Passive Research: Serendipity and the internet

Gotta love the internet. I’m already cranking away on this year’s NaNo novel — figuring out who these people are that I’m going to be writing about, why they’re in the situation they’re in, what they’re going to do about it, and why their world is the way it is. Near-future science fiction. Central to the book-to-be is the idea that after years of climate change, increasing scarcity of vital resources, and war, the U.S. has an openly military/corporate government. The goal is survival. The means is Reclamation and Restoration. This includes the emptying of suburbs and small towns and relocating people to the cities.

And what to my wondering eyes should appear this cloudy morning, but an article on io9.com: Detroit’s Future Challenge: How to Shrink a City. That may sound like just the opposite of what I’ll be writing about, but it works out to the same thing. Decaying cities are losing population, and it’s becoming impossible to supply lightly populated areas with basic services. One solution is to clear out those areas by cutting services altogether, forcing people to leave so that restoration aimed at urban farms and other sustainable developments. That may turn out to be the Detroit route. The other approach is to move people into those areas, making the outlying regions available for restoration to woodland and farms.

I can see both of these being put into effect in some long-distant future when sheer survival of a nation becomes more important than individual human rights. And I hope the internet will still be in existence, offering up information and ideas.

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7 thoughts on “Passive Research: Serendipity and the internet

    1. Omega Man? Really! I’ve never seen it. I’ll have to check it out.

      Ah, it was from I am Legend. Haven’t seen any of the movies, will check out the book. Are you sure that’s the one you’re thinking about? Doesn’t seem like mutated zombies would be too interested in farming.

  1. Not I Am Legend. The orginal with Charlton Heston. Soylent Green. In one scene his girlfriend tries to get him to run away from the city with her. And he says, we can’t do that. The countryside is guarded. Farmland is valuable. They won’t let people leave the city.

    Here’s some background for you. Maybe you can use it.
    In the horse and buggy days, rich people lived in the city to be near the action. After the automobile, rich and middle class moved to the country. The poor headed to the city for factory jobs. And during the stockmarket crash the soup lines and homeless shelters.

    Now, as I understand it, with the high cost of fuel, the yuppies are moving back to the city, driving up property tax. The whole cycle is driven by where the powerful people want to be.

    But I can see why the suburbs would be in danger from greedy eyes in the future. After all, the subs use to be rich farmland. The land is still there. All you have to do is knock down the strip malls and the house, viola.

    1. It’s been a long time since I saw Soylent Green. I also have a lousy memory, so it’s amazing that you remember that detail. It was a great idea that could have been done better. Maybe someone will do a remake.

      The back and forth of urbanization is a fascinating topic. After the Civil War, the freed slaves headed for the cities also. The central problem for big cities has always been getting food and other necessities. The more the cities grow, and the bigger the suburban sprawl around them, the more expensive food becomes because of transportation costs. There are all kinds of interesting ways the problem could be solved in the future, but it would take a strong government presence to implement them. That’s one of the main ideas in the upcoming NaNo novel. If I can figure out how to solve all the plot twists. Hmm. Might also look into the British enclosure acts.

  2. Of course, as we’ve seen in recent days, the biggest issue for the government would be how to retain the loyalty of the military. What psycological tactics would they use??? Soldiers would have to have some pretty good perks, hey??? Like access to goods that a civilian couldn’t get.

    I’m excited about your project. If you hit a snag, let me know.

    1. Good point. That’s something I should make clear. Shared power and shared loot (such as it is in a destroyed world) would probably be sufficient. Lots to think about there.

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