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Gordian protocol Snippet #2

David's and Jacob Holo's newest alternate, cross history novel.
Re: Gordian protocol Snippet #2
Post by TFLYTSNBN   » Tue Jan 22, 2019 4:40 pm

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The E wrote:When reading this snippet, a few questions popped up in my mind. Questions such as "are they serious?" and "why?" and "couldn't they have found a better way to do this?"

Let me explain. This scene, at its core, seems to be setting up the frustrations of a presumed protagonist with the University administration he is working under. The basic script here is predictable; Our Hero, who knows he's good at heart and not aware of any wrongdoing, is confronted by his superior with something that, to him and the reader through him, sounds a lot like trumped up charges, spurious and irrational. In this case, our hero's frustrations have more to do with the system that is processing the charges, not so much the person bringing them ("Aware that Kikuchi-Bennett’s passion, however misguided he found it, was completely genuine, he’d dialed back his instinctive response."); our hero wishes to have an honest conversation, but is denied it by what he sees as a system that, intentionally or not, is designed to encourage witch hunts. This, as I said, is a somewhat archetypical entry point: There probably is a follow-on scene where our hero gets to decide to take a different career path and go on whatever adventure the rest of his story is about.

So far, so good. But here's the problematic part (oh no, he's using social justice buzzwords, take cover): For whatever reason, you chose to construct the incident that started this whole thing in a way that reads badly. Taking the protagonist at his word, he's completely centrist in his portrayal of history (if maybe veering leftist). He is confronted by a transgender (!), mixed-race (!?) student, who is using a bunch of feminist buzzwords ("white-male patriarchy", "priviledged", "patronizing") in an attempt to discredit him. This, to me at least, reads as insincerity on the part of you, the authors: Instead of constructing an incident in which anyone reading it could see that the protagonist is right and his accuser is misguided (but sincere), you constructed an incident that portraits the accuser as thoroughly irrational and more interested in confrontation than discussion (as evidenced by that part about "free speech zones" and "historical revisionism"). Intentionally or not, what you wrote here reads as a form of virtue signalling: You're using a bunch of stereotypes common amongst conservative "critique" of modern academia (too many social justice types screeching irrationally about things like patriarchy and priviledge without context or thought). Attaching signifiers like "transgender" and multi-culturalism only makes it worse: I was honestly waiting for "blue-dyed hair" to make an appearance as well. This will certainly make it easy for people like TFLY here to nod along with this paragraph and see our righteous hero for what he is, but to me at least, this scene could be so much better if it were tweaked just a tiny bit.

So here's a suggestion: Instead of having a transgender student make these accusations "genuinely", make it clear that the accusations are purely performative. For example, by having the accuser be a white boy with a MAGA hat and a Jordan Peterson shirt (or whatever the equivalent would be in this alt-history). This does several things: One, by showing the system being abused by someone intent on abusing it (and the administration semi-gleefully going along with it), it makes the protag's frustrations much stronger. Two, by changing the nature of the accuser from "misguided, but sincere" to "knowing full well they're trolling", the fact that the argument they're making makes no goddamn sense becomes part of the narrative, not something that would take a reader like me out of the narrative to wonder at the intentions of the writers.

Duckk's admonition motivated me to reread your comment. The connotations now seem to be a bit different.

Your idea of a Conservative intentionally making accusations that they know damn well are false just to redicule the system is interesting. It certainly might expose the absurdity of the system but would be dismissed with no threat to the protagonist's career.

However; I get the impression that it is the authors' intention to portray an alternate history not very much different from our own in which a "transgendered", "mixed race" student makes fraudulent accusations that are an existential threat to the protagonist's career because the accusser is so severely deranged that they sincerely believe their own BS. More importantly, the university is to PC to reject the BS even if there was not a bureucratic motivation to seize the opportunity to destroy a disfavored subordinate.

The bit about the gay brother who is a fiscal and Constitutional conservative helps the authors to reveal the nuances of the alternate history.

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