[Write On Wednesday] – Cargo Cult

Such Bounty from Above!

Today’s prompt, should you choose to use it, involves the creation of an imaginary cargo cult.

A cargo cult is a religious movement usually emerging in tribal or isolated societies after they have had an encounter with an external and technologically advanced society. Usually cargo cults focus on magical thinking and a variety of intricate rituals designed to obtain the material wealth of the advanced culture they encountered.

The term “cargo cult” has caught the imagination of the public and is now used to describe a wide variety of phenomena that involve imitating external properties without the substance. In commerce, for example, successful products often result in “copycat” products that imitate the form but are usually of inferior quality.

Cargo cults exemplify the third law of Arthur C. Clarke: that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

See http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Cargo_cult for more info. Your cargo cult can be set anywhere you like – how did it first come into being? Who are its adherents? How has it affected their lifestyles?

Ideas to Explore:

  • World building – while cargo cults are typically associated with the South Pacific, you can set yours anywhere. It doesn’t even have to be on this planet.
  • What might the central cargo or technology be? How does it shape the cult’s thinking and behavior? What myths spring up surrounding it? Is it useful, harmful, or merely…decorative?
  • What sort of conflicts might arise in such a society – between its members or between its members and the outside world?


  • Think about setting, character motivation, props, and conflict.

Have fun! Be sure to come back and share your story links in the comments.

Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle; A Puppy, Not a Guppy; Innocents & Demons; and A New Leaf for Lyle. She blogs at It’s All a Matter of Perspective. You can find her books on Amazon at http://amazon.com/author/hollyjahangiri. For more information on her children’s books, please visit http://jahangiri.us/books.