: fantasy monarchies

Jon Noble jon_p_noble at yahoo.com
Tue Feb 4 00:07:48 EST 2003


--- Robyn Starkey <rohina at shaw.ca> wrote:
> Jon wrote some interesting stuff about monarchy:
> 
> >My own feeling is that in the end it comes down to
> the
> >essentially "fascist" nature of the genre - I topic
> I
> >will try to avoid this time round.
> 
> This is thought-provoking.
> My own view is heavily influenced by Chomsky (eg
> Manufacturing Consent); 
> that democracies function through the use of
> propaganda by elites to 
> control the general populace. Since many fantasies
> have technological 
> settings in which there is no printing press or
> other mass media, democracy 
> is not viable, because it relies on the easy flow of
> information 
> (controlled or not) to manufacture opinion. People
> can't vote if they don't 
> know who the candidates are, for example. So it
> might work in city-states 
> in medievalist fantasies, but whole countries
> without mass communications 
> have to be ruled from a top-down heirarchy (which is
> more or less 
> educated), because otherwise they would just be
> anarchies. Or you have 
> wizards in charge who have magical access to
> information and instant 
> communications.

But why couldn't Fantasyland have Mass-communications
and some of the other trappings we associate with
technology. Surely any society which has been using
magic for a few thousand years should have developed
such things. Arthur C Clark suggested "any
sufficiantly advanced technology looks like magic" I
propose a corollory "any sufficiently advanced magic
looks like technology". Harry Turtledove has explored
this notion a bit in his series of World War 2 analog
fantasy novels ("Darkness descending" etc.) but even
he has monarchies, even in countries with useless
kings and decadent aristocracies ripe for revolution.
His Stalin analog is a heritary autocrat, when in this
world it would make more sense for him to actually be
some upstart peasant who's managed to stage a coup.
Even the relatively liberal US analog is a monarchy,
it just has seven (IIRC) princes rather than one.

Jon

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