by Shelt Garner
I continue to dwell on the following thought experiment — if a Galactic Empire was willing to zap a few hundred million people to a new, habitable planet, but you had to rebuild human civilization using only existing technology, how would you do it?
The most obvious solution is you first settle the planet with Americans then gradually bring everyone else from Earth to the new planet in that context. America is a nation of immigrants on an existential basis and so, as such, using it as the basis of a new “universal civilization” makes the most sense. In a way, it makes too much sense because once you zap people to the new planet, most of the macro problems are solved, which makes the story boring.
But the there is a central issue to the story that is the crux of why I continue to dwell on this “impossible scenario” for years and years — if you work on the assumption that a “The Other” sees all humans as equal, then you have all sorts of problems you have to deal with.
Earth isn’t one civilization, but several. Nothing is universal in the global human experience and the moment you decide there will be any sort of cultural standard, you are opening up a huge can of worms that will make everyone angry.
It’s just really, really fascinating to me how The Other would make demands upon humans as a collective that we’re just not prepared to do easily. So, whenever I have a little extra mental exergy — which is often — I return to this “impossible scenario” and weigh different ways it might be solved.
I’ve thought about this story so long that I probably need to think seriously about using it as the basis for some sort of novel.