It’s a dog eat dog world we live in. Throughout history, dystopian societies are more the rule than the exception.
We mightn’t want that to be true but a look through the history books doesn’t provide comforting reading. If history provides warnings from the past, dystopian fiction sends warnings back from the future. Society tries to avoid repeating mistakes from the past, but also strives to avoid Orwellian futures.
In The Narrowing Path, we explore the concept of an extreme form of survival of the fittest. The population is limited, and the ruling class want to keep the status quo. They have plenty of children, and they want to ensure only the best males survive. But how to define best in this context, and how to test it? In this technologically backward world, the only way is to let the children prove themselves in a real world setting.
So just as the rulers of this world scheme among themselves, and trade, and try to build enterprises, so their teenage children are set loose in the city to show they can do the same. The rulers watch the progress of the teenagers, taking note of which of them are successful in their ventures, which of them are clever in their schemes, which of them are strong and ruthless in their dealings with rivals, and which of them show the leadership that will allow them to successfully rule the future generations. It’s a fight to the death, but with wits rather than weapons.
The test of The Narrowing Path is a harsh test for a harsh world. Only about one in twenty of the sons of the noble families are allowed to survive and go forward to become future rulers. The rest die over the course of the Path. The noble daughters live longer, but it isn’t much better for them; they are forced to live in harems until discarded by their husbands when they age.
But even when society as a whole is bleak, the human spirit often provides the strength to break free. In the world of The Narrowing Path, it is the lower classes who work together and help each other, often sacrificing themselves so that others might live. They have to deal with not just the problems of the strictly limited population, but also the brutal regime inflicted on them by the ruling class, but their suffering makes them stronger rather than weaker, makes them love more than they hate.
It’s a dog eat dog world we live in. But it can and will get better.