The Big Idea: Abby Goldsmith

Standing apart from the crowd is usually seen as a good thing. It makes you cooler than the majority. But what if going against the majority was dangerous? Even life threatening? Enter the dystopian world of Majority, the first novel in author Abby Goldsmith’s newest series.


What if everyone had an audience inside their head, listening to their every thought? 

I grew up in a rural area and didn’t make friends easily. Maybe that was why I imagined an audience of aliens inside my head, tuning in from distant planets. Maybe I was an alien, too. Maybe I’d been left on Earth accidentally. That distant audience would watch my life from the comfort of their technologically advanced homes, reacting as I explored the stream near my house, whispering about the kids who bullied me in school. The aliens were on my side. 

As I learned about Nazism–my Jewish ancestors were fortunate to move to the U.S. prior to the immigration restrictions during the WWII era–I had to grapple with a big question. When I learned about colonial American slavery, there was the big question again. And the Salem witch trials. Okay, here’s the big question. How can a successful society, a society ruled by adults, collectively agree to do something horrible? 

Now I was questioning that distant audience of aliens. What if they were actually laughing at my misfortunes from the comfort of their alien homes? It’s not hard to imagine. The people we hear about on the news are utter strangers to us. There’s a layer of distance between an audience and the newsworthy subject they might be watching or casually discussing. And there’s camaraderie, too. The audience bonds with each other. They share an experience, and the subject is not part of that. 

In fact, sympathy for the subject is dangerous in many situations. It can be dangerous to go against popular opinion. Ask any kid who goes to school. Ask anyone who ever dared to defy social norms, or anyone who dared to say something controversial on social media. 

The dystopia of Majority arose from my own lived experience as a weirdo who didn’t fit into the society around me. New GoodLife WaterGarden City is a glamorous alien metropolis that sparkles with utopian luxuries–all supported by brutal slavery. It’s just one of billions of metropolises ruled by the galaxy spanning Torth Majority, who are like the Borg of Star Trek combined with the dogpile mobs of Twitter and Reddit. The Majority can change its collective mind on a whim. Their elected leaders are sociopaths, because only crowd-pleasing egomaniacs gain enough orbiters (followers) to win the respect of fame and popularity. The Majority is composed of individuals, but individuals cannot lie to their inner audiences, and they dare not leave. Anyone who displeases the Majority is likely to get enslaved or murdered. If an individual secretly disagrees with popular opinion, they must pretend otherwise. 

Therefore, within the Majority, individuals get very good at lying to themselves. They rely on self-deception in order to survive. 

The hero of Majority, Thomas, chafes at being denigrated. In his hometown in the United States, everyone, even the people he loves, consider him to be too disadvantaged and too young to matter. When the Majority claims him, Thomas goes from being dismissed as a disabled child to being elevated to godlike status as a supergenius thought leader. 

The challenge, for me, was to show how Thomas is seduced by the Majority…and to keep him likable. The Majority collectively make terrible decisions. They enslave his loved ones. They’ve outlawed love and friendship. Yet they respect Thomas in a way that his own foster family and friends never did. His celebrity mentor, the Upward Governess, sees his potential as an inventor and insists that he is special. She even risks her own godhood to protect him from vicious enemies. She judges Thomas as her equal–and she is a galactic ruler with trillions of worshippers. She convinces her own inner audience that Thomas is someone worthy of respect. 

It becomes more and more difficult for Thomas to reject his inner audience, plus all the luxury gifts they shower him with, plus the powerful mentor who genuinely wants his friendship. When the Majority collectively vote to force Thomas to do something awful to his foster sister from Earth, he has no choice but to go along with it or die. But deep down, he snaps. He continues to please the Majority and repress his own morality in order to survive on the alien planet ruled by his mentor, but his subconscious begins to solve the problem of how to escape the Majority. He collects opportunities. He deceives himself. It’s a mind trap for sure. 

Very, very, very challenging to write. 

I loved the challenge. I do switch to other POVs, including Thomas’s loved ones as they fight for survival and respect in an alien slave ghetto. The contrast between their physical battles and Thomas’s mental/social battles is stark and enormous, and I think it helps keep the story compelling. How will they escape? If they reunite, will Thomas’s loved ones hate him as a betrayer, or will they understand what he was dealing with and give him the respect he deserves? Will Thomas ever be able to meaningfully challenge the galactic empire known as the Torth Majority–or transform the Majority into something better? 

Majority is a series starter. The entire Torth series is pre-written, originally serialized online, and I guarantee a satisfying ending. Justice matters. The Torth Majority is ultra powerful and galaxy-spanning, but their system is rotten, and it has to change. There are answers to all the big questions. 

Majority: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Audible

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