This is the logo of my story CO2. Do you like it? I have to say I think its boss. I have spent the week thinking about how to structure the zero issue of CO2. A zero issue, as I think I may have mentioned, is a taster of the magazine to come, something that sets the scene, that hopefully whet’s the readers appetite for issue one. The issue will be launched at Cardiff International Comic and Animation Expo, 25/26th February 2012 (http://www.fantasyevents.org/).
At the moment I feel in a bind when talking about CO2, on the one hand I want to tell people all about the story and on the other I am conscious that there are a number of twists and surprises that would be spoiled by any such disclosure. Bearing this in mind I would like to share some of the background to the story.
It’s set in a parallel world where history began to diverge in the eighteenth century. In the world of CO2 there is a more aggressive economy in England, public liability companies came in to existence earlier, industrialisation starts earlier and is more vigorously pursued. The new factory system of manufacture sees the traditional systems of production destroyed. This results in massive unemployment and social hardship. Troops are deployed to deal with the machine smashing Luddites – groups of craftsmen who despise the poor quality of machine produced cloth and who do not wish to be brought into the factory system as unskilled labour. This industrialisation speeds up the enclosure of agricultural land and those people who relied on common land for grazing are now destitute and forced to work in the new factories.
The concept of a National Debt is adopted earlier than in our world which allows the English government become more politically aggressive overseas, as it is easier to raise the finances for war. The American rebellion is ruthlessly quashed in 1742; this rebellion was precipitated by the French Revolution of 1731. England supports Catalonia to throw off the chains of their Castilian oppressors and the Catalan Federation covers most of the Iberian Peninsula and half of France by 1760.
At this time the only other nation that could withstand the English Empire is China. An uneasy truce settles between the two superpowers. The English Empire is ruled by a corrupt Tory elite, while China is home to an enlightened and liberal society.
With social conditions deteriorating in England and dissent growing, the government turns the country into a police state. By 1800 the poet William Blake has been under house arrest for ten years, he is a rallying point for those who see another vision of Albion, of a world returned to the paradise that it was before The Fall.
Resistance to the corrupt, “old boys” network, that is the Tory government, centres on a Yorkshire man, Joseph Bramah, a genius, who develops the concept of Balance-that humans can return the world to its pre-Fall idyll. He is influenced by Joseph Fourier, a French refugee who publishes a paper; The Green House Effect: A Worldwide Disaster in the Making. The paper is banned by the government.
Bramah realises that the increase in industrialisation, if unchecked, will heat up the world and develops the concept of The Church of The Holy Footprint, taking Blake’s assertion that Jesus walked the fields of Albion with his uncle Joseph of Arimathea, as a starting point, promoting the rigid control of all industrial development and a return to the pastoral lifestyle of the pre-Fall.
Bramah is arrested from his house in Cato Street and his subsequent show trial as a traitor galvanises the downpressed populous. There is a revolution; Bramah is freed from his cell in Whitechapel, and the morally bankrupt Tory government is tried for crimes against humanity. The last Prime Minister; Arthur Wellesley, is hung in the ruins of West Minster Abbey, his cabinet, those not executed outright, are sent to the first re-education camp in Catford.
After the 1811 Chelsea Concord, The Church of The Holy Footprint becomes both the religious and the secular power of the empire. Work begins on the Balancing of the world. Industrialisation is rigidly controlled, the expansion of the American Colonies is ruthlessly curtailed, land is begun to be handed back to the indigenous peoples from whom it was stolen.
This is only the start of the Balancing. My story is set one hundred and fifty years later when The Church of The Holy Footprint has just managed to defeat the Dragon Empire, the last haven of dissent and opposition in the world.
Phew! That’s the background to my tale. As I say at present I am working on what to include in the zero issue, there has to be a historical framework for the story to make sense. If there is not a credible background to any work of fiction then it is not believable, I hope this potted introduction works for you. The zero edition also has to introduce some of the main characters, but that I will leave for another time.