January 22, 2019, 12:23:46 AM

Author Topic: My latest story idea - South America  (Read 230 times)

Offline Eli_Freysson

My latest story idea - South America
« on: December 28, 2018, 07:44:00 PM »
Yes, I have yet another story idea. Though thankfully this one fits within a standalone. I'd like to get some opinions on the basic idea, which is another effort of mine to jam a bunch of different things I want to explore into a single book.

The setting is a fantasy counterpart of South America, and fantasy counterparts to Conquistadors are doing their thing: Brutal exploitation, slavery, forced religious conversions and just generally acting with astonishing imperialistic arrogance.

Then they push into the wrong goddamn land. A land inhabited by Amazons with superior weapons, technology and other neat tricks, courtesy of special materials that fell from the sky in ages past. Much of the expedition is slaughtered, while the leader and a few others are taken captive and brought to the capital.

What follows is a meeting with the Amazon queen, and the Conquistadors getting a taste of their own medicine; mocked and mistreated by a superior nation. I only got this whole idea a couple of days ago, but I think the main plot would be about the leader ransoming the lives of his men by being sent on a solo mission deep into the jungle, where he faces terrible horrors.

While there is obviously some wish-fulfilment in play here (since I can't time travel and punch Christopher Rapist Mutilator Slaver Columbus in the face), I'm not planning to portray the Amazons as morally superior or as heading some kind of utopia. They do their own exploitation of surrounding, less developed nations, and in fact take advantage of the chaos created by invaders to spread their influence. Such as offering a cure for smallpox, but at hefty prices and general submission to the queen. Because that's just people for ya.

I'm a bit hesitant to get serious about writing a protagonist who represents several things I despise, but then there is the prospect of having him emerge from jungle hell traumatised and with some actual perspective, and a quest to save his comrades from the sacrificial altar would at least serve as a sympathetic motivation.

Thoughts?
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Offline cupiscent

Re: My latest story idea - South America
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2018, 02:06:31 AM »
Do lots of reading about the Incas and Aztecs. And, I would also suggested, the Mapuche, who lived in the very south of the South American continent, and held their own against the Incas and, for many decades, against the Spanish as well. Look for the things that stood behind the way things went, and where the fracture points are. If you haven't already, having a look at Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel might be a good starter as well, since its basic premise is "Why did Europe conquer the world, and not vice versa?" which seems quite pertinent to your idea. :)

Less geographically relevant, but more thematically relevant: perhaps also read about the Maori of New Zealand, who were rampaging warriors and basically never conquered.

This is all just off the top of my head. In doing more reading, you may well find specific peoples who suit your purposes better!

Offline Elfy

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Re: My latest story idea - South America
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2018, 06:58:12 AM »
Do lots of reading about the Incas and Aztecs. And, I would also suggested, the Mapuche, who lived in the very south of the South American continent, and held their own against the Incas and, for many decades, against the Spanish as well. Look for the things that stood behind the way things went, and where the fracture points are. If you haven't already, having a look at Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel might be a good starter as well, since its basic premise is "Why did Europe conquer the world, and not vice versa?" which seems quite pertinent to your idea. :)

Less geographically relevant, but more thematically relevant: perhaps also read about the Maori of New Zealand, who were rampaging warriors and basically never conquered.

This is all just off the top of my head. In doing more reading, you may well find specific peoples who suit your purposes better!
I was going to suggest Guns, Germs and Steel. The Lost City of Z by David Grann is also worth a read. I did the Inca Trail ages ago, and that was a real eye opener about the Incan empire
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Offline JMack

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Re: My latest story idea - South America
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2018, 01:09:14 AM »
@Eli_Freysson, if you haven’t watched them, I have some movie suggestions for you:

> Aguirre the Wrath of God (Werner Herzog, German)
> Apocalypto (Mel Gibson, all in recreated ancient language, if I recall)
> The Mission (English)
> and not about S. America at all, but “Black Robe”

I think all of these can give you very interesting ideas, visuals, and characters involving some variation on conquistadors, missionaries, and indigenous peoples in the Americas.

Meanwhile, I think the idea is interesting. However, I think you’re going to have to work hard to have a believable transformation in your MC. And if you make him too despicable I’d be worried about finding your readership.
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Offline Eli_Freysson

Re: My latest story idea - South America
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2018, 08:57:42 AM »
Meanwhile, I think the idea is interesting. However, I think you’re going to have to work hard to have a believable transformation in your MC. And if you make him too despicable I’d be worried about finding your readership.

Yes, that is my big concern with this whole thing. Along with maybe going overboard with the natives mocking whatever expy of Christianity I come up with.

Maybe I could just make the main character some naive dope who isn't actually in command, he just tries to rise to the occasion after everyone above him gets flensed.

I could also just make one of the natives my MC, but that would change the structure and feel of the whole thing.
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Offline J.R. Darewood

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Re: My latest story idea - South America
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2019, 05:23:01 AM »
haha you could read all that stuff or you could PM me.  It's one of my areas of expertise. (FYI, the centralized empires were largely in the highlands like the Andes mountains and whatnot, the Amazon itself is and was chock-full of uniquely democratic social structures.)

A bigger problem than whether you can make your protagonist sympathetic or not, is that most of the world still believes indigenous society to be primitive, less developed, primordial, (as opposed to having evolved complex social systems and relationships with their environment-- it may not be as flashy as an empire, but in my mind the anti-authoritarian social mechanisms to prevent becoming an empire are social technologies to be admired and valued).  You may attract a readership that admires your monstrous protagonist and vilifies your indigenous antagonists, regardless of your intentions.