Monday, July 26, 2021

Karl and Abe's Excellent Adventure


One of the problems with being an old science fiction writer is that the world is just overflowing with ideas for great SF stories that I will never have the time to write. Rather than let these ideas accumulate in notebooks my heirs will someday throw in the trash, I’ve decided to start tossing ideas out there for public consumption, in hopes that someone might be able to use one or two of them.

For example, today’s free story idea is this: did you know that Abraham Lincoln and Karl Marx were contemporaries, and that Lincoln was familiar with Marx’s ideas and expressed some sympathy and admiration for them?

First, a bit of background reading:  

There’s a rabbit hole we could go down at this point. Apparently this article in the Washington Post provoked a lot of controversy, which seems to boil down to people screaming “Oh no he wasn’t!” and “Oh yes he was!” past each other. I don’t care about that now. What I’m interested in is the classic science fiction writer’s game of What if…?

What if Abraham Lincoln was strongly influenced by Karl Marx and all those other German Socialists, my great-great-grandfather included, who came to America after failing to overthrow the Kaiser in 1848? What if he had survived the war, and after 1865 had set about transforming the reunited United States into the sort of socialist workers’ paradise of which generations of non-working-class European intellectuals had dreamed? Where’s the science fiction story in this idea?

Well, obviously then, John Wilkes Booth was a time traveler, sent back from some dystopian future timeline to prevent that future from ever happening…

There’s your idea. Pete Wood, I expect something silly from you. Marcas McClellan, if you can’t get a novella out of this, you’re not trying. Roxana Arama, provided you don’t get bogged down in the historical research, I think you could get an award-winning novel out of this one. The rest of you: the idea is out there. Now run with it!

Have fun,


ray p daley said...

Rare, but an idea I'll pass on. Trying to work on a novel I thought of in 2016 which I'm considering doing for NaNoWriMo.

Pete Wood said...

This is a great ide, but a little out of my comfort zone. Okay, a lot out of my comfort zone.
And, wasn't this covered in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, anyway?

~brb said...

@pete wood: Was it? I must confess to having never watched the movie. Like Beavis and Butt-Head Do America or anything starring Pauly Shore, I got about five minutes into it and began to feel my forebrain sublimating and venting out through my nose, so I had to switch quickly to watching anything else before I started to think NASCAR was an interesting sport.

Roxana Arama said...

The research for this subject would a be a treat, I'm sure. If I close my eyes, I can hear the melancholy pipes of a Ken Burns documentary right now.

Mark Keigley said...

a man shall ponder. I'm not usually drawn to alternate histories, unless they are WW 2-ish, though.