Saturday, August 4, 2018

Between now and 2140

By 2140, of course, I mean to indicate Kim Stanley Robinson's wonderful book, New York 2140. What happens between now at then? What happens that people in 2140 are prepared to rise up in a massive rent strike, but weren't so prepared in 2008? I'm thinking of writing some scenarios that sketch out that interval. I've already written some near-term scenarios of a decided dismal turn. These would be a bit different. Here's the basic idea, as KSR depicts the world of 2140 (from a note to Charlie Keil):
The seas have risen 50 feet and Manhattan below 50th St. is now like Venice. Tidal areas are now boondocky and lots of grey economy action. The Federal Gov’t is weakened, but still standing. We’ve still got a big split between the 0.01% and the 99.99% and the world is still subject to financial shenanigans. All of which is to say, that world has pretty much the structure of our current world, but the proportions of things have been altered a bit.

So, what happens in this world? Well some hackers manage to break into the world-wide-financial system and this that and the other happens and there’s a nation-wide if not world-wide rent strike. And that puts the 0.01% on the ropes. That’s where the book ends. Robinson’s not committing himself to exactly what happens next. But there’s the possibility that things will change in a major way, a way in favor of the 99.99%.

But what happened between 2008 and 2140 such that people could band together in a rent strike in 2140 but simply went down with the system in 2008? Robinson doesn’t say. There’s been two major climate disasters in that interval–Robinson calls them Pulses. Robinson deliberately did not want to set his story in one of them because he didn’t want to write a disaster story (too depressing). Fine.

But I’m curious. So I figure I can say something about what happened in the interval. Now obviously I’m not going to write a novel. At the moment I’m thinking I’m going to take the POV of someone in future who’s filling in the past. Maybe I’ll write some letters, or diary entries, who knows. I don’t know just what device(s) I’ll use. But what these stories will talk about is how music and dance got people together and kept them going through the dark years. I figure I need, say, three stories, just sketches, but something people can identify with. Maybe I’ll even put on my Lord Buckley voice to write them, Tales of the Order of Mystic Jewels for the Propagation of Grace, Right Living, and Saturday Night through Historic Intervention by Any Means Necessary.

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