Entertainment, leisure and recreation
All three conglomerates put large amounts of effort and resources into ensuring
that all their subs get a healthy diet of physical stimulation and mental pabulum.
Those involved in clean-up operations are still doing a lot of work, but they
will have several months each year of 'Citytime' off work and away from the distressing
and dangerous unclean zones. Higher merits have fewer long breaks by far.
Physical leisure pursuits are readily available. It is usual to spend about 20-40%
of leisure time in health-boosting activities, the fear of an inadequate immune
system encourages this and there is also a good level of competition within social
Regular time slots are scheduled on a daily / weekly basis, and are booked in
the individual's name (or names for group sports). (Slot frequency depends on
the training intensity an individual aims for in each sport.) No-one would miss
their slot unless they were ill or injured - it would be losing part of their
'pay', as slots cannot be moved. They are fitted in around an individual's working
hours and sleep pattern. All healthy citizens (including those who have compensatory
prosthetics) take almost every available opportunity to join in sports - team
and individual - and to practice bodily disciplines such as yoga and t'ai chi.
There are excellent and welcoming leisure facilities (with the option of private
or group sessions) provided by the great conglomerates' component companies.
When longer breaks come up, activity holidays are commonplace among those other
than the very lowest Merits. Ski ing and other wintersports, swimming in the warm
seas, hillwalking and climbing, trekking through rough country, safari - every
Mammonite looks forward to their next break. These leisure pursuits take place
on land firmly controlled and managed by small specialist companies, or in designed
recreation domes of the city. The fear of contamination does not intrude to sully
the enjoyment of the holidaymakers.
The most important mass medium, holovision relies on a pseudo-3D effect and is
fed into homes via a network of optical-fibre cable. Mammon Inc controls several
hundred channels, each targeted carefully at a particular social group. By Merit
8, subs are receiving a completely different mix from what they were getting on
Merit 1, although in many programmes' cases the content is very similar, just
presented somewhat differently. Each channel is generally highly specialized -
music, comedy, drama, documentary, news - and predictable in its output. There
is a wide variety of channels at each level, with access to some reserved for
occasional bonus payments to encourage those stuck at one level, or show someone
they could move up if they try harder. Within this framework, you can choose each
individual channel, so a household may, for example, have no sports coverage,
or only sports and movies, or there might be 'his and hers' choices avoided by
one partner or the other. This ensures that people are truly getting what they
want, and retain their individuality. Children also have the power to choose to
channels according to their interests: they get to choose from the same range
as adults, plus a few extra options. Where a child has more potential than its
parents, it will get access to additional channels on its personal set, but this
is labelled as educational programming, for private study.
Although the world of 2187 is not a commercial one, in that people are not spending
money to buy products, there is still fierce competition within Mammon Inc between
suppliers of rival goods. This is fundamental to the conglomerate's philosophy,
in which progress is only achieved through allowing the exercise of free choice.
Holo channels, and other media, therefore carry copious advertising, which helps
to generate a tremendous feelgood factor by the litany of choices in products
/ services that are available. The advertising is mostly in a short recordable
burst (an adblip), so as not to disturb programmes too much, which can be viewed
later. All holo sets have built-in recording functions, with digital storage and
sophisticated analysis / playback / interface systems. When viewed, an adblip
functions rather like a short catalogue, proffering a variety of options for almost
all products, and pages by different companies having their own styles. All new
products are shown in real time, though, rather than in adblips, in a quasi-news
format - as are information / advice shorts on new Mammon projects which you might
get to work on.
A much more sophisticated and immersive 3D experience is afforded at the 3V houses.
Going to a 3V is more of an event than just sitting in and watching the holo,
and the larger 3V houses are important social centres. They show a mix of new
releases and old favourites, generally showing 24 hours a day to cater for the
variable shift working which typifies 22nd century employment. In a 3V, the audience
is in the middle of the action, following the director's eye, and the most popular
themes are epic dramas: romance, comedy, family and so on are also of course popular
with the lower Merits.
Those who have the requisite biohardware, who will invariably be of Merit 11 or
better, can participate in the more recherché pleasures of virtualities.
A virtuality is an environment and story stored on a computer. Individuals interact
fully with the characters who inhabit it. Access is via a fully immersive flotation
tank / pool with life support systems, which allows multidirectional movement
by the person suspended in it. The Vroop (Vroop is a Gloop specialized to VR)
in the pool envelopes the user and functions like a 20th-century-style all-over
interactive virtual reality suit, including visor, but because it's at skin temperature
there is no tactile sensation from the Vroop itself, unless it's doing an effect.
Implanted second eyelids project lumen input for high-quality 3D visual experience,
and audio goes through earlobe circuitry.
The liquid transmits pressure to the skin like the mechanical pads on a modern
interactive suit or glove, giving real tactile sensations. However, it can effect
very small (micrometers) areas of skin. You go into the body-temperature Vroop
naked, and the level of interaction with the surface of your skin is incredibly
precise. (Think of swimming naked in a warm, shallow pool: only the pressure of
the water on your skin shows its presence. The parts of you underwater don't feel
wet, just warm.)
Additional sensory data is supplied to the eyes, ears and nose, so various effects
are achievable. For example - you can have the aural, visual and tactile sensations
that you would experience due to various drugs, but simulated from external sources
rather than brain activity - nothing actually in your bloodstream or affecting
your brain. Smell sensations are much weaker, as already discussed elsewhere.
Not all virtualities are tactile; some may dislike the possibility of confusing
engineered experiences with real ones. Some even worry about getting 'lost' -
not being able to find (remember) the off-switch (usually a gesture). Early users
got bad nightmares about this. No such accidents have ever been reported. Hypnotherapy
and memory editing prevent such nightmares today. People think they've grown out
of that stage. (There's always a period of adjustment to new technologies.)
VR Pool Tech.
VR Pool Gloop is oxygen-rich and transports bodily waste products away from the
body, then drains them into the recycling system, as bathroom appliances do. You
can breathe Vroop, like a 20th century deep-water high-pressure oxygen substitute.
Those frightened of this can have air bubbled through to their mouth, and H2O
plus CO2 exhalations removed, as with waste. When you stand up, the Vroop slides
off like mercury - no residue (similar to Freshgel), just finish off your
feet as you step out by dangling each over the surface before you put it to the
carpet. The one-person pool slides into a recess (in the floor) so is invisible
unless used. Doesn't have to emerge fully when used - easier to step in when edge
is only 30cm off floor. (Entry and exit is facilitated by the elevator floor,
which descends when you enter to allow the tank to be filled, and rises when you
leave, draining the tank and making exit easy. Tanks have automatic roll-over
lids to prevent accidents when occupied.) It doesn't have to be bigger than your
dimensions (with limbs extended 3-D and rotated), as the Vroop keeps you central
without effort on your part. Self-cleaning. High quality systems have anaesthetized
intravenous feeding systems for prolonged users and authors.
Mammalian museums in each city have skeletons and displays, plus show old
recordings of mammals, have interactive 3-D's of them. School trips to these are
popular. Mammals are shown as being fun and ecologically very useful. Humanity's
current biological isolation gives some areas a sorrowful aspect.
Zoological gardens have arisen within the last 70 years. Nice recreational
centres with their own separate dome (no pigeon-dropping problems in residential
/ business districts).
In-City animals - some small mammals (not vermin) are kept within the cities
as pets, and to maintain our consciousness of our evolutionary brothers by having
non-labour animals. They have a certain aesthetic / social cachet, although there
are occasional dark rumours that some recidivist perverts use theirs to provide
mammalian meat for consumption. Owners are responsible for keeping their pets
hygienic, but may bring them into work, if they can be controlled so as to avoid
disturbance. Pets may not be taken outside.
Popular among the higher echelons of society are the plastic arts, those in which
media are manipulated (painting, sculpture, etc). Pieces may be representational
or abstract, still or moving, soft or hard; every artform that has stirred humanity
in the past is represented here, and more besides. 22nd century innovations include
artistic creation of malleable or shifting sculpture; memory goo (not Gloop) that
changes its form in a sequence, within a malleable plastic membrane, according
to electrical stimuli. Another new sculptural format sees the use of prosthetic
parts in 'living' art to make controversial statements about the human form and
our perception of ourselves. This is thought rather shocking.
The most exciting developments, say the cognoscenti, are taking place in Evoke
smellscapes - constructs of odour designed to lead the participant down byways
of recollection, evocation and reverie.
Lower Merits tend to show more favour to performance arts, with actors, singers,
magicians, acrobats and other performers who exploit remarkable personal skills
and physical gifts being hugely popular. Successful sportsmen and women are similarly
lauded. Most people would be delighted at the thought that their children might
end up in such a role, as the majority cannot hope to aspire to high managerial
rank within Mammon Inc.
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