two-state thing too. I much prefer to look up those maps in shades of purple; they've got them by county and by state, at least for the presidential elections. A symptom and a cause of the divisiveness of two-party politics.

quote:
Mostly I only ask because I wonder as to the truthfulness of the first one, that "treason only matters when it is committed by trusted men."

When the CSA rebelled against the US, it was treason, but is there really an argument to be made that the men in charge, the officers who were mostly former or current Union officers are the ones most to blame? Who would they lead, if not for the hundreds of thousands who were not important, and not trusted, hadn't committed treason?

I took the quote to mean individual treason, so that only someone in place of trust could really do a lot of harm with the treason. If you expand that to include groups of people, and then try to apply that to the Civil War in the United States--I'd apply it to the Confederate states, rather than the individuals, and then it works. The Confederate states were trusted in the sense that they had the power and the resources to defend themselves in a civil war (not exactly trusted by the Northern politicians of the time, I don't think, but none of them tried to take away those resources, either). Stickier when you go into the Revolution, but as for the assassinations--isn't treason giving aid or comfort to the enemy? (They may have extended the definition in the Constitution, so it's a real question.) Technically, because they weren't doing it in order to give aid or comfort to an enemy that I know of (at least Guiteau didn't when he killed Garfield, and that's the only one I know much about), it wasn't treason, unless you count the non-material aid and comfort that they incidentally gave to the enemy, which would be harder to prove in court and would mean that all the news reporters bringing us down about Iraq really are committing treason. I don't think that that is the definition we're going for, is it?

So the reason why treason matters most when committed by trusted people is because the aid and comfort that they can give to the enemy is much better ("yes, I know exactly where the president is in the White House at any given time, do you want his schedule?"), plus the emotional blow it is for the side that was betrayed to know that someone so trusted was a traitor.

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AB
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I'm not certain at all, but the quotes sound like translations of Lao Tzu's, The Art of War.

I will try to post about the other comments when I have some time. :-)

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Puppy
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You mean Sun Tzu, and I think you're wrong they were all written by Card [Smile]
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Noemon
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Yeah, really. Lao Tzu wrote A Book of Five Rings!

My Empire question is this--do you think that Yaphet Kotto would have made a better Lando than Billy Dee Williams? I know he was the first choice, but I don't think he'd have fleshed out the role as well, myself.

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Orson Scott Card
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It would be really cool to read Lao Tzu on the art of war, though, don't you think?

It would be "The Way of War," though, probably.

The quotes are all written by Torrent - which means, since he is a fictional character, that they are all written by me. With the exception that in one chapter there's a quote that could have gone either of two ways, and I asked Beth Meacham, my editor, which she liked better - and she made a third suggestion, which meant a very different thing, but was way cooler than either of my alternatives, and yet combined them both. When you see the full book, it's the very brief quote about eggs.

A lot of the other questions raised in the first five chapters are answered in later chapters, or remain eerily mysterious <grin>.

And if it feels like 24, that's not an accident. I was watching the first season of 24 on DVD (I'd never watched it before) to get the rhythm and pacing of a thriller. No way did I even want to do anything as convoluted as 24 - that would be 3 novels worth of plot! - and besides, novels do different things from television shows. But it helped to see just how much talking and explaining go on in 24; it gave me permission to do the proper setups for the action scenes, which are generally quite brief.

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