Saturday, August 29, 2020

Wakanreo, world without castes

One reason I enjoy setting my stories in fantasy worlds, or in the far future is that it lets me create the world itself-- not only the geography, but the culture. I especially like to try different dynamics as far as gender, sometimes making men and women equal and sometimes giving more power to one sex or the other. 

But when I created the Wakanreo trilogy that begins with Alien Bonds, I took my world building to a new level. The aliens known as Wakanreans are unique in my far future universe because they mate for life from a pure biological reaction. I was reminded of this recently when I was reading a couple of recent articles about the new Netflix show "Indian Matchmaking." I saw the first one in the Washington Post. It described how many Indian families still rely on old-style matchmakers who connect people looking for spouses. In fact, 90 percent of marriages in India are arranged, I found that statistic amazing. 

The thing is, when these marriages are arranged, they almost always result in couples from the same caste marrying, which reinforces India's strict caste system. Many countries have stratified levels of society based on wealth, occupation, and such, but India's system comes from the Hindu religion and not only assigns names to castes but treats the stratification as being justified by the will of their gods,

Then I saw a second article in my news feed; this one, from Al Jazeera was also about the same Netflix show but it mentioned that Indian Muslims practice arranged marriages and that they use them to also practice "classism, ethnocentrism, and colourism."  So, even though it wasn't part of their religion, these folks were relying on arranged marriages to maintain the same kind of stratification that a caste system imposes.

And of course, in the Western world, many people use online dating apps to screen prospective partners for compatibility, not only of temperament but also income, race, and looks, so I can't claim it's purely an Indian thing. 

Finding a life partner is a serious matter, Some people stay single from choice, some from despair after a bad relationship, and some because they're waiting for the right person to walk into their lives. In Alien Bonds, I created a society where every adult is either paired off  (or every now and then, in a permanent threesome) or waiting to be paired off, based on a reaction beyond his or her control. This system has advantages and disadvantages for individuals, but one side effect is, there are no castes, no aristocrats, no stratification of society.


Tuesday, August 25, 2020

A snippet from ALIEN BONDS

For Teaser Tuesday, here's a very brief snippet from ALIEN BONDS, book 1 of my Wakanreo trilogy:

The Wakanrean stood in front of her. He glared down at her, his face contorted into a scowl, his amber eyes glowing with contempt.
“I beg your pardon.” Dina tried to keep the quaver out of her voice. “Do I know you?”
He was so close, she could feel the heat from his body. Either that, or the room had gotten suddenly warmer. Dina felt herself flush from head to foot.
He didn’t answer, but all at once it was as if his anger was a physical thing, an invisible mass, pushing against her. She stepped backward, stumbled, and almost fell.
She reached for the mezzanine railing behind her, and in the same instant, the Wakanrean grabbed her arm.
Dina froze, utterly baffled. The orientation had said clearly that Wakanreans would always avoid touching a Terran, and yet here was one not only touching her, but holding her firmly by the arm and helping her to stand.
The orientation had also failed to warn her that a Wakanrean’s touch was so warm it almost burned. Dina could feel a flush of heat on her arm where his hand still gripped it. She stood straighter and looked into his face. He had typical Wakanrean features—an arched nose, large round eyes, a wide mouth.
His expression changed as she watched. His anger faded to confusion. He looked almost stunned. His nostrils still flared, but from the way his eyes had opened wide, Dina knew he was surprised rather than angry.
Neither of them had taken a step since he took hold of her arm. Dina swallowed once, conscious of discreet glances and overt stares from those around them.
“I’m all right,” she said finally, wondering if she was speaking the truth. The dizziness had passed, but she still felt lightheaded. “Thank you, but you can let go now.”
He loosened his grip but didn’t release her for a few seconds. When he did, he brushed her bare arm with the back of his hand. Dina was amazed when it sent shivers of anticipation up her spine.
“This is unexpected.” His wonderfully resonant voice had a rich, warm timbre to it that made Dina’s shivers change from anticipation to yearning.
“Yes,” she said, unsure of what he meant, but afraid to give offense.
“Where do you live?”
“I have an apartment in the off-world sector,” she said, wondering why she was answering him. She fought the urge to close her eyes and just listen to that wonderful voice.
“My house is in the cliffs outside the city. Let’s go there instead.”
“All right.”
It took Dina a moment to realize that she had agreed to go home with him.