Thursday, March 22, 2018

What would an alien society look like?

Toreni, Chet, and Jirra
I'm sure you all know I'm working on the WIP – Mystery of the Ice Warriors. It's set firmly in the Manesai (Morgan Selwood) universe, so I have to make sure that I stick with that society's structure. While the Manesai are evolved humans, they are a little bit different from us. They have better eyesight and cat-like eyes. They're stronger, suppler – and they have a rigid class system.

There are basically four classes:

  • Mirka - These people are the leaders. Military command officers, presidents and senior politicians will be found in their ranks, as well as police.
  • Vesha - Vesha form the business class. Merchants, traders, layers, accountants and the like. Some of them are very wealthy.
  • Hasta - These are the technical people. Engineers, technicians, chemists, scientists, doctors.
  • Shuba - The working class. Laborers, foot soldiers, farmers.

Genetic engineering has made it impossible for people from the four classes to create offspring with a member of another class. Manesai culture is heavily based on the Indian caste system. But even if it wasn’t, point a finger at any part of the world and you’ll find classes, castes, restrictions on marriage and the like. The daughters of merchants would marry the sons of other merchants. Princes married princesses. Common serving men didn’t bother lusting after the daughter of the house. Although, in male dominated societies, men in authority thought nothing of having a bit on the side with the serving wench. Marriages were (and still are) very often arranged by the families. And folks, this is still, by and large, true. I have simply taken one small step further in my science fiction and had idealistic genetic scientists make matches between classes childless. A place for everyone and everyone in their place. That’s sure to make for a peaceful society. </sarcasm>

Since humans are essentially tribal and we love to belong to groups, each class has developed sub-classes. Shuba are the foot soldiers, but one group was deliberately modified to make them bigger, stronger, more fearless than the rest. They are the Fleet's elite troopers who also fill civilian roles as security police and body guards. Admiral Ravindra is a member of the Darya sub-class within the Mirka. It is an elite group which produces most Manesai admirals. And the children of admirals (of course) tend to marry the children of admirals.

My three Morgan's Misfits are Jirra, who is a Hasta ex-Fleet engineer, Chet, who is Mirka and was a detective, and Toreni, who is elite Shuba. Romila, who they rescue from a raid on her shop, is Vesha.

I suppose I'm looking at the boundaries between people of different classes. In Morgan's Choice, Ravindra falls for a (shock-horror) ALIEN. But that opened up other questions. What happens if a Mirka man falls for a Hasta woman? Or A Vesha woman for a Hasta man? Or if two people from the same class have incompatible interests? Or if an arranged marriage is not to the liking of the two parties to the marriage? It's an interesting exercise.

In Kuralon Rescue Jirra is being pursued by a bounty hunter, sent after her by her parents, for refusing to honor an arranged marriage. Jirra, who's Hasta, is in love with a Mirka officer. Mystery of the Ice Warriors will explore a little more of the star-crossed lovers theme.

It has been fun developing a history for these stories. I'll confess that some of the folklore in these made up stories is loosely based on real history, or myths and legends. The Mirka temple MAY have derived, at least a little, from the cult of Mithras. Here's a little excerpt, and then I'll get back to the book.

"What is this place?"
Sunil lifted his shoulder. "It's a temple."
"To what?"
"A Mirka temple. There are no gods, of course. Hardly anybody believes in things like that anymore. But the Mirka are warriors, first and foremost. This is a place to honor the dead and to gain one's courage. There's one on Mahanadi, still in use."
Of course. The Mirka temple on Khalas Island. She'd never been there. Women were discouraged. In the past they'd been forbidden. But she'd seen pictures of the interior, and she recognized the similarities. She ran her gloved hand over the altar, still polished smooth. "How old is this place?"
"It's hard to tell. But I think it goes back to the earliest settlement on this world. I spent a few days at the Central Library at Mahanadi trying to find out as much about this world as I could. It wasn’t always called Akhlut. That happened when everyone moved to the main town. From what I can piece together, the weather was much milder when the first people landed here, but weather being what it is, the climate changed. After I think about one hundred years this place in the mountains wasn’t tenable anymore. Akhlut is the name of an ice demon."
Romila nodded. "The cold drove them out."
"That’s right. And they've developed their own folklore. Ice witches that cause water to freeze, that sort of thing. And the ice warriors – the statues you sell – they keep the forces of cold at bay. But while the ice witches aren't real, as you can see, the ice warriors are. Or were."

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