The Complete The Modest Proposal Institute Series: Books 1 – 4 Boxset by Paul James
All four books of The Modest Proposal Institute, An Old Path to a New Future, No More Empires, Rival Institutes, War of the Institutes, are here in one place.
The story starts as the Western World slowly collapses after the Recession of 2020/21 and disintegrates into petty states, ruled by quarrelsome warlords.
The Institute, which had been created in 2018 to stand apart from the coming collapse, is gradually drawn into the strife. It too is soon drifting into separate ‘institutes’ that become rivals and eventually opposing warring states.
The end of that war separates Earth’s surface dwellers from the small number of escapees who have headed out into space and under the oceans, leaving behind a series of barriers between themselves and those left behind that they hope will keep the flame of mankind’s progress alive.
Targeted Age Group:: Young Adult and up
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 1 – G Rated Clean Read
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
The disturbing trend of boys and young men doing less well in school and university over recent decades, along with the declining rate of innovation and invention in the West, led me to think about what we are in danger of losing and how that might be corrected. Much of the developments in the book are already in progress. I put them into a story.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Looking at history, which I do a lot, I notice that a number of different character types are needed for a successful society to grow.
Explorers find a place, pioneers settle it, entrepreneurs find uses for the products of the new place, and so on. My characters reflect these differences.
For example, the principal character, Alexis, is an explorer, brave in exploring but unable to manage the personalities that follow and ultimately determine the Institute’s fate.
Moon City, 2129
Alexis frowned. He wished, and not for the first time, that he’d never started this history and yet it had to be told. To be honest, all he really wanted was his view of events told in his own voice. Looking back, he could see so many times where he failed and people would wonder why? They would ask why the same man who, in his early days, had pushed the Space Institute forward so forcefully, but then had been so unsure of himself when the Institute began to fracture. And they’d be right to ask. He could hardly understand it either. Until 2040, he’d been striding forward into space. After 2040 he’d been out of his depth on Earth. People there made no sense to him. Unfortunately, that’s the time he’d reached in this history, and he felt almost afraid to go on. He shrugged. Best to get it over with, he thought, and began recording.
It was the darkest time of the Institute’s history. The time when the three branches drifted farther and farther apart in growing mistrust and then violence. These events had happened only a few years ago and yet were almost forgotten by most. Or here in space they were, anyhow. He couldn’t speak much about those left on Earth because he never visited now, but he suspected their everyday thoughts were consumed by just finding enough food to keep living.
It wasn’t a dark time for everyone. Here in space, life went on as if nothing had changed. It was always a reflection of the Earth of 2018 here, only better. Before the moon and Martian cities were even half finished, exploratory missions had gone out in search of asteroids, other moons, and anything in the solar system that looked like it could be colonized. The drive was relentless. Even Alexis was staggered at the energy his pioneers showed in every possible new territory. Now he could see how the ancestors of the Western world could have arrived in a wilderness hundreds of miles from the nearest outpost of their civilization and built a city almost overnight.
He also now saw why the Founders had not focused on recruiting men with any one particular attribute—not IQ or physical strength or any other single quality. The Institute needed a range of qualities. Once those who explored had put roots into a new territory, pioneers needed to arrive and build. Nothing stopped the pioneers—not heat, cold, or exhaustion. They threw themselves into building each new settlement like there was no tomorrow. The contrast to the people he’d tried to help on Earth was staggering. Back on Earth people were starving, freezing, and yet could barely organize a hunt. Any one of the Institute’s men was worth ten of them.
After the pioneers came the builders, farmers, manufacturers, and those who provided them the services they needed. Where there had once been a barren, lifeless rock whirling in space, there was soon a thriving community sending resources back to the older colonies and importing things they needed in order to expand. No one directed anyone. The men just did what they did and the rest of life followed naturally.
The same story, of course, had been played out many times throughout men’s history on Earth. As Dean had told them, barren islands and lands had been turned into bustling cities and booming countries for thousands of years, but it was still astonishing to watch happen in space.
Their success brought even more people into space. Some of the most worthless pieces of rock in the solar system—rocks he himself had thought of as totally useless for humans—were being transformed by the strangest ideas. Yet ideas that sounded crazy looked like sense when someone worked at making them happen and proved their value. It demonstrated that things really did only become resources when someone finds a use for them. Until that happened, they really were just rocks.
It was this final understanding of the Institute’s selection process that had kept him trying to hold the Institute together. The three Institute strands— space, underwater, and Earth’s surface—were constantly being pulled apart by their different needs, which he could accept, and by the mutual suspicions and jealousy of their leaders, which he could not. From the time of the split in the mid-twenty-first century to the early years of the twenty-second century, Alexis had worked to heal the divisions. He’d failed, of course, which was why he was now recording this history. He hoped someone sometime in the future would see what had happened and stop it from happening again— stop mankind repeating these endless cycles of rise and fall, attack and counterattack. The Institute had been as helpless in that as in every other peaceable idea of mankind.
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