In the process of writing the new “Edward & Marianne” story, I am detailing an alternate culture. The problem is: how alternate. So they’re the bad guys … remember Sting’s song about the Russians? It’s true that most cultures, even if they don’t love their children the way we think children ought to be loved, they have some love for their children. They have to. A culture without children is only a few years from extinction (think Europe … but I digress).
This culture I am creating is a war-like culture, but how far down into that culture does it extend? Somewhere, there have to be midwives, right? And what if their interests are carried out through war, but at heart they really like art? Yes, it sounds crazy when you put it that way, but mankind is a crazy amalgam of, well, amalgams. To have everyone be cookie-cutter is more absurd than a culture where everyone’s favorite color is some variation of plaid, mixed with texture.
Just like the terrain in sci-fi movies has always bugged me. We have desert planets and jungle planets and water planets and so forth. But the only planet in the entire universe that we know of where people actually live has deserts and mountains and jungles and everything. Tremendous variety!
The same is true of culture, maybe because we live in variety. Even those cultures of “primitives” who have lived their whole existence in one spot know the variations of seasons, and have seen a change of scenery in the distance, or talked to some explorer who brought back wild tales of flowing water or thick foliage. Cultures are no homogeneous … but it sure is tempting to write them that way.