Once, as a boy barely in middle school (when it was called junior high school in the late 1970s), I had a plan to take over the world. It wasn’t a very good plan, and the details were fuzzy and a little silly, but it was my plan and a useful thought experiment.
It went kind of like this:
Step one: Wait until I’m older, so people will take my Ebil Ultimatum™ seriously. No would-be world-beater wants to have their demands for appointment to Planetary Dictator for Life dismissed and laughed at because they’re barely into their teens. It’s also difficult at that age to acquire slavish minions to do one’s bidding for the same reason.
Step two: Get access to nuclear missiles, direct or indirect, preferably ICBMs housed in a mobile platform, like a nuclear submarine. It doesn’t matter how, or with what assistance I get access, as long as I have full control over if, when, and where the missiles are launched.
Step three: Make my demands for global surrender to the world’s governments once access to and control of the missiles is cemented. Tell them I’ll launch the warheads, not at cities, since that would be destroying the population to be ruled over which defeats the purpose of world domination, but at geological fault sites across the planet, possibly triggering earthquakes and volcanic eruptions which while disastrous, would have the benefit of destroying structures at vulnerable spots without a lot of collateral damage from direct explosions in densely populated areas like cities.
Step four: Stage demonstration with one or two missiles at a prominently visible but less populated area (that would have been tricky, and would have required the region be both less well-traveled and easily seen by the technology of the time, like satellite surveillance. This would have the effect of maximizing the number of people left to rule
over, while showing that I meant business.
There’s another element I left out at the time, before step two: Being a ruthless but pragmatic evil bastard. Unfortunately, to paraphrase what Davros once said accusingly to the Fourth Doctor in “Genesis of the Daleks,” I’m “afflicted with a conscience.” Big handicap there. Which leaves:
Step five: Repeat stage four as needed. Then wait for the world’s leaders to capitulate to my demands. Next was kind of tricky, assuming they didn’t send a special forces team to assassinate me for the threat I posed…
Stage six: Organize the world’s governments to my liking. Needless to say, this was the sketchiest, though I was going to organize along military lines, but I had absolutely no clue how to do that. They didn’t have world dictator civics classes in the schools at the time, and I don’t think that’s changed since then.
This was all well and good, but while silly, led to one of my most enduring fictional characters: An evil mutant guy with the silly name of Kestalus Magnus, who with considerable time has moved out of the pseudo-Galactic Roman empire and morphed into my wandering destroyer the Mirus.
Times have changed. Characters have been re-imagined. But if it hadn’t been for a potentially fruitless exercise of thought (the plan wouldn’t have a chance in today’s world, even at my current age), I’d have never set in motion the creation of the best, and the worst, characters of my own, and cultivated an interest in science fiction and science that lasts to this day.
The imagination is a tool. Use it as needed. Even if you can’t see the destination at first, it will take you far once you travel the distance, though the road may be very bumpy.