Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Strange New Worlds

This week's theme here at Star-Crossed is one I'm rather excited about. Being that we all write futuristics, fantasies, or SF, we've decided to talk about the delightful and strange worlds we've created for our characters to play in.

I debated long and hard about which worlds to pick for this. My current WIP takes place in a galaxy and time where Earth is no longer even a distant memory, and Earth cultures would be as odd and backwater as caveman cultures are today. The universe I used for my story in "A Witch In Time" is a little closer to home, taking place several hundred years in Earth's future. Mankind has moved to, if not the stars, then at least Earth's neighboring celestial bodies. Colonies exist on the Moon, Mars, the Martian moons of Phobos and Deimos, and in seven massive ring-cities in low-Earth orbit, called the LEOs.

In order to survive in the artificial habitats outside Earth, mankind has been forced to adapt in many different ways. Because of the long-term effects of artificial gravity and recycled air and water, not to mention the side-effects of genetic modifications, irradiation, and preservatives required to keep the inhabitants of Earth's colonies fed, humans have had to maintain their health through science. For most people, that means a pretty aggressive course of medications, chemical treatments, and other pharmaceuticals to keep their systems in healthy condition. For those who can't afford the pharma, can't take the drugs, or who have a reason to avoid official places like clinics, there's the much shadier and much more experimental animal DNA therapy that produces "Gen-hanced" humans--Canids and Felids the most common, and Rodentia the cheapest--whose enhanced physiology allows them to stay healthy in space. There are a lucky few, born healthier, born hardier, who can survive without the pharma or the DNA therapy, called Purebreeds. The price they pay for being able to thrive outside Earth's atmosphere is their need for more resources--more food, more sleep, more sex.

Many of the inhabitants of the Inner Solar system found their way there because they no longer had a place on Earth. Cultural iconoclasts, outcasts, and wanderers all found their way in the black of space. They never realized that the outcasts of humanity brought some not-quite-human outcasts into space with them...

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