Story Idea: "From the Ashes"

So I’m throwing an idea I have out for some feedback and help from the purveyors of the forum. The basic premise I have is a city or empire that used mind control on its people is defeated and most of the citizens have been de-programmed. But there are a few holdouts who are fighting to rebuild the control. This idea was something that came from an earlier story idea based around the 80s show Spiral Zone (You can go to The Spiral Zone Wiki and its Media Dossier Page to learn about the show), but my ideas for the story about that show have changed. However, the premise of a figure who was somebody in the mind-controlled society but is nothing outside of it and wants to go back to that is a very interesting premise. But going beyond that I’m having trouble with, so I turn to you all to see if you can help me develop this idea out a bit more. Looking forward to hearing your ideas and responses to this prospect for a future story.


So let me just brainstorm some ideas based on your premise. In the programmed society, there is order, there is dependence or obedience (to whom?), and structure. In the Deprogrammed world, there would be chaos, independence of thought, and conflict. I could imagine the protagonist initially wanting to get his own thoughts back, but then realizing the world is so chaotic and messed up, he yearns to be programmed once again. And if he had the power, he would do it to everyone else - although there is a conflict: independence of thought vs. wanting to be programmed? Perhaps there’s one group that wants the programming and takes it willingly, and another group that protests and doesn’t want it because they were forcibly coerced (although once programmed, they’re as docile as the willing ones).

To me, that’s the setting and context. It’s a little trickier coming up with a good story because how is the deprogramming going to happen? A mistake? Sabotage? And how are you going to get those not interested in being programmed to fall in line?

Good luck.


Thanks for your response; I haven’t really decided whether it will be a city (or city-state) or a larger empire. A city-state might mean that the world isn’t as horribly fractured, so I have to think about how dystopian I want the world to be.

As I just started thinking about it, I saw it as the people of the city/empire are in de-programming camps, the de-programming is largely breaking down the conditioning over time. What I’ve come up with so far is to focus on a captain in either the police/military force; he still holds on to the conditioning and thwarts the de-programming of other police/military men in the camp, especially ones who were under his command. But definitely there’s something to your idea of groups within that seek to help free the former soldiers and re-establish the control.

It’s still early in the planning stages, but you’ve given me some things to think about. Thank you for the inspiration, nycboot.

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You have to work on the motivation of why your protagonist wants to go back into the mind control society. “was somebody” is only the start.

Give him character! Like he liked the way that everything was clear cut, no doubts, he had his role, he enjoyed it, no second-guessing about what’s wrong or right…

While in the de-programmed world he struggles with himself, with his desires, his plans, insecurities, can’t find a way to deal with his freedom, despises how mean and violate other people are (against him?), about the lack of organisation…

Also, what are you plans about sex in that story? We’re still talking about GSS here…

For me, the idea of a person who used to be a sex slave in that mind control society and was thrown out of it into the cruel world sounds intriguing. At first he loves his freedom, only to realize that he actually would like to return to his former, easy life as a simple sex slave…

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It’s still in the early stages, just an idea that I have. But you’re right to say that he definitely needs character. I don’t know how much of the outside world he’ll see as he remains the toughest case to crack in the camp.

As to sex, I’m a no-sex writer, but there could be love. One motivation might be he and another captain were a couple; they came through the ranks together and he wants his partner back. His partner might be in another camp and going through the de-programming process. But definitely there are ideas there. It’s starting to feel a bit epic so I may really have to think this through.

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It could be that in their programmed state, the protagonist and the captain are a couple - but in the deprogrammed state, they don’t like each other! Could make a nice twist. :slight_smile:

I’m not sure I would go that far, but I think that the more time passes without the conditioning the greater the potential that they become different people and that the bond become irreparable. The question is if it does can it ever be rebuilt again. These are problems that I think are there. Equally, I could see people in the outside societies who want to liberate the prisoners and get them back to some degree of what they had; they feel that it was wrong to destroy the society. Some may have even wanted to go over and live in the programmed society. It’s definitely feeling very massive and epic, but something that I like.

I’m thinking right now that the programming isn’t completely top down; people have personalities and the programming is bringing their personalities in line with the order of the society, hence why the captains can be in love and partners. Again it fits in with my ideas to try to give the characters under mind control personalities and voices.

Remember being institutionalized is a thing and Gladiators and Squires and concubines sometimes elected to keep their lesser position as it kept them on the in.

Example as a sex page he can directly interface with a mans thoughts, fulfill them and his desires. But the constant two faced compromise and risk of being tossed aside as people learn to do what he does. Maybe Willie Lomax in there? Anyway in the previous society he was critical gear with a grand master. here his master talks the talk but not walks the walk and dare not try to keep a comfortable position. Its easy to just… clear the way, fulfill tasks for him. Educate him in what he can do. Get him hooked on it. Make him want to use him and then others.

BTW thanks for putting me onto The Spiral Zone. I almost remembered it when I saw it. Damn this show was freaky. One thing to consider, using that as base inspiration, we see a kid and the zone extends and persists…for awhile. Imagine growing or developing in that environment. TO the point that’s been where you experienced development and direction. That’s your normal!

Moreso if you got if not elevated fixed at some point. The world is supposed to be a heirarchy with a master at the top. Restoring such just makes sense to you because that’s how your consciousness evolved and how you practice input.


Not a problem; I loved that cartoon when it first came on and I’m glad to work on the site around it. The idea of using that to envisage what it would be like to grow up in that environment is a really good idea; thank you for putting that out there. In “From the Ashes” I don’t see the mind control as strong as the Spiral Zone, but it is still a good jumping off point for the city-state.

So I’ve been busy with work and haven’t had the chance to write but the ideas for stories are coming and I wanted to update this idea. So I still see the two soldiers as a couple and one fighting to hold on to the control and find his lover. The lover however isn’t so much as slipping out of the control but his mind is processing an aspect of the programming that no one ever has been conscious of until now. So the story is the quest to get to the lover then together they try to understand what’s happening which leads to deeper truths about the world they live in. Definitely wasn’t a fan of the lovers falling out idea, but this idea gives a much grander scale to the story. And it allows me to draw upon Logan’s Run, an oldie but goodie in my favorite SF movies.