The Future Fire is crowdfunding another science fiction anthology! The theme this time concerns the issues that come with disability as well as how those intersect with other issues such as race, gender, sexuality, and class. Sounds pretty cool, huh? Well, to help spread the word, Future Fire has a blog hop going for writers and readers to talk about their work in progress or their current read and how power plays out therein. Future Fire general editor Djibril al-Ayad invited me to chime in and I quickly agreed.
Tell us about your Work In Progress (WIP) and the world it’s set in.
My current WIP is a space noir detective novelette set in another solar system from ours called “Piper Deez and the Case of the Clanless Woman.” There are several inhabited planets and three mining planets where most of the civilization’s minerals and chemicals come from. The people are all of the same “humanoid” species (I put humanoid in quotes because humans aren’t actually a part of this universe I’ve built, but these folks look like us, give or take their facial structure.) Piper Deez is a detective investigating a series of thefts and murders on the mining planet run by her family’s corporation.
Who are the most powerful people in this world?
This solar system’s civilization is structured around family connections. Every family belongs to one of dozens of clans. The most powerful are the three richest clans, the Toshir, the Edos, and the Drell (Piper’s). These three are this solar system’s 1%. They own most of the system’s resources and are treated like royalty.
Where does their power come from?
A rigid class system that allows for very little upward movement. The Toshir, Edos, and Drell have been in power for centuries. My detective is one of a minority of upper class people questioning this set-up.
What physical and/or mental characteristics underpin their positions of power?
Remember I mentioned facial structure up there in #1? Clan membership is written on a person’s face in this culture. Cartilage and bone form raised patterns on the head, mostly on the forehead, but sometimes cascading down the side of the face and neck. These patterns become more prominent when a person reaches puberty and are surgically enhanced if they marry, incorporating elements of their partner’s clan pattern into theirs, if different. The more powerful clans have more prominent clanmarks.
How does this affect the weakest people in the world?
While the society is technically democratic, with popular elections and fairly liberal civil liberties (QUILTBAG folks aren’t discriminated against, for example; Piper Deez is a lesbian. All ethnicities are treated equally, as well.), the clan/class structure is rigid, like I said. Weaker clans have fewer resources and power and have to coöperate with other clans to both succeed financially and to guard their rights. Business guilds and labor unions are an outgrowth of this and help to balance things out somewhat. The weakest people in this society are the clanless, people who have either been ejected from their clans or have claimed emancipation from them. Clanless people are required to submit to surgery and have their clanmarks removed. Without family connections, it’s hard for them to find work through regular means. While they aren’t technically “untouchable,” they’re not trusted by clanned people and abuse is an issue.
Thanks to Djibril al-Ayad for giving me the opportunity to think about my story is these terms. If you want to take part in the Accessing the Future blog hop, you can read more about it here.