Where people live
The vast majority of humanity lives in or around nine cities, all of which were created by the conglomerates around the beginning of the 22nd century for the better management of society. Most of the cities are surrounded by farming regions, as shown on the map, and these too sustain population in small settlements. There are in addition further-flung installations - power plants, mines, algae farms, sea-bed facilities, clean-up details and so on - all over the place, generally temporary structures occupied only by their workers and families. This is called OUT-working. But each of these people would think of themselves as being an inhabitant of one or other city. At the management level, of course, people move around between cities much more, and the conglomerates encourage their high-fliers to think of themselves as custodians of the whole world, not just of one region.
All nine cities have a presence for each of the three conglomerates, although some dominate locally as indicated. Also, because of the movements forced upon humanity by its tribulations, members of almost any ethnic group can be found in any of the cities, although again some are skewed as indicated. Absolutely everyone, though, has English as their native language: other languages survive only as intellectual and social curiosities.
Within a city, people live in domiciles ('doms'), self-contained family units; or in habitations ('habs'), semi-communal living quarters for large numbers of individuals, like apartment blocks with shared facilities. Both kinds are made of highly standardized and modular prefabricated units, so that a specialized team can disassemble a dom and replace it with a different model in just a couple of hours: and staying in a hab in a new city, you're likely to find the water taps and the holo feed in exactly the same places as those in your old home city. This makes for a cosy familiarity about living arrangements: the conglomerates are very fond of shuffling people about within the city, to minimize the formation of enclaves, so communities tend to be ready to welcome newcomers.
Since the cities were formalized at the start of the 22nd century, movement between them has been rare, apart from for management types, who must undergo very thorough decontamination and health screening. This helps ensure that viral contagion will not endanger humanity once more.
The oldest and the largest of the new cities, this prosperous, thriving habitation is only a dozen miles from the monstrous pile of the old Buenos Aires. When its white domes first rose above the pampas, it was heralded as the dawn of a new age for humanity - as has in fact proved - and its inhabitants still think of themselves as leading 22nd century social progress. Buenos Aires was mostly built by Mammon Inc, which retains the strongest presence there, although Tagaro and NEO are well represented. There is a considerable ethnic mix, as Buenos received many refugees from the Far East disasters: its Chinatown is the largest of the eight cities. The people of Buenos have achieved a great deal in restoring their local environment, greatly helped by their adoption of local lore regarding the maintenance of stable ecosystems.
The initial refugees of Celeste had a very hard time of it, driven eastwards from Russia into some o the least hospitable territory that country possessed. Joined by fleeing Japanese, they dedicated themselves to survival. Thankfully, there was a strong corporate presence, thanks to the mineral resources of the region, and so it was here that many of the important advances in sealed environments were achieved - Celeste's early biodomes are no longer standing, but they set the pattern for the enclosed living model which allowed humanity to ride out the storm. These days, though, Celeste is a rather quiet place, surviving on its former glories. Tagaro is the most important conglomerate here.
Southern Africa saw its populace drawing together into a wide scattering of camps after the Horsemen came, and under the corporations' watchful eye these were swiftly able to set up a thriving economy bartering skills and expertise for supplies. When the new century dawned, it was decided to build a new city for these people too, although they scarcely seemed to need it, and so Drakensberg was created, occupying the plateau of the great mountains that overlook the ruins of Durban. Drakensberg is more of a showcase than a working city like the others: its inhabitants spend much of their time out in the fertile hinterlands, in loose shifting work communities. As well as white and black Africans, Drakensberg is where most of the few surviving South Asians - Indians, Pakistanis and so on - ended up. All three conglomerates have a strong presence, Mammon Inc dominating.
Named after the old capital of the Manchu kingdom, Harbin is not all that near any older centre of population, but when the first informal refugee settlement was established there, it was hoped that it would form a basis for the re-expansion of the Chinese people after the coming of the Horsemen. This did not happen - Harbin's facilities were rapidly overwhelmed by the huge numbers of people fleeing the devastation of the cities of the Han, together with surviving Japanese, Koreans and others of the region. It was forced to as rapidly re-export these people to the cities of the New World, to New Perth and to Vorkuta. Harbin has retained a reputation (these days undeserved) for backwardness. Tagaro is the most important of the conglomerates here.
Hope was an entirely new development, born of the desire to start afresh, away from the polluted wastelands of North America. It lies on the shores of the Hudson Bay, north of the old cities of Ottawa and Montreal, on land which before the rise in global temperatures would have been thought too cold to sustain mass habitation. Hope was built by NEO and remains their main power-base: it is probably the leading city in the world for scientific endeavour, having initially managed to attract the best minds of the late 21st century to deal with the many environmental problems of its foundation and of its surroundings. Hope has a large Japanese community, and its ethnicity is highly mixed.
Koussane, which started life as an emergency camp thrown up in upland Senegal after the onslaught of the Third Horseman, proved quickly to be an extremely viable and capable settlement, mixing together the ingenuity and will for survival of every West African race. During the dark early decades of the Century of Catastrophes, it proved able and ready to receive those few refugees who struggled out of the doom of Europe, although it was criticized by some for not doing enough to help other areas of the world. In the modern day Koussane has a reputation as a slightly inward-looking city, motivated by its own concerns and quest for happiness. All three conglomerates are well represented in Koussane.
Australia suffered less from the effects of pollution than the other continents, thanks to its sparse population, but the settlements of its west coast were pretty much wiped off the map by the tsunami that followed the First Horseman. New Perth was founded in the mountains overlooking the new coastline, and drew to it the majority of the population surviving the Horsemen, including many refugees from Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines: a lesser settlement, Kimberley, is further north along the coast, and is a centre for the extractive industries. Tagaro is by some distance the largest of the conglomerates in New Perth and Kimberley.
Ross is the newest city, located on an island at the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. It is still primarily a research base: Antarctica is the only part of the Earth that can be considered even vaguely unspoilt, so it is here that the best work can be done into how human activity can be harmoniously integrated into the biosphere's own patterns. Ross still has something of the atmosphere of a frontier town, carving its existence out of the wilderness, dedicated to purer purposes than the older cities - although in fact climate change and technological advance have meant that the Antarctic environment is no more hostile to humanity than any other, and considerably less than some.
Vorkuta was set up hurriedly on the site of a 20th-century space research establishment, and was fortunately able to expand its base of operations northwards to cope with the massive influx of refugees from western Russia and Europe, as changing climate thawed the Siberian permafrost. Its people suffer most, to this day, from the after-effects of pollution, and mutation rates are higher here than in any other city. That said, the people of Vorkuta have a reputation for hardihood and resourcefulness, as well as for excellence in sporting endeavour. It has a greater population of European descent than any of the other cities, and Mammon Inc is the most important of the three conglomerates.
The space installations are small in number of people inhabiting them, but important in terms of humanity's view of itself. These last decades have seen near-Earth space finally turned to humanity's benefit, and these achievements are of key symbolic value.
Manned space installations are of three types: power satellites, which collect solar radiation and beam it back down to microwave reception webs on Earth; salvage scows, which are motile units travelling the orbit salvaging, processing and recycling space junk from earlier eras of human astro-endeavour; and miners, based on the Moon and extracting minerals from its surface in what are probably the most inhospitable habitats humanity cares to inflict upon itself. There are also of course a large number of unmanned installations, such as communication satellites. There are habitats at the stable Lagrange points, where Earth and Moon gravity cancel out and a habitat is in orbit relative to neither.
People who live in space think of themselves as an elite, although even they are usually happy to rotate out of a posting after a few years.
Meat similar to mammals is fabricated for occasional consumption, but there is a social taboo against further endangering this family. Other animals are still meat sources - very abundant since large mammal niche vacated. Ware large lizards in Australia and Africa. There is a wide variety of vegetables, fruit and cereals available, the bulk of which come from the clean area around each city: these crops are climate-dependent. Those cities which do not have good weather (soil and aspect can be engineered), rely more heavily on algae, probiotic and mycological cultures (think seaweeds, mushrooms, Quorn-like substances).
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