Monday, November 25, 2013

A Vision for Progressive Fiction in the Superhero Genre

The fanfiction site, Altered Visions, is rebooting itself.  I contacted the editors privately to share with them what I thought would be good world-building.  It was rejected, but now I share it here, so perhaps others will profit by it someday.

Most people who know my fanfiction know I have a fondness for a) writing in past decades and b) advancing superheroes in real time.  I have a particular vision for how a superhero world would turn out by modern times and I've written a short essay about it. 

If superheroes had really been around since 1939, then the world should be about ¾ of the way to utopia by now.  By the year 2013, then, technology (boosted by super-intelligent superheroes and alien tech) should be around 2089-level tech, with androids in public service, AI computers, solar power and fusion power everywhere, magnetic rail robot cars, and inter-solar system space travel.  Some things are still off-limits for most people, like teleportation technology, that only the superheroes (and villains) have. 

Further, the superheroes should have long since given up defending the status quo and worked collectively to better the world in a liberal progressive direction – the only political direction based on wanting to help make everyone’s lives better.  Universal health care is now truly universal.  The rain forests have been mostly replanted.  Global warming has been slowed down.  There are no third world countries anymore, just developed and developing countries.  Crime is almost unheard of and when it does happen, it tends to be something BIG that only superheroes can stop.

Globalization has happened too, just because of all these global emergencies that have needed rapid responses.  There is a world currency (though many people now use microchip embedded debit cards in their hands) and the United Nations is an actual, working government with nations’ leaders serving more like state governors now. 

Man is spreading throughout the solar system, with a base on or orbiting every planet even out to Pluto.  Orbiting Saturn is Baxter Station, a scientific satellite home to Fantastic Four Inc., a hundred scientists and their families and support staff, numbering 1,000 people.  Mars has two domed cities on it.

Forget that sliding scale of history.  The Golden Age took place in the 1940s.  The Silver Age took place in the 1960s.  Mr. Fantastic was 60 in 1980 and Spider-Man was 33.  The superheroes around now are often the adult sons and daughters of the Silver Age heroes and -- because this business is dangerous – some legacy heroes are actually the third or fourth person to wear the costume. 

And these superheroes are more cooperative than ever.  The teams are specialized in function, but coordinate their efforts.  Everyone can get in touch with everyone else.  And the superhero community has a very active role in both society and politics.  These heroes are actively guiding mankind into the future.

Most supervillains from before mid-1966 are dead and the remaining ones are reformed. 

So where will conflict come from in this brave new world?  There are still haves and have-nots – though 78% of the population wants for nothing now.  There will always be people trying to make more have-nots – either by claiming political power in some country or withholding some new or developing technology that could benefit everyone – and these people are willing and able to hire old-fashioned supervillains to protect/enforce them.  By now, Earth’s superheroes have humiliated every alien empire out there.  Some aliens races have responded by trying diplomatic relations with Earth, but others are still looking to get back at Earth for past embarrassments.  And then there are ecological issues related to overcrowding -- terraforming the deserts on Earth, making Antarctica inhabitable, and living with mermen in the oceans to consider.

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