State Of Nature

‘State Of Nature’ is a major work-in-progress dark fantasy novel first started in 2019. Based on the short story ‘The Eagle’, first published by Disturbed Digest magazine from Alban Lake Publishing in 2018, the novel is on its fourth draft and has expanded to around 61,500 words of a planned 100,000. Editors/authors who have assisted are the talented Louise Zedda-Sampson, Edwina Shaw, HK Stubbs, and Paul Mannering. Below is current information about the novel.


SYNOPSIS

Finn is a student of the magical art of therianthropy, leaving the comfort of his home to learn from the most gifted shape-changer in the land, the witch Drucilla. From her, Finn expects to learn not only how to control his abilities, but also how to gain power and master it.

But tensions rise as Finn realises absolute power is not always a good thing. There are whispers of returning to the old days when those with abilities were captured and interned, and even killed. Soon, Finn must choose between what is right and what is easy. Can he muster the strength to stand up for those who need him the most? And does he even want to?


PROLOGUE/BACKSTORY

The Great War was a global conflict lasting twenty-five years, pitting two alliances against each other: the Axis powers and the Allied powers. The Axis powers, a military coalition of heavily religious states, sought to monitor, regulate, and control the use of magic – namely therianthropy, the ability of witches to metamorphose into other animals by means of shapeshifting. The Allied powers – a coalition of small sovereign states – sought freedom to study and practice magic with limited control and without persecution.

During the Great War, fifty countries within the continental mainland were governed by a sovereign leader under the Axis powers, often referred to as an Imperial Emperor. This Emperor was regaled as holding the highest official monarchic honour and rank, having absorbed the responsibilities of head of church and state. Under the Emperor’s totalitarian rule, the use of magic was illegal, requiring all families to submit the names of members with abilities for monitoring. Over time, magic was criminalised, with those on lists arrested by paramilitary death squads and sent to concentration camps or executed on the spot. The majority killed were children (approximately two-hundred and thirty thousand were used in forced labour and medical experiments) and young adults, and those who lacked the cognitive ability to comprehend or control their abilities around others. Many people were killed because of their impaired intellectual abilities or physical disabilities regardless of magical abilities. A total of eighty-five million perished (3% of the world’s population at that time).

Throughout the Great War, many young men and women without magical abilities, including children, were recruited via ‘study groups’ to establish a youth wing of the College of Cardinals, the senior religious members of the emperor’s council. The children were known as ‘Integritas’, the word being Latin for ‘purity, and given quasi-religious material to study. Members were encouraged to provide lists of ‘invalids’, or those deemed ‘unworthy’ of ascension to the aether (the afterlife) because of their magical abilities. Once they reached maturity, most children joined the military or the College of Cardinals – those who rejected the texts were either executed on the spot or sent to concentration camps.

The Great War ended after the Allied powers stormed and captured the military base of Fairfield, resulting in the suicides of high-ranking Cardinals, as well as the Emperor himself. Within a month, the Axis coalition was dissolved, replaced by a de facto government under Grand Admiral as head of state, until signing the unconditional surrender of all Axis forces three weeks later. While a democratic secular state had been agreed upon by the Allied powers, resulting in the abolition of the College of Cardinals, a sacred illiberal democracy was established, retaining religious doctrine within democratic law, however, the ability to practice magic was deemed lawful and decriminalised, resulting in the freedom to practice.

Today, it is within the law to practice magic without persecution. However, a small group of Imperialists are on the rise, attempting to resurrect the distrust and hatred against those with magical abilities in order to reinstate the Emperor and the old totalitarian regime. And while The Great War seems like a distant shadow in the past, a reminder of just how easily power can be abused, it is once again on the doorstep of Fairfield, knocking with just as much force as it did before.


INSPIRATION

‘State of Nature’ is an allegory for World War Two (1939-1942). The phrase State of nature, in political theory, is the real or hypothetical condition of human beings before or without political association, as explored by philosophers Thomas Hobbes, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, David Hume, and John Locke. This was learned through a Bachelor of Government and International Relations from Griffith University.

In Hobbes’ view, once a civil government is instituted, the state of nature has disappeared between individuals because of the civil power which exists to enforce contracts and the laws of nature generally. Within international relations theory, anarchy is the state of affairs wherein nations exist without a higher power to govern them, ie within a state of nature. Rousseau refuted Hobbe’s claims, suggesting people were neither good nor bad but born with a blank state, their personality and actions dependent on the society and environment in which they live and learn. Hume suggested human beings were naturally social, and therefore a state of nature did not exist before civilised societies.

As an allegory for World War Two, ‘State of Nature’ explores power within a society that wishes to control and monitor abilities beyond the State’s control, ie magic. Though the novel is set after the war, ambitions of power and fears of the other have resurfaced, something occurring naturally within civilised society. These themes are woven within a fantasy setting as a way to remind readers that just because a fantasy world has magic, it doesn’t it’s above the law – everything is governed by power. It just depends on who is wielding it, and whether or not their intensions are sincere.