How I do come up with the idea for The Fortinbras Files?
The idea for “The Fortinbras Files” started from a casual conversation with family and friends.
We were sitting around chatting and the conversation turned to the end of the world as we know it. You know, a typical discussion after a big meal and everyone is too full to move. Our life was about the farthest thing from a dystopian world, but it was fun to imagine what the world would be like.
At one point, my son-in-law pointed out that rich people wouldn’t survive because money wouldn’t mean much, but people with survival skill would rise to the top.
That idea got to me. What kind of people would be important in a society where governments, banks, businesses, and social structures had collapsed? I played around with ideas for a while. Most ideas hold my attention for a while, and I move on to something else, but this one stuck around.
When characters and situations come into my imagination and won’t leave, I know I have an idea that’s going to take me somewhere.
Bullies and Violence
One idea that kept reoccurring to me was that bullies and violent people would rise up fast because they would be in their element. They could push people around to get what they wanted. Without laws or governments to protect ordinary people, the entire world would be overrun with gangs and thugs. This would be a violent and dangerous society.
On the flip side of the equation are people who would want to restore society, create a better world. Some might be willing to fight the bullies, but they would probably be killed before they could do anything permanent. Plus, one or two people here or there don’t make much of a different in a lawless world.
Then there’s my observation that most people have short term vision. What’s going to solve a problem for right now, rather than what’s going to be best in the long term? So, to take a violent ungoverned society to a governed society would require people with a long term vision and plans. They would also have to be united to some degree and be willing to work long term for a greater vision.
From those two ideas several things came together:
1. Some people would band together and try to form communities or towns. These people would have long term vision.
2. Most people would band together for protection. They’d probably be hunters, gathers, and raiders, taking from other groups. Most of these groups would be violent with bullies for leaders.
3. Food would be a problem for everyone. So, farmers would be special. Only insightful gangs would realize this.
4. Technology would have to be rediscovered. There would be a lot of scavenging. People who either knew how or could figure out how to repair or repurpose technology would be valued.
5. So technology would range from primitive to complex, on the level of a pre-industrial or early-industrial age. Steam, gears, wind, and water power could be used to power technology. It wouldn’t be a steampunk society, but a cousin of steampunk.
6. There would be some complex technology. Plus, there would always be people who could figure out how to use or repurpose found technology, which would be everywhere. Technology would return to a simpler age where individuals could craft whatever was needed.
Who Would Be the Heroes?
This was one of my big mental hurtles. It was easy to see how bullies and greedy people would work in a primitive society, but where would the heroes come from? How could civility return to society? Who would bring that about? Would all history be lost?
When your life is dedicated to survival, education, learning, and passing along tradition wouldn’t be a top priority.
From this pondering, the Legates were born. Legates: warriors, assassins, scholars, protectors of civilization’s artifacts, keepers of knowledge. Enigmas.