An introduction to Paradisian principlesEdit
For the benefit of readers and prospective contributors, the following may serve to establish the fundamental concepts of The British Paradise Islands as a setting for fiction.
The British Paradise Islands, as a setting (and a state of mind), was devised by author Jonnie Comet in the 1970s, in part as a reaction to the then-recent independence of The Bahamas which had been a British dependent territory till 1973. Comet felt that the Pindling regime and other political and economic trends were as negative as the long-desired independence was positive. For example, the precipitous rash of major development, limited to Grand Bahama, New Providence and the Biminis, condemned once-successful Eleuthera and other islands to near-oblivion. And the construction of not one but two major causeways to the grazing ground known as Hog Island fomented development of the Atlantis resort (itself the largest and tallest structure in all of The Bahamas) and sucked tourism revenues, and, as a consequence, attention to infrastructure, from well-established urban Nassau. When Hog Island was formally renamed 'Paradise Island', then-teenaged Comet determined to pose a more people-friendly, more-accessible, and freer version of Paradise-- even if it could be only in fiction.
Originally Comet's fanciful setting was located in the Caribbean. The earliest manuscripts trace the relocation of the Cavaliere family, introduced in the Wilshire Tales, from Orange County, California, to an island tentatively located amidst the Berry Islands in The Bahamas. Later, when the Wilshire society's new home was changed to eastern Florida, what had been known as 'The Paradise Islands' became, in essence, St Simon's Cay, a much smaller, semiautonomous island in the Berrys, and the utopian resort setting changed to be located in the equatorial Pacific, where it first became a factor in Comet's 1983 novel East Of The Sun.
Core principles Edit
The premise behind the creation of such a setting was to focus on several specific elements all too often absent from more commercial (more spoilt) tropical resorts:
- Purity in architecture, municipal planning, retail marketing and service providing-- in short, no pretensions towards hula skirts and tiki bars. More like Bermuda than Waikiki.
- Exclusivity in legal status, to favour residents' and belongers' opportunities and needs rather than those of expatriates-of-convenience and off-island speculators and developers. This is founded in the (perhaps unique) Paradisian concept of 'the respect standard' rather than 'the gold standard'. Just because you have money doesn't mean you have more freedom to change things here.
- Freedom from unnecessary restrictions about driving, drinking, dress codes and decorum. Whilst traditional politeness and propriety are never out of vogue in the best places (and are, in a way, actually enforced in the BPI), a certain casual atmosphere can be refreshing. But personal responsibility must remain the principal consideration. Paradisians aren't offended until you offend them.
- Freedom from overbearing influence from foreign investments and marketing, such as the (legislated) absence of North American chain stores, fast-food shops, brand names, styles, fads, fashion, and even media. The place exists on its own terms, making its own rules and communicating in its own way, for its own ends; and that's what makes it so exotic and enticing a destination to visit.
- Absolute protection for habitat, wildlife, open and undeveloped lands, and traditional local mores. Development confined to assigned areas-- this means rather high-density planning, small houses, small sections, multistorey structures. This is both economically and environmentally responsible. The luxury is in living here, not in owning it all.
- Environmentally-responsible means of providing energy, infrastructure, and waste treatment, with cost being a far more remote consideration than efficiency. Some things are worth more than money; these are what Paradisians spend it on.
- Taxation based primarily on use of resources rather than on income. This means value-added levies on tourism and tourist-centred trade, taxes increasing disproportionate to increased land-section size, few if any social-welfare handouts, and horsepower-based registration fees on motor vehicles. The more you own, the more you use, or the more you want, the more you pay.
- More British than American. The astute will note that, beyond the obvious (driving on the left, English spelling and speaking accents, hierarchy of titled peerage), the territory is predominantly Anglocentric, evident in details such as the UK pound being used as exclusive legal tender, a pre-1990s British-style school-system structure, and even BT telephone-ringer and electrical-mains-connection standards. All this may discompose the self-confident (or arrogant) North American visitor who might otherwise assume his usual way of having a holiday can compel 'third-world' islanders to acquiesce to his demands (accepting US currency, providing US sockets, driving LHD cars). Quite the contrary: you 'me-first' tourists will find yourselves at-odds with the ways of Paradise-- indeed whilst your ego aches you'll miss out on the real fun.
In the analysis, it is vital to not judge too quickly on appearances; or, if one does, he had best assume all is much saner, safer, more modest and more dignified than it seems at first glance. Paradise is, after all, Paradise-- and part of that must include surprise, even challenge, for the overconfident or uninitiated visitor.
The Essential Paradise, series sourcebook: detail into key elements of the fantastic realm and its features and characters
Two Paradises: explanation of the two domains within the fantasy/fiction realm (vital for interested contributors!)
The Stories: key works of fiction, including the originating novels and novellae, with literary apology (explanation) and constructive detail
Characters: as feature in various story arcs, with data, illustrations, personal histories (including Wikipedia articles, where applicable!)
Common themes: explanation of literary tropes, or themes, typical of Paradise-based fiction, verse and essays
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