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Some back story on The Hidden Village

by Greg Krehbiel on 23 February 2013

I’ve worked in downtown D.C. for quite a long time, and I like to take walks at lunch. Sometimes I walk to work from Union Station (after riding the MARC train), and it’s interesting the sorts of things and people you can see.

On some of my walks I’ve imagined a game that people in cities could play on their lunch breaks and during happy hour.

I’ve dabbled in programming and IT stuff over the years, so at first I thought about actually creating the game. It would be online, but also in a smartphone app. There would be real-world interaction too – almost like a role-playing game. You’d meet people for lunch, or at happy hour, and there would be strategies and intrigue involved.

Players would be organized by guilds, and you’d get points for recruiting people (or stores, bars, etc.) to your guild. You’d also get points by finding people in other guilds, or crashing their guild meetings.

I liked the idea, but I’m more of a writer than a programmer, so instead of actually creating the game, I wanted to write a story with the game as the background. Then maybe some programmer would read the book and decide to make the game! If that’s you, feel free, although I expect some minor royalties. :-)

the Hidden Village

As I played with this concept of guilds and role-playing and so on, I was also reading some books about human nature. E.g., Pinker’s book The Blank Slate. Pinker wants to justify moral rules on the concept of a single human nature.

One thing he seems to have missed is the possibility that different sub-populations of people might have different natures – so maybe there is no single, human nature that could justify a single moral code for all people.

Those two ideas come together in The Hidden Village — the game, with its guilds, combined with the idea of “clans” with different characteristics. The clans are so different from everybody else, in fact, that they don’t feel any moral obligation to the rest of society. They think they’re a law to themselves.

So in The Hidden Village (the Kindle version of which is free today and tomorrow), Geof Franklin gets caught up in all this. His son Alek has been recruited into one of the clans, and Geof is worried that he’s involved in some sort of dangerous cult, so he investigates. But it gets him in all kinds of trouble.

-- 2013-02-23  »  Greg Krehbiel

Talkback x 11

  1. John Krehbiel John Krehbiel
    25 February 2013 @ 8:16 pm

    On the question of multiple “human natures,” ISTM that there are number of options; call them switches; and a particular culture or environmental or genetic trigger can change the settings.

    You sort of touch on that possibility in The Underground Escape. I wonder if some kind of controlled reproduction, or control of the environment in which reproduction occurs, might plausibly create an isolating mechanism that would facilitate the evolution of separate gene pools, reinforcing whatever genetic basis for these differences might be there already.

  2. admin GregK
    25 February 2013 @ 8:24 pm

    Yeah. It seems at least plausible that you could engineer certain outcomes by controlling factors that affect the environment in the womb.

  3. Greg Krehbiel Greg Krehbiel
    26 February 2013 @ 10:07 am

    On the topic of all this human nature / natural law / morals stuff, here’s an interesting article.

    What’s Natural About Natural Law? (It’s a good idea to read the comments, but be sure to read PDGM’s comments.)

  4. John Krehbiel John Krehbiel
    26 February 2013 @ 6:54 pm

    Just read that article, and most of the comments.

    ISTM that the commenter who referred to the Alice in Wonderland aspect had it right. “Natural” seems to mean either “that which exists,” which is dismissed as not including stuff like souls, or “It’s natural because I said it is” without regard to the real world.

    A lot of gobbledygook there.

  5. DSM
    28 February 2013 @ 1:10 pm

    “[...] so maybe there is no single, human nature that could justify a single moral code for all people.”

    I think this is a perfectly natural — or maybe that word’s too loaded in this thread, so a perfectly understandable — way of looking at the world.

    Even the vegetarians and vegans I know don’t think it’s immoral for nonhuman carnivores to eat meat, but they also tend to think that the difference between humans and nonhuman animals is mostly a matter of degree. It’s not a giant leap from there to thinking that the differences between human subpopulations might be enough to justify differences in ethics, and whether we should take the leap is a factual matter more than one of principle.

    Incidentally, I’m halfway through Escape — the series has been my commute reading for the last few days. No spoilers, so I’ll say this: a certain character made a (hopefully permanent) life-altering decision after what seems to me a very short amount of time exposed to any data on which to base that decision, and another character then made a similar decision soon afterwards. Suffice it to say that if I made decisions on similar timeframes my life would look a lot different than it does now.. better or worse I’m not sure, but very different. :^)

  6. Greg Krehbiel Greg Krehbiel
    28 February 2013 @ 1:45 pm

    I don’t see how the Pinkers of the world fail to see this as a problem. Different breeds of dogs are different. Who’s to say different breeds of humans aren’t?

    In fact, one of the big criticisms of evolutionary psychology is that they tend to do research on American college students — because they’re close at hand and easy to do research on. An underlying assumption in many studies is that American college students are a fair sample.

    About the sudden, life-changing decisions in the series — yes, that’s part of what it means to be a clansman!

    I’d love to hear your feedback when you’re done.

  7. DSM
    28 February 2013 @ 2:39 pm

    It’s an interesting issue.

    Oddly enough, I was thinking of this subject — different breeds of humans, I mean — the other day.

    Originally I was at the gym and was watching TV through the iPod. The show turned out to have a freckled red-haired woman with a Scottish accent, and she was so pretty she almost made me fall off the elliptical when my heart decided to skip a few beats. I decided to spend the evening at a Scots pub in response, which I did, eating steak pie and drinking Innis & Gunn. Much of that is cultural — my response to the accent, for example — but some, like being attracted to girls with long hair and freckles, is probably inborn.

  8. Greg Krehbiel Greg Krehbiel
    28 February 2013 @ 2:43 pm

    I’ve wondered if there might be something analogous with music. For example, some ethnic music really resonates with me (the “thistle and shamrock hour”) and other stuff leaves me cold.

  9. DSM
    28 February 2013 @ 4:22 pm

    It’s hard to know because the individual variation in tastes is so wide and there’s such an enormous cultural overlay even if there could be some underlying response. It could even be the case that — to take a silly example — Scots are genetically predisposed to *respond* in some deep way to bagpipe music in some way that other people aren’t, but we’re not predisposed to like it. Kind of like some people can smell truffles and some can’t, but people on both sides can like or dislike the taste, although people who can’t smell them are less likely to have a major reaction positive or negative.

    [I don't think the truffle example came up in the books, but I might be misremembering.]

    But it’d be really tough to distinguish that from just “some people like it, and some don’t, and if you feel connected to something by ethnicity you’re more likely to feel you like something than otherwise”. I’d think that ethnic connections would have a fair bit of that going on, because my fellow ethnics are blood relations but distant enough that there’s none of the messiness of the more realized relationships in my more immediate family, and so they’re in some sense at the “right” distance for me to feel a connection to.

    (Tangent: I was at a Leafs/Habs game last night. We Leafs fans don’t have blood in common, only a shared history of disappointment and memories of ancient glory. We lost, of course, and I had to put up with the Habs fans near me cheering as Montreal scored three times in a row.)

    That said, it’d be neat to see a clustering graph of music (beats, sounds, etc.) spreading through the human race over the past few thousand years, even if it were entirely culturally-driven.

  10. John Krehbiel John Krehbiel
    2 March 2013 @ 11:51 am

    Chomsky (IIRC) proposed that language (grammar, specifically) has a number of “settings” which start out at some default, and can be reset by culture.

    I suspect that many complex human behaviors are similarly controlled.

    The thing I find most troubling is those people who think that the way they were raised is the only way to be.

  11. Teri Davis
    11 March 2013 @ 5:21 pm

    The Hidden Village
    The World Next Door, Book 1
    Greg Krehbiel
    Crowhill Publishing
    Laurel, Maryland
    October 2012
    ASIN: B00A3CJ8R6
    $ 2.99
    130 pages
    The scariest stories are those that are realistic. If there is enough truth that you feel that the story could happen to, those stories are the ones that you remember and stay with you. That is the case of this short novel, The Hidden Village.
    Geoffrey Franklin is a widower who lives a rather ordinary life. He goes to work and weekly communicates with his only son, Josh. Since Josh is an adult, Geoffrey realizes the need for his son’s independence. When his son though does not answer his calls after a few weeks, he becomes concerned.
    He calls his son’s place of employment only to discover that his son quit his job a few weeks ago and no longer is living at his apartment. Geoffrey starts contacting Josh’s friends only to discover that the car was supposedly sold to a friend and Josh seems to have disappeared.
    Geof chooses to take a few days off work to search for his son. However, people don’t seem to like the questions that he is asking. The more he asks, the more trouble he finds for himself.
    After seeing a glimpse of someone who he believes is Josh, Geoffrey discovers a cult-like world with different rules and values.
    The Hidden Village is an enthralling tale in the Washington D.C. area that revolves around a cult-like group nicknamed Elves. The Hidden Village is a believable thriller involving cults with unlimited resources. The story is well-written with well-developed characters. The most difficult part of this story is that the story ended, even temporarily.
    The Hidden Village is a truly captivating taking the reader into another world.
    Greg Krehbiel is a professional publisher of Crowhill and is the father of five children. The Underground Escape is the second book in this engrossing series.