World-building Between the Lines: a close-reading of the propaganda in The Sword of Kaigen (Guest Post Sample)

A post in which I explain my model for the construction of propaganda and show how I used that to inform the ‘history lessons’ featured in The Sword of Kaigen.

With 2019 coming to a close, I realized that I’ve actually written far more Theonite-related content for other people’s blogs than my own. This isn’t something I regret; I don’t believe I’ve ever mistaken myself for a blogger or led anyone else to do so.

However, I do want all of these posts to be easy to find, here on this site where people are most likely to be searching for them. So, what I’m going to do over the remainder of 2019 is post introductory samples of all my guest posts, one at a time. These samples should be just long enough to give you an idea of whether you’re interested in clicking through to the full post on the host’s blog.

The content is easy to find, the hosts still get the traffic, everybody wins!

The following is the third of seven guest posts I wrote for The Sword of Kaigen Blog Tour, hosted by Karina at Afire Pages from 11/11 – 11/29/19. This one, hosted by Papertea & Bookflowers examines the propagandistic history lesson from the first chapter of The Sword of Kaigen.

World-building Between the Lines: a close-reading of the propaganda in The Sword of Kaigen

The first piece of propaganda in any book from the Dunaverse is the map in the front. Most maps of the parallel Earth, Duna, look like this one, from the front of Theonite: Orbit (the second book in my Theonite Series):

Screenshot 2019-11-15 at 23.24.50

Created by people from the country of Yamma, this map reflects what its makers consider to be the natural order of the world: Africa on top of Europe and the parallel West African nation of Yamma in the center, with everything else revolving around it.

The map in The Sword of Kaigen presents a slightly different view:

Screenshot 2019-11-15 at 22.31.32

While everyone on Planet Duna agrees that South is up and North is down, this Kaigenese map slices Yamma and the whole continent of Kelendugu in half in order to place the ocean and the Kaigenese Empire and the adjacent ocean in the center.

In The Sword of Kaigen, we are introduced to most of the countries on this map through a lecture by a history teacher, Hibiki Sensei, in the backwater province of Shirojima, Kaigen. This is also our first showcase of propaganda in motion. From ancient Rome to modern America, propaganda follows a specific formula. In comparing Roman and West African Mande histories in college, I broke the model into four steps. Here, for the sake of simplicity, I’ve reduced it to three:

  1. The Myth: spinning and trimming history to fit a specific worldview and set of ‘truths’
  2. The Connection: placing the audience into a specific role within the narrative of the myth
  3. The Call to Action: using your audience’s role in the narrative to instruct and control

Below, I’ve broken Hibiki Sensei’s history lesson from The Sword of Kaigen into these three steps. I’m not going to pretend that it fits perfectly, since I wrote it off the cuff, not to model, but I hope that it provides a look at one way to write propaganda into a fictional world.

Part 1: The Myth

The myth is the product of the teller adjusting a series of historical facts to fit the biases and agendas that will subsequently create the connection and the call to action. In each segment of Hibiki’s lecture, we’ll do a truth check, in which we compare his version of events to what really happened. Once we know what he fiddled, we’ll look at his biases and overarching agenda in making those changes…

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