Let’s get to know more about the setting of my upcoming novel, A Bridge To The Quiet Planet. It’s out late this fall but you can find out about the world now let’s talk about life in one of The Great Cities . . .
None of the Great Cities is like the other, but there are some common experiences to living in one. The following examples provide a good idea of what it’s like to live there, as well as in the large cities of other worlds like The Barrow, Dawn’s Approach, or Corvallion.
The term “Great City” is surprisingly specific considering the situation where it originated. However, it has often be tweaked as a way to avoid anyone else claiming Great City Status.
First, a Great City should be a large metropolitan region with an educated populate as well as the regional resources to support itself. In theory a Great City could exist independent of the others.
Second, that City should consist of and control contiguous territory. Many Great Cities to us would appear to be collections of many cities or regions (in the case of Highpoint, they used to be). To someone from Telvaren, for instance, the entire state of Massachusetts would be “Boston” to them.
Third, that City should be able to enforce laws and order it’s territory – called a Province.
Fourth, the City must be recognized as a viable economic, political, and cultural force. For reasons that are mysteriously obvious in over two hundred years no other city has been declared A Great City.
Fifth, the City must abide by and enforce the laws of The Government such as it is able.
Sixth, that city must be a representative democracy and represent the interests of its citizens appropriately.
Though the Great Cities are unique, there’s a common layout, except for Highpoint (which is really cobbled together from several cities).
First, there’s usually a central metro region. This is where government cites, where influential organizations are housed, and where many city offices are located.
Outside the central area there are usually specific geographical regions called Wards (or Districts offworld). Wards can be anything from a particular unique region to a city that was adsorbed into the larger city to a random idea to subdivide an area. Wards are useful political organizations, allowing the City to be managed in sections.
As one gets further from the center, manufacturing areas, vertical farms, sunfarms, and more become more apparent. On the fringes of the city agriculture is usually the rule.
Finally, outside a Great City are smaller towns and lesser cities.
In The Great Cities few people own their own homes, though this is sometimes the exception in Highpoint and Zafrel. Most people rent from City-sanctioned organizations, or buy into collective ownership of part of an apartment complex.
Many houses or apartments, especially ones of the West and South, don’t necessarily have bedrooms. Instead they often have multi-use spaces that people sleep in.
It’s a point of concern among many a pundit that people in The Great Cities seem to know less about cooking than such pundits deem worthy. Most people get convenient meals when needed, and this is not so much due to restauraunts but various businesses and stores that have premade meals. Many a convenience store adds a kitchen and supplies local customers.
Despite this decades-old trend, most apartments and dwellings come with full kitchens. No one actually wants to remodel to take them out.
Fresh and healthy food is an obsession of many a diner, and the citizens are careful to ensure its access. Vertical farming is somewhat common in older cities and those with space limitations – and Triad True and Sabillion are enthused about them. Shipments from Agris on the outskirts complete food distribution.
Many people get their breakfasts on the go in the morning.
Work And Professions
Though there’s an eight-day week, the idea of a “workweek” doesn’t quite exist, though the usual “workweek” is five days and a three day weekend. Cities are also going twenty-four hours a day, so exact hours one might be on a job vary.
For many professions there are different shifts and times, especially ones involving vital city and public services.
Over the centuries, many professions have evolved common outfits or styles that denote their jobs. There’s a lot of pride in one’s calling.
Most citizens of the Great Cities proper don’t own any form of transportation beyond a bicycle, if that. Elaborate public transportation is common in all cities, from simple buses and subways to the elaborate Skytrams of Allanax. It’s simple, effective, and energy-saving.
Transportation runs twenty-four hours a day, though it may require elaborate understanding of transportation schedules.
Entertaining at home beyond a few friends is not particularly (and often hard due to space constraints). Much socialization is done at such places as coffee shops, temples, rooftops of one’s apartment, public meeting areas, parks, libraries, and more. For many citizens, home may be a place that one sleeps and bathes in and little else.
Most citizens have at least one “public service” they do such as helping at libraries, assisting the Constabulary, acting as a volunteer fire department, tutoring, and more. This is considered both a citizen and a social action.
Clubs are also very popular among citizens, and some also perform public service.
Churches and Temples provide a lot of social space and opportunities, depending on their given god. Some of their activities might seem controversial, depending on which god or goddess is involved.
Finally Guilds, Unions, and other professional associations are a part of most people’s lives. Monthly meetings, charity events, and so on are common.
An educated citizenry is critical to society, and every Great City has its schools and colleges. Most citizens attend school until eighteen, and many then attend college – education is publicly funded in all Cities, though to a different extend.
Schools are year-round, with quarterly breaks based around the seasons of about 3-4 weeks. Schools provide a number of social activities that often tie into other clubs, temples, and associations.
Colleges can wield considerable power. Brightguard is most notorious for it (to the point there it’s said the schools there control the city), but to a lesser extent Polestar (in Grand Ivar), and the schools of Nasharex are influential as well. Colleges also command enough money to employ people and influence political decisions.