Ok, folks. My brain seems to be depleted, and I need help brainstorming some ideas. Anything you think of is great, as long as you understand that I might use it. If so, you'll get credit. Here's the background, with my question afterward:
The people of a planet are forced to live in enclosed cities because their atmosphere was poisoned generations before. For population control, everyone's genetic structure was altered so that no one can bear children naturally. Instead, they engineer their children from the parents' DNA, and grow them in a lab. That's been their way of going about things for hundreds and hundreds of years. The leaders of this world will be bribed by my bad guy, who convinces them to do something he wants.
My question: What's the bribe? Another way to say this is: What do these leaders want/need badly enough that they can be coerced?
Please: - offer ideas - ask questions that might spark ideas - ask me questions you have about the story that might help generate ideas
This planet does not feature centrally in the entire story, it's just a place our heros visit early on. If you consider or recommend changing elements of this premise, the most important one to the storyline is that they have the technology to engineer babies in a lab. (That's not what the story is about, but it's an important step in the plot.)
Is there a way your bad guy can offer them clean air? That would be a big selling point.
Or maybe they want another planet they can colonize to get off the one they're on. It doesn't sound like a very happy place to live.
Or maybe they want to have an elite class of people who can reproduce naturally (there might be pressure from the very wealthy to do this) but they have lost the knowledge of how, and he can give it to them.
Here's some questions that might help: Is there something politically between planets that they want and he can give? Or is there something threatening them that he can defend them against? Do they need money because powerful planet X is demanding they repay a loan that they can't pay off? Is there something more personal that one of the leaders can fall for, and then convince the others to go along with him?
Hope something in that mess gives you an idea of where to go. Good luck!
Are you talking about a planet that performs similar to the Planet Camino in the Star Wars Episode II film?
The problem with a generic list is, not knowing how valuable the thing (something he wants) is they are asking for.
What could they need, here’s a possible list:
- Raw DNA material - Eggs for insemination - Seamen from an Ultra Prime donor - Interplanetary Currency - Unlimited Carryout Pizza (if you looking for funny) - Not to kill a special Hostage – could be royalty, leader, biochemist... whatever - Medicine - Slaves (from other systems) - Their own island Resort on another planet (only for the ones that accept the bribe of course… not talking about planetary relocation) - Or from the other works - Romulan Ale, gold-pressed latinum, 17,000 credits (also gets you to Alderaan on the Millennium Falcon), a babble fish, or a baggy of spice from Arrakis – OK enough funny… - Special vegetation - designed to eat the poison nastiness (only down side is that it wont make a huge difference on the planet for about 50 years) - A hit done – i.e assassination of the retch of their choosing - The Crystal of Himdhaj – holds the complete history of the Amtju including all of their technology. And if they order right now, the complete works of Uncle Card at no extra charge. - and finally, the complete set of bobble-head dolls of Hadji, Reese, Bandit, Professor Quest and Johnny Quest
Give me a relational value of the planets service, and I can come up with a much better list.
"Are you talking about a planet that performs similar to the Planet Camino in the Star Wars Episode II film?" NO!! Why would I want to relive that nightmare?
They engineer their children for their own population. For them, it's the totally normal way of going about having children.
This planet is a member of a 'compact' including many other planets. It's not a political unit (like the Galactic Republic) but rather a type of peace treaty. Each member world can go about doing its own thing, but it has to agree to the terms of the compact (no making war on other members, allowing safe passage through their space, etc).
The level of the coercion is this: the bad guy convinces the leaders to lie to two representatives of the most respected group in the compact, namely, our heros. In the context of the story, lying to them is a BIG DEAL, so the leaders have to have a very good reason for doing so.
Pantros, you bring up a good point, which leads to the question: What have they done that was bad enough it could be used against them for this? Hmmm...
Thanks for the ideas, guys. If you have more, lay'em on me.
What could the bad guy have the power to do, that the leaders of this enclosed society (these enclosed societies? is there more than one?) would fear he would do, that they would do as he says rather than have him do it?
What could someone in an enclosed society be able to do, that would strike that kind of fear in someone?
The bad guy could also threaten to blow up the cloning labs. Or even as far as tainting the air in the enclosed bio-domes. Or the bad guy could lie (big cliche there) to another of the pact planets leaders about a false invasion and that sort of thing.
"The knowledge and ability to reproduce naturally..."
I couldn't help but smile at that. Seems people have been figuring it out without prior knowledge for millenia, and there's usually not much ability required... Alas, while the people in my story can engage in the act all they like, conception just can't take place.
There is a reason they haven't wanted/needed natural reproduction and it's been working, so I'm not sure if they would want that ability. Also, I'm hoping for something where the bad guy ingratiates himself by offering something they really want, rather than threatening them. What happens later down the line in the story is that their scheme doesn't work out, and the leaders try desperately to get the bad guy to come back because of what he offered.
Your ideas are great, and they are turning into a big stew in my brain. Keep it cooking, and maybe something yummy will come out of the pot!
Edited for spelling.
[This message has been edited by sojoyful (edited November 20, 2005).]
I thought of something that might be of interest.
These people all live in contained cities, what could be more valued than freedom.
And not just freedom from the cities or the planet, but the freedom of open space. When I first read your description, I automatically thought of how restricting it must be. How I would miss the open vistas, the animals, plants, and opportunity to grow and expand. If you have a limited amount of space, you are limited to the amount of changes of scenery, space, and lifestyle. These politicians would probably like bigger and better residences, land, animals, etc. So there are my rambling thoughts.
The Bribe: A newly developed gene sequence stored in a vial locked inside a steel vault hidden in a cave. When ingested, the new gene sequence will allow the politician to achieve immortality. The downside is that they become more grotesque looking with each added year. Or some other downside such as a complete loss of memory of their life up to the point of ingesting the DNA.
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Hmm you’re right. In terms of planetary relations, to lie to another member of the compact (treaty, accord, alliance, convention, covenant, pact) is to commit political suicide, or maybe even considered an act of war.
So the question then is what is more valuable to the ones making the decision than all of their allies in the Compact, and worth risking Galactic war over…
If a reasonable carrot could be dangled which would all but guarantee that the lie could not be traced back to them… then the Bad guys Bribe or blackmail does not need to be so great a thing.
Maybe the “Bad Guy” presents truthful or bogus information to this planet that made them believe the other members of the Compact had it out for them and that they were only one step away from annihilation. In turn the Bad Guy offers them something that is now valuable to them in avoiding this sabotage from their own Compact members. This would also provide ultimate motivation for them to proceed with the required lie.
Maybe something like:
Darth Trader approaches Biggus Wiggus in the dimly lit hall. His hard soled boots making a distinct clipping tone on the marbled floor with each step. Stopping a few feet in front of Lord Wiggus, Darth Trader bows briefly and brandishes his charming political smile.
“Ahh Trader, what brings you to this corner of the galaxy?”
Trader removes a set of documents and Memory disk of some recorded testimony. “You may be interested in viewing these,” and places them on the table to the side of the dais in the great hall.
Lord Wiggus’ page runs forward and retrieves the stack for his lord.
Leafing through the stack Lord Wiggus becomes visibly pale. Turning to his chancellor he points at one document in particular stating “There is no possible way they could have known about this. We have been betrayed!”
Darth Trader sees his gamble has paid off. The document is of course a forgery, but something that Darth Trader had suspected for some time….
Anyway, I think you get the idea. Feel free to use all or none of these ideas.
After generations of unnatural reproduction, the gene sequence of the entire population had somehow degraded and/or most of the population now suffers from some sort of genetic disorder (perhaps one that cause insanity, death, etc.) The disorder is currently dormant within the population, with only a few occasional full blown cases. However, the scientists had realize that in a few moregenerations, almost everyone will have it.
The antagonist is offering the leader a 'cure'/treatment for the disorder.
I have settled on an idea that I like and that works extremely well.
They have been engineering their children for many generations for a very good reason (population control) and the people are not only content with it, but highly in support of it. Now, though, the ruler or ruling family has decided they ought to get to reproduce naturally as a 'royal family' perk kind of thing. This, of course, would get them ostracized if their people ever found out. So they are doing it in secret, making it look like their children are engineered just like everyone else's. The bad guy finds this out, and threatens to tell the people if they don't do as he asks.
(I'm not going to to spill the whole plot, as much as I'm dying to, but this ties in REALLY well with all of the things that have to occur around this action.)
Thank you to: - Jaina for tying it to the elite class - pantros for the idea of blackmail - wbriggs for explicitly tying the blackmail to the unnatural reproduction - D_James_Larking for showing that the blackmail doesn't have to be galactic in scale to work (in his para about the carrot) - all of you for taking the time to offer suggestions and help me think
If this thing ever gets published, I'll make good on my promise of giving credit where credit is due!
I could see the basic idea playing out in a sealed-off society---if it were open, anytime somebody felt uncomfortable about it, they'd be over on the other side of the hill and doing what comes naturally.
I am concerned with how "Bad Guy" could blackmail "Ruling Family" over it, though the offense seems, er, "blackmailable." Seems to me that, in an enclosed society, the powers-that-be would have a great deal of power over the have-nots. If the Ruling Family is powerful enough, why don't they see that Bad Guy just stops breathing?
Some powerful restriction on the powers of the Ruling Family, or some powerful reason for them not to eliminate Bad Guy, or some combination of the two, would be needed...
Re: folks going over the hill: They can have sex all they want. But it is not physiologically possible for them to conceive a child with out the aid of the genetics labs (I don't have a name for those yet). By re-altering their own genetics to make natural conception possible, the ruling family are, in a sense, going against what has been considered natural on this planet for hundreds and hundreds of years.
Re: how could the bad guy have the power to blackmail these folks? Hehe. That's why he's the bad guy. (But I won't give that bit o' plot away.)
Blackmail. He has ESP and can find the thing anyone is most ashamed of and knowing that can come up with proof.
P.S. So why do the babies have to be grown in a lab instead of just artificially implanted in the womb? You have two separate issues. One is whether people can mix DNA without help. The other is whether they can carry a baby.
Of course, it may be that only one sex of baby can be born normally, and also that all of the other sex has to be grown in an artificial environment of some kind. Like women are so allergic to men, their immune systems will kill the fetus or something. Like, maybe the only people who survived the initial plague were women who had more maternal system infiltration of the fetus than is normally good. And so maybe the offspring have really bad immune systems but it's okay because they live in these self-contained cities. Maybe the lab grown babies are grown in cloned organs from people from before whenever. I don't know. That's why I don't write science fiction. I can't drop the ball.
[This message has been edited by franc li (edited November 21, 2005).]
Actually, I already have the whole unnatural reproduction thing figured out, and I also have the bad guy's 'power' figured out too. Don't need suggestions for those. However, this is a great feeding ground for anyone else that needs ideas.
Edited to say: Good grief franc li! What do you mean you don't write science fiction? You've got a whole story right there! Write it, publish it, give me credit for inspiring the idea, and live happily ever after.
[This message has been edited by sojoyful (edited November 21, 2005).]
Hey SOYJOYFUL, I admit I did not read the complete thread.
But I do find it hard to imagine this world. Don't they have immigration, illegal aliens or refugees from other worlds who can reproduce normally? Wouldn't there end up a bunch of underground 'breeders' living by their wits and evading capture?
How do they go about trade? Cultural exchange etc? There is only one thing a whole people would want so bad they would give away their rights and freedoms for and that is security, to be free from fear.
In other words, maybe put the population in fear of something, like insurgent 'breeders' threatening to explode the domes or something like that. Then the polticians can swing just about any deal they wish, if they promise security as a result. The threat doesn't even have to be real, just real enough to produce the 'fear' card.
[This message has been edited by hoptoad (edited November 21, 2005).]
hoptoad, the reason you're having a hard time imagining this world is because my object here wasn't to flesh out the whole world for you. I only gave as much background as I thought was necessary to help folks answer my question.
I've done lots of world development for this world and the universe in which it exists. But I'm not going to give it all to you. For that, you'll have to read the book!
[This message has been edited by sojoyful (edited November 21, 2005).]