HISC Novel Meta: Parody vs Realism in PI-Fi
Published on The Doomstead Diner on April 5, 2017
Gulliver's Trravels by Jonathan Swift put Gulliver in a lot of throughly unrealistic situations. But there was meaning behind the "Little Endians"& "Big Endians". Most people of the era did not grasp what he was parodying. A good parody requires that only a few people can see through what you are doing with the parody. If it is too transparent, it's not a good parody.
Discuss this article at the Collapse Narratives Table inside the Diner
Yesterday I published an article from Jason Heppenstall of 22 Billion Energy Slaves on the topic of "PI-FI", shorthand for Post-Industrial Fiction. It's an analogy to "Sci-Fi", the shorthand for Science Fiction. The genre is relatively new, although you could count older dystopian films like Mad Max as a part of this futurology sort of narrative. However, probably more directly on point would be stuff like James Howard Kunstler's "A World Made by Hand". Jason has written a novel of his own, "Seat of Mars", and I am currently writing one of my own, "How I Survived Collapse".
I thought this would have been obvious, but it's not intended to be realistic at all. It's a cartoon. It's a parody of the Prepper Fantasy World. It's meant to be light entertainment, it's certainly not meant to describe the reality of the world to come, or the reality of anyone living the off-grid lifestyle on a small farm currently.
I am trying to make it semi-believable by using real locations and roads etc. I had to do some Googling to find the Quinn's Hot Springs Resort and then hit Google Earth for the neighborhood around Lolo National Forest. All the restaurants I have dropped in so far are real places, and I Google up their menus also and wine lists! That's the Foodie in me. Do I know the quality of the soil on Karl's Doomstead and what he could actually grow there? Hell no, I'm not a Permaculture PDC Professional! However, I give him stuff like Raised Beds and Potato Towers and Hydroponics so that in idealistic theory he can grow whatever he needs on this doomstead. He's got Hunting and Fishing available too! A running stream to dam up and set up Micro Hydro power plant! His own Mountain to put up Wind Turbines on! A pond for raising frogs and trout to smoke! Talk about idealized and unrealistic! You'll never have ALL of that in one location.
In looking at all the rest of the suppositions made here in HISC, let's start with all the utterly unreal characters in the novel.
First off there are the main characters of Karl and Kenny. In order to have enough money to set up this idealized Doomstead, somebody had to have gobs of moolah to fund the whole thing. So Karl got invented as a savvy Wall Street investor turned Prepper. That solved the money problem. It should only be that EZ to find deep pocket preppers to fund your SUN☼Community IRL! lol.
For Kenny, you have a young genius who gets into prepping at the ripe old age of around 13 while he is still in Junior High. Then he elects not to go to college but instead run a landscaping bizness and live out of his van. He's an expert in Martial Arts, Fencing etc. Besides that, he becomes a chick magnet too! lol. If this doesn't clue you in to the fact this is total parody, you have completely missed the boat here.
The women are all HOT, Athletic and Intelligent. They're practically world class at everything from Kayaking to Mountain Climbing, and they love camping too! How many women have you known in your life that loved camping, besides car camping with all the comforts of home? I can count them on the fingers of one hand, and that was in my younger years when they were young too. I do know there are a few women who like roughing it into their later years, but I've never known one personally.
Then there is the Gang of Terminators, which is running in Missoula with a whole bunch of other gangs too! Are there gangs of this type in Missoula, MT? lol, no of course not. However, I had social issues I wanted to cover in the novel, so I invented gangs in a sleepy MT town! Then in order to cover security and internet issues, this gang needed a hacker/computer wizard, so I gave them one of those. They are also doing very well financially, making gobs of money selling ganja and running prostitutes too! Everybody is just swimming in money in this cartoon!
Another criticism is related to the unreality of the doomstead life. How were the Horses being fed? Who was milking the goats? Who was in the kitchen all day butchering the chickens, canning the produce and making the goat cheese? This is one of those things like Warp Drive in Sci-Fi narratives. You know faster than light travel isn't possible, but you suspend your disbelief for the purposes of following the narrative. You know food replicators and matter-energy transporter systems aren't possible either, but does this stop you from enjoying an episode of Star Trek? It's FICTION! That's the "Fi" part in Sci-Fi or PI-Fi.
Now what my critic Farmer MacGregor apparently wants is something grittier and more realistic, telling the tale of the REAL life of the small farm doomsteader like he is. If that's the kind of PI-Fi novel he wants, he should write it! lol. But then he will say, "no I don't have time to write this, I have to go outside and milk the goats for real". So he wants me to write this story, except I don't want to write that story, I want to have some fun writing!
There is enough dystopian shit going on IRL that I write about in non-fiction every week. In order to counterbalance that and lighten things up some, I write a parody novel which by it's title is upbeat, since you know from the get go at least the main characters will survive. You can root for and identify with your favorite cartoon character and wish you were that person.
Nothing in this novel is the least bit realistic and should not be taken an attempt on my part to paint a realistic picture of our current world or the world to come. For that I would have to write something far more dystopian and I would find writing The Road or Children of Men to be a rather depressing exercise. lol. Besides, it's been done.
On the other hand, fantasizing about a bunch of preppers who have plenty of money to buy all the toys they want, where all the women are gorgeous, sexy and hot to trot and where everybody lives Happily Ever After is a lot of fun! 🙂
I slip in a lot of references that only regular Diners who have been around a long time will recognize. For instance, the whole Romance Novel parody aspect of this comes from a Diner whose ex-wife wrote Romance Novels and who ran a website dedicated to this genre. Such novels are very popular amongst the women folk, and the collapse blogosphere is sadly deficient in this demographic. A Survey on this came up with only 14% female readers across a half dozen or so websites I posted the survey to. I toyed with the idea of writing more graphic and steamy sex scenes similar to the ones these novels have in them, but elected to keep it light there. lol. I personally do not like either pornographic novels or movies, I always found the depictions of sex to be rather disgusting even when I was bizzy doing it myself. I don't know if this will draw in more female readers, but it's worth the effort and fun to write also as long as you're not writing all the grimy sex details. lol..
Another parody I have a lot of fun with is all the gadgets and gear that Prepper Websites like Canadian Prepper are hawking all the time for sale, or at least to get a freeby from the company producing the item for themselves. So every time one of the characters needs some gadget, I go Googling on the web to find a "best in class" item and drop in the brand name and model number. lol. There is NOTHING this group of intrepid preppers does not have! Short Wave Radios, Electric Vehicles, Solar Panels and Wind Turbines, Micro Hydro power, and of course Gunz and Ammo out the WAZOO! I haven't got to it yet, but Karl actually has RPGs and C4 Plastic Explosives stored in an abandoned shaft in his Gold Mine! lol.
Despite the fact this is all intentional parody, I'm still trying to communicate important ideas in a lighthearted sort of way. It IS important to prep up to enhance your survival chances (and they are small regardless how well prepped you are). It IS important to form community and gather more people together for self-defense and to distribute out the work load and have people who are good craftsmen in one area or another. It IS important to consider security issues, self-defense and protecting yourself from the ever more invasive Police State. It IS important to consider transportation issues and how you might work around them for at least a transition period.
Sci-Fi almost NEVER reflects the future in any remotely realistic fashion. Ever see "Starship Troopers"? Not the LEAST bit realistic, but absolutely HILARIOUS! How about "A Boy and His Dog", with the young Don Johnson as the survivor and Blood his Telepathic Dog locating girls for him? lol. Also hilarious. Why does PI-Fi need to be any more realistic and serious than this stuff? It's FICTION! Have some fun with it!
OK, now that I have taken this week in meta commentary to defend my approach to the HISC Novel, next week we will return to the novel and Kenny will hook up with Kareem to buy some Ganja. 😀