Friday, 23 September 2011

They're always one step ahead.

In the in-progress dystopia novel there is an old man who is taken away for criminal activity. He was caught re-using plastic in his own home, rather than putting it through the recycling centre and buying new recycled plastic items. What a terrible man.

So he gets taken away and I wondered, what would such a State do with old people when they have an excuse to dispose of them? Recycle them as food?

Nah. Soylent Green already did that. I needed something bizarre, something different, something horrible and cruel and yet slightly credible.

So I thought 'What if they cremate all bodies to save on landfill space and use the heat from cremations as a power source?' Sounds good. A crematorium power station would need a regular supply but that can be arranged and it'll save on pensions too. Yes, that's a useful plot device.

As always, I had to check whether such a thing could be made believable in the modern world because while I want this story to be at the bounds of sanity, I still need it to be credible enough to be scary.

So I checked. I looked around, not really expecting to find much and...

Oh, come on!

Give a writer a break here.


Richard H. said...

Might this be a counter argument re: obesity? After all, according to the health nannies the obese will die sooner thus requiring less soc. security, and medicare and with this crematoria proposal would not the burning of obese persons create more energy than the thin people? Perhaps there could be a quantitative "rebate program" of sorts.

The lunacy is going so far beyond discouraging and quite frightening and into realms absent any reason, but increasingly exponential levels of madness

Leg-iron said...

We'll all die sooner if they think they can extract energy from us ;)

Then it won't matter if we smoke.

Anonymous said...

Human bodies dont burn easy. So how do you expect surplus energy from them?

Angry Exile said...

You know, Leg-iron, you could just include all these ideas (what's that, the third or fourth one where reality has beaten you to it?) and then have an appendix listing all the things that you've found are really being done with a URL for the source. Might put an edge on the stuff that's come only from your own twisted head if people get to the end of the book and go 'Holy shit, if that bit is really happening then what about the rest of it?'

Anonymous said...

I was thinking Biodiesel.

They were even considering using tobacco to make it at one time, as an alternative use for the crop.

Just had a look and according to the Guardian, Amtrak ran a train on beef last year.

Amtrak trials first cow-powered train

"Biodiesel made from beef byproducts fuels rail operator's first green train, cutting carbon emissions and improving air quality."


george said...

Hastings Council are using bodies as an energy source as well..

I wonder if their eco lightbulbs will pop when they burn the old alky's that I used to see staggering about the place

Anonymous said...

... and, as for your protagonist and his non-sanctioned recycling:

Courtesy of a flightless bird -

Full story from the Daily Hypertension -

Anonymous said...

power, yes. unfortunately for you truth is stranger than fiction. IIRC the project is a go - at least on a experimental level - in one particular municipality in my country... xp

Anonymous said...

Angry Exile has a good idea! Show the reader that these things are already being done (with links to webpages etc). Now that is scary sh*t!

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Leg-iron

Harvesting people for spare parts first would be far more lucrative. Then burn the leftovers.

Been done in Blake's 7**: Back on the spaceship after escaping certain death on Planet Zog, Avon asks of Vila (approx): "You'd rather be a collection of spare parts down there than one spare part up here?"


** Only we could make a TV series called Blake's 7, which for most of the time had only 6 heroes, none of them called Blake.

The Underdoug said...

Re: recycling bypassing the state being banned. In some desert parts of U.S. Amrika, collecting rainwater in butts is illegal (all water belongs to the corporatist state-sanctioned water co).

Maybe you could try the idea of sweat farms where people collect sweat in specialised clothing and sell the moisture for money.

Or the sweat is paid instead of taxation.

Or, to pinch an idea from the Monster raving loonies, everybody has to do 35 minutes per week (5 mins per day) on a state-sanctioned treadmill to generate electricity.

Tedious Tantrums said...

The energy expended by local authorities to find ways of being more green than green is truly breathtaking.

It's just such a pity that they can't do the same thing to reduce the costs of their existence to the local population.

Great blog as always

Anonymous said...

Or, to pinch an idea from the Monster raving loonies, everybody has to do 35 minutes per week (5 mins per day) on a state-sanctioned treadmill to generate electricity.

I can see this happening. At the rate the bird-choppers are taking over, they'll have to do something to generate electricity when the wind stops blowing.

ArtCo said...

How about harvesting dopamine or whatever its called from prisoners or even the chemicals that are produced in someones body just prior to execution.For the elites gratification obviously. The scarier the execution the more chemicals to harvest. Just a thought, im not a weirdo lol
wv hypie (Ive never been to Dale Farm)

Leg-iron said...

Anon 6:18 - surplus energy? We don't get that from windfarms. This would at least be cheaper.

Leg-iron said...

Angry Exile - that's a brilliant idea. End the story with 'Would you like to know how much of this has already happened?' and a list.

With the Ebook, those links could be live. The print version would have to point to a page of links rather than expect someone to type them all in, but it would work.

Angry Exile said...

Yeah, that's the sort of thing I meant. If you really wanted to shit people up with head games you could say that as far as you know this is all what's already happened for real... so far. :-D

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