Inspiration from Politics

by Al Kalar

No matter what your political outlook, there is good material in the shenanigans in your country’s political class.

An author mentioned that she uses current events as ideas for stories (she writes Fantasy). She was particularly hyped about some goings on in the early Obama administration.


The Chicago Olympic fiasco was (Chicago lost a bid to host the Olympics) heating up as the media turned themselves inside out to spin it.

  • It’s Daily’s fault.
  • It’s Chicago’s fault.
  • It’s a “good thing” for Obama because he’ll be distanced from all the corruption that will go on in Chicago (CNN).
  • I was waiting for them to blame Bush and Rush Limbaugh.

You can’t make this stuff up on your own. It’s GREAT fodder for stories when you put your characters into similar positions.  Just play the media the same as you’re seeing (believability is easy that way) and wrap your story around that. This could just as easily been a drama surrounding the Nixon administration.


No matter what your personal politics, you can use situations like this for scenes in your books. Human behavior changes in small ways, but basic human reactions remain. We still have monsters who plunge the world into deadly conflicts. People still mate and have babies. Gossips and (later) troubadours and the media tell stories to suit their own biases. People murder other people for a variety of similar reasons no matter what the period in history. People worship deities or reject them. And so on.

For science fiction writers, only the background technology changes. Ancient man walked, we now fly or drive, SciFi characters hop a spaceship (or matter transmitter), but in the end they’re still human.

Harry Turtledove writes historical fiction set in “real” situations. He told me he often found things in his research that he could never have dreamed up on his own.

So, pay attention to what’s going on around you. There’s a world of inspiration just outside your safe, writing cubbyhole.


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