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MynaOphelia
05-18-2014, 08:58 PM
I’m kind of worried one of my projects is turning into a “white savior” kind of story so I would love some opinions and advice.

The POV character is a white guy who was cryonically frozen because he had a terminal disease, and wakes up 120 years late to find that there’s no cure waiting for him and that—whoops—his home country, the US, no longer exists/was probably destroyed. He wakes up in the city-state of Helios, West Antarctica, which is run by a government that they find out is secretly being puppeted by North Korea—which, 120 years previously, won a violent war against the south and took over South Korea and Japan.

He figures out their government is a puppet government, mostly because his knowledge of the past helped him realize that the new government was actually just North Korea with a different name. He and the other main characters—a disabled Korean girl and a Welsh expatriate—end up trying to overthrow a government that is about to complete its last phase of a takeover of West Antarctica. The Korean girl, Jinae, is the one who actually ends up doing this, though, and all the others would have died if she hadn’t saved them.

After that is they kind of unintentionally start a rebellion which carries over into the second book. The rebellion is mostly made up of Korean and Hispanic people (the two main demographics of West Antarctica) and cyborgs (who are most affected by the repressive regime.)

Alex doesn’t lead the rebellion (a Hispanic girl named Yaira does) nor does he become some kind of “master” of Korean culture like with some stories (by the end Jinae still makes fun of him for not being able to use chopsticks, let alone speak Korean fluently), but he ends up joining the fight and stuff.

I’ve considered making Jinae the POV character (since I consider both her and Alex to be main characters) but the first part of the story where they break the secret behind the government is kind of dependent on him and his history.

I mean I guess he’s not a typical white/cis/able-bodied protag since he is disabled. But I’m still worried the premise of this story is in weird territory. Any advice?

Kitty27
05-19-2014, 01:18 AM
I’m kind of worried one of my projects is turning into a “white savior” kind of story so I would love some opinions and advice.

The POV character is a white guy who was cryonically frozen because he had a terminal disease, and wakes up 120 years late to find that there’s no cure waiting for him and that—whoops—his home country, the US, no longer exists/was probably destroyed. He wakes up in the city-state of Helios, West Antarctica, which is run by a government that they find out is secretly being puppeted by North Korea—which, 120 years previously, won a violent war against the south and took over South Korea and Japan.

He figures out their government is a puppet government, mostly because his knowledge of the past helped him realize that the new government was actually just North Korea with a different name. He and the other main characters—a disabled Korean girl and a Welsh expatriate—end up trying to overthrow a government that is about to complete its last phase of a takeover of West Antarctica. The Korean girl, Jinae, is the one who actually ends up doing this, though, and all the others would have died if she hadn’t saved them.

After that is they kind of unintentionally start a rebellion which carries over into the second book. The rebellion is mostly made up of Korean and Hispanic people (the two main demographics of West Antarctica) and cyborgs (who are most affected by the repressive regime.)

Alex doesn’t lead the rebellion (a Hispanic girl named Yaira does) nor does he become some kind of “master” of Korean culture like with some stories (by the end Jinae still makes fun of him for not being able to use chopsticks, let alone speak Korean fluently), but he ends up joining the fight and stuff.

I’ve considered making Jinae the POV character (since I consider both her and Alex to be main characters) but the first part of the story where they break the secret behind the government is kind of dependent on him and his history.

I mean I guess he’s not a typical white/cis/able-bodied protag since he is disabled. But I’m still worried the premise of this story is in weird territory. Any advice?

First,it sounds really interesting!

I don't really see any issues as you've stated Jiane and Yaira are main characters and play a very active role in the story.

Alex's knowledge of the past is a main part of the story and not a problem.

It would be a White Savior story if everything depended on him and he led the "lost" natives into war as they didn't know how to do anything without him there to tell them. Or if he came to know and understand their culture better than they did.

The fact you are aware of this trope is a very good sign! Good luck with your story.

FoamyRules
05-19-2014, 01:46 AM
I agree with Kitty, this seems like a very interesting story.

If Jiane is the savior then it wouldn't hurt to make her the pov character, but there's nothing wrong Alex being the pov character.

He's a central part of the story and nothing wrong with telling the story from his perspective just because he isn't a poc.

As long as it's not 'a white man takes over and ruins everything and all is lost until another white man steps in' like Kitty describes above, you should be fine.

Best of luck.

mirandashell
05-19-2014, 02:07 AM
Also, it reads as if the first MC is more of a viewpoint than a saviour. In that we see major events through his eyes.

As always it will be down to the writing but I think you're safe.

MynaOphelia
05-19-2014, 02:16 AM
I really appreciate y'alls input! Technically speaking a resistance already existed before he was even unfrozen--part of the North Korean government's laws included extremely repressive laws against cyborgs, which led to a small underground resistance movement that Jinae was a part of before Alex even showed up. When the government was exposed, more people than just cyborgs became involved in the resistance and that's what sparked the war. So technically him exposing the govt didn't even form the resistance, just really made it blow up...

I feel really weird not having Jinae as a POV character though, since she has such a big stake in the story. But I'm not sure if it would be jarring to switch to split POV between her and Alex in the second book... plus that seems to be a huge YA book cliche...

Cyia
05-19-2014, 02:38 AM
My only question is how there's still a Wales in a world where North Korea took over. Did it cross the Pacific and skip Europe all together? Because bulldozing Russia to get to the Atlantic would be a chore, and if the US was attacked, you'd have the bulk of our European allies (and the UN is in NYC, remember) lending aid, so they wouldn't be unscathed.

Or is the ex-Welshman a former cryo-cicle, too?

MynaOphelia
05-19-2014, 02:46 AM
Oh, okay I probably should have clarified. ^.^;; So North Korea took over South Korea and Japan but didn't actually destroy the US--though for most of the novel that's what Alex thinks has happened. He finds out at the end (spoiler alert???) that a form of chemical warfare in the US intended to be used against North Korea malfunctioned, ended up being released across the US, wiped out most of the population and caused the government to collapse. Alex's mom was involved in that program and that's how he figures out what happened to his family.

The government of North Korea figured out what happened in the US but buried this information, so when it took over West Antarctica from the inside, that info was also kept out of the history books.

Britain and Europe weren't involved in the Pacific War. During the war everyone figured the US would knock out North Korea fast and fix things, but that never happened.

So North Korea's sphere of influence is mostly the North Pacific (excluding China), and West Antarctica, but because it was a secret takeover it wasn't like they had to go through a lot of other countries first.

M.N Thorne
05-19-2014, 03:45 AM
Your story sounds interesting and great. I do not see your hero as a savior. He just wanted to help people in trouble.

MynaOphelia
05-19-2014, 04:52 AM
Do y'all think there might be any other issues with this premise? I know the North Korea as antagonist thing is kind of cliche, are there any particular stereotypes/cliches involving that that I should be aware of?

Helix
05-19-2014, 05:12 AM
I think there's a nice irony in someone who's been frozen having to deal with events in Antarctica! I'm a bit stuck on why West Antarctica.

The thing that throws me most is not so much the issue of the White Saviour (it doesn't read like that to me), but the apparent total global reliance on the US. Wouldn't China have stepped in at some stage? Or India? Or an alliance of other Asia nations? Australia has huge interests in Antarctica. Chile and Argentina are within missile range of West Antarctica and South Africa would be a bit jumpy too.

MynaOphelia
05-19-2014, 05:38 AM
West Antarctica is just the most easily-colonizable region of the continent, and I'm pretty sure there's a small island chain underneath, so some of the ice could melt but a city-state there could still be supported. I dunno, it seemed like a cool (I'm so sorry) setting for the story.

What do you mean by global reliance on the US? As in everyone depending on the US to take care of the North Korea threat?

North Korea didn't officially expand much past the South or Japan, so other countries may not have seen it as much of a threat and provoking a nuclear war with the DPRK once it succeeded in the takeover was probably seem as more risky than just letting it go. The war between the DPRK and the ROK got close to being nuclear but never actually got there—why push it further and risk harming more people?

As for West Antarctica being run by NK, no one officially knows West Antarctica is under a puppet government until ~120 years later. However WA isn't about to go to war with another country like Chile or Argentina, so the missile threat there is slim—the war in West Antarctica is a civil war. NK's motives for taking West Antarctica mostly lie with the fact that there's a huge Korean expat population there, so they wouldn't want to threaten South America or South Africa. As for Australian Antarctic claims, those are in East Antarctica, so they wouldn't really be affected by this.

So it's not really that everyone relied on the US to handle the situation and the US wiped itself out and everyone was screwed, it was more that people were not willing to sacrifice their own to exacerbate an already dangerous political situation far away that didn’t affect them much.

I mean, in modern times this happens a lot—Ukraine is dissolving into civil war and no one (not even the US, really) wants to do anything, during the Arab Spring people talked a lot about wanting to help but no one stepped in (except with Libya.) Syria has been at war for years, is incredibly close to an American ally, as well as being close to American oil interests, and even the US which is notorious for stepping into random conflicts hasn’t done anything, let alone any other countries.

I think it’s kind of common for countries to let overseas conflicts pass because getting involved poses a risk to themselves.

That said, I should probably make that more clear in-story somehow…

Cyia
05-19-2014, 05:47 AM
There's a potential problem with the idea of N. Korea taking over S. Korea. A deliberate strike at S. Korea would reignite the international version of the Korean War. It's a highly developed nation with serious political and economic ties all over the world. Unless you're going with an idea like the placation of Hitler prior to WWII (sorry for the Godwin...), where the rest of the world basically allows the take-over for the sake of a promise not to engage in further aggression, I'm not sure how such a take-over would work.

China usually functions as an ally to N. Korea, but let someone bring all out war to the continent, and that could change in a blink. That would put NK in the cross-hairs of the US, Chinese, European Union, and Russian military forces combined, plus - as Helix mentioned - India, which is also fully nuclear capable. So basically, it would take some serious preemptive strategy to get a maneuver like that off the ground and not have everything between the Yalu River and the 38th parallel turned into a scorch mark. No one wants a sustained conflict in Asia with repercussions that could reach world-wide.

Antarctica is also international territory, with several nations having a stake. A military take-over of any part that's been claimed as a research station, or otherwise, could be seen as a declaration of war, and start the cycle from that point. It would also take some high grade equipment to install forces in Antarctica with any long-term viability, and the N. Korea of today doesn't have them. They can barely keep their own lights on in most of the country. You also need to think about how they'd move an invasion force to Antarctica. Marching down the peninsula is one thing, but airlifting several thousand men and women several thousand miles into the harshest of conditions is a whole other theater.

MynaOphelia
05-19-2014, 06:07 AM
Oooohh okay I see what you guys are saying here. I don't really want go with something Hitleresque but hmm... what if it's an attempt at a reunification, and the reunification works, but then things go sour from the inside?

In-story Korea is not really just like a futuristic North Korea, it's more like a mix of both country's political systems, with limited freedom of speech and increased repression but with a lot of economic openness, similar to China. Would it be more plausible if maybe North Korea begins a process sort of like that, the UN sees they're changing and begins the process of a reunification, but then when the reunification is nearly finished the Korean government becomes dominated by people who support the repressive regime?

And then at that point, the US steps in, wipes itself out, and then North Korea knows how this happened and pretends that it was the one that did it to scare everyone off from doing anything? Other countries don't go into what's left of the US because of the chemical contamination, so they don't know what really happened, but somehow NK knows and uses that as a scare tactic.

Not sure if that's more plausible or just strange...

Helix
05-19-2014, 06:59 AM
I think it's an interesting premise, but there might be some more detail needed to make it more plausible. F'rinstance, that chemical incident in the US -- does it take out Hawaii and Alaska? If so, presumably it also knocks off the Canadian and Mexican populations. If Canada, then what about Greenland? If Mexico, what about the Caribbean Islands. Bermuda? What about all the overseas companies in the US? BP's going to be very unhappy to lose all its North American assets.

Having said all that, this is probably not the right forum for those discussions!

ETA: I'd also forgotten about US territories and interests in the western Pacific. Won't they be able to blow the whistle on NK's fibs?

MynaOphelia
05-19-2014, 03:38 PM
For the most part, the chemical gas takes out the Eastern half of the continental US and enough of the west to damage the government, but more people survive out in California and the West Coast than in Maryland. Eastern Canada is a bit affected, Mexico less so, the Caribbean a little bit. It doesn't really get to Hawaii and Alaska. So yeah, the Hawaiians, Alaskans, and overseas Pacific territories would know the truth, though it's possible NK took out some of those regions after the fact to keep them from saying anything since they were much smaller than the mainland US and easier to take care of.

You're probably right hmm I should bring this up in another forum...

Cyia
05-19-2014, 04:35 PM
Smaller, but not less fortified. The Pacific Islands have military installations on them. And remember that in the case of a disaster threatening the East Coast, the President and all essential government personnel are moved to NORAD, which is in Colorado. If the gas cloud doesn't make it through the Rockies, then there would still be ample opportunity for the US to communicate with satellite bases and other nations. (and again - other nations are going to be seriously angry with any attack that takes out the UN. That would be a strike against any nation with a representative in attendance.)

EMaree
05-19-2014, 04:57 PM
Jinae seems like more of a PoV character than Alex to me, she does most of the protagging. And in book two it seems as if Yaira would be the protagonist.

It's not a white savior story from the way you describe it, but I am struggling to see the point of your main character's role, especially when other characters seem better suited as protagonists.

MynaOphelia
05-19-2014, 08:21 PM
@Cyia: I'll consider those points and get back to you :) I really appreciate you helping me out with this, so I'm gonna work on the logistics of it a bit.

@EMaree: A lot of the first book is Alex trying to figure out what happened to his family, which leads him to figure out what happened to the US, how the war really ended and then who's really controlling West Antarctica. Once he figures that out Jinae is the one who takes out the government leader and then the war starts. So he's a viewpoint character because uncovering the past/history stuff mostly falls on him.

In the second book I'm kind of debating what POV to use, I might split it between him and Jinae, though I really don't like split POV books... it's a big YA writing cliche :/

MynaOphelia
05-19-2014, 08:30 PM
I think it would still make it to the Rockies and the West Coast, it would just be more diluted, but still very dangerous so an evacuation to Colorado wouldn't be much safer. Maybe government officials didn't have time to contact overseas bases and territories, so Pacific bases didn't actually know what had caused the chemical attack and wouldn't be able to blow the whistle. The UN headquarters is a bit trickier since you're right, that would be considered an attack on a lot of different countries... hmm

Cyia
05-19-2014, 09:27 PM
I'm really not picking on you; these are points that you probably want to think about so you can at least hand wave them away.

NORAD is beneath the Rocky mountain range. Without destroying it, or knocking out communications, there's no way to prevent them from talking to other bases and other countries. The same is true for Airforce One and Marine One. They're mobile tactical stations capable of running most government functions in flight.

Rather than poison gas, you might consider something with an EMP to address the communications issues, but you've still got to figure out a delivery system that won't show up on radar before it hits. ICMBs and the like would be spotted long before they could reach the coast. Besides that, the east coast is on the Atlantic. N. Korea is on the Pacific coast, completely on the other side of the world. They can't launch across Asia and Europe to hit the US across the Atlantic - any hostile missiles in Chinese, Russian, European or Indian (which they'd have to pass through) airspace would be suicide. They can't launch toward the US from the Pacific side and hit the east coast. Missiles launched that way wouldn't make it past the Philippines without being noticed.

MynaOphelia
05-19-2014, 11:31 PM
Oh no, I understand that! I really appreciate you helping me figure this out. :)

Ah okay, I did not know NORAD was underground. It kind of needs to be chemical for a chunk of the story to work, but would chemical plus an EMP work or would that be too much?

As for the delivery system--North Korea isn't actually what causes this, it's technically an accidental release from within the US, but NK says they did it to scare everyone else. Of course, then people would wonder why they saw no missiles traveling over Asia or the Pacific, but maybe that's part of the scare tactic and NK gets people thinking that even their missiles can't be spotted on radar, when in reality NK didn't do anything at all in the first place. Would that be plausible?

Cyia
05-20-2014, 12:15 AM
Lack of missiles is definitely a plus. I'm not sure what sort of disaster would release a poison cloud and an emp, but I bet if you kick this around in the Sandbox (another subforum here), someone with more military knowledge could help you figure it out!

Good luck with it.

MynaOphelia
05-20-2014, 12:18 AM
Cool, and thank you so much for your help :)