14.24: Political Intrigue

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard

Political Intrigue stories are less about “politics” (as colloquially defined by pop culture) and more about mysteries. Per Mary Robinette, they’re often like heists of information. The word “politics” here is used in its purest sense: POWER.

In this episode we talk about how we worldbuild for stories in which the flow of information and misinformation affect the shift of power, and how to craft those stories so they’re, well… intriguing instead of being boring.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson


Take a classic fairy tale. Assume that the fairy tale was just the cover story…

Star Touched Queen, by Roshani Choshki, narrated by Priya Ayyar

3 thoughts on “14.24: Political Intrigue”

  1. I recently had a thought along the lines of that writing prompt:

    The “Cinderella” who put on the glass slipper at the end of the story was not the same Cinderella who went to the ball. When word got out that the prince was looking for a woman who fit the glass slipper, a local crime lord decided that this was a great opportunity to get one of her agents into the castle. She knew a girl who matched the description of Cinderella so she had a glass slipper made to fit that girl’s foot. When the prince came to her house, we see that Disney scene where the stepsister breaks the slipper out of jealousy. That stepsister was an actress who just needed to give the fake Cinderella the opportunity to pull out the fake slipper and say, “That’s OK. I have the other one.”

    For bonus points, we could take the “Anastasia” route and have the fake Cinderella turn out to have been the real Cinderella the whole time, though I’m not sure why she would have played along with the crime lord.

  2. The inner circle, Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard, tried out 7D chess, with a hidden chessboard, giving us glimpses of what political intrigue can do for your story. Who can you trust? Is Margaret really Margaret? What will it take to shift the balance of power? Why are people doing this? Can you pull of an info-heist? Why should we care? Lots of fun, and you can read all about it in the transcript now available in the archives.

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