Title: Beta Rising
Target Audience: New Adult
Genre: Science Fiction, Distopia
Intended length: 100k
Dane Hasler has it all. Good looks, captain of the school gridball team and from a powerful family in the ruling Alpha caste. Plenty of girls want to date him but he falls for a tomboy called Effie, who is not interested. His friends warn him she’s from a Beta family, but Dane is undeterred.
The last day of school is Test Day, where all eighteen year olds must complete a test to determine if they are part of the Alpha ruling caste or the Beta serving caste. During the test, Dane undergoes sims where he must punish betas in various gruesome ways. He ruthlessly dispenses justice without flinching, but when the test results come through it turns out he is a Beta.
Dane says there must be some mistake, but his father tells him that it is treason to challenge the test results, and his family have no option but to disown him. Agents from the government’s Beta Support Agency come around to take Dane away.
In a cell at the agency, Dane sees Effie, whose test result was also Beta. She gives him a sympathetic smile. Then he’s taken away for Genetic Boost Therapy, which is supposed to help betas with their genetic deficiencies. In reality, it is a toxin used to suppress betas. Dane loses all his hair and develops a limp. Then he’s thrown out onto the street.
After sleeping rough for a couple of nights, he bumps into Effie, who lets him sleep on her couch. Effie teaches him how to get by. His hair grows back, but it’s gray now and Effie says his limp will be permanent. He asks why she hasn’t suffered any ill effects from the Genetic Boost. She explains that she is part of a resistance group called Beta Rising. They have agents inside the Agency who switched her therapy for a placebo.
Dane gets to know Effie’s friends. A group he would previously have considered a bunch of freaks and lowlifes. He slowly adapts to his new life and realizes it isn’t all bad. Now he’s free to be who he wants to be, without judgement. He falls in love with a beautiful young man called Tobyn.
Effie’s friends are all part of a Beta Rising cell planning a daring terrorist attack on the Agency. Due to his limp, he can’t fight with them, so he supports them by training to become a nurse.
On the eve of the attack, Dane discovers secret papers in Effie’s desk that reveal she was responsible for switching his test results. His real result was actually Alpha, but they were switched with those of a Beta Rising agent.
Disillusioned, Dane goes back to living on the street. The terrorist attack fails. Tobyn finds Dane and persuades him to come back and to forgive Effie. Dane learns to accept his life as a beta, and is more determined than ever to help Beta Rising bring down the system.
- Dane descends from a member of the elite to a social outcast. What he loses in privilege he gains in freedom to be true to himself, as part of a group of freewheeling friends, where he can explore his newfound sexual fluidity.
- Dane learns to come to terms with life changing disabilities that fundamentally challenge his self identity.
- Effie appears to be a loser at school. From a Beta family, she’s an unpopular loner who doesn’t fit in. But as we get to know her, we discover there’s more to her than there seems. She’s a ruthless and powerful terrorist leader who will stop at nothing to bring down the government.
- Initially, the concept of Alphas and Betas is presented unquestioningly. It’s even promoted by teachers at the school with quasi-scientific lessons about wolf societies and how humans developed in the savanna. But as the story develops, Dane realizes the truth. No one is born to rule.
What makes it different
- The concept of a graduation test may seem similar to Veronica Roth’s Divergent, but Beta Rising’s themes are very different, exploring privilege, entitlement, social exclusion and queer identity.
- Some people presume they are born to rule. Like dogs, they believe human society is comprised of alphas who are naturally dominant and betas who are subservient. But scientific research shows this is actually not even true in dog society. It is a myth that has been used to preserve the existing social hierarchy for the benefit of a privileged elite. Using science fiction to create an exaggerated caricature of today’s society, Beta Rising aims to explore this misconception and hopefully tear it apart.