Plots You Can Have: Big Sprawling Novels Edition

by johannespunkt

Been a while since I did one of these. And NaNoWriMo is upon us — people might need inspiration? So, with some further ado.

Plots You Can Have is an ongoing series of posts where I give up stories for adoption. If any of these strike your fancy, please take them! And if you do write anything from this I would love to read it. For more posts, see: tag/plots-you-can-have


The One Earth Rule

genre: political far-future sci-fi, elements of cyberpunk and whatever comes after cyberpunk, stylistically

Have you heard of the One China Policy? Individual countries don’t exist anymore. Essentially, this is an idea about spies and diplomats; there are two or more governments calling themselves “Earth” and they’re all layered, all claiming to be separate from each other. Countries are no longer mapped out on, well, maps, but in more abstract ways. Off-world super cruise spaceships for the ultra-rich have broken down and are now as chaotic as Earth, and diplomats and ambassadors are sent up to these spaceships all the time. Sometimes diplomats do what diplomats love to do: break all the laws, go hunting the most dangerous game (humans interbred with strange alien parasites that roam about these space cruise ships).

One of the abstract ways that countries are mapped out is by way of cultural accumulation. Museums steal from each other — the most tenacious works of art must be the most valuable ones — and the culture elite of any given “Earth” are always trying to influence the cultures of the other Earths, while claiming to only draw inspiration from their own country.

From this, things spin out of control, of course.

Two main plots that fuse together later: 1. a museum director is trying to organise a museum heist of the most epic proportions: they are fiddling with data in order to steal an entire museum building over to their Earth. 2. a dickish diplomat is hunting human-things on a space cruise and gets fucked by the data-fiddling that the museum director is doing. Arrested because his country stopped existing for a while, then robbed of communications networks and left to survive on the chaotic cruise, ze decides to find out who is doing this and enact revenge upon them. Lots of subplots about how countries are reacting to all this, and especially the cultural world. Museum in-fighting is mesmerizing to watch. If you don’t believe me, read up on the Elgin Marbles. …/wiki/Elgin_Marbles



genre: classic ‘retro’ style sci-fi, retro spy novel and retro thought experiments

There is a border town, and the two governments are at war. They live on a colonised planet and have not got permission from Earth to actually start war. They are at war over something that, as all things, started out as silly and small, but which rapidly grew out of control. They were always a bit tempestuous with each other, but there was one thing which is usually said to start the war:

During one barely-diplomatic meeting, an ambassador brings out a little gift for another ambassador, as a practical joke. The machine is an extremely dangerous piece of technology that changes society forever — it tells the future, but frustratingly vaguely. This is just one of the weapons, of course. A dangerous exchange is begun.

The two cultures start exchanging ideas violently but without violence, each gifting more and more dangerous machines and concepts to each other, watching riots start in the slums of each other’s neighbour. Art movements, technology, recipes for dangerous drugs, everything.

At the end of the novel, they finally receive word back from Earth, and the all-out war starts. It is brief and evil.



genre: steampunk time travel nonsense

It starts with a mummy unwrapping party — the very first one, so there is much ceremony and uncertainty, as no-one has ever opened a sarcophagus before, really — in the Victorian age, and the mummy turns out to be alive. Well, ‘alive’ is stretching it a bit. The sarcophagi are actually high-tech cryopreservation units running on the special energy gathered by the pyramids. All the pyramids are tombs for the super-rich Egyptians who chose, according to their super-advanced custom, to sleep instead of sail off into space.

But the corpse, once unwrapped, starts healing remarkably quickly. There is some initial carnage and then the hyper-advanced being starts understanding the human language. It tries to correct its mistakes but things just get worse and worse, until the humans build their own machines to fight it, and war breaks out. Oil is dug up incredibly quickly and used to fuel massive walls of fire to lock the being into a small space and eventually kill it.