As I expected, thinking about the New Nations of my cyberpunk novel has been the hardest part of my pre-National Novel Writing Month preparations. There is a lot that I could go over, and at the same time I don’t really have an urge to go over any of it. I’ll tell you why, it isn’t always important.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love world building. I spent some time just before work today telling strangers on the internet about the family and relationship habits of a made up fantasy world I created for two Nanos ago. When it matters, I enjoy digging into random details that the reader may never fully understand. But when it comes to some details, they are both not important to the story, and not constructed of elements that I understand enough to construct well. I’ll explain more as I jump in here.
The ‘New Nations’ as they are called, are three (sometimes four) trade organizations that serve as the primary form of government for several world powers. They are, in order of importance to the story, NAB (the North American Business Authority), WEB (West European Business Securities, sometimes OEB for French speaking countries), and SAB (South American Business Authority). The fourth is the UAT, or the United African Treaty. These are world governments in that they create laws, execute those laws, and govern over the citizens of their regions. It was important that they function enough like a world government that the reader doesn’t have mindless questions about that, but at once I didn’t want them to just be the world governments we know today.
Really, I want them to be like strange megacorporations. The new nations are here to help the people, they saved the world from the Corp war, when megacorporations fought openly with mercenary armies, when citizens were cannon fodder for their schemes against one another. When the new nations materialized, there was cheering in the streets, and a new age was born. People stopped starving on street corners, you became less likely to die in random gunfire between mercenary armies, and your block was less likely to explode at random. These are all good things. But the new nations didn’t just appear out of nowhere. Leaders came together and decided that a new government was needed, but the world was too advanced for the old method of nation forging. They couldn’t just fight a guerilla war, or write a sternly worded letter. They needed assets, infrastructure, and support from billions of people.
So the new nations were created in a business deal. Smaller corporations, some just below qualifying as ‘mega’, and others just too weak to compete with the largest megacorporations, bought into the new nation idea. A president would be elected, but these would be nations that would have a board of directors. Those with the most money in the country, the wealthy who were at risk of losing a lot, were given that chance to sit in what would be like a new house of lords. Sure, their power to govern is checked by the other branches of government, but money has an obvious place in running the government, instead of hiding in the shadows.
In exchange, the new nations did several things that were missing since the corp wars. The world is made up of many people who cannot protect themselves or their assets. The poor, the homeless, those who are making just enough to get by, the sick, the odd, the oppressed. The world was dangerous for these people when corporations were the ones in control, and were more likely to take advantage of them than help them. When you are a megacorp and you can either feed the poor, or give them an experimental slop that will feed them but might also give them life destroying side effects, you have to think of the bottom line and torture the homeless. With the new nations, a super welfare net was created. The world was at a state where the homeless could be housed in cheap dorms, the sick can be kept marginally healthy with cheap drugs, and the poor can be given just enough cash to pour it back into the system. Everyone is supported, on the backs of the system. It isn’t the prettiest solution, which is why Corpfall has nicheads and dorms, people given enough money to buy ‘scrip drugs and lounge around their one bedroom ratholes instead of even trying to be productive. It is meant to play at the nightmare scenario of every republican presidential candidate in the last few decades. The new nations bleed money, and only through support from their board companies and business efforts can they ever make enough to stay stable, and maybe not even then.
The primary new nation in the story is NAB. NAB is divided into three zones that I mention, based on internet backbones. Westboard is centered on SeaVan, the megacity that developed out of Seattle and Vancouver crashing into each other. While SeaVan isn’t the biggest city in the West (that would probably be SanSan in the Southwest), it is a cultural center, and the weather is nice. Southboard covers much of the American South, and the biggest cities I mention there are SanDall, San Antonio and Dallas megacity, and Mexcity. Mexcity, you might guess, is the future version of Mexico City, and has grown to consume most of what was Mexico. Eastboard has Boston, which is still just Boston, but now bigger and better than ever. NAB is known for being the most creative of the new nations, a wildcard among them. While many say the brightest creators are still in Asia, NAB has created new medicines and technologies that rival the old markets (aka, East Asia, India, Russia, and East Europe). NAB, more than the other new nations, has a poverty problem. There are a lot of people in North America, and the economy was already hurting when the corp wars began. With the new nations, and old habits, NAB has certain holes in its support net that leads to an oddly large number of its citizens taking advantage of the support net.
I might not stick with all of those ideas, especially considering where I want to go with SAB, but it is worth typing out.
WEB, or OEB, is Europe. It is effectively the European Union, but in the future. My first thought when I considered WEB, was a very American thought. Who is better at high taxes and welfare states than Western Europe? WEB is the king of welfare, but not in a bad way. When it comes to helping their citizens, no one does it better than WEB. Among world nations, they have the strongest lock on their megacorps. It is to the point that many would say, “There are no Megacorps in WEB”. The corporations there are taxed, controlled, fined, and sued into submission. For this reason, WEB has few players in their megacorp game, most companies choosing to relocate, or never trade in the WEB market, despite the large pool of customers there. WEB doesn’t have a poverty problem. When people are poor enough to be put on welfare, the administration makes it a motto to have a ‘personal touch’, as much as you can in such situations. They try to turn over every person who falls on hard times, and make public cases of those who have become successful members of society. Of course, this also means that WEB is a leaking ship. As a nation, they tax so much that it almost seems easier to fail than to succeed, at least then you will know for sure where your meals will come from. The system, compared to NAB, is easy to work and hard to fail out of. WEB is known for their service work, with many citizens simply serving in office jobs that support other citizens of WEB in an endless cycle of customer service.
WEB has their own version of the Billion Dollar Babies program, that was started after NAB. In comparison, it is much more spy-like, and it is likely that they spent a lot less per agent. Less cybernetics, less intensive training, more specialized.
SAB is the last new nation I’m going to talk about here. Their territory starts south of Mexcity, and heads to the tip of the South American continent. You can imagine that the center of SAB is Brazil. This is true, but not just because Brazil is already powerful. SAB is the problematic cousin of the new nations. SAB is rich. Because space flight is best done close to the equator, the new nation with easy equator access was the most successful, and SAB is overflowing with space trade, space experiments, and contracts with the old governments. SAB is also a tourist haven. Combined, SAB has the least control over their markets. Some say that SAB is still being controlled by the megacorps. They take trade deals, they give tax breaks to certain corps, and they allow for some special rights and privileges to some businesses. SAB can also be a dangerous place, with people vanishing in the literal tourist traps that dot the region. On the other hand, SAB has money to burn, and they sometimes use it well. It is also said that no one gets sick in SAB, and it is the richer America. They use their money to achieve results, creating massive infrastructure projects that keep their people employed, and business flowing into the region.
SAB isn’t thought to have a babies program, and they usually use third party mercenaries to fight crime. Whether this is better or worse for them is up for debate.
Like I said at the start, there are reasons this was difficult for me. Geography, while once a favorite subject of mine when I was a kid, is no longer my strong suite. I have trouble deciding major hubs of activity in other regions, especially because I don’t know their background enough to know why cities would grow or combine, and which would shrink or be enveloped. Paris is probably going to be a megacity, but would London grow or just become an artifact of the Britain that was? What about Sao Paulo, is there a city nearby it could merge with to be the megacity of SAB? I need to research, but then again I don’t know if I need to research more than what is necessary to namedrop the megacity.
I’m also not a business expert. I didn’t even think about Megacorp interactions with New Nations until earlier this week. What happens if a Japanese company wants to do business in NAB? Do they block them out on principal? Do they let them in but control everything they do?
I used an example to decide this one. take a company like Domotek, an entertainment megacorp centered in Japan. They create toys, electronic entertainment, interactive objects, anything that can have a cute mascot on it, Domotek does. They are powerful, so powerful that everyone knows their brands, and the world buys their toys, apps, microtransactions, all day. Except the new nations are supposed to control megacorps, so how do they do that? Well, with Domotek, they likely would tax their products heavily since they are a foreign company. They would hold Domotek to regulations and standards that would block some of their other products (please, no toys that explode, contain poisons, or will degrade into hazardous materials). They would limit the amount of land Domotek could buy to business property, which would stop them from pulling schemes they can do for cheap in other regions (in Japan, Domotek might be free to buy up land, build housing on it, and then pay factory workers with housing instead of a living wage). The end result is that while Domotek might sell their products in NAB, the prices would be high, and some cheaper products might never hit the shelves or be rare. This would make the new nations feel different from their neighbors. Even with electronic products, the new nations might limit access to certain sites and products (which would cause a huff with those against censorship). While a game in Japan might be big that scans child brainwaves, adapts to their whims, but also tends to brainwash the kids a little to like more Domotek products, this could be banned or censored in NAB for the protection of the citizens under a special act.
In the end, this creates a set of countries that ‘feel’ clean, but mostly because they are pushing the problems elsewhere. Less bums on the streets, we built giant apartments for them to sleep in. Less drug addicts, because they are all addicted to this one particular drug that helps you get off of other drugs. The new nations feel ‘clean’, but the seeping wound is right there under the surface, and it isn’t nice when you run into it.
Anyway, I think that is enough thought about that, it was good to work it all out. Now I can move on to thinking about technology, and how I want to represent hacking, computers, and future tech.