Sunday, November 30, 2008

The World of Utopia-X

The Utopian Metroplex of Regenerie, at the center of my Loose Id novel Looking for Some Touch, is the hub of the Utopia-X series. It's one of many urban centers established in the wake of a global catastrophe known as the Great Event or, by people who don't like to mince words, the Darkening. (The nature of this cataclysm will be revealed in the third book of the series.) Each metroplex is a sovereign city-state, an autonomous entity, and nominally defines itself through its primary product(s) or services.

Thus, Regenerie takes pride in being a clean, green, progressive metroplex, a model of humanitarianism and environmentalism. Its most important export is energy, entirely derived from renewable sources. "Living" medical products (e.g., laboratory-grown organs for transplant) run a close second. Regenerie's closest neighbor, the Iron Metroplex of Villius, is quite different -- a grim, dirty, rough-around-the-edges mining center. Villius figures prominently in Book Two, Seeking Something Wicked, coming February 24 from Loose Id. Perhaps the strangest metroplex of all, the Pleasureplex of Xanandru, will take center stage in Book Three.

Between these city-states are vast and largely undeveloped wilderness regions called Interzones. Humans and Otherbeings who dislike urban bustle have gravitated to these expanses, which aren't under the jurisdiction of any government. Interzone denizens live either in small settlements or isolated dwellings. Not many highways cross interzonal areas. Vehicular traffic is mostly restricted to the metroplexes; interurban travel and commerce take place via sophisticated air and water craft and high-speed, often elevated trains. More radical modes of transportation are on the horizon, thanks to the efforts of scientists and engineers in Specula and Venturus.

Aside from its political organization and advanced technology, this future world isn't terribly different from the world in which we live. After all, it has its roots in the 21st century, when the Great Event took place. Enough people, materials, and documents survived to allow civilization to pick up -- with great effort, of course -- where it left off. Languages, scientific knowledge, religious beliefs, cultural practices, and other 21st-century systems and paradigms were preserved and passed on by the planet's surviving inhabitants. Larger, more mysterious forces, working behind the scenes, were also at play in global renewal. They, too, will be discussed in upcoming books.

The series name, Utopia-X, is a kind of condensed commentary on the often misplaced optimism and enthusiasm that infect this brave new world and Regenerie in particular. The main characters in Looking for Some Touch will continue to discover that the quirkiness of thinking creatures, whether human or nonhuman, has a way of undermining the loftiest visions and best-laid plans for a perfect society . . . and a perfect self.

My next post will be on the unique beings known as hybrids and their role in Utopia-X.

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