Monday, March 26, 2012

Thoughts on 2112

I ran Microscope with two other people for the first time on Friday and I loved it... but of course I immediately wanted to fiddle with it! I recognized in it some writer's tools which I've never used; writing facts, characters and scenes in index cards, among other things. We've done similar things in previous campaigns when we do a world-building session.

I'd like to world-build the future. 100 years to be precise. 2112 is a palindrome, reading the same forwards or backwards. What do you think?

To paraphrase Pratchett, people want tomorrow to be like yesterday, only better. Warmer, better fed, nicer job. People want to scare us, it goes without saying, want us to do things and possibly for all the best reasons, as in that one cartoon, 'What if we make a better world, for no good reason?' Climate change within our lifetimes is fact, though, whether it is caused by human action or something else. Anecdotal evidence for human culpability lies in the fact that we had a dip in energy use after the recession hit, followed by colder winters, and yet now that the world economy is on a rebound and demand is back up, we've had the mildest winter which I can remember. Cold winter in Europe? There is some evidence that the Gulf Stream is failing...

I'm not worried, over the long term, but I wonder what disaster will do to the psyche of a world becoming ever more tightly knit together. Cynicism is weak tea, to paraphrase Churchill and my favorite Captain. It definitely isn't much of a way of life.

So, what happens if it all goes to shit in a big way? The global economy has no 'give' to it, and a pandemic would kill more people indirectly than ever might die of plague. Other threats which tantalize and titillate readers and audiences could do the same, and over the long term, something will bring it all down.

Then what?

Lots of people die. Billions. And then a few billion people pick up the pieces, go on having babies (or not; babies are a bad return on investment... 8-), and the world keeps on turning, reduced to some fraction of the nonsense we now take for granted.

What would a post-global world look like?

Suddenly the Global Village Construction Set ( makes a lot more sense, and I really do hope they succeed in pulling it off. They are more of a lifestyle choice, maybe even a 22nd Century version of the Amish and Mennonites. Opting out of the global rat-race, downsizing, reducing, unplugging and possibly surviving. Necessarily these folks would set up away from major cities, even possibly in the remains of 20th century rust-belt cities like Detroit... wouldn't that be a kick in the ass?

The other thing which they are figuring out is key, if we are ever going to colonize other worlds; figuring out how to down-shift into a viable industrial and information society. I kid you not, their children are Martians!

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