Answers to For Presidents’ Day: consider the alternatives
For Presidents’ Day, a week ago, I posted a little quiz about fictional places that don’t have a President, but have a very different system of government. I said to give yourself credit if you knew what the place was (or who the author is…these places may cover more than one book) even if you couldn’t name it.
Here, then, are the questions and answers.
In this society, you move up by killing people above your rank and “taking their metal”. You can’t just poison them or ambush them, though…this isn’t 16th Century Italy.
They have to attack you first, so you kill them in self-defense, or the entire ruling council as to decide that you should fight. You can ask for that…that puts a check on a high-ranking person just never attacking anybody.
This society does have a lot of cultural rules: males don’t kill females…or vice versa, and prisoners aren’t killed (but may have “worse” things done to them).
Answer #1: The Barsoom series by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Specifically, this is the society of the green Martians, the Tharks. If you haven’t read A Princess of Mars and want to do so before the new movie (which is a major release) comes out, you have until March 9th in the USA. Clearly, this system limits the type of person who will become a leader (Can’t fight? Can’t lead) but does, at least, base advancement purely on ability. It doesn’t matter who you are or what your background is, if you can accomplish the goal, you advance. Well, except for that gender issue…since only males are leaders and females don’t kill males, women can’t really become leaders.
This place has a beloved leader, ranked over all others (and there are many at lower levels). There are challenges and clear aggressive action against the land, but this ruler is basically a pacifist. That doesn’t mean steps won’t be taken by this administration to remedy evil deeds. The ruler is aided in that by a powerful magic user…and the ruler has forbidden the use of magic except by two people.
The land, under the guidance of the ruler, is basically socialist in concept…there used to be money, but it isn’t used any more. However, some people certainly have wealth. That happens in part because the land is so separated, with considerable geographical challenges…some small areas have never even heard of the central ruler.
Answer #2: The Oz series by L. Frank Baum
If you’ve only seen the 1939 Judy Garland movie, you might think this ruler is Glinda, the good witch. While the witch of the South (not the North, as it was changed for MGM’s version) is powerful, she is secondary in the series to Princess Ozma.
Ozma rules by right of inheritance…she is the daughter of the former king (although it’s more complicated…not too surprising in a magical land).
That said, her subjects who know her love her…for the most part. She is kidnapped and threatened in other ways in the books: that’s one place having a powerful sorceress as an adviser comes in handy.
Ozma is generally loving and fair, and makes some interesting strategic choices. The other person (besides Glinda) allowed to practice magic? The Wizard…
Ozma first appears in The Marvelous Land of Oz.
While perhaps not a ruler in the formal sense, this character has absolute dominion over the land, and must be obeyed. Over 2,000 years old and ruthless, the ruler had come to this place because of a process that provides immortality. The ruler commands magic, but overwhelming attractiveness may be the despot’s greatest power.
Answer #3: The Amahagger people in Africa in the Ayesha series by H. Rider Haggard
There are clear reasons why “She” (Ayesha AKA Hiya) is called She-who-must-be-obeyed.
Like Glinda, she is a powerful magic-user…unlike Glinda, she is ruthless. She took power: it wasn’t given to her. Within the society, no one can challenge her…and it’s possible she’ll live forever.
Not much chance for a member of the community to rule…even surviving is at the whim of “She”.
Ayesha first appears in She.
Well, there you have three fictional alternatives to the US political system. Countless people have imagined living in Oz, traveling to Barsoom…and avoiding Ayesha.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.