Evolutions of Culture

The Salish Sea, future home of the Salish Rift

One question driving deep into my mind is what is lost when we are forcibly imprinted into a dominant culture? Growing up a queer, neurodivergent kid, I was constantly being pressured to be something other than I was. I fought against that pretty hard, often physically, and I still carry the scars from it.

Sure, I survived and I'm "stronger" for it, but what was lost? If my differences had been nurtured instead of crushed, what might I have been doing for most of my adult life? I'm not interested in looking backwards or grieving about what might have been. I'm interested in reframing this as a larger what-if.

What if all the kids like me were all that was left suddenly? What if the entire rest of the world, except for the outcasts, suddenly died off? And since culture is the question, I'm not so much interested in what happens right away, but what happens a few thousand years or generations down the road.

In the Salish Rift setting for the novel I'm currently working on, one of the dominant cultures is Pender. This is a powerful city state that was founded just after the disaster by a Heiltsuk kid, who was also a massive D&D nerd. It's a city and culture that grew from his dreams. So while most survivors of the disaster in the Rift are of First Nations decent, the primary culture stamp is a nerdy vision of pseudo-medieval Europe. In my mind, I tossed that in a blender and let it run for a few thousand iterations to see what came out the other side.

On the other side of the Rift is Bell's Faire, originally founded by an American libertarian with a fetish for ancient Rome and the pre-Victorian British Empire. Toss in a hefty dose of eugenics, and iterate up to be the opposite of Pender.

The conflict under the entire series is how each culture sees itself as wholesome and right, and sees the other as being corrupt and wrong. No good or evil, but small differences. In my imagining, growth forces the two cultures into mingling. Neither culture will survive intact, but the story is going to be how they change each other, what results, and what the process will be. Toss in a few side cultures and focus in on a few characters, and the story feels like it's driving itself.

Forty thousand words in, 600 words written last night, can't wait to see what happens next.

Randy Packer

Randy Packer