Kara Cooper sat on the sand watching the afternoon sun. She came to California to say good-bye. Divorced, no children, parents dead, she had nothing to keep here anymore. Her brother’s family wanted nothing to do with her, her sexual orientation, gender identity, and politics.
She’s spent most of her life hopping around from place to place, but California was home, or it used to be. Weeping, she remembered her childhood, but that was before the revolution. Strictly speaking, being straight and conservative wasn’t illegal, but it was difficult to get a job or housing, unless the employer or landlord was sympathizer.
“Enough. I’m not going to wallow in self-pity anymore. Screw them. Let them turn the planet into a cesspool.”
She stood defiantly, took one last look at the ocean she’d loved as a child, turned around, and headed back toward the parking lot. She felt the ticket in her pocket. In a week, she’d enter the Vandenberg Spaceport for the first and last time. The shuttle would take her up to where the “Windrider” was parked in orbit. Then, with nearly 500 other colonists, she’d begin the interstellar journey to a new life on the frontier planet “Outlaw.”
I wrote this for Week 30 of the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner photo challenge. The idea is to use the image above as a prompt to craft a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 199.
Once again, I decided to wage a liberal, progressive revolution in the first world nations, so that political and social conservatives became the marginalized population. I know a lot of people on the left side of the aisle either don’t believe this could ever happen, or if the do, believe that it would be a good thing. However, as I’ve stated previously, ANY ideology that forces its beliefs and practices on unwilling people becomes a totalitarian regime (and I suppose a lot of people feel like that’s what they’re living in right now in the U.S.).
Fortunately for Kara, there’s another option, and it’s on a frontier planet where free, independent, and pioneering people can forge a new life and make it anything they want.
To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com. Oh, and I’m happy to see this linkup has finally gotten some traction. Good work, Roger.
17 thoughts on “Chasing the Frontier”
Nice take James, and I too was pleased to see some more interest in the link up.
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“ANY ideology that forces its beliefs and practices on unwilling people becomes a totalitarian regime.” Seems to me that those following a conservative, retrogressive ideology is much more likely to force its beliefs on the public (which is happening as we speak) and to impose a totalitarian regime than would those following a liberal, progressive ideology.
I respectively disagree. It’s not a matter of ideology, it’s a matter of power. Look at the Senators who have been in office for decades on either side of the aisle. Once in power, regardless of ideology, they will tend to stay in power as long as possible, and in many cases, will to anything to stay there, or at least anything they can get away with. If an additional requirement was to be a fascist, then the only example we’d have historically (well, in the 20th century anyway) would be Hitler, but we also have Stalin, Lenin, Mao Zedong, and Castro. My point is that this behavior is a matter of human nature, not idology. Of course it doesn’t automatically mean everyone who gets into power will abuse it, but the possibility is always there, which is why the founding fathers created a system (however imperfect) of checks and balances, so that no one branch of government can become too powerful.
By the way, you do know I don’t write these things to deliberately irritate you, right?
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“you do know I don’t write these things to deliberately irritate you, right?” I would hope not! I agree that power corrupts. But I don’t find liberals/progressives trying to force their religious views down the throats of the citizenry, including positions on women’s rights, LGTB rights, and minority rights as social conservatives are wont to do.
As to checks and balances, the conservatives in Congress are abdicating their responsibility to perform that constitutional duty, don’t you think?
I wish that Congress had term limits just like the Executive Branch (still thinking about how that would work with the Supreme Court), but since they’d have to vote on this, it’ll never happen.
As far as the possibility of a progressive dystopia, I could make a case for it. George Orwell made a case for it as well in his novel “1984,” which is a cautionary tale about a communist dictatorship attempting to control the minds and thoughts of their citizens by reducing the number of words in their vocabulary. If you don’t have a word for “revolution” or “resistance,” can you commit those acts? Can you even conceive of them? I’ve heard the same argument applied to politically correct language as a means to shape and mold how people think, so it’s not very farfetched.
No one imagines themselves capable of becoming a dictator, even a benign one, of if they do, they justify it as sacrificing the rights of some for those of a much larger and previously marginalized population. As an extreme example (I read this recently in a short story), what if using gender specific pronouns was illegal (a misdomener)? Sound strange? What about being fined $1,000 and put in jail for six months if you give out drinking straws in a restaurant?
I know a few folks who feared a progressive dystopia under Obama, and certainly under Hillary Clinton, but if it’s going to happen, it won’t be in the near future (I don’t think). However, if you had such a “stacked deck” of progressives in the White House, the Senate, and the Supreme Court, and especially immediately after Trump has left office, human nature says, there would probably be a hard backlash over to the left and I can imagine, in the name of social justice, a whole stack of laws being passed in an attempt to “flip the equation.”
By the way, it is my understanding that there’s a bit of a power struggle within the Democratic party between the old guard liberals and the new, young progressives, with the former not wanting to give up power to the latter, and the latter thinking the former are too conservative. It’s not just an issue between opposed ideologies but the left (as well as the right), have differing and opposing views as well.
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“whole stack of laws being passed in an attempt to ‘flip the equation.’” By equation, you mean the one that took away regulations to protect our air and water and to mine, drill, and forest our national parks, that reduced women’s reproductive rights, rolled back LGTB protections, reduced access to adequate healthcare, embraces our foes and attacks our allies, cuts back on voting rights, and gives tax breaks to large corporations and the wealthy at the expense of social services, etc., etc. If that’s the equation you’re talking about, it most definitely needs flipping.
And, for what it’s worth, Trump is following Orwell’s 1984 playbook. “What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.”
I don’t believe I’m about to say this, but the situation isn’t exactly binary. I get the feeling you believe I’m supporting Trump, and I’m not. I just don’t support Hillary or Obama, either. My version of a progressive dystopia (and remember, this story is speculative fiction), is that people are subject to laws that don’t actually promote equality for all, but marginalize (as in my story) males, Jews and Christians, punish people for using gender specific pronouns, and in the case of Santa Barbara, put someone in jail for giving a restaurant customer a drinking straw. Right now, the worst that happens to someone who misgenders someone is that they are socially shamed. I’m not saying this will happen, but it could happen. Dystopias, whether religious/conservative or atheist/progressive, are written because of what people dread might happen if certain groups get uncontrolled power. The common factor is human nature, that in that case, we, indeed are all equally flawed.
I happen to agree that political correctness has gone too far and that extremes on either side are bad. And, yes, I can see where extreme behaviors, whether from the left or the right, can lead to dystopian outcomes. Perhaps it’s because I’m both an atheist and a progressive that I am overly sensitive to what I see going on in our country today, but I do think that Donald Trump is a danger to our democracy (or to our republic, if you prefer) and I do believe that if he had his way, he’d rip up the constitution and declare himself president for life. And I don’t see the Republicans in Congress doing what they’re supposed to be doing to ensure that our nation survives. I hope I’m wrong, but I’m worried that “this, too, shall pass” might not.
I can’t affect this particular outcome anymore than you can, but if we can keep talking to one another, in spite of our differences, then the world hasn’t completely gone off its rails yet.
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I am delighted to be able to talk with those whose opinions and beliefs are different from my own when such dialogues don’t degenerate into name calling and empty talking points. Given how divided things are today, that’s rare.
I does seem to be rare, which is why it’s so important to make the effort. Recently, I wrote a commentary about the “implosion” of this year’s WorldCon conference, and it got noticed by some folks with a very different perspective from my own, which I also wrote about. While they disagreed with my opinions and said I was “uninformed,” they did remark that I was nice about it.
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And yes, there is a riff within the Democratic Party. I’m an old timer, but I side with the new, young progressives. Same ol, same ol just doesn’t cut it anymore. That’s what got us here in Trumpistan. When they go low, we must go lower. It’s come to that, IMHO.
The Clinton’s are Republicans who are *pro-choice, basically. They hardly stand for anything except staying in power. They did stand for nationalized health care too, although they didn’t get it done — what got done under Obama was not their plan but a Republican plan. This well demonstrates the ridiculous and insane lengths Republicans were willing to go to in order to retain their influence; acting like their own ideas before they lost their minds were evil, so anyone who would pass what they devised was the devil. The young people are thinking about how life works (rather than categories of ideology) and know they aren’t interested in the status quo; God bless them.
You can read 1984 or Animal Farm and see it isn’t about “the left” — and always framing things that way (that every bad or upsetting or wrong thing is the left) is destructive both to clear thinking and to many a neighbor. In terms of things happening in front of our faces, the wrong, the upsetting, etc., are more about where “the right” is currently (but we don’t have to word it that way, yet might have to In order to break free). When the selection of the right says not to believe what you can see, and when the right has argued for decades (or more) that some people are more equal than others, who is it really that wants you to answer the wrong number of fingers?
* This is an oversimplification in a couple of ways, but still has a bit of meaning worth stating. First, while choice has been reduced to choosing abortion, those who don’t hide from life’s real manifestations know there is much more to think about and much more that is controlled by one over another than this word. Next, allowing for choice usually goes out as also allowing female children+ to remain intact, women to be able to say no to sex or require condoms, accessibility to other forms of birth control and so forth and access to education. On the other hand, the numbers of people in the influence group defined as “against” abortion that are fine with abortion…
+ (and I’ve learned about intergender children now, who are often mutilated or “fixed” or aborted) [Bothering to learn about these things and care is admittedly not the domain of the right. These people (as grown ups, when they are not aborted) are not necessarily homosexual, however that is to be defined (and that’s a whole other thing). Nevertheless, homosexuality too isn’t a defining aspect of totalitarian regimes. Soviets weren’t for it; Nazis didn’t promote it (although they may have had issues with suppressing it).]
I do remember outcries here in America about communists taking children away from their parents (thus, supposedly, we didn’t therefore want to be communist). Where is the outrage on the right now? Or is it like Nixon’s view? A president can’t break the law, nor a Republican offend morality and decency.
I also remember stories about how terrible the Soviet Union was about environmental and public health matters. Somehow, definitions of people on so-called left and right sides in our country are artificially related (or not) to the bad guys. when the Soviet Union were polluters, we cared in general here. When they stopped being purported communists, a bunch of people (guess which ones) over here seem to have decided all that incompetence and total self interest that mucks up the earth, air, and water didn’t matter any more. Pretty perverse.
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Loved the name of your planet! Enjoyed! Thanks for participating this week.
Thanks. I was feeling rebellious when I wrote it.
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