Fox School of Business Strategic Management Professor Ram Mudambi’s day-to-day routine may seem to include teaching and conducting research on international business, but that’s not all Mudambi does. He works to cultivate the people of Zon.
Mudambi’s first fantasy novel, The Empire of Zon, imagines a society in which two megatrends shape the way of life: female emancipation and environmental degradation.
“I felt very strongly about our current society,” Mudambi said. “I felt that it’s always interesting and fun to imagine what would happen if you extend things to extremes, and basically, that’s what I tried to do.”
Mudambi studied the history of patriarchy and the roles men and women have served based on gender. He based his world, the New Eartha, on the evolution of female emancipation from the right to vote, to more college degrees being obtained by women, to the emphasis of “female” qualities of cooperation in the workplace rather than “male” qualities of competition.
He also observed current trends in weather and climate, as well as failed and successful attempts to promote sustainability.
The Empire of Zon follows the life of what is known as the “Zon Sisterhood” — a society where men are deemed unnecessary. The novel follows this society’s quest for a new home planet — New Eartha — due to the collapse of the Earth’s biosphere. On their new home planet, the Sisterhood conquers the native people who are patriarchal and technologically backward, establishing the Empire of Zon.
Creating a new world with a new set of rules wasn’t easy for Mudambi. He waited until he was on sabbatical in Sydney to write the novel.
“I always wanted to write,” Mudambi said. “I wrote sort of haphazardly for a long time but never got around to it. I kept putting it off. It’s one of those things when you have an idea and you keep saying, ‘I’ll do it next year. I’ll do it next year.’ And eventually, I got to this point.”
The process took Mudambi about 16 months from start to finish. He spent a year writing the first draft and another four to five months editing it.
Mudambi is in the process of writing the second installment in what is to be a trilogy, but he has noticed that the process is not as fast as it was when writing the first.
“I’m having a harder time with writing it because I’m not on sabbatical,” Mudambi said. “I have so many other things going on, so I’m going much slower.”
Through the Zon Sisterhood’s new life on New Eartha, Mudambi attempts to illustrate that a perfect society is impossible.
“We often think that if we could just do something this way, it would fix everything. And I guess what I’m trying to demonstrate is that, if you do that, you get rid of one set of problems, but then you get another set of problems that arise.”