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How Environments Shape Society

Cold GayToday’s topic comes from QSFer and Admin Angel Martinez: “How environment shapes your societies (atmosphere, ecosystem, etc)”.

So let me elaborate a little. Is British Society a bit more polite than many others because of the colder climes (hey, that works for Canada too)? Do societies in warmer climes with more resources have the freedom to be more open, generally?

Does the fight for resources bring out the worst in cultures, fostering discrimination?

Would a new world where every birth counts to raise the population work against the expression of homosexuality?

And how can we use these forces to write some really good speculative fiction?

1 thought on “How Environments Shape Society”

  1. I don’t necessarily think that climate correlates to a society or how the people act. Generalizations about British people, for example, may have stemmed more from the idea of a hierarchical culture from a monarchy than a climate. Proper behavior being emphasized by one particular group of people, I think, has much more to do with the priorities and structure of that group of people. I do think colder weather might prompt behavioral or attitudinal changes, but it isn’t the only cause. Having been to Britain and Ireland, I’ve noticed an inherent warmth that that society offers to outsiders and a willingness to share its wealth (i.e. culture). Also, fighting for resources can bring out a certain cleverness and meticulousness to adhere to a stronger set of life rules since materials would be in short supply, but it might not bring about the harsher qualities. In any society, speculative especially, we need to allow for the possibility of the environment to foster a positive influence rather than assuming a more insidious or darker effect. With regard to the procreative importance attributing to homophobia, I do think that’s certainly a possibility (as in The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood), but I don’t think it necessarily has to do that entirely. Speculative fiction could explore other options that our world hasn’t or can’t considered simply because of opportunity or technology. Why can’t a population-deprived society foster a symbiotic relationship between those who procreate and those who do not? Environment does indeed shape society, but I don’t think it has to do so for the detriment or diminishing of said society. In my novel series, homophobia doesn’t exist. Some might say that’s the way it should be while others would say my world is unrealistic. In comparison to the real world, yes, but a world without homophobia leaves openings for other issues to surface that can be given attention through those stories. Marginalizing people tends to happen in speculative fiction, but it doesn’t have to be the norm. My series has a bit of a dystopian leaning (with ubiquitous cameras and a stronger law enforcement presence), but it doesn’t need to embrace other “-isms” to make it work.

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